BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sabres owner Terry Pegula is choosing optimism over making predictions regarding his young, retooled team.
"I can't predict how the season's going to go," Pegula told The Associated Press on Thursday. "But I know that the guys in the locker room are pretty upbeat."
That might not be exactly what Sabres fans want to hear from an owner who ushered in Stanley Cup-caliber expectations when Pegula purchased the team in February 2011.
And yet, many have had to scale back their enthusiasm over a franchise that's suddenly rebuilding through youth after missing the playoffs for a second straight year.
"You can't set a timetable for contending for a Stanley Cup. One team wins it every year," Pegula said. "We're not going to give up, let's put it that way."
Pegula spoke by phone after leaving Buffalo, a day after watching the Sabres improve their preseason record to 4-1-1 following a 3-0 win over Columbus.
The Sabres, who open at Detroit on Wednesday, have a new coach, Ron Rolston, who took over after Lindy Ruff was fired in February. And they've spent the past eight months overhauling an aging, high-priced and underachieving lineup.
Buffalo has the potential of having numerous rookies on its opening day roster, including 18-year-old defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who was drafted eighth overall in June.
The Sabres' lack of success has led to criticism directed at general manager Darcy Regier, who has overseen a team that has missed the playoffs in four of the past six years, and not won a playoff round since 2007. Regier has also been questioned for his decision to stick with Rolston as coach and not look outside the organization.