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Offseason Christmas June 30, 2011

Posted by calvin in Uncategorized.
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These are truly dizzying times for Sabres fans. With the July 1st free agency approaching, the Sabres are in the news long and loud, and not because the interwebz are reporting which unrestricted free agents can’t wait to leave newly christened ‘hockey heaven’. This promises to be a very exciting Friday, ensure you are glued to your favorite media source come noon!

All of this can be traced back to new owner Terry Pegula, who along with his family and appointed-president Ted Black have taken it upon themselves to change the face of a venerable franchise. In the period of a few months, the Sabres are changing from ‘that plucky team that tends to overachieve’ to ‘this lean mean hockey machine built to win’. The city of Buffalo has struggled in recent decades and it seemed that the sports teams were following that spiral down too.. but up stepped Pegula with his vision of ‘hockey heaven’, and his motto that the Sabres sole reason for existence going forward is to win the Stanley Cup, and then do it again.

Apart from the dozens of changes on the operations end, from something as minute as letting fans choose gameday tunes to be played at the arena to an entire reconstruction of the locker-room facilities, the new management is pulling out all the stops. Now we all know newly embroidered carpets in a circular dressing room is not going to win multiple Cups, but Pegula Inc did not stop there. Right off the bat the Sabres added salary at the trade deadline by picking up Brad Boyes, a move unheard of here in Buffalo for over a decade. Players within the system that have been identified as part of the Cup-push have been signed to long term contracts. A list of players on other teams who would fit the master plan here was made, and even better, aggressively pursued. Defensive rock Robyn Regehr was chased down and convinced that his services would be highly appreciated here in Buffalo. Another defensive stalwart Christian Ehrhoff is also feeling the full brunt of the Pegula machine this morning as he wakes up in Germany.

There were two glaring needs on this team in 2010-11 – a top line center, and a solid defense. With Regehr signed to pair with Tyler Myers, and another Top 4 d-man on the way (Ehrhoff, or Tomas Kaberle, or James Wisniewski)**, one can confidently say that the back-end of the team is all set. That leaves the Sabres sitting pretty to approach the conundrum of how to address the lack of top centers on the team with the double-barreled shotgun of cap space and prospects to spare. This kind of aggression from Sabres management definitely gives you the feeling that somehow or the other, there will be changes made to the forward ranks. Whether we get Brad Richards or not, there will be a top line center starting for the Sabres come the start of the season. You can take that to the bank, because Pegula Inc. owns that damn bank!

**EDIT – since the time of writing Christian Ehrhoff has been signed on as the newest piece of the Sabres’ defense, to a front-loaded 10yr, $40 million contract.

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