New Landscape under Pegula

June 28, 2011 Updated Jun 28, 2011 at 8:42 PM EDT

By WKBW News

June 28, 2011 Updated Jun 28, 2011 at 8:42 PM EDT

Ultimately players want to play, but I couldn't help but wonder how Chris Butler felt getting dealt out of Buffalo over the weekend. Trades happen, they are part of the business, but I wonder if Butler, a guy that was drafted by the Sabres in 2005, was thinking... why now???

Why now, with millions being spent on new locker rooms and training facilities at the HSBC Arena. Why now, with a new excitement surrounding the franchise. Why now, with new owner Terry Pegula vowing to win not one, but multiple Stanley Cups.

It's amazing what a new owner can do in changing the culture of a franchise.

Push come to shove we are still in the early stages of the "Pegula Era", but all you hear about is how things continue to be done in a "First Class" way.

Take for instance the trade for Robyn Regehr. I was amazed by the story that AFTER Regehr had decided to waive his no-movement clause from Calgary and accept a trade to Buffalo.. Mr. Pegula, his wife Kim, and Head Coach Lindy Ruff jumped on a plane headed for Saskatchewan. What a way to welcome a new player into the franchise.

Talk about a class move. A move that you would think would go a long way among current Sabres players, and perhaps any potential free agents looking for a new team.

Which brings us to the next step.. the start of NHL Free Agency. Sabres GM Darcy Regier used the words "Exciting" and "Different" on Monday to describe what free agency will be like under Mr. Pegula. The market opens at noon on Friday, and Regier expects the Sabres to be players. He expects to be active, and says he has his eye on adding a forward and defenseman. Unlike in years past, outside of the salary cap, Regier will have no financial constraints with the backing of Pegula. What's in store??

Brad Richards is the gem of what is considered a very thin Free Agency class this year. Reports indicate that the veteran center wants an 8-year contract worth between 50-55 million dollars. The Toronto Maple Leafs, and New York Rangers are among the teams considered "in the mix". Many believe that the Sabres may also make a play to land the talented 31-year old. I understand the appeal, but personally I hope the Sabres don't eventually overpay for really the only big name available this year. A gamble of sorts on a player looking for a long term contract, coming off a concussion. But maybe that's the point. Maybe that's a move the Sabres are willing to make to continue marking Buffalo as "Hockey Heaven". It would surely send a message that things are different now for the Sabres.

It's amazing what a new owner can do in changing the culture of a franchise. Stay tuned.