Shortly after the Hockey News report surfaced about the potential sale of the Sabres to Pennsylvania billionaire Terry Pegula, a co-worker asked me as I was walking down the hallway... "Does this mean they're outta here?"
Unfortunately Buffalo sports fans are conditioned to first think worst case scenario when talking about the sale of a franchise... and they've had reason, and still do have reason to be concerned on that front, especially where it concerns the Bills.
That's obviously been a question with the Sabres in the past, but in the present, they've maintained they would sell only to an owner that would keep the team in Western New York.
It appears they've found the man.
It's been no secret that Tom Golisano, who rescued the team out of bankruptcy for $92-million in 2003, has been shopping the team. There was Canadian Blackberry mogul Jim Balsillie who at one point expressed an interest. He wanted to move the team to Hamilton and I'm told that's as far as the discussion went with the Sabres.
In Terry Pegula the Sabres first and foremost would get a man with vast financial resources, who has ties to Western New York and a passion for hockey. On the surface, it's hard to imagine a better scenario.
It's would be impossible to understate Tom Golisano's role in saving the franchise and keeping it in Western New York. The Sabres are stable and on solid financial ground. Having said that, his interests aren't long term and he's not a hockey guy.
Based on what I've learned, Pegula is. He and his wife donated $88-million to found a hockey program at Penn State. Imagine what a similar commitment could mean for a well established NHL franchise.
By no means am I putting the cart before the horse. There's a ways to go before this deal goes through, and there's still much to learn about Pegula.... but under the circumstances I like what I hear so far.