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Buffalo without Sabres? Soon-to-be former Sabres owner says he had an offer to move team

Feb 3, 2011, 5:13 PM EDT

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B. Thomas Golisano

Soon-to-be former Sabres owner Tom Golisano spoke with the media today about the impending sale of the team to Terry Pegula. During Golisano’s rather odd press conference, he talked about how Pegula would be buying the team from him for $189 million but he also discussed how he had another offer for the Sabres.

In this revelation, Golisano said that this mystery buyer pledged to pay $70 million more than Pegula’s offer with one key stipulation: The new owners were allowed to move the team out of Buffalo. If you’ve followed any previous team sales or attempted sales, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who the leading candidate for such a gross overpayment for a franchise would be.

BlackBerry guru James Balsillie figures to be the wily spendthrift behind such an offer and, honestly, it would make sense for him since moving the Sabres to Hamilton, Ontario would be just a matter of packing up trucks and driving there. For what it’s worth, Golisano wouldn’t divulge who made the $250+ million offer for the team so we’re just making educated guesses here.

Still, it’d be fascinating if Balsillie was indeed the guy behind the bid to try and take the Sabres out of Buffalo. After his failed coup to get the Coyotes off Jerry Moyes’ hands and out of Glendale, Arizona many thought that he’d quit trying to buy an NHL team knowing full well that the NHL Board of Governors wouldn’t approve him. After all, he’s had failed bids to buy both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators before this and burned every bridge he had with the NHL owners after the Coyotes situation.

Give credit to Golisano for resisting the call of cash and destroying his legacy in western New York. When he bought the team from the corrupt Rigas family he saved the Sabres from being a serious candidate for relocation and made sure the team was stable again in Buffalo. Some Sabres fans are upset with Golisano for not doing more to help the team retain stars like Chris Drury and Daniel Briere, but he did his part to make sure they still had a team to cheer for. Now they’ve got a new owner who’s committed to making the team better. Everything works out in the end.

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