As I left HSBC Arena today following the Rick Martin memorial, as I transcribed the quotes from it and as I prepared to write the story, one thought continually popped into my head:
That was a first-class tribute and event.
The Buffalo Sabres' organization did everything right. Every detail seemed to be taken care of, every touch from the flowers to the stage to the seating to the speakers to the videos -- you name it -- was right on. It was impressive.
I write this with much respect -- and a bit of shock. I've reported on this organization for nine years, and for the past four I've been around the team at home and on the road almost daily. Let me say without hesitation, the organization has done plenty of things wrong. Who hasn't? you might ask. That's true, but there have been so many behind-the-scenes, daily-grind screw-ups and head-scratching policies that it's almost inconceivable.
Yet today, it was perfect. Terry Pegula and Co. promised to do things first class when they took over last month, and it appears they are intent on delivering.
The organization can rest assured that it is being noticed.
"It’s fantastic," said Rene Robert, who also has had plenty of complaints about the way the franchise has done things in the past. "Not to take anything from the previous owners, but this Mr. Pegula, as you’re going to find out over the upcoming years, how genuine this person is, and so is his wife. For me to say this, I have to be sincere because as you know I’ve been burned many times before. To come back in the loop under this ownership, I am looking so forward to bringing the Stanley Cup to Buffalo."