Bring me the head of Terry Pegula.
Actually don’t do that. I don’t own a castle or have any tall stakes to put it on and I’m guessing it would be quite messy. But you know what I mean.
The misinformation we’ve been fed over the last few months has been incredibly frustrating. The non-denials and secrets and resulting speculation has made for interesting discussion despite a boring season, but in the end it doesn’t mean much.
Even today, when something vehemently denied for ages will actually happen, I’m honestly not sure what we’re going to get of value. Yes, Tom Golisano will appear out of thin air to give his parting regards. Super. Neato, gang.
Golisano’s words once meant something to Sabres fans. In fact, they were everything to them. On March 19, 2003, B. Thomas Golisano stood on a podium at center ice at HSBC Arena and gave Sabres fans hope. With a lowered Jumbotron behind him, Golisano reduced ticket prices and said we would get through all this with a hockey team in Buffalo.
In my young life I distinctly remember a pair of speeches from Sabres owners. The most vivid was John Rigas addressing the crowd in front of City Hall after the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals run. The “give them the tools to finish the job” speech, a bastardized version of a Winston Churchhill quote.
That phrase is infamous in Buffalo only because of what happened next: things fell apart. Rigas went to jail, the Sabres went into bankruptcy hell and HSBC Arena showed up on ESPN half-full. Then came the search for an owner and before you knew it there was that second great memory of Golisano in front of the video board.
Golisano’s legacy will not be one based on that first speech he gave. In fact, his reticence will undoubtedly be the hallmark of his tenure in Buffalo. The practices the media was barred from so Golisano could take the team picture without comment, the empty owner’s box and vague statements from intermediaries.
Such a long period of silence is what makes me wonder exactly what we can learn from his last goodbye. Fans would be silly not to appreciate what Golisano’s ownership did for stability and the longevity of the franchise, but what else is there to take away? Learning how to make $100 million is a noble lesson, but not one many hockey fans can really use.
Today’s event doesn’t end the speculation, either. The hearsay and questions about the Sabres’ future isn’t answered by Golisano leaving, but Pegula arriving. But he’s not in the building tomorrow, and until that happens we won’t know anything about where this team is headed.
My true curiosity will rest on that day, but I wonder exactly what comes at noon today. If there are questions Golisano can answer for us, what are they? Very few of us will be there to ask them, but maybe someone who can will do it for us.