The NHL will resume play this summer after its 2019-20 season was halted in mid-March due to the COVID-19 crisis. Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the details this week, foremost of which was that only 24 teams — expanded from the typical 16-team playoff — will pick back up in a contest for the Stanley Cup.
That leaves seven teams whose seasons are suddenly done. One of those is the Buffalo Sabres, the 25th seeded team in the NHL standings with 68 points (30-31-8). It’s the ninth consecutive season the team has missed the playoffs, tripling the previous longest streak of three years. And it’s occurred despite having Jack Eichel, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 draft behind the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid
The Western New York faithful are not pleased and it led one fan to list the team for sale on Craigslist this week in a shot at owners Terry and Kim Pegula’s inability to “understand hockey” and their decision to bring back general manager Jason Botterill.
Sabres fan lists team for sale
The fan, who goes by “Dahlin Forever” on Twitter for 2018 No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin, posted it on Wednesday as a “lost team with diehard fanbase looking for wealthy owner who actually understands hockey.” There’s also a knock at Kim Pegula’s position as the president of both the Sabres and the Buffalo Bills.
Organization on the cheap. Could be flipped. Major structural damage but few core pieces still in tact.
-Franchise must stay in current city and is ineligible for relocation.
-Immediate family (i.e. wife) is not eligible for internal position within the organization
-Must provide “team puppy”
Kudos for the puppy stipulation since they’re basically an NHL required roster position at this point.
The poster tweeted on Thursday that someone had put in a bid. But in the potential buyer’s own proposal, two wooden nickels is “probably too much to offer.”
Why post the Sabres for sale?
The fan’s name is Jill Thompson and she told the Buffalo News she misses the feeling of being a proud Sabres fan in the late 1980s when her father started taking her to games.
She told the News:
"We were a respected and proud hockey community. That feeling was exhilarating and was a direct reflection of the owners at that time and their passion and commitment to the city and its hockey team. Fast forward to current times, and we are at a polar opposite of the spectrum.
"When I post about the Sabres on Twitter, it’s sadly in a negative light and that is because I am upset for the level of disrespect/lack of accountability/neglect of everything down to the smallest details that we are shown from the owners. As one of the most loyal fan bases in all of sports, we deserve better.
"Ultimately the Pegulas are not only giving us a bad name in hockey, they are giving the city of Buffalo a bad name, too. This is what pushed me to find some humor in such a miserable spot and post the ad on Craigslist trying to sell the franchise to owners that care.”
Thompson said she recently moved back to Buffalo from Charlotte and considered becoming a season ticket holder, but ultimately decided not to given the owners’ choices.
Buffalo’s issues with Pegulas go beyond losses
The Sabres were owned by Seymour Knox III and Northrup Knox from 1970-96 and missed the playoffs a total of three years in that span. Their only trips to the Stanley Cup Final were in 1974-75 and 1998-99. There’s no Stanley Cup in the trophy case.
Terry Pegula bought the team from Tom Golisano in 2011 and later bought the Buffalo Bills in 2014. He and Kim also own the Buffalo Bandits box lacrosse team and at one point owned the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts, though they relinquished it back to the league in May 2019. Their “One Buffalo” branding caught on with local businesses and was meant to unite all of the properties and fans as one proud region.
That initial goodwill has hit a snag. The owners began firings, furloughs and pay cuts this spring amid the coronavirus crisis. And a piece by The Athletic around the same time detailed a “toxic culture” within Pegula Sports and Entertainment, the company that oversees the teams.
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