November 30, 2010
Ken Campbell of The Hockey News broke the news this morning that Terry Pegula, billionaire founder of East Resources, has "signed a letter of intent to buy the Buffalo Sabres from Tom Golisano for about $150 million."
The AP reports that minority owner Larry Quinn has declined to confirm a report that the Pennsylvania billionaire is interested in buying the NHL franchise. Here's a statement from the Sabres, denying the report:
"Reports regarding the sale of the Buffalo Sabres tend to surface from time to time. There have been several inquiries in the past few years regarding this subject. Our company policy is we do not comment on them because people make inquiries all the time. Some of these inquiries are serious, some are not, some make the media and others do not. The report that a $150 million letter of intent has been signed is simply not true."
Yesterday, WGRZ in Buffalo reported the following on the rumored sale of the Buffalo Sabres from Quinn:
"We are not in negotiations to sell the team and as we have stated in the past, we will never entertain discussions to move the team out of Buffalo," said [minority owner] Larry Quinn in an e-mailed statement.
That story is now curiously off the site. But there should be no worries about Pegula moving the Sabres at all, if he's in fact the new owner. Pegula is a lifelong hockey fan and a Sabres fan whose son, Michael, played youth hockey in the rinks around Buffalo.
He recently made news when he and his wife donated $88 million to Penn State University to fund a hockey arena and kick-start the school's Div. I hockey program. What impressed me at the time was that Pegula wasn't just throwing money at an alma mater; he began the process five years ago, understanding everything from Title IX implications and to geographic challenges in NCAA hockey to facilities needs in order to get the program going.
College Hockey News spoke with him at the time of the Penn State donation; this sounds like an owner you want in the NHL:
"We are taught in Matthew 6 'do not lay up treasures on earth, lay them up in heaven.' I thought long and hard if I really waned to contribute this much money to a hockey arena - a treasure on Earth. Then I thought back to my days as a rink rat when my young son went to learn to skate, youth hockey. I helped coach the hockey team, and we built character in our players - our players showed up at their hockey games with their collared shirts and ties, and they were 9 and 10 years old - and I think I got my answer."
Obviously, nothing is official until the Sabres make it so. But there's enough smoke here, especially in this Buffalo News report, to assume the team is in play and Pegula's making a play for it. Which would be great news, seeing as how he's energetic and filthy rich. Oh, the dreams of a Sabres fan today: Keeping their own free agents! Making big-ticket moves at the trade deadline! (Oh, wait: Regier's still there. Nevermind.)
Until it's confirmed, let's all take a step back and wonder why the Buffalo Sabres might sell for $10 million less than what the NHL was asking on the high end from Ice Edge for the Phoenix Coyotes ...