Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Buffalo Sabres.
Things haven’t exactly gone how owner Terry Pegula hoped they would when he bought the team. Instead of challenging for and winning a Stanley Cup, the team has missed the playoffs the last two seasons.
Now the team enters a season where they’re still not sure how long they’ll have Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek to kick around. Both guys are unrestricted free agents after the season and will have trade rumors floating around them all year. Who said Buffalo was a boring place?
Instead of diving head-first into the free agent pile, GM Darcy Regier instead bought out forward Nathan Gerbe (who signed with Carolina afterward). One deal Regier did make was with New Jersey to bring back Henrik Tallinder to try and recapture the chemistry he had with Tyler Myers. Considering how many more years and dollars they’ve got committed to him, it’s not the worst move to make.
In the NHL Draft they went with big Finnish defender Rasmus Ristolainen who may end up challenging for a job in the NHL right away. Buffalo’s blue line is a crowded house, but they love Ristolainen’s style.
All eyes will stay on Miller and Vanek, however. Buffalo better hope they show something in the new Atlantic Division to make both guys think about staying in Western New York.
Sabres fans have plenty of reasons to be grumpy with their team after this season, but now they’ve got a reason to be straight-up angry.
John Vogl of The Buffalo News notes the team is raising ticket prices by 4-percent next year and that increase is thanks to… the new Collective Bargaining Agreement? A letter from the team to season ticket holders lays out their reasons for the increase.
“As part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement with our players, all teams must produce revenue primarily through ticket sales in order to keep the stability of the league and its franchises strong,” John Sinclair, vice president of tickets and services, wrote in the letter.
A four-percent raise isn’t much, but the team did raise prices 12.2% before last season. Meanwhile, owner Terry Pegula pulled back on his optimistic hopes for a Stanley Cup within three years of his purchase of the team and now this. You wonder why Buffalo fans are dour.
Producing revenue through ticket prices is how the business works and the Sabres have traditionally been a team with low prices and that’s something that tends to irk the other owners. Pulling this after a lockout-shortened season where the home team wasn’t in the hunt most of the year is awkward at best. Sending the note out on Fan Appreciation Day makes it all look a lot worse.
Sabres owner pulls back on three-year Stanley Cup plan
When Terry Pegula bought the Buffalo Sabres he had the highest of hopes of bringing the city a Stanley Cup in three seasons. After seeing his team falter this season while firing a coach and partially blowing up the team at the trade deadline, he’s pulling back on his optimistic hopes.
“I just look at it optimistically. We’ll move forward and do the right thing,” Pegula said.
Being optimistic for Pegula means looking at Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs who saw his team win his first Stanley Cup after owning them for 39 years. More from Pegula via Harrington:
“Jerry Jacobs down the road took 39 years to win a Stanley Cup. I don’t know how long,” Pegula said. “How can you guarantee anybody anything? You do your best every year. When’s the last time the New England Patriots won the Stanley Cup? Or the Super Bowl?”
It doesn’t take a sabermetrician to figure out that 39 years is 13 times as long as three years. That kind of wait for a Cup probably won’t go over very well in Buffalo.