Terry Pegula is ready to turn over a new leaf.
During an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the NHL Draft earlier this month, the Sabres owner said he’s striving for a new consistency in 2019 after failing to make the playoffs in nearly every season over the last decade.
“The one thing I think about is it’s time to start winning. That’s why we’re here,” Pegula said. “We have Ralph [Krueger] on board and some young players, leaders, Jack [Eichel]. So it’s time to put it all together.”
Krueger was hired as the team’s head coach in May to replace Phil Housley, who was fired at the beginning of April after finishing 33-39-10. The team missed the postseason for the ninth straight year and fell to 13th in the Eastern Conference — a good 22 points behind the Blue Jackets for the second wild card.
But the Sabres started the season 17-6-2 before things unraveled, the preferred word over “tanked” if you ask Pegula.
“First off, the word you just referred to, the ‘T word,’ is rebuild,” Pegula said. “Losing is the most painful thing. When you go through a rebuild, you would still like to continue winning. Yeah, you’re right, that history’s there. But there’s always good in something bad, so keep going.”
Added wife and Sabres president Kim Pegula: “I don’t know there’s any team that hasn’t had their share of mistakes and changes. Those just happen to be ours.”
Looking ahead, Pegula is optimistic about ending the playoff drought in 2020.
“To me, everything’s pointing up,” he said. “Our players want to start winning. They’re not in this for what’s happened the last three or four seasons, so I feel for them, and I’m pulling for them to work with our coach, work with management and turn it around.”
The Sabres’ top draft pick, center Dylan Cozens, isn’t the only new acquisition, as Buffalo also traded for defenseman Colin Miller from the Golden Knights on Friday.