The Buffalo Sabres have been looking at all aspects of their organization, including their minor-league situation and a possible return to Rochester, and a reunion with their longtime affiliate is getting closer.
Sabres owner Terry Pegula has had talks to purchase the Amerks, a source told The Buffalo News today. The Associated Press quotes a source as saying the Sabres have signed a nonbinding letter of intent to purchase the American Hockey League club.
Jason Chaimovitch, the AHL's vice president of communications, told The News a sale would require the approval of the AHL board of governors, and the group has not been approached to examine any transactions.
The Sabres told The News today that neither team President Ted Black nor General Manager Darcy Regier had anything to add to their recent comments. Black said last week the Sabres are investigating numerous aspects of their organization. Regier pledged his support for the Portland Pirates, who reached a long-term extension of their affiliation with Buffalo in March 2010. Regier said the Sabres were interested in keeping the partnership.
"This has been a great relationship," Regier told the Maine Hockey Journal. "The city is terrific. There are no negatives; I guess you point to the geographical issue as the only one. Again, when you look at the job everyone has done here, it’s been a great relationship for us.
"The only place it comes in is maybe my ability to see the team play or some of the staff, or on call-ups and stuff like that, but that’s the constant within the league anyway, with the exception of very few teams. ... Right now our relationship remains with the Portland Pirates."
Amerks owner Curt Styres was elusive today when contacted by the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, which recently reported two NHL clubs have approached the Amerks to purchase the team.
"The only thing I can say is that the Rochester Americans will be playing next season," Styres told Democrat and Chronicle reporter Kevin Oklobzija, who also asked if Styres has sold the Amerks or was in serioius negotiations to sell. Oklobzija said Styres would only repeat the previous statement, adding, "I hope the sun is shining in Rochester tomorrow."
The Sabres were affiliated with Rochester for 29 seasons before moving to Portland in 2008-09.
The Associated Press reports the Sabres do not have an out clause in their deal with the Pirates. Chaimovitch told The News that theoretically an NHL team could own one club and be affiliated with another. That, however, would seem to make little sense.