With only a few days until Terry Pegula takes over ownership of the Buffalo Sabres, hopes around town are high. People are ecstatic that there is now an owner who loves hockey, has plenty of money and WANTS to spend it on big name players. I agree 100 percent and I’m as excited as the next person but don’t be so quick to forget about who saved the franchise just a few years ago.
In 2003, the founder of Paycheck and New York businessman, Tom Golisano purchased the Sabres and ultimately saved the team. The Franchise was a mess and finically they were in trouble with rumors of relocating were in the works. Golisano did not allow that to happen as he took a chance on an ‘ugly duckling.’ The three season prior to Golisano taking over the Sabres were 35-35-11, 27-37-10, and 37-34-7; never coming close to a playoff berth. On top of their dismal play on the ice, nobody was showing up to the HSBC Arena, hence ‘ugly duckling’.
Although his three bids for New York Governor failed, his savior of the Sabres was a success and with a new look starting after the ’05 lock out, Buffalo was once again a force to be reckoned with. New jersey’s, a new logo, new security and new hope helped propel, the once again blue and yellow, to deep playoff runs and the first President Cup Trophy in their history.
Golisano never claimed to be a Sabres fan… not even a hockey fan. But he knew what this team meant to a region in need. There was no money and no real outlook that there was going to be a lot of cash to be made. Even with their recent success since the lockout, reports came in that the Sabres were not even making a profit until the first round of the ’07 playoffs; four years after Golisano took over. He’s a businessman and a politicians but he spent some of his own money to help Buffalo.
When Terry Pegula came into the mix, once again, Golisano did the right move…selling the team to someone who wants to take the team to the next level. Pegula is a self proclaimed ‘die-hard’ Sabres fan with plenty of money to spend, and hopefully lift Lord Stanley’s Cup. Just don’t forget about all that Tom Golisano did for the team we all love. Golisano’s next stop… saving the Buffalo Bills?