Updated: Nov 28, 2020
When Terry and Kim Pegula bought the Buffalo Bills back in 2014, they joined a long list of owners who own more than one sports franchise in a single city. When the Bills surprised everyone and made the playoffs in 2019, they joined a new list. That list is the list of owners who are doing everything right with one team, but almost everything wrong with the other.
The Bills are coming into 2020 trying to prove that their 2019 success wasn't a fluke. Many sports writers are choosing Buffalo to run away with the AFC East in 2020 after Tom Brady's departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This opinion was solidified when the Bills made a big move to acquire top wide receiver talent Stefon Diggs from the Minnesota Vikings in the off-season. Most criticisms of Josh Allen are that while his power is there, he lacks in the accuracy department. If he can learn to couple both of those things together, the Bills can have a top QB in the league. Mix in wide receiver John Brown who had a breakout 2019, sophomore running back Devin Singletary who is poised to take Buffalo's RB1 position after Frank Gore's departure to the New York Jets, and cornerback sensation Tre'davious White, and Buffalo has the makings of a team that has a true shot at taking home the AFC title in the next few years. Head coach Sean McDermott (who just signed a multi-year contract extension) and GM Brandon Beane have been working tirelessly to build Buffalo a winning team. It seems that the Pegulas have all the right football pieces moving in all the right directions.
Now, lets leave the Bills alone and drive 15 miles north from what was formerly called New Era Field, to see their hockey brothers at the Key Bank Center, who seem to have all the wrong hockey pieces moving in all the wrong directions. On paper, the Buffalo Sabres look like a playoff team. All-Star captain and former 2nd overall pick Jack Eichel leads the helm. In 2019, Calder Memorial finalist and #1 overall pick Rasmus Dahlin had one of the best seasons that a rookie defenseman has ever had in the NHL at age 18.
Since 2013, Buffalo has had 7 of the top 10 first round selections in the draft. All seven of those players are still with the team. Buffalo also holds the 8th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft. You'd think that with the #1 pick in 2019, the #2 pick in 2015 and 2014, and 4 other top ten picks in the last 8 years, Buffalo would have made the playoffs at least once, right? Wrong. Buffalo hasn't made a playoff appearance since the 2010-11 season.
Superstar centerman Jack Eichel stated after missing the playoffs once again in 2019-20, that he is "fed up" and "frustrated" by losing.
In June of 2020, the Buffalo Sabres cleaned house. The organization fired 22 different members, including general manager Jason Botterill. Now, hockey fans are going crazy with the idea that finally, Sabres ownership might be coming to the conclusion that they failed at a rebuild, and are going to blow it up.
If the Stanley Cup Playoffs and NBA Playoffs aren't enough to satisfy your need for sports drama, keep an eye on the Sabres during the off-season. Do we see Jack Eichel demand a trade to a contender? Do we see defensive sensation Rasmus Dahlin on the move? Hockey fans are dreaming up possible trade packages that their team can put together to acquire at least one of the two stars. One thing is for sure, where ever any of these guys end up (if they do in-fact go anywhere) it is going to cost a haul to get them there. Does Buffalo need to blow it up and enter a second rebuilding phase? Or do they simply need to get some good hockey minds in the front office, make a splash in this years draft, and move some pieces to acquire future draft picks? Maybe they just need to re-tool. Easier said than done. But it might be too late for that. The Sabres have already wasted 5 years of Jack Eichel's talent. It appears as if Eichel doesn't want to wait any longer, and already has one foot out the door. Can you blame him?
So what do you think, hockey fans? Does your team have what it takes to land either of these two guys? One thing is for sure, we haven't heard the end of this story. The best (worst for Sabres fans) is yet to come. Stay tuned for what is sure to be a wild off-season ride in Buffalo. Hopefully the Bills can take Buffalo fans' minds off of the abysmal Sabres.