Tonawanda News

February 24, 2011

OUR VIEW: Pegula is the real deal

The Tonawanda News

— — Lord knows that in Western New York, we need things to cheer about, lift our spirits and help us get through the winter.

In this sense, new Sabres owner Terry Pegula is a godsend.

The team, wallowing in ninth place, now has new hope, new heart and newfound commitment from Pegula, a Pennsylvania native and longtime Sabres fan.

A winning Sabres team? Now that’s exciting!

Pegula has brought warmth, and humanity to a sport not known for its warm, fuzzy or Kumbaya moments.

And hopefully, he has brought the team its best shot at a Stanley Cup.

He’s a billionaire who’s willing to spend a lot of money on winning.

“Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres’ reason for existence will be to win a Stanley Cup,” was the new owner’s opening salvo.

What’s not to like.

And how can you not like a guy who gets a tear in his eye as he looks at a beloved Sabres alum and says: “Gil Perrault, you are my hero.”

Or  who not only watched the Sabres over the years, but actually found an overpass in the Pennsylvania hills where he could listen to the games on Buffalo radio.

Or who separated himself from previous billionaire owner Tom Golisano — who made a healthy profit in selling the team — by saying: “If I want to make some money, I’ll go drill a gas well.”

These Pegula quotes are so heartwarming, they ought to put them in fortune cookies in restaurants all over Western New York.

Now there are some who were holding out for Pegula to be a little less warm and fuzzy — and show the door to coach Lindy Ruff and General Manager Darcy Regier.  A little tough love might be good for the team.

Time will tell if loosening the chains and opening the wallet for the Sabres will make Ruff and Regier look like heroes, too.

We take our sports seriously in Western New York, and we would expect nothing less than a top-to-bottom evaluation of the team, its players, its recruiting and its management.

As much as he loves hockey, and the Sabres, we expect Pegula will do what’s necessary to make a winner.

We think the franchise is in good hands.

And the Stanley Cup? It would look great in Sabres hands.