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Sale of Sabres is finally official

The deal is finally done. Here's the official word, just e-mailed by the Sabres: 

"The Buffalo Sabres today announced that Tom Golisano has reached an agreement to sell the Buffalo Sabres and its related companies to Terry Pegula. The agreement, completed at 1 p.m. today, is subject to certain closing conditions including review and approval by the National Hockey League. It is expected the NHL review process will take several weeks to complete."

The team said Golisano and Larry Quinn will discuss the agreement during a press conference in the arena Thursday at noon. It also announced that Pegula will not attend.

No more speculation. No more ifs, ands or buts. It's a done deal.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Ruff turned down Sabres' offer of extension

In the wake of today's news that GM Darcy Regier received a two-year contract extension in the fall, it was natural to ask Lindy Ruff if he received the same treatment.

Ruff pulled a shocker after Tuesday's practice in HSBC Arena when he revealed he also got an extension offer and turned it down. Understandably, Ruff wasn't all that interested in the line of questioning so his answers were pretty cryptic when pressed by The News on the issue. Here's the entire conversation I had with the coach after practice.

In the wake of today's news regarding Darcy, did you get a contract extension in the fall?

"I did not, no."

Were you offered one?

"Yes I was."

Did you reject it?

"It's a situation that really I'd rather not talk about. It's nothing to do ... They were gracious in what they offered me."

So your contract goes through this season, correct?

"Correct."

Do you want to stay?

"Yeah, I want to stay."

Have you told Terry Pegula you want to stay?

"No. We had a conversation about hockey and that's as far as I'll go."

Hmmmm. Pretty interesting week so far here at One Seymour H. Knox Plaza.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Sabres statement on Pegula

The Buffalo Sabres released the following statement in an e-mail Tuesday afternoon: "Terry Pegula visited the Buffalo Sabres offices today for informal discussions. Neither the Sabres nor Mr. Pegula are available to comment on the visit."

The fact he was in the building, covering the details, is not a surprise. It appears the prospective owner of the team continues to do his due diligence.

Sources maintain the transaction will be completed near the end of the month, shortly after the All-Star Game in Raleigh on Jan. 30.

 

--- Bucky Gleason

 

Inside the NHL -- Live Chat

A few more Kennedy thoughts

I've been out of pocket for a few days and admit to being completely baffled by parts of the Tim Kennedy affair. Have had several requests on my Twitter feed for thoughts on the matter so here goes, in no particular order:

1). The outcry would have been far, far less had this been for a player in the Adam Mair mold with similar stats rather than a guy from South Buffalo. Would anyone really care all that much about the waiving of a third-line player who was from, say, Minnetonka, Minnesota?

2). That said, the Sabres' brass blew it big-time. They continue to have no PR sense whatsoever. Didn't they think the fan base would be in an uproar about this kind of treatment for a hometown kid? And they dump him over $200,000? Bucky adroitly pointed out the millions -- yes, millions -- they've wasted the last few years on the likes of Drew Stafford, the 2008-09 version of Jochen Hecht, Maxim Afinogenov and even parts of Thomas Vanek's $50 million. So you dump a player with upside over $200,000? 

3). There is no way -- I repeat, no way -- Darcy Regier or Lindy Ruff agreed with this move. Regier's gritted teeth act at his presser the other day proved that. I agree with Sully on this one -- the decision came completely via the spite of Larry Quinn and Tom Golisano. I thought Quinn had decided a couple years ago he was stepping out of hockey issues. After all, he was busy with Bass Pro. Oh right, he's not busy with that anymore. Guess he has time for hockey stuff again. Uh-oh.

4). I would like Regier, however, to say no to Quinn/Golisano for once. Tell them that what they're doing is wrong. And if they say, "Quit if you don't like it," he should. What GM puts up with this kind of penny-ante interference? With this kind of humiliation in public? How many times has Regier said buyouts are not part of the organization's philosophy? Then they make him stand up there and talk about a buyout? Quinn should have done that presser, not Regier.

5). Every time -- and I mean every time -- a Sabre goes to arbitration henceforth, we will ask Regier in advance if the player is getting waived if the team loses the case. They reap what they sow. 

6). Nice change of culture. Tim Connolly and Stafford are still here and Kennedy is gone. Guess all those tears at the end-of-season presser were a good show. Guess the Sabres sat back and decided they're a 100-point team coming off a division title and not the team that went bust in the playoffs. Lovely.

7). What's your cap, Tom? What's your cap, Larry? What's your cap, Darcy? You owe the fans an answer.  You expect 100 percent of their money for season tickets but you're going to only spend 85 percent of yours to build a winning team? By the way, Ryan Miller just turned 30. You might want to try to win now while he's at the peak of his career. 

8). There are, however, things you have to look at from the Sabres' view. Throw out the South Buffalo angle -- and take down your signs from the windows in the bars there. Would you pay $1 million for a second-year player coming off a 10-goal, 26-point season? I wouldn't. I don't feel teams should be paying for potential for relatively untested players. Kennedy was a sixth-round draft pick, not a star first-rounder. The Sabres didn't even draft him, remember. He might turn into a 25-goal scorer someday and he can get his money then. Not now. 

9). What if Kennedy scores, say, 22 goals this season with Buffalo? What would he have gotten next year in arbitration? The Clarke MacArthur Memorial $2.4 million decision? Craziness. You pay your top guys and the salary scale in this league is going to have the bottom guys making peanuts. 

10). Kennedy agent Allain Roy bears responsibility too. In the end, Kennedy is going to pocket plenty of money, in the $300,000+ from the Sabres plus whatever he gets in his new deal. But this kid lived to play for the Sabres. His NHL career will not be the same with whoever he ends up with. Roy even told me that on the phone in the wake of the award. He knew that. He also knew the Sabres had no walkaway rights under $1.6 million so he gambled with his client, figuring they'd never buy out the hometown guy. Mistake.

Roy (and Kennedy) should have settled and not gone to the table. Seriously now, that's pretty arrogant to get 10 goals in your rookie year -- and bascially do nothing in one 19-game stretch as well as commit the game-losing mistake in a playoff game -- and think you're worthy of arbitration. No way. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Audio: Darcy Regier's meeting with the media Tuesday

Buffalo Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier spoke for nearly 16 minutes about the decision to waive forward Tim Kennedy. Listen to the full version of what he had to say and watch highlights from the news conference:

--Jay Skurski

Around the boards

Quick thoughts after speaking with Darcy Regier this afternoon:

---Can't blame Tim Kennedy and agent Allain Roy for going to arbitration. With the CBA-mandated walkaway figure over $1.6 million, a figure they would never reach in arbitration, they had all the leverage. Arbitrators are almost always going to award more than a deal with the team. The Sabres were believed to only be offering in the $800,000 range. So going to arbitration got the South Buffalo native perhaps as much as another 200 grand.  Good money if you can get it.

---Why didn't the Sabres just settle with Kennedy? He made $635,000 last year. If he was asking for $1.2 or even more, you can't basically double the salary of a guy who did play in 78 games last year but only scored 10 goals. Regier seemed a little annoyed at the settlement but it's not like it's going to throw the Sabres' cap figures off or anything.

---Doesn't appear like there's many, or maybe any, major fires left in the Sabres' iron. Regier said he's looking to putting together a Portland roster and to training camp. That doesn't sound like Lee Stempniak, Kevin Bieksa, Tomas Kaberle or anyone else new is walking through the door any time soon, folks.

---Wonder if the Sabres would have dealt for another veteran defenseman if the news on Craig Rivet's shoulder was bad. Regier said today Rivet will be ready to start the season. The Sabres may have been forced to take a different tact if Rivet's return was going to be in November. They couldn't have started the season with Andrej Sekera, Chris Butler and Mike Weber as half of their defense corps. Right?

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Kaleta happy to get a deal done

Patrick Kaleta said he didn't know much about the arbitration process and is glad he won't get a first-hand view of it come July 29. The Angola native got a two-year deal signed with the Sabres today to avoid arbitration.

"I was never a big fan of arbitration," Kaleta said this afternoon in HSBC Arena. "Going in there and pleading cases each way, I not really a fan of it. I'm happy to get it over and done with and not worry about it for a couple of years."

Kaleta was the only player in the NHL taken to arbitration by his team, a move the Sabres designed to make sure they kept him next year and didn't have him subjected to an offer sheet.

"I had to look at it in a way that the team wanted me to play next year no matter what and make sure I had a contract," he said. "It's good the team wants me and I'm happy to be able to stay in Buffalo for a couple more years at least."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Kaleta made $522,000 last season and is likely getting in the $800-900,000 range now.

GM Darcy Regier said he agreed with Kaleta's assessment on arbitration and that the team is still talking to Tim Kennedy, whose hearing is scheduled for July 27.

Here's the audio of Kaleta and Regier meeting with reporters Wednesday afternoon in the arena. Plenty of interesting talk from Regier on the Ilya Kovalchuk contract and on the current locked state of the trade market as well.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Patrick Kaleta

Darcy Regier

NHL arbitration calendar set

The NHL Players Association has released the schedule of arbitration hearings and the Sabres will be at the table on July 27 with Tim Kennedy and July 29 with Patrick Kaleta. Kennedy made $635,000 last season and produced 10 goals and 16 assists in 78 games over his first NHL campaign. Kaleta made $522,000 and had 10 goals, five assists but only played 55 games due to injuries.

The Sabres took Kaleta to arbitration, the only team in the league to do so with one of their players. It's reasonable to think both players could end up in the $1 million range when their hearings are complete. 

The July 29 date will be watched around the league because that will be goaltender Antti Niemi's hearing with the Chicago Blackhawks. He made $827,000 last year and one can only imagine what he might get now after winning the Stanley Cup, which would further drive the Hawks into salary cap jail. 

Boston's Blake Wheeler is on the docket for July 27 while Washington's Tomas Fleischmann has his case heard July 28. Former Sabre Clarke MacArthur goes to the table with Atlanta on July 21. 

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Darcy speaks on free agency

The Sabres'  7:45 press conference started about 25 minutes late and GM Darcy Regier said the team may not be finished in free agency and certainly hasn't closed the door on trade possibilities. Regier said he acquired Jordan Leopold after Toni Lydman had signed with Anaheim but before Henrik Tallinder signed with New Jersey, although he knew he'd need a defenseman because the likelihood was that Tallinder was going.

Regier said he spoke to Lydman as recently as noon today. He said he was also hopeful of signing two forwards who chose to go elsewhere. Hmmm. He's still looking for more scoring.

The audio of the session is below.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Clock ticking for Hank and Toni

We're two days away from the start of the free agency period and it's likely that Sabres defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman will be testing the market. GM Darcy Regier certainly set up fans for that eventuality with his comments following the draft Saturday in Los Angeles.  The salary cap is going up to $59.5 million -- bet the Sabres never had that figure on their radar in their planning the last few years! -- and Lydman and Tallinder both might now be $4 million a year players.

The Sabres, of course, remain interested in both players but the best-case scenario is probably that they find a way to keep one or the other. 

Tallinder's agent, Don Meehan, said negotiations with the Sabres are far from closed in this email comment to The News this morning: "We may very well have further discussions with Buffalo before July 1 and even after." Meehan, however, did sound a more ominous note when he seconded Reiger's notion by saying, "It is helpful that the cap will be over 59 million so I believe the market for Henrik will be healthy."

Lydman's agent, Larry Kelly, has yet to respond to phone and e-mail inquiries from The News. 

It's a decent free-agent market for defenseman, as this NHL.com story illustrates. If the Sabres lose both of their incumbents, it would nice to see them try to get involved with the likes of Sergei Gonchar, Paul Martin or Anton Volchenkov. But that, of course, would be the kind of big-ticket item they normally don't shoot for. We'll see. Have your say in our poll below.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Larry-Darcy-Lindy Show coming Thursday

The Sabres have called an end-of-season press conference featuring Larry Quinn, Darcy Regier and Lindy Ruff for Thursday morning in HSBC Arena. You may remember they never had such a session last year after their second straight playoff miss and they were roundly criticized for it. Lesson learned. Maybe a playoff berth has them a tad less skittish about music-facing.

Anyway....

Lots of interesting chatter on Twitter this evening about the line of questioning Tim Connolly faced in the locker room today in the wake of his playoff no-show (Remember not to shoot the messengers, folks). So the comments section is open here now: We'll certainly have our list of questions but what's the three-star list of inquiries you'd have for this trio?

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Injury updates from Dr. Darcy

BOSTON -- Is the important news Darcy Regier's intermission injury updates or the fact the black forest cake and chocolate raspberry squares are on the press box dessert cart? (Hmmm..OK, Darcy wins).

The Sabres GM acknowledges Patrick Kaleta is done for the regular season but is hopeful he could be ready for the start of the playoffs.

"The two weeks is a real minimum number so I hope that's all it is," Regier just told me. "I'm planning on two weeks and hopefully it's not more."

The news was pretty positive on both Thomas Vanek and Tim Connolly. It sounds like both should be back in time for the playoffs.

"We're quite hopeful those aren't a longer period of time, Regier said. "Whether it's days or a week, maybe a little more. But that's the timeframe. Tim is pretty similar to that, in that area as well. That's as good as I can do as a doctor right now."

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Darcy: Head shots 'a real difficult situation'

Darcy Regier was pretty frank today when asked after practice about the burgeoning head-shot controversy in the NHL. League GMs made progress this week at their meetings in Florida and it looks like rules will be in place next season banning most head contact. But that means status quo the rest of the this year. Matt Cooke did not get suspended for his brutal hit Sunday against Boston's Marc Savard, just like Mike Richards got away scot-free early in the year for his head-hatchet on Florida's David Booth.

"The unfortunate position the league is in now is there's a process for these rules to take effect," Regier said. "It starts with the general manager, goes to the competition committee and then to ownership, the board of governors. We are in a bit of a tough spot recognizing between now and the end of this season, that if you hit someone with a legal hit you're going to get, unfortunately in this case, the protection of the current rule system."

So doesn't that mean it's open season for head shots if there's no suspensions in the offing?

Said Regier: "If Cooke were to hit someone in a similar manner, because it's currently a legal hit, it presents a real difficult situation for the league."

Regier, by the way, will join Vancouver GM Mike Gillis as the NHL hour tonight at 6 on NHL.com and satellite radio (XM Channel 204 and on SIRIUS Channel 208). The show is normally hosted by commissioner Gary Bettman but tonight's edition will be guest hosted by NHL VP Bill Daly. Fans can call in with questions at 1-877-645-6696.


---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Kovalchuk goes to New Jersey

Ilya Kovalchuk has, in fact, been dealt by the Thrashers to the New Jersey Devils. Stunner. The Devils give up rookie forward Niclas Bergfors, defenseman Johnny Oduya, prospect Patrice Cormier and a first-round draft pick. New Jersey also regains defenseman Anssi Salmela, who was a Devil last year before being dealt to Atlanta.

Big questions from this view how a loose goal scorer like Kovalchuk will fit in with a master of boring, defensive hockey like Devils coach Jacques Lemaire. Seems like a rental for the stretch. Would Kovalchuk really sign long term with New Jersey?

The Devils are one point ahead of the Sabres in the battle for second in the Eastern Conference. I was totally not a proponent of the Sabres getting Kovalchuk but it will be interesting to see what move Darcy Regier has in response.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Poll: Adam Mair and the Sabres

Poll: Tyler Myers decision

It's NHL Preview Day

Be sure to pick up a copy of today's NHL Preview section, our 12-page look at the Sabres and the league heading into the 2009-10 season. It starts with the full-page cover illustration of Lindy Ruff and Darcy Regier on what could be their final (Zamboni) ride at the helm of the Sabres. Hysterical (Kudos to Dan Zac).

Darcy-lindy

Realizing many loyal Edge readers/contributors are out of town, here are links to the key highlights.

The entire section can be found here.

John Vogl's cover story: The fans are getting antsy and it might be last-chance time for Lindy and Darcy.


Vogl's team preview: It's about building from within.

Bucky Gleason column: Pominville hopes to increase the population.

My look at Derek Roy: He needs to take a step up.

Getting the point: How do the Sabres get over the playoff hump?

Alan Pergament: Some road games in HD. I say all of them should be but that's another story for another time and, Pergament points out, the Sabres are not contracturally obligated to bring them all in HD.  

Team previews: If you go on the main preview page, head to any of the 30 team links on the right side for Bucky's take on their strengths and weaknesses.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Buffalo Sports Museum : Honor thy Braves

Boutet IV Be sure to go to the Sports_Ink blog to read all about the Buffalo Sports Museum, the labor of love of local teacher John Boutet. More than 10,000 Buffalo-themed pieces of memorabilia, many of them centering on the early history of the Sabres and even going back to the days of the Pepsi bottle-capped AHL Bisons, are featured in his home and on his Web site.

We'll have a full story on Boutet's collection in the Monday Extra of the sports section. You can see even more of it in our Web video.

Boutet wants his collection to someday be part of a real museum, preferably in HSBC Arena. He's a key part of the grassroots effort pushing the city and the Sabres to do something to honor the Braves in the arena. The biggest push is for a banner to go to the rafters to honor Bob McAdoo and the late Randy Smith (how sad it is to write that). Maybe get an NBA exhibition here next fall at the start of the Sabres' 40th anniversary season so McAdoo, currently an assistant for the Miami Heat, can be here in person.

The Montreal Canadiens have a banner in the Bell Centre to honor the Expos. Why not do something similar? Sounds like a plan. I know the Sabres have much bigger fish to fry with their own business but here's some off-the-ice goodwill they should jump at and not ignore.

---Mike Harrington

(www.twitter.com/bnharrington)

Photo: John Boutet's mask collection includes, from left, Roger Crozier, Crozier again, Gary Bromley and Gilles Villemure (James P. McCoy/Buffalo News)

Darcy on the Web, not the phone

9 PM UPDATE TO THIS POST: The Sabres send a text to say Regier's show will be pre-taped and the Web site was not supposed to say he was on live, just that he was appearing. Pretty big oops if you ask me. I still say Regier should have been on last week or next week, not on UFA day at all.

------

Here's some unintentional confirmation that Darcy Regier plans to do nothing when free agency opens Wednesday at noon: He's going to be the guest on Sabres "Lunch Express" at 12:30 on the team's official Web site.

A scant 30 minutes after the start of the UFA period, shouldn't Regier at least be giving the impression he's trying to do something to improve his perpetually 10th-place roster? Instead, he's going on the club's Web site explaining why he's doing nothing?

Wow. Silly PR move there.


---Mike Harrington

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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