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And he repeated his desire as recently as two weeks ago, telling a gathering of Sabres alumni and fans, “Let’s see if we can get this Cup thing over with quickly.”

The Sabres fell short, but showed over the final half of the season that their cupboard is not bare.

Counted out in December, Buffalo went 29-11-6 over its final 46 games _ and 16-4-4 after Pegula took over _ to finish seventh in the East. The Sabres then showed resolve in providing a scare to the second-seeded and Atlantic Division-champion Flyers, before finally running out of steam.

“It is tough right now,” forward Paul Gaustad said. “But I am proud of everybody for what we accomplished.”

Pegula’s bid to rebuild the Sabres includes transforming the franchise’s once cost-conscious reputation. Buffalo was knocked for its failure to retain key players after losing former co-captains Chris Drury and Danny Briere to free agency in 2007, and core defensemen Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder to free agency last year.

With the Sabres‘ season over, plans are now being finalized to begin a major overhaul to improve and expand the team’s locker room and player area in a bid to make the team more player-friendly. Work is expected to begin in early June.