In the beginning of 2023, the NHL's Buffalo Sabres and Pegula Sports & Entertainment dropped a bit of a bombshell: John Roth had been tapped to serve as Chief Operating Officer for both entities. The shock was due to Roth lacking any type of background in professional sports. Rather, he spent most of his career with Fidelity Investments.
A Boston native, Roth earned his Bachelor of Arts in economics at Maine's Colby College in 1992. After working five years as a trader at a small Boston investment house called Tucker Anthony, he decided to be an investor. He then entered the Master of Business Administration program at MIT's Sloan School of Management, where he graduated in 1999. That same year, Roth landed a summer internship with Fidelity and never looked back.
Though he started as an equity analyst covering electric and gas utilities, he held numerous leadership roles in his 25 years with Fidelity. Prior positions include managing the Fidelity Balanced Fund and Fidelity Series All-Sector Equity Fund. He also served as sector leader of the consumer research team and manager of the Select Consumer Discretionary Portfolio and Fidelity Select Multimedia Portfolio. Additionally, he was portfolio manager of Select Chemicals Portfolio and Select Utilities Portfolio.
Without a doubt, Roth's recent COO roles are connected to his long-standing relationship with Sabres' owner Terry Pegula, which formed a dozen years ago. After investing in one of Pegula's companies, Roth and his new boss began developing a strong business relationship. “Over the past 12 years of knowing and working with John,” explained Pegula, who also owns the NFL's Buffalo Bills, “he has continuously shown exemplary leadership traits and I am thrilled to officially welcome him to our organization.”
By all accounts, the feeling is mutual. Roth knows that there's lots of work to be done on the franchise's business side – with the hockey team's attendance numbers leaving something to be desired. As a double COO, Roth reports directly to ownership, which has already given him the reins of the PSE offices and the business side of the Sabres. This includes the NHL team's day-to-day business operations. As a leader, Roth's reputation is already cemented by his extensive history in the investment world, but that may just be the tip of the iceberg.