This is Gilbert Perreault. Buffalo’s new owner loved watching him play, and with good reason. Perreault was a wonderful talent, a breathtaking skater with a punishing shot and a sublime ability to deke the opposition out of their jocks.
Edmonton Oilers fans could teach Buffalo’s new owner–and their fans–a thing or two about the gift of getting a young owner who is also a fan. It’s pretty cool, but it isn’t perfect.
Edmonton’s Oilers and Buffalo’s Sabres have a lot of things in common. Both franchises enjoy a rabid fanbase but have also had ownership issues that have recently been solved by new money owners. Daryl Katz brought a brand new day to Oiler fans in 2008 summer, and Terry Pegula is a big hero in Buffalo these days.
Since Oiler fans have three years head start on the Buffaloes, let’s help our eastern friends with 10 things they might expect to see over the next few months:
- A big time chase for available talent, which may or may not include Dany Heatley.
- Too much patience from ownership with regard to the current management.
- Some free agent mistakes that linger like stale coffee at a roadside diner.
- Painful firings of front office people who also hang around in vague job descriptions.
- Hiring the new GM at least three times after Regier gets kicked upstairs.
- More painful free agent signings.
- A declaration of a "rebuild!" two years after new ownership takes over and shuffles the front office deck.
- A galling inability to address extreme need on the major league roster.
- An annual pre-spring bloodletting of the best team talent at the trade deadline.
- A lot of lottery picks. Lots and lots and lots.
It’s all good. Make sure your new owner improves the scouting and there will be good things on the way.
There are some advantages for Buffalo fans. No arena fight, plus Regier and Ruff have lots of experience and may be able to spend the extra money wisely (Kevin Lowe had a splendid spring 2006). Oh, one more thing: you may be on the other side of a Vanek offer sheet, but don’t feel bad. God knows it’s been done to you enough over the years and maybe your guys will do a better job than our guys.
Here’s hoping Buffalo fans watch the new owner grab a Stanley with that new money and the wisdom acquired via front office experience. Daryl Katz isn’t quite there yet, but it took Mike Illitch about 15 years to figure it out. Mileage varies from town to town.