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What about the owners that care about more than money?

Sep 25, 2012, 1:33 PM EDT

Terry Pegula AP

When Terry Pegula bought the Buffalo Sabres in February of 2011, one of the first things he told fans was that money would be no object.

No longer, promised the billionaire who made his fortune in natural gas, would the club be among the NHL’s have-nots.

“Starting today, the Buffalo Sabres’ reason for existence will be to win a Stanley Cup,” said Pegula.

“If I want to make some money, I’ll go drill a gas well.”

The following summer, Buffalo management put Pegula’s checkbook to work, signing Christian Ehrhoff and Ville Leino to big deals and acquiring another hefty contract belonging to Robyn Regehr. Then, in September, Tyler Myers inked a $38.5 million extension, complete with a $10 million signing bonus.

All told, the Sabres spent $65.4 million on salaries n 2011-12, according to CapGeek. Only two teams, the Flyers and Capitals, doled out more.

As it stands now, Buffalo is set to spend $75.3 million in 2012-13, by far the most in the NHL.

All of which makes you wonder, what does Pegula think of the lockout? And what would he think if the NHL’s season were cancelled? Because if the Sabres’ reason for existence is to win the Stanley Cup, then there goes one chance down the drain.

The NHL will have you believe all 30 owners are staunchly in support of the lockout. And while we don’t doubt the league’s claim that all 30 voted for it just prior to the Sept. 15 expiration of the CBA, surely there are different degrees of staunchness.

Do you think the owners of the already-wildly-profitable Vancouver Canucks want a lost season? The Aquilini brothers won’t gain a ton when the lockout’s over. Maybe their payroll goes down, but their revenue-sharing payment will go up almost as much.

Besides, the more successful the small-market clubs are monetarily, the less the Canucks can use their financial might to gain a competitive advantage. And when you consider the Sedins will turn 32 in September, the club’s window to win its first Cup in franchise history may be closing.

The Aquilinis grew up in East Vancouver, right near the Pacific Coliseum where the Canucks used to play (and lose a lot). They were fans before they were owners. A Cup would mean more to them than an owner that was just in it for the money.

Of course, even if the Sabres and Canucks were to pressure NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to negotiate a speedy resolution, they’d need to rally 21 other owners to join them. That’s because a super majority is needed to overrule Bettman, meaning the commissioner technically only needs to keep eight owners happy.

Meanwhile, all 30 owners are forbidden from commenting publicly on the labor dispute, lest they say something that doesn’t mesh with the league’s official position.

For example, “If I want to make some money, I’ll go drill a gas well.”

  1. Eberwizzle - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    Any fool that buys the Sabers definitely doesn’t care about money

    • elemeno89 - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      all sarcasm aside. i firmly believe that he is one of the owners that has no issue with how things are now. we all its the big guy in larger markets that are driving up the costs for the smaller markets to keep their players. like the markets involved with signing shea weber, zack parise, ryan suter, among others…

    • thedavesiknowiknow - Sep 25, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      I did your research for you. The Sabres have operated in the green 13 of the last 16 seasons (despite more than a few years without playoff games and the millions of revenue per game they generate), and the arena is usually sold out. If you’re bored, I recommend reading “Hop on Pop”: it has lots of pictures.

      • elemeno89 - Sep 25, 2012 at 5:25 PM

        romney and ryan dislike your fact checking….

  2. jimw81 - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Wow, lenio signing is working out perfectly.

    • scionofflame - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:49 PM

      Not the point of the article. The point of the article is that not every GM is probably ‘fully on board’ with a lockout.

  3. scionofflame - Sep 25, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    I seriously doubt that Nashville owners want a lockout much the same. Nashville is owned by committee with a group of local Nashville business owners, and they all bought the team because they love hockey.

    Obviously they’d want a new CBA and to talk over revenue sharing because Nashville -is- a smaller market, but not at the cost of a season when the Predators popularity in the area was just hitting another big swell. Huge loss of momentum for a small market team.

    It’s not easy to be the owners that vote ‘No’ against the lockout and then get to sit in the room with everyone that voted ‘Yes’. I can see gather why it was unanimous to start the lockout.

  4. flyersfan67 - Sep 25, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Lockout ends if snider, Jacobs and ilitch all decide enough is enough. They run the league, they have the most power and influence, not that idiot bettman, he answers to those three

    • jersey77girl - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:58 PM

      Did you notice how no one mentioned the word lockout, or threatened one until Snider didn’t get any new toys to play with this summer? When Nashville matched the Flyers offer, did Snider figure, ‘if he isn’t playing for my team, then I’m not supporting his salary’ [via the addiitonal revenue sharing the Flyers always end up contributing to]. So now they want the players to pay the salaries of those big stars signed to small market teams that are always on the receiving end of revenue sharing.

      It probably didn’t help any when Columbus gave him a slap in the face trading Nash to Flyers division rival NY. AFTER we traded them a decent goalie prospect [which they needed badly].

      Doesn’t anyone wonder why NBC, [whose majority share of stock is owned by Comcast -- owner of the Flyers] was legally able to make a deal for television rights for the entire NHL? Or how convenient it was that such a deal [which ensures NHL owners receive $200 million even if there's no season] right before the active CBA expired? It’s almost like Snider was paying-off the other teams to agree to the lockout.

      [The Comcast-NBC merger along with the NBC-NHL deals were supposed to also ensure that Comcast made it’s RSN programming CSN Philly [aka Flyers games] available to competing television programming providers. They not only didn’t do that, but insisted that DirecTV and DishNetwork BLACKOUT round 1 playoff games from NBC Sports Center and CNBC in Philadelphia during Flyers games – including away games].
      By blacking out viewers in Philly who were unable to receive the game via CSN Philly because they didn’t subcribe to Comcast, Comcast-NBC artifically LOWERED potential viewers, thus lowering potential ratings, thus lowering possible ad revenue, a portion of which would have been considered HRR to be split with the players [and other NHL owners]. By lowering ratings/ad revenues thanks to blacking out potential viewers, they took away possible ad reveue that could have been considered HRR instead turning it into desperate Comcast subscribers, revenue from which is NOT considered HRR. Why are they allowed to continue doing this?

      Comcast [owner of the Philaelphia Flyers] annual report from 2011 shows over $50 Billion [yup BILLION] in revenues. Yet they continue to sit here and fight over 10% of the entire league’s $3.3 Billion of revenue that they consider to be ‘HRR’ [EXCLUDES luxury suites AND the 40% of Comcast subscribers the FCC claims would leave Comcast if they made Flyers games available to other television providers]

  5. jersey77girl - Sep 25, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    The owners ARE making money while locking out the players. NBC is paying the NHL $200 million for the 2012-13 season regardless of if there is a lockout or not. And so long as there’s no CBA in place, 100% of the $200 million goes to the NHL owners and 0% of the $200 million [considered HRR] goes to the players. Why bother fighting over 47 – 57% when the owners can keep 100% of the TV ad revenue so long as they lock the players out of the entire season.

    Better yet, cities like Nashville are paying the NHL owners even MORE money. On top of the contracted $$ to ‘manage’ the arena, Nashville had to pay an additional $8 million to the predators to help them find alternate entertainment to keep the arena occupied. If you ask me, hosting a ‘lockout’ shouldn’t be considered a very good way to ‘manage’ an arena for the city and those cities paying out public funds to the owners locking out teams should ask for a refund on their ‘arena management’ fees they’re paying.

  6. timmons94 - Sep 25, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    U can make money on hockey in buffalo. Great hockey town. I miss hockey

  7. 1clumsybear - Sep 26, 2012 at 9:28 AM

    NHL needs new comissioner. Bettman is verymuch disliked, his stands are rigid and unfair. He must go away. Mario and Wayne as owners and explayers need to step up.

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