Niagara Gazette

Sports

April 13, 2013

Pegula scales back Sabres title expectations, says little more

BUFFALO —

Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula's objective to build a Stanley Cup contender remains the same. It's his three-year timeline that's proving unrealistic.

With Buffalo in jeopardy of missing the playoffs for a second straight year, Pegula said Saturday it's unclear how long it might take to rebuild the Sabres.

"You know, I don't know how long," Pegula said, before referring to Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who is from Buffalo. "Jerry Jacobs down the road took 39 years to win a Stanley Cup. So I don't know how long. I'm not going to guarantee anybody anything, you know. You do your best every year."

The Sabres haven't been anywhere near good this season. They fired longtime coach Lindy Ruff after a 6-10-1 start in February, and are retooling their roster after trading away three veterans — including captain Jason Pominville — over the past month.

And Pegula's comments — his first since the season began in mid-January — are a substantial turnaround for the owner. He had previously talked openly about the prospect of the Sabres winning a title within three seasons after he purchased them in February 2011.

"One team wins the Stanley Cup every year. We will build toward that goal," Pegula said. "We're daily working that goal."

Pegula spoke only briefly to reporters after taking part in a ground-breaking ceremony for a $172 million downtown hockey/entertainment complex he is building across the street from the Sabres home.

Pegula wasn't in a mood to say much about his slumping Sabres, who hosted the Philadelphia Flyers later in the afternoon. He declined answering a question about firing Ruff, and a team spokesman reminded reporters on several occasions to ask questions only regarding the ground-breaking ceremony.

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