DENVER – As part of his annual remarks prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman offered his best wishes to Buffalo Sabers and Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula after she suffered an unexpected medical issue last week.
“Thankfully, she has made progress over the last few days, and has an exceptional team of medical experts at her side,” Bettman said in words that almost directly mirrored a statement issued Tuesday morning by the teams. “I ask that you continue to keep Kim and the Pegula family in your prayers, and ask that you respect their need and desire for privacy.”
Employees of Pegula Sports and Entertainment were informed Tuesday about the situation regarding Kim Pegula, 53. Bills coach Sean McDermott and quarterback Josh Allen both extended heartfelt good wishes to her while speaking to reporters as the Bills reported to Orchard Park for their mandatory minicamp. There has been no other comment from the Sabres.
Neither team has released any more information regarding the nature of Kim Pegula’s situation or where she is receiving care.
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“We’re all praying for them. And we appreciate everybody else in the community praying for them as well.,” Allen said. “Again, it’s new news to us. And she’s done so much for our organization and we all love her so much. So, again, as a team, we’re sending our prayers and we just ask that you guys do the same for us, please.”
Bettman is known to be particularly fond of Kim Pegula for her prominent role in the NHL’s diversity initiatives and her regular participation in Board of Governors meetings. In 2019, Kim Pegula and Bettman were named co-chairs of the league’s first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Senior Leadership Council.
In the NFL, Kim Pegula has served on the Super Bowl and Major Events Advisory Committee, Business Ventures Committee and NFL Foundation Committee.
As gambling grow interests, the league remains unwilling to go to specific injury designations for players other than “upper body” or “lower body.” Reporters were further distressed Wednesday morning when Colorado coach Jared Bednar declined to reveal his starting goalie for Game 1, although Darcy Kuemper was in the starter’s net during the team’s pregame skate. Kuemper, who got the start, had not played since he was injured in Game 1 of the Western Conference final against Edmonton.
“The most important thing for us is what happens on the ice and health and safety of our players is something that is of paramount importance to us and is directly related to performance on the ice,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. “So if that means that our betting interests who are our betting partners have to take a backseat to the safety of our players, that we plead guilty to. Because it’s got to be policed, but I think it’s adequately policed.”
• Bettman also revealed that the NHL Awards show will be June 21 in Tampa prior to Game 4 of this series, and that the 2022-23 season will open Oct. 11. The schedule for next season is expected to be released in early July, likely as part of Draft week in Montreal.
• The league will not allow players from either team from Russia or Belarus to have their traditional day with the Stanley Cup in their homelands this summer because of the invasion of Ukraine. The league has not issued any directives to teams to not draft players from either country.
“They’re going to be totally available for selection, just like they are every year,” Daly said. “Would it surprise me if some may slip in where they’re projected to go based on the inability to access them? Potentially.”
• The league unveiled logos for the next season’s Winter Classic in Fenway Park (Pittsburgh at Boston), Stadium Series game in Raleigh (Washington at Carolina) and All-Star Game in Sunrise, Fla.