The Sabres enlisted 85 high-profile ambassadors this season.
Many fans might not have caught on to it, but when Terry Pegula invited 85 alumni members of the Buffalo Sabres back into the fold, what he was really doing was creating a league of extraordinary hockey gentlemen who would go out and act as emissaries for the newly indoctrinated “Hockey Heaven.”
Of course, rebuilding the history of the franchise was an ardent maneuver for Pegula, and overnight transformed the Buffalo Sabres from a team that discards its former players and legacies, into one that embraces them – 40 years of Sabres hockey suddenly meant something again, and every player, every moment, every generation, was finally linked together.
Beyond the new family reunion, is the impact the expanse of alumni will have on building the reputation of the Sabres to attract new players, and success – dare I say – to help attract a championship.
As I noted in my season wrap-up:
He made the Sabres family whole again, when he invited all Sabres alumni back into the fold. Every one of those guys who spent time here have since gone back to their homes, and around the world, the message that they brought back was “Buffalo is the new destination.”
Alumnus Phil Myre noted in his website how much he was impressed by the event, and also mentioned how he was able to renew some lost connections in the hockey world:
“I renewed connections with my (former) Pro Scouting colleagues, Paul MacIntosh (Dallas), Terry Martin (Colorado), Adam Creighton (Boston) and Larry Carriere (Montreal).”
That’s a lot of connections, folks – and those are from just 1 of the 85. Oh, and Myre works as a public speaker now, one who is well-regarded by the hockey community. Again, from his website:
“Testimonial: ‘We’ve had the pleasure of working with Phil on a number of occasions over the years at our annual Coaches’ Clinic. He’s been with us as an attendee, exhibitor, presenter and member of our Guest NHL Panel. He is a terrific speaker, has a wealth of experience and a wonderful sense of humor. He is professional at all times, reliable and willing to go that extra mile to help out his colleagues. We would highly recommend Phil for any speaking engagements.’ February 1, 2011. Marshall Starkman, Co-Owner/Director, Roger Neilson’s Hockey (worked directly with Phil at FLORIDA PANTHERS)”
Talk about a great ambassador.
At the end of the day, and moving on past this season and towards July 1st, this new expansive network of “renewed connections” is going to be a wonderful advantage for Darcy Regier. The idea of “Hockey Heaven” has been spread far and wide by the alumni, and the idea of Buffalo as an UFA destination suddenly carries very real credence for players.
Pegula has a big hockey heart, and what he built here so quickly is outstanding in itself. He doesn’t have to honk his own horn about it. While he and his staff quietly work on new ideas to make the Sabres more and more an ideal destination for players, the alumni are out and about, letting everyone know that this is something that every player should want to be a part of.