Pegula Era Kicks Off With Surprise

5:21 PM, Feb 24, 2011   |    comments
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Courtesy: US Presswire

BUFFALO, NY - The famed French Connection helped kick off the Pegula era Wednesday night at HSBC Arena.

Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert, and Rick Martin joined Terry Pegula and his two sons at center ice for a ceremonial puck drop before the Sabres first game under new ownership against the Atlanta Thrashers.

After Tuesday's well chronicled and sometimes highly emotional news conference where Pegula was formally introduced as the team owner, his spokesperson said Wednesday would be a day of "decompression" by comparison. 

Pegula spent most of the day at the HSBC Arena, where he met with various team officials and had lunch with Sabres employees.

He began the day by making appearances on radio shows on both WGR and WBEN-AM, where he said that he hoped the excitement surrounding him would soon dissipate. "I would eventually like to slide into the background , be the owner, move a few chess pieces every now and then, and let the guys who deserve the limelight, the coaches and players, have it," Pegula told WBEN host Tom Bauerle.

Shortly after 5pm, Pegula made a guest appearance on WGR's Sabres Pre-Game Show, where he told host Mike Schopp that the experience of sitting with team managers in the owners office formerly occupied by Tom Golisano was somewhat surreal. "I looked at them and it was like,...what am I doing here?" Pegula said.

The pre-game show is broadcast live from the atrium at HSBC Arena, and Pegula arrived with an entourage of about three dozen family and friends.

His appearance drew quite a crowd of fans, some of whom he signed autographs for, while others yelled to him, "Welcome to Buffalo."

Click on the video link above to see Marissa Bailey's interview (shot by photojournalist John Guinane) with the French Connection just moments after they walked off the ice.

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