Saturday, January 29, 2011
Updated: January 31, 6:02 PM ET
Sources: Terry Pegula set to buy Sabres
By Pierre LeBrun
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Buffalo Sabres will announce a purchase agreement by billionaire Terry Pegula on Thursday, multiple sources told ESPN.com Monday.
Progress of the Sabres' impending sale was updated at the NHL's Board of Governors meeting at All-Star Weekend.
Once the agreement is announced, the sale is expected to close within a month, sources said.
Pegula on Saturday morning met with the Board of Governors' executive committee. He is set to take over ownership of the club from Tom Golisano for $189 million ($175 million in cash and $14 million in assumed liabilities), a source said.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, while confirming Pegula's meeting with the board of governors' executive committee on Saturday, did not confirm the soon-to-be announced purchase agreement.
"I know Terry Pegula. I've spent a fair amount of time with him. I like him," said Bettman. "I believe he's somebody who has the wherewithal to own a franchise. He's obviously been a hockey fan for a long time. I think he was a Sabres season ticket holder for 18 years. He's made a substantial contribution in furtherance of collegiate ice hockey in Penn State.
"And the status of the transaction, I'm not going to speculate as to whether or not this is the week or there's ever going to be a week that would be for Mr. Pegula and the Sabres and current ownership to announce, if and when they're ready."
The league's owners also were brought up to speed on the sale of the Phoenix Coyotes. In spite of persistent rumors that the proposed deal by Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer to buy the team from the NHL is in trouble, multiple sources have told ESPN.com the deal should be completed within the next two weeks.
"The city of Glendale is working towards a sale of the bonds necessary to complete the transaction," Bettman said at his Saturday night news conference. "There was no deadline of December 31st. As of December 31st, we have had and do have the option of pursuing alternatives. We're not doing that yet because it appears that everything is on track. And any reports to the contrary are absolutely baseless and without foundation.
"From everything we're hearing, from the entities handling the bond sale from the city of Glendale, from Mr. Hulsizer's people, is things are on track and they're hoping in the next couple of weeks or so things will be resolved and the franchise will close."
Also, Anaheim Ducks assistant general manager David McNab declined to comment on a lawsuit filed last week by former draft pick Jason Bailey, who said he was subjected to anti-Semitic comments by coaches while playing for the Ducks' ECHL farm team in Bakersfield, Calif.
"The case involving the Ducks and anti-Semitism, I find it hard to believe of all of our franchises in particular why that one would be accused of being anti-Semitic," said Bettman. "My guess is, in particular, the Samuelis, who own the Ducks, had no idea. I don't know the specifics, and in any lawsuit a plaintiff can allege anything he wants. The issue is whether or not he can prove it whether or not it's true."
Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.