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Sale of Sabres to Pegula nearing completion

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Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano termed his nearly eight years of owning the franchise as a rewarding experience and stressed the team's accomplishments during that period and its meaning to the community during a press conference Thursday announcing the sale of the team to businessman Terry Pegula.

Golisano, who met the media along with Managing Partner Larry Quinn and Chief Operating Officer Daniel DiPofi, said the closing of the sale was expected to take place in the next 30 days, pending a vote of approval from the NHL's Board of Governors, which he said he expects to be a "slam dunk," and the completion of a federal government application process.

Pegula originally contacted the Sabres' ownership group a little under a year ago to see if there was any interest in selling the team.

"At the time we said, let's have a preliminary discussion. We did, we decided there was some interest, but then after a month or two we decided we weren't going to do it," Golisano said. "But several months later, because of our personal circumstances, we contacted Terry and said, 'Terry, if you're still interested in buying the team, we're going to make it available to you.'"

Golisano, who bought the Sabres out of bankruptcy back there was serious doubt about the franchise's future in Buffalo, said the team will remain secure where it is. He added that he received another offer for $70 million more from an individual who was interested in moving the franchise, and turned it down.

"The very important thing to the city of Buffalo is that, by contract, Terry Pegula will be unable to ever move the team from the city of Buffalo," Golisano said. "So we have secured its future for the city of Buffalo as far as the team remaining in the city of Buffalo. We thought that was very, very important."

"The very important thing to the city of Buffalo is that, by contract, Terry Pegula will be unable to ever move the team from the city of Buffalo," Golisano said. "So we have secured its future for the city of Buffalo as far as the team remaining in the city of Buffalo. We thought that was very, very important."
-- Tom Golisano

Following a slow start this season, the Sabres entered play Thursday 10th in the Eastern Conference, six points out of a postseason berth. During Golisano's time as owner, the Sabres made the Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007 -- winning the Presidents' Trophy in the latter season as the League's top regular-season team -- and finished atop the Northeast Division as recently as this past season. Season-ticket sales increased from around 6,400 when Golisano bought the team to 15,000 currently, including a waiting list.

With the trade deadline upcoming, a reporter posed the question as to whether the impending sale of the team would impact any player transactions the Sabres might want to make in trying to improve themselves for a postseason run.

"The way the process is going to work is that we have agreed with Mr. Pegula that there are certain players that we will not trade. It's a small list," Quinn said. "And we've agreed that we won't incur obligations to the club of over a certain amount -- because, you know, you go out and get a player that would severely hamper their ownership under the cap. Other than that, we're free to make player transactions. We will do what we think is in the best interests of the team. We have to notify him, but we don't need his approval."

Quinn said he expects Pegula, who wasn't present at Thursday's press conference, to be a hands-on owner.

"He loves hockey and I think he's had kids that have played. He's had an association with the Penn State hockey team for quite a while," Quinn said. "And he loves Buffalo. I think he lived here for seven or eight years, in Orchard Park. Like a lot of people -- it's hard to get people to come here, but when they get here they don't want to leave."
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