Curt Styres selling the Rochester Americans franchise to Terry Pegula of the Buffalo Sabres has been as much of a secret as Terry Pegula buying the Sabres earlier this year. Everyone has known it’s happening, the only thing that held things up was all of the legal mumbo jumbo and league approval, two things that were guaranteed to happen. That’s the same thing that has been happening with the sale of the Amerks to the Sabres.
All indications point to the paperwork being finalized and the only thing remaining is approval of the American Hockey League Board of Governors that will be meeting early next week in Hilton Head. Is there any reason the league would not approve this sale? Of course not. Everyone knows the Amerks need it for long term health of the franchise and the AHL could use one of it’s oldest teams back at the top of their game.
I’m pretty confident others will have all of the details (costs, negotiations, fate of the Amerks front office etc) before I do but it’s safe to say this deal is complete, every i has a dot and every t is crossed.
The Terry Pegula WNY hockey empire continues to build and there’s a lot of great reasons everyone should support that, mainly the desire for success.
All one has to do is look at how he reacted at the press conference announcing the purchase of the Sabres where the French Connection was present and he was like a little kid meeting his heros (nothing wrong with that!). There’s likely more past and present professional hockey players living in Western New York than any other region and that is something we’ll continue have pointed out and will help attract players and personel to the area.
If the Amerks are successful and the Sabres are successful that will result in sponsors being happy and you get the idea.
When the Amerks and Sabres divorced a few years ago the situation was completely different and especially between the ownership groups. Maybe it’s worth revisiting to give people a history lesson but at this point I think everyone is better off saying it just didn’t work out at that time and both sides are to blame.
We should expect to see the tradition of the Rochester Americans carried on. We should expect Amerks alumni to be recognized a lot more than in recent years. Jody Gage will likely work for the Sabres and will build a winning team with a team that wants to build a winning team.
Yes, the Sabres will need players to develop and that will happen. They’ll also want players to win so that the winning attitude continues up to the NHL.
In a way maybe it’s good that the Amerks and Sabres took some time apart from each other. For Amerks fans who’ve stuck around during the past few seasons we can tell you that even when the Sabres were still here there wasn’t as much buzz as there is right now. It’s almost as if everyone took the relationship for granted and didn’t fully appreciate it (more so the fans than anything else).
To Amerks fans the real test of a Sabres owned team will come on July 1st when free agency begins. For a while now we’ve had to sit back as American Hockey League free agents start getting signed by other teams in the league. Yes, the Sabres players need to develop but the fans of the AHL want to win a Championship too. Players who develop and win will carry that with them in their careers.
A perfect example is Ottawa Senators goalie prospect Robin Lehner after winning the Calder Cup when he said:
“All you naysayers and critics, you can go hide somewhere. You can never take this away from me. I’m not saying I’m going to go play in the NHL (right away). That’s a long road ahead. But you can never take away from me that I’m a Calder Cup champion and that I got the MVP here.”
As a Sabres fan it was painful to cheer for the Binghamton Senators to win the Calder Cup but it was also exciting seeing players care about winning for the City they played for, the team logo and sweater they wore and for themselves. They weren’t playing for the Ottawa Senators, it was for them and their team the Binghamton Senators. That’s the way it used to be for Rochester Americans fans, the City of Rochester and the players who wore the the sweater with the crest on it. It wasn’t even that long ago either but in terms of sports it was the last generation that experienced those things.
Yes, Sabres prospects have won AHL Rookie of the Year honors in recent years but being a Calder Cup champion will go a lot farther. As all of this becomes final I’m expect Pegula will want the same. To Sabres fans reading, around here we talk about winning games, not “developing.” As the details and of the sale come out and everything is finalized we can begin breaking down the roster and how it should compete with the rest of the American Hockey League.
Talk is cheap, here’s hoping that both Rochester and Buffalo have reasons to have an exciting winter and late spring in 2012!