CLINTON — The Buffalo Sabres have not been in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2011, but NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is like most observers from around the league: He's expecting that cycle to finally change.
"By all appearances, the team is on an upward spiral," Bettman said when asked by The Buffalo News during the first intermission of Tuesday night's Kraft Hockeyville exhibition against Columbus in Clinton Arena. "All of these things happen in cycles. You look at the young talent they have and the moves they made over the summer — among those acquiring Jeff Skinner — I think the team is being rebuilt in the right way."
Bettman praised owners Terry and Kim Pegula for their continued commitment to finding the right solution for their team.
"I assure you nobody wants to win more than they do," he said. "And they want to win for the fans in Buffalo. It's something I remember Terry saying from the very first time I met him.
"You've heard me say repeatedly in a variety of contexts there's nothing more important to the stability and success of a franchise than ownership, and Buffalo is more than fortunate to have the Pegulas so committed to the Sabres and the Bills and, as importantly, to the city of Buffalo with all of the things they've done in the city that positively impacts the quality of life."
Bettman would not comment specifically on the Sabres' plans or requests for events like the NHL All-Star Game or international games. Buffalo has not hosted the all-stars since 1978 and the prevailing theory is a subpar convention center is the reason. The league holds a large FanFest in conjunction with the game.
Bettman said the convention center issue, which drew headlines in Buffalo last week due to talk of two sites for an expanded or new building, has not been brought up to him.
He also did not say specifically if the Sabres are in line to head overseas, although most wisdom has them heading to Sweden in the next couple of years in the wake of Rasmus Dahlin joining the club.
"All of our teams are asking for everything," Bettman said. "Whether it's outdoor games, all-star games, drafts, international travel. Nobody is being overlooked and I have no doubt that every team including the Sabres and Blue Jackets have asked to be considered for any and all."