The Ultimate Buffalo Sabres Factoid Miscellany

Media guides are like toy catalogs for hockey nuts.   Any statistical or historical tidbit that one could ever want to know are there for the plucking.

It’s easy for fans to get completely wrapped around what is happening to their team in the current season. Sometimes, it’s amazing what is forgotten as the seasons go by.

Over the years and seasons, I’ve been able to compile a pretty vast collection of Sabres trivia – some strange, some arcane, some downright awesome, outta’ the hockey nut toy catalog and other obscure places.

I hope you all re-learn something new.

Enjoy.

Paint may peel, and stadiums may fall, but Hockey Lore never gets old.

A Rough Ride

March 7, 1989 – the Sabres trade Lindy Ruff to the… New York Rangers… for a 5th round draft pick in 1990.  The result of that draft?  Richard Smehlik.

Watson, and the First Goal

The Sabres’ first goal ever was scored by Jim Watson on 10-10-70 in Pittsburgh at 5:01 of the 1st period.

It was lucky timing for Watson, in order to be included in Buffalo Sabres scoring history. In his NHL career, Watson played in 221 games, scoring only four times, while adding nineteen assists.

After parts of seven seasons in the Detroit organization, Watson was claimed by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1970 Expansion Draft. Upon his arrival with the Sabres, Watson went on to anchor the club’s blue line for two seasons before being claimed by the Los Angeles Sharks in the 1972 WHA General Player Draft.

Coincidentally, Watson is the only other player in franchise history to don the #2 besides the late great Tim Horton who had the number retired.

The Rob Ray Sandwich

Known more for his thickly-knuckled fists, Rayzor scored two goals in his debut, and two goals in his last game.

Quick Starts

Rob Ray, Danny Gare, Alex Mogilny, and Denis Hamel scored on their first NHL shifts.  Pat LaFontaine and Geoff Sanderson scored on their first shifts with the Sabres.  Stu Barnes registered a hat trick during his first game with the Blue and Gold.  Most recently, Paul Byron scored his 1st NHL goal on his 1st NHL shot (in his second game played).

UPDATE:  3-1-11 – Brad Boyes scores on his 1st shot as a Sabre, after being acquired from the St Louis Blues at the trade deadline.  In his first game, Boyes scored in the power play with 7 minutes left to go in the second period.  It was his only shot of the game.

Darcy Regier, the Player

Sabres GM Darcy Regier was the 5th choice (77th overall) of the California Golden Seals in the 1976 Amateur Draft.

He appeared in 26 NHL games over the course of 3 seasons with the Cleveland Barons and the New York Islanders, totaling 2 assists 35 penalty minutes.

The One-Punch Hawk

1972: Buffalo takes Larry Carriere 25th overall, in the second round. Arguably, the highlight of his NHL career – 7 seasons, 367 games, 16 goals and 74 assists with five teams – was Carriere’s one-punch KO of Montreal’s Yvon Lambert.

Lambert would eventually join the Sabres for one season when he was claimed by Buffalo from Montreal in Waiver Draft, October 5, 1981.

Carriere would eventually re-join the Sabres for a bit less than one season after his stints in other NHL towns, when he was plucked off the waiver wire. Carriere was back on the Sabres roster for the end of the 1977-78 season, and played in 9 games for the Sabres in 1977-78.

Serving the Sabres as a scout and as Director of Player Evaluation, “The Hawk” took over as Interim General Manager when John Muckler was dismissed in 1997, a position he held until current Sabres GM Darcy Regier was hired.

Company Men

There are only two players who have played their entire career with the Sabres and have totaled over 1,000 games.

Gilbert Perrault (1191)
Craig Ramsay (1070)

The Day the Enigma Code Was Broken

Maxim Afinogenov enjoyed his most prolific season during the Sabres torrid dominance of the NHL in the 06-07 season.

In only 56 games, The Enigma recorded 23 goals, 38 assists, and was a plus 19.

He also recorded 5 goals, 4 assists, and was a plus 9 in the playoffs that year before being benched by Lindy Ruff.

It was later revealed that Afinogenov suffered a broken wrist, which was the cause for his lack luster play. Though scoring an OT game winner when he returned to the lineup, he was never the same after that injury.

Dude was fast.

Encil “Porky” Palmer

Palmer, a longtime Sabres employee, would situate himself behind the Zamboni door, near the net that the opposition would guard in the first and third periods.

Whenever a puck would slide around the boards in that area, Palmer would kick the door, sending the puck ricocheting right out into the slot in front of the unsuspecting visiting goalie.

Ex-goalie Greg Millen, for one, was burned that way. (Millen played for Pittsburgh, Hartford, St. Louis, Quebec, Chicago, Detroit, and San Diego.)

“I remember one night, he did it and the Sabres ended up scoring,” said Millen. “I was so livid, I slammed my stick against the glass right by his ear. They had enough of a home-ice advantage, with the rink being smaller than normal. But that was too much.”

Previous to being the nemesis of netminders at the Aud, Porky played for the Buffalo Bisons of the AHL and the Syracuse Blazers of the EHL in 64-65 and 67-68. His position?

Goaltender. (“There is no honor amongst thieves.”)

Ah, the good ol’ days. I don’t think you would ever see that kind of mischief under the scrutiny of today’s world of HD television.

Pommer’s First Bomber

In the second round of the 06-07 playoffs, the Sabres defeated the top-seeded Sens in five measly games.

A crucial moment in the series occurred in Game 1 when Tim Connolly forced overtime by scoring with 11 seconds left in regulation. Buffalo went on to win, 7-6, on a goal by Chris Drury.

A total of three victories in the series came in overtime, including the series-clinching game five, which was won on a short-handed goal by Jason Pominville to send Buffalo to the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes.

It was the first time in NHL history that a series had been decided on a short-handed goal.

So Long, Patty

After a series of concussions that left doctors unwilling to admit Patty back on the ice, LaFontaine was shipped off to the NYR for a 2nd round draft pick in 1998, and “future considerations.”

The 2nd round pick turned out to be the 34th overall, and the Sabres selected Andrew Peters. (Mike Fisher was taken 44th, Brad Richards 64th, and perhaps most comparable, Jarkko Ruutu was taken 68th.)

Peters did record 14 goals, 10 assists, and 137 PIM’s with the Oshawa Generals in his last season before the draft, as well as an impressive 2 goal, 7 assist, and 36 PIM playoff performance (in just 15 games).

His role for the Sabres however was etched in stone: “hit everything, and remember not to lead with your face.”

Hey, he tried.

The Other One

The Buffalo Sabres selected Keith Gretzky in the 1985 draft. The center from the Windsor Spitfires was selected in the 3rd round, 56th overall.

In the OHL, his best season came in 1984–85 when he recorded 31–62–93 in 66 games with Windsor. In 298 OHL games, he collected 113 goals, 222 assists and 335 points.

In the NHL, he attended two training camps and played in several pre-season games, but he never played a regular-season game.

The Sabres retired Gretky’s number, along with the rest of the NHL, after his retirement (though you won’t see it hanging from the rafters in the HSBC, since it’s Wayne’s).

“What’s in a name? A rose, a rose, is just the same.” But a Gretzky is not, is SO not the same.

The Unsinkable Draft

Tired of the current Sabres roster? Not sure whose name to embroid on the back of your fancy new Alternate Jersey?

How about an Alternate Player? Be the first on your block (or in your arena) to own:

A MORRIS TITANIC JERSEY (#19)

Morris Titanic was a 1st round choice of Buffalo (12th overall) in the 1973 draft. (The Quebec Nordiques of the World Hockey Association drafted him in the 2nd round, 17th overall of the WHA Draft the same year, but he never played in that league.)

He posted no points in 19 career NHL games with the Sabres, but later distinguished himself with the International Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals. A knee injury forced him to retire during the 1979–80 season while he was playing for the Rochester Americans. After retiring, Titanic became the head coach of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres, where he coached players such as Bob Beers and Todd Krygier.

Titanic currently is a permanent member of the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Hockey Team.

Interestingly enough, none of the Sabres draftees from ’73 ever laced up the skates for the Sabres, except Titanic – let’s say he “went down with the ship” for the boys of that draft.

Get to Know Your Assistant Coaches I:

Brian McCutcheon is the sneaky looking gray haired guy that follows Ruff around behind the bench during games. Fans never hear a peep about him through him or the media. A quick look at his accomplishments though, and you can see a future replacement for Lindy. Sneaky, indeed.

McCutcheon’s dry stats:

Former Amerks head coach
-128-82-9 over 3 seasons
-Took the Amerks to 2 Calder Cups (lost both)
-Amerks’ franchise record for most points (111) and wins (52) in a season

Former head coach of the Columbus Chill (ECHL)
-44-21-5 over one season (lost in round 2)
-ECHL coach of the year
-Chill’s franchise record for most points and wins in a season

See the pattern there? He brings his teams into greatness, only to be tragically foiled in the playoffs. Sounds like a perfect match for Buffalo, given the Sabres’ history.

McCuthcheon is, meanwhile, tabbed as a player development coach – which is exactly one of the top priorities on a Sabres HC resume. That makes him a keeper in any small market NHL village.

As a player in the NHL, McCutcheon recorded 3 goals, 1 assist, and 7 PIM’s with the Red Wings over parts of 3 seasons from 1974-77.

Get to know your Assistant Coaches II:

James Alan Patrick, Assistant Coach to Lindy Ruff, was drafted 9th overall by the dreaded New York Rangers in the 1981 entry draft. He suited up for 1280 games and recorded 639 points in a 21-year NHL career with New York Rangers, Hartford, Calgary and Buffalo.

Patrick brought his veteran blueline presence to the Buffalo Sabres where he remained through the 2003-04 season before calling it a career in the summer of 2005.

Patrick is given a great deal of credit for mentoring the success of Brian Campbell, as well as other Sabres defensive prospects.

James Patrick comes from quite an athletic bloodline:

His father, Steve Sr., played pro football with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, and later became a member of the Manitoba Parliament.

His brother Steve is a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame with James. Steve was drafted in 1980 by Buffalo in the first round, and went on to play five years before being traded to the dreaded New York Rangers in 1984-85. He finished his NHL career in 1986 with Quebec with a total of 40 goals and 68 assists in 250 games.

Sick, Sick Goaltending

It takes a very brave man to face his fears. It takes an even braver one to take that fear, channel it into his gut, and shoot it out through his goaltender mask on national TV.

Tom Draper threw up in his crease, in a ’92 playoff game against the Bruins. The backup goaltender either had the flu, or a professional case of butterflies.

I couldn’t find any video of this online, and well, maybe that’s not so surprising. I do, however, remember clamoring around the TV with my college roommates saying, “Dude SPEWED?” while Draper’s team mates gathered around him to hide the awful mess. Draper did record a shutout in the series, but the “spew” was indeed a harbinger of fate, as the Sabres fell in seven games.

In August of that year, the Sabres traded for Dominik Hasek, who would keep the crease clear and clean of virtually everything, (sometimes including his own stick), until 2001.

Moments in Sabres Draft History: How the Sabres Scouting Staff handed the Islanders a Key to a Dynasty
In 1977, the Sabres selected forward Ric Seiling at No. 14 in the NHL Entry Draft, then as they were fitting him for a sweater, the New York Islanders took Mike Bossy at No. 15.

Bossy played 752 games while Seiling played 738, but Bossy definitely outplayed Seiling. Bossy had 573 goals to Seiling’s 179.

Then, in the second round, Buffalo took center Ron Areshenkoff at No. 32, and as the Sabres considered if they would ever need to fit him for a sweater, the Islanders took John Tonelli at 33.

Tonelli’s sweater would soak up a lot of sweat, as he would go on to score 325 times in 1,028 games. Areshenkoff never scored a goal, barely breaking a sweat in just 4 games… for the Oilers.

Epilogue:

In 1980, Seiling and the Sabres finished 2nd overall in the NHL standings, and were red hot when they met the Islanders in the semifinals.

Unfortunately, the giveaway/takeaway ratio (of the 1977 draft) would doom the Blue and Gold, as The Isles went on to win the series in six games.

Seiling had only 2 goals and 2 assists in the playoffs that year, while Bossy scored 17 goals and added 18 assists in the 18 games it took New York to win the Stanley Cup. Tonelli added 5 goals and 8 assists, joining Bossy on the Cup Engraver’s List.

That year was the beginning of a dynasty that would raise 4 Stanley Cups banners to the rafters in Long Island.

Moments in Sabres Last Minute Contracts History: This “Ziggy” Pun, like all Ziggy Puns, is not Funny and Ends in a Way that Makes You Scratch Your Head

June, 2001: The Sabres desperately fax a contract sheet for Mike Zigomanis to the NHL for approval at the signing deadline, at the eleventh hour/minute/second/oh heck, they were a comma short and too late to make the correction.

While the fax did reach the NHL in time – just in time – there was a “problem with the content of the documentation,” and Ziggy had to re-enter the draft.

Zigomanis went on to become an Ace Faceoff King for the dreaded Pittsburgh Penguins.

Looks like cartoon Ziggy is about to miss a deadline, too.

Following in the tradition of the previous post, there is a second part to the debacle. It wasn’t just Zigomanis that the Sabres lost to a typo. They had already traded once-Sabres-rookie-of-the-year Derek Plante to the Dallas Stars in 1999 for the draft pick that Buffalo then used to get Zigomanis.

A Feel Good Ending?

Sabres karma strikes again, (as it did with Mike Bossy in 1980), as Derek Plante returned to Buffalo to face off against his former Sabres teammates in the controversial 1999 Stanley Cup finals.

Lord Stanley would soon have a prolonged stay in Cloquet, Minnesota that summer, as resident Derek Plante returned with the iconic trophy alongside none other than Brett Hull, who liked to spend summers in the area on Pike Lake (so he could put his foot in its crease).

Gilbert Perreault’s Lucky #11

What better player to address on Superbowl Sunday than the greatest Sabre of all, Gilbert Perreault?

All Sabres fans are familiar with the “French Connection Banner” that holds the retired numbers of “The Original Sabre,” along with his linemates, Rene Robert and Rick Martin.

But why #11?

The number was decided by fate, or by Punch Imlach, really. Punch, Buffalo’s GM at the time, chose a certain set of numbers for the roulette wheel spin that would determine which team would pick first overall that year. On the wheel, numbers 1-6 would represent the Vancouver Canucks, and 7-12 would represent the Sabres. Punch’s favorite number was eleven.

Perreault would steal the magic from the wheel, donning #11 in respect of the result, then putting on a magic show for Sabres fans until he retired in 1986.

Canuck fans were also able to feel the magic of having Gil on their team – albeit quite briefly. When the wheel stopped, Vancouver cheered wildly, somehow confusing the number 11 for the roman numeral II. Ouch, eh?

The Nigerian

Rumun Ndur was selected by the Sabres in 1994 in the 3rd round (69th overall).

The defenseman was the first Nigerian-born hockey player ever to lace up for the NHL.

He wore #40 for the Sabres, before being dealt to the dreaded New York Rangers. After a stint with Atlanta, his NHL stats accumulated to 2 goals, 3 assists, and 137 PIM’s.

Here’s a video of Rumun trying to knock the vowels off of Ryan Vandenbussche’s jersey:

Marty Biron: The Original “Goose”

When Biron broke into the NHL in 1997, he wore the goaltender’s favorite number on the back of his jersey: zero. Actually, he wore double zero, or “00.”

As the hockey gods smiled, Biron went on to let in as many goals in his first two seasons as the total of those two zeros on the back of his jersey. Nothing got by him. Unfortunately, as the hockey gods smirked, this number also matched the total amount of games he played in. (Biron served as a backup 3 times in ’97, and 1 time in ’97-’98.)

Biron would never have a chance to play in the crease wearing the number – the NHL adopted a rule in 1998 that only allowed for players to don a number between 1-99.

So, Marty took 43, and began his efforts to keep as many zeros on NHL scoreboards as possible.

The Quotable Harry Neale

One of Sabres TV Commentator Harry Neale’s most famous quotes from his coaching career came after coaching the Canucks to a loss during the 1981–82 season:

“Last season we couldn’t win at home. This season we can’t win on the road. My failure as a coach is I can’t think of any place else to play.”

Also:

“Our system of fore checking is to shoot the puck and leave it there.”

“I know my players don’t like my practices, but that’s okay because I don’t like their games.”

Once, he put a 24-pack of beer at center ice at the end of a practice.

“I told ’em, ‘The winning team gets the beer.’ Honest to God, I was sorry I did it. I thought those guys were going to kill each other in that scrimmage.”

Say that to my Face

In the 91-92 season, not many teams in the NHL were happy about facing off against the Buffalo Sabres. It’s not because they were a tough team to beat – their record at the end of the season was an unremarkable 31-37-12. They were however a tough team, that beat, and then beat, and then beat down the opposition some more – in the face.

The tag-team combination of Rob Ray and Brab May found its hay day in that season.

With Ray’s 354 PIM’s, May’s 309, and Mike Donnelly’s 305, the Sabres became the first team in NHL history to have three players, to achieve 300 PIM’s or more. The Sabres also broke the record for team PIM’s in one NHL season, with 2,713.

That’s a lot of time to sit, feel shame, and think.

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword

In this factoidal case, the “sword” is the Sabres’ special teams. On February 25th, 2001, the Sabres suffered two short handed goals against them… on the same powerplay.

The Lightning did strike twice, when Nils Ekman and Todd Warriner scored just 25 seconds apart while shorthanded. The goals cut the Sabres’ lead from 5-2 to 5-4, with less than four minutes left in the 3rd.

But it was Buffalo’s powerplay that would actually help to save the day. The Sabres had managed to score 3 powerplay goals on their 10 attempts, just one goal good enough to get them past Nils, Todd and Co. It also helped that the Sabres had killed off all of Tampa’s 4 powerplays on the night.

The Sabres would go on to win the game 5-4, with Dave Andreychuk netting the game winning goal.

“Our power play was clicking and obviously played a big part in the win,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “But it almost gave it back by allowing those two short-handed goals.”

Clicking both ways, really.

Danny Gare Strikes Twice, Lightning Quick, and then does it again

Before Nate Gerbe recently notched a pair of goals in 5 seconds, Danny Gare was on record as having scored Buffalo’s fastest two goals in Sabres history – netting the pair in just ten seconds against Toronto on 11-8-80.*

But as these factoids have revealed, the Sabres have a certain ironic history of letting things come back to haunt them.

Gare faced off against his former teammates after being dealt to the Detroit Red Wings, and was then involved in the fastest three goals ever scored against the Sabres. Gare scored twice, and Bob Manno added a third goal, in just 34 seconds on 10-26-84.

*Derek Plante also scored 2 goals in 10 seconds, on 12-20-96 vs. LA

“Who Says this Guy is afraid of Flying?”

While “Alex the Great” may have had trouble flying on planes, he never had any issue flying to the opposition’s net.

Alexander Mogilny scored the fastest goal from the start of a game in Buffalo history when he scored five seconds into a regular-season game against Toronto on Dec. 21, 1991.

Derek Roy holds the fastest opening goal in a playoff game for the Sabres, having scored nine seconds into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Ottawa Senators in 2007.

Randy Cunneyworth Watches the Other Team Hold up a Cup – Twice in one Year

Sabres fans recount with ire the controversial defeat of Buffalo by Dallas in the Stanley Cup finals in 1999.

Randy Cunneyworth was a member of that Sabres team, but losing that series wasn’t the only 2nd place disaster he had to endure.

That same season, he also suited up for the Rochester Americans to play in the Calder Cup Finals. Rochester fell to Providence.

Where is Alex Zhitnik’s Brother?

Alex “Killer” Zhitnik, one of the Russian roster members of the ’99 cup-fightin’ team, was born with a twin brother, Dmitri.

I was unable to locate any information on this twin, other than the fact that he was born.

The hook here, really, is the fact that one of “our” boys can have a twin, and no one knows about it. That is the Shroud of the Iron Curtain, still up, after all these years.

If I figure out where and who this Dmitri is and came to be, I will post it here.

Sabre Killers

Plain and simple: Ron Francis and Ray Bourque were holy terrors when facing off against the Sabres. Buffalo fans will recall with ire Francis and the ‘Canes advancing to the cup finals in 06-07, and Bourque routinely winning games seemingly by himself.

For all-time career points by a player versus Buffalo, Francis tops the chart with 114, with Bourque close behind at 113.

Still, it’s hard to hate Francis or Bourque – hockey players of the purest design.

A few Hometown Heroes

Though the Buffalo area has produced many NHLers over the years, Patrick Kaleta is just the third Buffalo-area resident to play for his hometown Sabres.

Buffalo’s Peter Ciavaglia played in 5 games between 1991 and 1993. Scott Thomas played 39 games for the Sabres between 1992 and 1994.

Buffalo-born Tim Kennedy joined the team for one season.

Buffalo Seals

Along with his brother Northrup R. Knox, Seymour Knox III presented an application to the NHL on October 19, 1965, to obtain a National Hockey League expansion team in 1967, but they were denied.

Actually, a "buffalo seal" is an intimidating animal, and it would have been interesting to see how they would have made a logo out of this thing.

In 1968, the NHL Board of Governors rejected the agreement to move the Oakland Seals to Buffalo – denied again.

But the brothers would refuse to be shut out. Finally, on December 2, 1969 the league announced its decision to expand to Buffalo and Vancouver for the 1970–71 season.

The “Sabres” were worth waiting for. I can only imagine the headlines WNY fans nearly had to endure… “Seals Clubbed by Canadiens in Buffalo.”

One Draft, One Line

The 2009 draft was the first time in Sabres history that the team selected an entire line – 3 forwards (Kassian, Foligno, Lagault), 2 defensemen (McNabb, Adams), and a goaltender (Knapp).

Sabretooth’s Hidden Talent

From NHL.com:


Sabretooth is one of the most mysterious mascots in pro sports. No one really knows where this bad cat came from, but rumor has it, he was discovered under the ice at The Aud during 1988-89 season.

While he may be hated by his NHL suit rivals, he is well loved by the Buffalo fans. He is a very popular mascot because he is always ready to give a hug, sign an autograph or take a picture with the Sabre faithful.

Born on January 1,1988, Sabes not only signs autographs southpaw, he also shoots the puck left-handed and is considered to be the AL MacInnis of NHL mascots, as his blasts usually register in the triple digits on the radar gun.


Hmm. I wonder if he can QB the Sabres’ power play.

Ripper

Rip Simonick is the longest tenured Equipment Manager in the NHL, having joined the Sabres in the Summer of Love, 1969.

And he loves his team, considering himself a father figure caring for the players: a decent baseball player and junior B and college winger, Simonick realized he’d never make a living as an athlete, “but I was ready to do anything to be involved and I loved team sports.”

He’s since been the EM for three all star games. He was part of the 1978 game in Buffalo, one starring the Sabres’ French Connection of Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert and Richard Martin. In ’89, he was in Edmonton, awed by the Oilers’ Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier. He was most recently the all star man in 2007.

Oh, and the name “Rip?” His real first name is Robert, but no one calls him that. “Rip” comes from the fact that he likes to take a lot of naps – “Rip Van Winkle.”

But 42 years in and counting with the Blue and Gold, you’ll never catch him drifting off during a game.

Rebuilding

Coming into the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, Buffalo Sabres GM Scotty Bowman owned 3 of the first 16 overall picks.

The #6 pick, (acquired in a trade that sent Jerry Korab to Los Angeles in 1980), was used to select defenseman Phil Housley.

Pick #9, (from Calgary in the Don Edwards trade), was used to select left wing Paul Cyr.

Finally, with their own pick – #16 – the Sabres selected Dave Andreychuk.

EA Sports NHL ’94

Heralded by many to be the best sports video game ever made, NHL ’94 had a nice roster of players in Buffalo.

The Sabres overall rating in that version was 73, which might seem like a low number by today’s standards, but it put Buffalo in a tie for 8th overall with the Montreal Canadiens.

Alex Mogilny, Pat LaFontaine, and Dale Hawerchuk lead the team in player ratings (at 96, 91, and 74, respectively). Dominik Hasek was inserted as the #2 behind Grant Fuhr, with the Dominator handed a lowly rating of 53.

Today, the game still exists online, and it sticks true to the game: even the “Ryan Miller Shutout” is included. Gotta’ blame Max for holding onto the puck for way too long on that play. (At the 8:40 mark)

Missing Trophies

Lord Stanley’s Cup is still at the top of Sabres fans’ wishlists, but there are a couple other trophies the Sabres have yet to capture.

No Sabre has ever won the Conn Smythe (for the top playoff performer – almost always given to a player on the winning side*), and no Sabre has ever won the Norris (for the best defenseman in the regular season).

What is the trophy the Sabres have won the most? Buffalo has always been strong between the pipes, so it’s no surprise that it is the Vezina:

1980 Bob Sauve & Dan Edwards
1984 Tom Barrasso
1994 Dominik Hasek
1995 Dominik Hasek
1997 Dominik Hasek
1998 Dominik Hasek
1999 Dominik Hasek
2001 Dominik Hasek
2010 Ryan Miller

*Hasek would have snagged the Conn Smythe in 99, if not for Brett Hull’s illegal goal in game 6 – and if the Sabres took game 7.

Total Domination

Dominik “The Dominator” Hasek wasn’t just a master of the Vezina. In his time in Buffalo, he beat his teammates at, well, everything.

Chess. Tennis. Soccer. Backgammon. Even Scrabble.

“I played tennis with him and he kicked my butt,” said Sabres teammate Derek Plante. “He kicks our butt in backgammon. He beats everyone in chess. And they must play the same card games over there (in the Czech Republic) because he’s very good at cards.”

And he certainly beat Regier’s hand to a pulp when he forced a trade to Detroit – but only if “non-quality players” would come back to Buffalo in return, so as not to hurt Hasek’s Cup quest. No offense, Vyacheslav Kozlov.

Classic Matt Barnaby

Barnaby was one of the most, er, eloquent agitators ever to lace up for the Blue and Gold. His mastery of the snarky retort drew many penalties during his tenure – possibly none of his on-ice chin-wags better than this (even if he was in Pittsburgh at the time):

It was the 1999 playoffs. After a pregame scuffle between New Jersey’s Lyle Odelein and Barnaby of the Pens, Barnaby had this to say about Odelein: “Cornelius as we like to call him gets under your skin. Planet of the Apes. Look at him. Seriously. He looks like Cornelious.” Odelein responded by saying: “He should take a look at his wife. She is awful to look at.”

Hmm. Maybe Barnaby was onto something.

You be the judge.

Vanek’s Theme Song

This factoid comes compliments of Yahoo! Sports’ “Puck Daddy.”

Yep. TV has an official theme song. Click on the link to hear the track, which was written to accompany Vanek’s biography. “Euphoria” is the title of the song. And euphoria is what I am waiting for – when the Sabres finally win that dang Cup.

Before the Blue and Gold

Much like the Champion Bills of the AFL have been largely forgotten in the wake of their modern NFL counterparts, so have the Buffalo Bisons been overshadowed by the Sabres.

The Buffalo Bisons of the AHL had a fair share of trophies. They were Calder Cup champions in 1943, 1944, 1946, 1963 and 1970, and runners-up in 1948, 1951, 1955, 1959 and 1962. The 1940’s team looks like a dynasty.

Back then, the AHL was stocked with talent. These guys were no hacks. From BisonsHistory.com:


Back then; the game of hockey was much different. The National Hockey League had just 6 teams. Competition was intense for “big league” spots. A player had to be the best to make it to the NHL. The battle for big league positions was often waged on the ice rinks of the American Hockey League teams. Some of the best professional hockey players of all time skated for the Herd.


Those to wear the Pepsi-sweater included Dick Gamble, who eventually went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens.

Y’AR!

The Portland Pirates (founded in 1993) were originally known as the Baltimore Skipjacks. “What the heck is a Skipjack,” you ask?

Well, I’ll tell you: it’s a tuna.

Worst mascot ever.

The Baltimore Tunas were originally the the Erie Blades, a name far easier to digest.

And that is how the Pirates came to Buffalo.

Lunch Fish

For those curious, notable alumni of the Baltimore Skipjacks include:

Ted Nolan
Stave Carlson (one of the Hanson Brothers)
Olaf Kolzig
Bob Errey (who suited up in Buffalo as a rental for 8 games in ’92-’93)
Marty McSorley
And the sailor-mouthed Claude Julien, who looks strikingly like one of the characters from “King of the Hill.”

The Roaring Twenties

Hockey in Buffalo didn’t exactly start locally.

During Prohibition in the 1920’s, Americans in northern cities routinely crossed the Canadian border to enjoy the vices outlawed stateside. Fort Erie’s Peace Bridge Arena was home to the then Canadian-Professional Hockey League’s “Buffalo” Bisons, who started playing in 1928.

The Bisons played 42 games that year, picking up 17 wins and 7 ties riding alongside Rolland Huard’s 26 points in 18 games.

These days the beer flows both ways over the Peace Bridge, as fans from Toronto and Buffalo converge on each other’s rival arenas for the modern matchups between the Leafs and the Sabres.

From Miracle on Ice to the Blacklist?

Mike Ramsey is known in WNY for two things – for being one of the best players ever to patrol the blueline foe the Blue and Gold, and for being one of the key players in the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team.

He was recognized around the league, appearing in four All-Star games (1982, 1983, 1985, 1986). But, why was the 1986 All-Star Game Ramsey’s last?

Here is the reason, per Sherry Ross (an American sports broadcaster and journalist, currently working alongside Matt Loughlin as a color commentator for NHL New Jersey Devils radio broadcasts):


It was a game that had it all: slithery passes, booming slap shots, and quicksilver saves. But all the players talked about after last night’s National Hockey League All-Star Game was The Hit.

In a game that has traditionally become a scoring showcase for hockey’s most talented skaters, a check by the Wales Conference’s Mike Ramsey on Campbell Conference star Wayne Gretzky brought almost as much attention as Bryan Trottier’s game-winning overtime goal.

Ramsey lined up Gretzky at the Wales blue line with a little more than six minutes gone. The Buffalo defenseman’s check caught Gretzky in the left thigh, and Gretzky got up slowly and limped to the Campbell bench. The Edmonton center did not miss a shift, however, and scored the next goal of the game later in the period.

“I don’t know why there’s such a big deal about it,” said Ramsey, who is known for his solid stay-at-home defensive play with the Sabres. “It’s no big deal. I didn’t hit him that hard.” Gretzky agreed, although Edmonton teammate Kevin Lowe responded by high-sticking Ramsey on the next shift.


At least Ramsey got to appear on the David Letterman Show after the game.

Mayday!! (Not the Day You’re Thinking About)

All Sabres fans remember that iconic series clinching goal scored by Brad May against the Boston Bruins, and RJ’s “MAYDAY!” broadcast call. Classy stuff.

Steve Moore likely doesn’t relish that moment very much. His career was ended when Todd Bertuzzi Superfly-Snuka’d him in one of the dirtiest plays in NHL history. But was there a Second Snuka?

Allegedly, it was Brad May that put the bounty on the head of the then Colorado Avalanche’s Steve Moore.

May was named in a lawsuit filed by Moore, but Moore was unable to prove the charges, which were later dropped in Colorado as the case was moved to an Canadian court.

Thankfully for Sabres fans, this all happened long after that goal, and the resulting sudden allowance demand by May, and the resulting trade of May.

Alex Mogilny’s #89

“Buffalo Sabres owner Seymour H. Knox gave me sweater number 89 when I joined his team. I was the 89th pick in the draft, and I came to North America in 1989. Wearing 89 on my back is special to me; it’s more than just a number.”

Back to the Pirates/Skipjacks/Blades

The Erie Blades is the furthest ancestor to the Portland Pirates. There isn’t much there tied to Buffalo, except one thing.

Former Sabres Assistant coach John Tortorella (infamous and revered for his ability to lose his temper and throw word bombs on live tv), played 12 games for the Blades from 1982-’84.

He racked up 2 goals and 10 assists, but there is no record on what he said to interviewers after those games.

(The link above is safe for work; it is a censored “ESPN TOP TEN” run-down of Torts at his frustrated best.)

Khmylev Scores with a Broken Leg

When talking about the ’94 playoffs, most folks remember Dave Hannan’s goal in the 4th overtime of Game 6, and how the Sabres wound up on the wrong side of a 2-1 scorecard after Game 7. It was an epic goaltending duel between Hasek and Brodeur.

This is what folks forget:

On April 5th, 1994, the Associated Press reported that “Sabres forward Yuri Khmylev has a broken leg and will likely miss the rest of the regular season.”

On April 23rd, Khmylev and his broken leg scored 2 goals in the 5-3 Game 4 victory. He added another goal on the 25th, in a 5-3 loss.

Unfortunately he couldn’t muster a goal in Game 7. The Hockey Books of Lore almost had another chapter of one of the walking wounded winning a playoff series, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Still, his show of grit in ’94 was something to witness.

Dave Andreychuk Finds his “Speed”

Not known for his footspeed, A-chuk definitely was moving quickly in the 1985 playoffs.

He scored three goals in just a 12:37 minute span. This Sabres’ playoff record has never been beaten.

Just for the sake of curiosity and snark, if he was able to replicate that over one 82 game regular season… let’s see… 60 minutes in a game… 1 goal every 4 minutes… hold on…

…this means he would have scored 1,230 goals in one year. I am not in any way going to do the math to figure out how much time this means he would have had to spend standing in front of the net.

Well he wound up with 640 goals and 1338 points over his career, and that in itself is pretty darn impressive enough.

Roy’s Crystal Puck

In Roy’s last year of major junior hockey, he was selected to play for Team Canada in the 2003 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. He brought home a silver medal and received player of the game honours with a crystal puck.

He made his next international appearance at the World Championships with Team Canada. In the quarter-finals, he scored a hat trick against Norway in an 8–2 win. Roy earned another silver medal with Canada as they were defeated in overtime of the gold medal game by Russia.

Rob Ray, Goal Scorer

For those fans who have not read “Rayzor’s Edge: Rob Ray’s Tough Life on the Ice,” Rob Ray writes how he fancied himself as a pretty talented goal scorer, always near the top of his teams in points up until his pro days.

To paraphrase, he was told in order to make it to the NHL, he had to play the role of the enforcer, a role he gladly took up (and excelled in), becoming one of the most popular players in Sabres’ history.

His OHL stats with the Cornwall Royals:

’85-’86: 6 goals, 19 points (53 games)
’86-’87: 17 goals, 37 points (46 games)
’87-’88: 11 goals 52 points (69 games)

Stats aside, his goal scoring prowess in the NHL is fondly remembered more for plays like this.

And for nights like this. I counted 15 punches on the poor kid.

The Flight 3407 Game

Just go ahead and click on the link… with prayers and thoughts.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/4…uary-13th-2009

Thanks to the Sabres for winning that darn game.

Tim Kennedy Goes Gretzky

At Michigan State Tim was a member of 2007 NCAA Championship team. He contributed one goal in the championship game against Boston College and assisted Justin Abdelkader’s game winning goal.

That’s clutch.

But this is pure magic:

Vaclav Varada, Playoff Hero

Varada was a gritty, corner working forward for the Sabres from 1995 – 2003.

In my camp, he is known for two things:

1. For looking as if at any moment he might turn into a werewolf
2. For being a playoff scoring machine

Check out these playoff stats for Varada from his playing days in Buffalo:

’96-’97: 1 goal, 7 points in 10 games (rookie season)
’97-’98: 3 goals, 7 points in 15 games
’98-’99: 5 goals, 9 points in 21 games (an “off” year, and bad timing for that)

In his combined NHL playoff runs, Varada ran up 30 points in 87 games and was +12, as opposed to 183 points in 493 regular season games (+19).

King Kong Korab

Korab patrolled the blueline in Buffalo from 1973 to 1980, where he blossomed into an effective defenseman. Korab was a physical presence while hitting double-digits in goals four times, helping the Sabres reach that first Stanley Cup final in 1975.

He was picked to play in the 1975 and 1976 NHL All-Star Games.

King Kong was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Kings on March 10, 1980, for the first round drat choice that the Blue and Gold used to select offensive defenceman Phil Housley, the exact antithesis of the big bad Korab.

Danny Gare’s Quickest of Starts in the NHL

Danny Gare holds team records for most goals by a right winger (267), most game-tying goals (21), and fastest goal scored from start of NHL career (:18 into a game versus the Boston Bruins on October 10, 1974).

Barnaby’s Mother’s Day Gift(s)

1998. From the New York Times:

Barnaby celebrated Mother’s Day this afternoon with three goals. It was his first N.H.L. hat trick and it helped the Sabres gain a 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens and a two-games-to-none lead in the four-of-seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series.

He said it made him feel like a kid again, when he used to watch the Stanley Cup playoffs on television.

”Jubilation,” Barnaby said, when talking of his mother’s reaction as she sat in the stands in Marine Midland Arena and cheered him on. ”Between her and my brother, they made me the father and husband I am today. I can’t wait to see her when I get out of here.”

The Rob Ray Rule

During fights, Ray’s helmet, jersey, and pads were often easily torn off by his opponents, giving them nothing to grab on Ray’s body. With nothing to hold on to, his opponents would slide backwards on their skates when they threw punches, knocking them off balance and allowing Ray to grab their jerseys and move in with a distinct advantage. This allowed Ray to control nearly every fight he was in.

As a result of this practice, the NHL created a new rule enforcing additional penalties for players who removed jerseys or pads during a fight. Pundits saw this as a direct result of Rob Ray’s style of fighting, and nicknamed the rule the Rob Ray Rule. It was after the implementation of the “Rob Ray Rule” that Ray’s fighting prowess blossomed, highlighted by lengthy and, at times, bitter rivalries with fellow NHL enforcers such as Tie Domi, Mick Vukota, Stu Grimson, and Dennis Vial.

For your youtube viewing pleasure:

All 13 fights between Rob Ray and Tie Domi.

Rob Ray’s ESPN Commercial.

Miller Scores a “Gretzky Goal”

Normally credited for carrying the Sabres to victory on his back, Ryan Miller nearly lost a game against the Minnesota Wild on 10-22-08.

This was the game when Miller scored a goal on himself. To his credit, the goal was from a amazing angle, the type of angle Wayne Gretzky might score from. And it was a backhander. Give it a watch.

From USA Today:

“That was about the most embarrassing thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Miller said. “I took my eye off it to see where I could put it, and when I looked back the puck wasn’t where I thought it would be. So I tried to backhand it, and a guy kind of hit my stick.

“I figured if I played long enough I’d make the blooper reel.”

At least he could laugh about it.

“He came in after and said, ’29 saves and a goal is a pretty good night,”’ Ruff recalled. “I told him he has to buy the team dinner for every time you score.”

Derek Roy saved Miller’s  day in OT, netting the winner.

Derek Plante Give Up Olympics for Buffalo, then Wins the Cup in Ironic Fashion

In 1994, Sabres rookie Derek Plante was asked to join the US Olympic hockey team.  An injury to Pat LaFonatine meant that the Sabres wanted their new center to stay.

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Q: Do you regret that you never got to play in the Olympics?

A: Oh, for sure. The Olympics was a big priority growing up. I was in that age where the 1980 Olympic team was big. Corey Millen from Cloquet had played in 1984 and 1988 Olympics. But I had to look into the future. When you’re in that position and a rookie in the league, and the bosses tell you to do something, what can you do?

What can you do? Really, Derek? He got his revenge on his former bosses, when he won the Stanley Cup in 1999 with the Dallas Stars. Yea. That Cup.

Most recently, he was hired on June 10, 2010 as a Minnesota Duluth assistant men’s hockey coach.

Mike “The Kid” Ramsey

Little known fact, especially by younger Sabres fans: at 19 years of age, Ramsey was the youngest member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team that won gold in the “Miracle on Ice” (during the 1980 Winter Olympics).

His youth didn’t stop him from flattening the Soviet opposition, however – a tenacity that lead the Sabres to draft him 11th overall in 1979, just before the Olympic run began.

Tim Horton’s “Cursed” Car

Horton was hesitant to sign for his last, tragic year in Buffalo.

His donut empire was growing, and at 43, he was the second oldest player in the league, just months younger than netminder Gump Worsley. But Punch Imlach realized he needed Horton on the blueline, and offered him another one-year contract.

Negotiations were confirmed with Horton receiving a Pantera sportscar as a bonus.

On February 20, 1974, Buffalo was visiting Toronto, hoping to steal two points and help gain enough momentum to propel the team towards a playoff spot. Horton played his typical game, and although the Sabres lost 4-2, Tim was named the game’s third star.

“He was hurting too bad to play a regular shift in the third period,” recalled Sabre coach Punch Imlach. “We faded without him and lost the game to the Leafs. After the game, he and I took a little walk up Church Street and had what was our last talk.”

“He was down in the dumps because he didn’t like to miss a shift and he felt he had cost us the game. I got on the bus with the team. Tim drove the “cursed” car back to Buffalo. He didn’t make it.”

On his way back to Buffalo at 4:30 the morning of February 21, 1974, Horton lost control of his speeding Pantera on the highway near St. Catharines, rolling it several times. Tim Horton was killed instantly.

A '74 Pantera.

Kevin Maguire’s Hockey Quest

For a guy who never played organized hockey through most of his teens (until a shot stint with a Tier II junior club called the Orillia Travelways), Kevin Maguire sure has been making a mark on the NHL for a long, long time.

Maguire suited up for the Sabres from the ’87-88 to the ’89-90 campaigns, and was a fan favorite for his hard hitting style of play that made those old Aud dasher boards thunder and rattle.

He was also never one to back down from a fight. Here he is trying to knock the socks of Bruce Shoebottom.

Since his retirement as a player, he went on to work in the NHL as a referee, ironically spending 781 games trying to pry enforcers apart.

Since his retirement as a referee, he is far from done with hockey. He is the spearhead of a group (seperate from Jim Balsillie’s) to bring a NHL franchise to Hamilton.

All this from a kid who barely ever worked in skates until his late teens. It just goes to prove that it is never too late to get your nose in the game of hockey.

Depression Brings Joy

This makes one wonder if Buffalo would ever have had a hockey club if not for the Great Depression. From BisonsHistory.com:

During the mid-1930’s, the federal government pumped public works dollars into the national economy in an effort to put a halt to the Great Depression. Employment and construction programs spurred municipal projects across the country. In Buffalo, one such project was the replacement of the aging Broadway Auditorium, Buffalo’s only convention hall.

The cornerstone for the Aud was laid on November 30, 1939, funded by this program.

Original seat colors were red, blue and grey.

Makes you wonder if this Great Recession might get WNY some money to replace the crumbling Ralph Wilson stadium.

The Floodgates Open for the Sabres in the ’70’s

In ’75-’76, Gilbert Perreault had 113 points, 44 of these were goals. Sounds good, eh?

In the same season:

Danny Gare had 50 goals.
Rick Martin had 49 goals.
Rene Robert had 35 goals.

In all, the Blue and Gold racked up 339 goals that year, which is amazing in itself, until you consider the team record 354 goals that they scored in ’74-’75.

The scoring is even more impressive:

Rick Martin had 52 goals.
Rene Robert had 40 goals.
Gilbert Perreault had 39 goals.
Don Luce had 33 goals.
Danny Gare had 31 goals.
Rick Dudley had 31 goals.

Jim Lorentz had 25 goals. And then the “curse” happened.

It just wan’t meant to be… while the Sabres failed against the hated Flyers, at least they did kill at least one flying rodent.

Sabre Killers

No surprise: Daniel Alfredsson is on this list.

Most Goals (in One Game) by Opposing Player

4 Goals in One Game:

Rosaire Paiement (2-9-71 atVancouver)
Bob Schmautz (11-19-72 at Vancouver)
Phil Esposito (1-14-73 at Boston)
Mark Napier (12-3-80 vs. Montreal)
Wendel Clark (10-11-86 at Toronto)
Joe Nieuwendyk (12-13-87 vs. Calgary)
Joe Sakic (4-14-92 at Quebec)
Brian Bellows (2-27-93 at Montreal)
Peter Bondra (4-3-96 vs. Washington)
Jaroslav Svejkovsky (4-13-97 vs. Washington)
Daniel Alfredsson (11-2-05 vs. Ottawa)
Martin Havlat (11-2-05 vs. Ottawa)

Rookie Roid Rage

It is recorded that the Buffalo Sabres were the 1st team in NHL history to report that one of its players had used performance enhancing drugs.

From NBC Sports:

Sabres enforcer Andrew Peters briefly and legally used the steroidlike supplement androstenedione two years ago to help him make the team.

Peters did not break any laws or NHL rules at the time and has stopped using the performance enhancer since the Food and Drug Administration banned its sale in April 2004, his agent, Steve Bartlett, said Thursday.

Peters, believed to be the first NHL player to admit using a performance-enhancing supplement, said he used andro from May to August 2003, The Buffalo News reported.

“No one said you can’t, so why not?” Peters told the newspaper. “We didn’t do anything illegal. It was a supplement. We weren’t hiding anything. I had nothing to hide. My girlfriend at the time knew. My parents knew.”

Peters told The News he and brother Geoff Peters, a career minor leaguer, bought andro over the counter at a nutritional supplement store in Rochester.

Peters said he used andro to prepare for training camp and help overcome shoulder and ankle injuries that forced him to miss 23 games the previous season with the Sabres’ minor league affiliate in the AHL.

Peters went from 224 pounds to 247. He made the team and appeared in 42 games as a rookie in the 2003-04 season. The left wing finished with two goals, no assists and a team-leading 151 penalty minutes.

It’s hard to say if the extra 23 pounds helped him at all. Sure didn’t help him “move like a butterfly.”

Kennedy’s Head: Not the First

The Sabres buying out of Tim Kennedy’s abritration contract is the 1st incident of its kind in NHL history, and that pretty much sucks for Tim and his fans. It’s a big kick in the gut.

But he wasn’t the 1st player to get the mean guillotine from the Sabres.

Ray Sheppard was “traded” to the hated New York Rangers in his third year as a pro, after suffering an ankle injury in the ’89-’90 season.

The Sabres recieved one dollar in return.

This was before waivers were introduced to the NHL.

Sabre Killers, Part II

Again, it’s no surprise that Daniel Alfredsson is on this list of “Most Points in One Game by an Opposing Player.” From the Sabres Media Guide:

John Bucyk (12-10-70 at Boston, 2 goals, 4 assists)
Garry Unger (3-13-71 at St. Louis, 3 goals, 3 assists)
Bernie Nicholls (11-22-87 vs.
Los Angeles, 3 goals, 3 assists)
Hakan Loob (3-12-88 at Calgary, 3 goals, 3 assists)
Kevin Dineen (4-15-93 vs. Philadelphia, 3 goals, 3 assists)
Daniel Alfredsson (11-2-05 vs. Ottawa, 4 goals, 2 assists)

It’s also interesting to see current Portland Pirates coach Kevin Dineen up there. While passed over for a head coaching position in 2009 by various clubs, his style of grit and intensity, combined with his closeness to the new young core coming up the ranks, should make him a strong candidate to replace Lindy Ruff if and when Ruff departs.

A Sabre Killer just might become a Sabre Savior.

Sneaky Pete

Although Pierre Turgeon didn’t have the reputation as a great playoff producer from his WNY followers, he had a very respectable 97 points in 109 post season contests.

Turgeon erupted for his best season in 1992-93 when he recorded a career-best 58 goals and 132 points in his first full season on Long Island. Turgeon was enjoying his first taste of post season success and leading the Islanders to the Conference Finals.

Unfortunately, Turgeon was the recipient of one of the ugliest muggings in hockey history. As he celebrated a goal in a playoff clinching win against the Washington Capitals, Dale Hunter slowly skated up from behind and destroyed him against the boards.

Turgeon injured his shoulder and Hunter received a 21-game suspension. The Islanders, and particularly Turgeon, were never the same.

From the NY Daily News:

“Everything changed by one mean-spirited little prick. When Pierre Turgeon got up, he left some piece of himself on the Nassau pond. From the minute he returned, he was hesitant; he was a perimeter guy; he was a guy who was not activating the energy level of his team the way he had been. He didn’t have that drive to the front of the net.”

Anyone remember Mal Davis?

One of Mal’s goals was the game winner in the greatest comeback win in Sabres history.

On February 25, 1983, the Sabres trailed the Boston Bruins 6-1 early in the second period. Buffalo rallied to score four straight goals, bringing the score to 6-5 by the end of the second. The Sabres tied the game on a goal by Dave Andreychuk in the third period, and Davis scored with just minutes remaining to send the Buffalo fans home jubilant and loud as they streamed out of the Aud down those old ramps.

Those old ramps were a lot of fun after a win, and long walk after a loss.

Iron Man

Craig “Rammer” Ramsay enjoyed ten straight seasons with perfect attendance for the Buffalo Sabres. In all, he played in 776 straight games, until broken foot knocked him on his seat in 1983.

From “Legends of Hockey:”

Shortly after his arrival in Sabres-land, he was united with his close buddy and playing companion, Don Luce. Together the two formed a defensive juggernaut that served as a dragnet aimed at neutralizing the stars of the NHL. After a few years of experimenting with the third member of their line, Danny Gare settled in to form a trio that not only slowed the opposition to a crawl but generated high levels of offense at the same time. In 1979-80, Gare potted 56 goals–on a defensive line! Luce and Ramsay were no slouches either, netting their annual booty of 20-plus goals.

It was goals like this that make that line so special.

As a testament to his career, Ramsay was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward in 1985 – his last year in the league.

Scotty Bowman – The Player

Ex-Sabres coach Scotty Bowman’s 9 (plus) Stanley Cup coaching wins list him ahead of the legendary Toe Blake for the most ever.

From Wiki:

William Scott “Scotty” Bowman (born September 18, 1933) is a retired National Hockey League head coach. He holds the record for most wins in league history, with 1,244 wins in the regular season and 223 in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He coached the St. Louis Blues, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Detroit Red Wings. He is currently the Senior Advisor of Hockey Operations for the Chicago Blackhawks.

As head coach, Bowman has won a record nine Stanley Cups with the Canadiens (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979), Penguins (1992) and Red Wings (1997, 1998, and 2002). He has also won three Stanley Cups as a member of an organization’s front office.

More rings than fingers.

His career into coaching was accelerated, but for the wrong reason: a head injury ended Bowman’s playing career while he was still a junior.

In ’52-’53, he recorded 5 goals for 13 points with 11 PIM’s for the Montreal Jr. Royals of the QMJPL.

Bowman played for the QPJHL’s Montreal Jr. Canadians in the ’51-’52 and ’53-’54 seasons (but, as yet, statistics are unavailable). It was over too quickly for Bowman, but he emerged form his injury as arguably the best NHL coach of all time.

Here’s William “Scotty” Bowman being interviewed on the Dennis Miller Show. Enjoy.

Pat LaFonatine, “Mr. New York”

LaFontaine is one of four players in NHL history to skate for all three teams based in the state of New York. The others were Mike Donnelly, former teammate Jason Dawe and Martin Biron, who will accomplish the feat with the Rangers in the 2010-11 NHL season. LaFontaine played his entire career in the state of New York while Donnelly also played for the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars and Dawe also played for the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators.

LaFontaine once joked about it, saying “I got to play for three great organizations in my career and never once had to buy new license plates.”

Donald Audette

Audette is remembered by most Sabres fans for his scoring prowess and willingness to go to the danger zones around the net to put the puck into it.

What a lot of folks forget is that Donald intially went undrafted in the 1988 entry draft. The Sabres finally picked him in the 1989 draft – in the ninth round. It turned out to be a steal of a pick.

Interestingly, Audette was the first in team history to leave the Sabres via a trade, and then rejoin the club by way of a trade.

Another forgotten fact is that Audette once served as captain of the Blue and Gold. On April 18, 1998, when Sabres Captain Michael Peca was sidelined with a knee injury, Audette was named interim Captain for Buffalo’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Rogier Crozier and “Friday the 13th”

Today we enjoy yet another Friday the 13th. Watch out for sickeningly bad vampire novels/movies/tv shows everybody. They are everywhere.

Anyway, here’s a quirky fact: the iconic hockey mask donned by “Jason” in the “Friday the 13th” movie series was modeled purportedly after what Rogier Crozier in the 1970’s.

From ESPN:

“Success has a thousand fathers,” Zerner (a cast member) said. “But the story I’ve heard is that Marty Sadoff, who was the 3-D supervisor and a big Buffalo Sabres fan, was the guy who said ‘the hockey mask.'”

Crozier’s mask and Jason’s mask are indeed, eerily similar.

The faceless, vacant mask was incredibly creepier than Ken Dryden’s colorful bulls-eye:

Crozier’s Untouchable Legacy

Roger Crozier was the Sabres’ 1st man between the pipes, and the Blue and Gold were lucky to have him.

Most have long forgotten, or never have heard, that Crozier made his NHL debut during the ’63-’64 season, as a backup to the legendary Red Wings goaltender Terry Sawchuk.

The Red Wings organization was so impressed with Crozier’s play that during the off-season, Sawchuk was traded and Crozier was given the starting nod.

Crozier was the starting goaltender for the Sabres’ first ever NHL game on October 10, 1970 in Pittsburgh against the Penguins. Crozier turned aside 35 of Pittsburgh’s 36 shots as the Sabres earned their first NHL win by a score of 2-1. It turned out to be an easy night for him, as he would often face between 40 and 50 shots against a game during the Sabres’s first two years in the NHL.

League Awards
1964-65: Calder Trophy (Outstanding Rookie)
1964-65: NHL First Team All-Star
1965-66: Conn Smythe Trophy (Stanley Cup Playoff Most Valuable Player)

Team Awards
1971-72: Wayne Larkin Memorial Trophy (Sabres Most Valuable Player)
1971-72: Star of Stars Trophy (Most three stars selections during season)

Team Firsts
First shift on the ice for the Buffalo Sabres: (along with Hap Myers, Billy Inglis, Ron Anderson, Paul Terbenche and Tracy Pratt) October 10, 1970 at Pittsburgh Penguins
First goaltender win in team history: October 10, 1970, 2-1 at Pittsburgh Penguins
First goaltender loss in team history: October 15, 1970, 3-0 vs. Montreal Canadiens
First shutout in team history: December 6, 1970, 1-0 vs. Minnesota North Stars
First player inducted into Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame: February 10, 1980

James Patrick’s “Clang Heard ‘Round the World”

Close. Oh, so close.

Everyone remembers Brett Hull’s “no goal” that ended the 1999 Stanley Cup series between Buffalo and Dallas.

The Sabres came so very close to winning the game shortly before Hull’s skate ended everything (and changed the rules forever).

It was in the second OT, when Patrick rang a shot off the crossbar over a sprawling Ed Belfour. “No Goal” or not, it was one wild and crazy night.

Not sure who is doing the commentary on this wrap-up, but you can view Patrick’s almost goal here, at the 2 minute mark.

Patrick has continued to serve with the Sabres since his retirement as assistant coach, mainly helping to groom defensive rookies out of the AHL. His success with Brian Campbell is one his greatest achievements.

The First Sabre

While Roiger Crozier put up some amazing feats for the first Sabres’ teams, he wasn’t the first Sabre selected by Punch Imlach in the 1970 expansion draft.

Rather, Imlach selected netminder Joe “The Holy Goalie” Daley.

Daley was one of the last professional goaltenders, and the only one in Buffalo Sabres history, to play without wearing a protective mask.

Daley carried his share of the load in ’70-’71, his only season in Buffalo. On December 10, 1970, Daley and his face stood up 72 shots in an 8-2 loss to the Boston Bruins.

Here is a clip of Daley taking shots on December 19, 1970, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. No mask. Insane. His hair finally moves around the 7:20 mark, while he sprawls out – face first – trying to stop a couple shots.

The Expansion Cup

The fog. The bat. Many fans look back on the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals and remember that one game, the game that perhaps cursed the Sabres forever.

But heck, it was the 1st ever NHL final featuring two expansion teams.

Too bad there isn’t a trophy for that.

That being said, here’s a video link to that extraordinary game.

The First Trainer

From the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame:

(Frank) Christie was a fixture in Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium for nearly forty years. As trainer for the Bisons until the team folded in 1970 to make way for the National Hockey League expansion club Buffalo Sabres, he watched a steady stream of players and coaches file through Buffalo on their way to greatness.

He was on hand to witness the first training camp of a youngster named Bobby Hull, and he helped ease the path to the NHL for a young, nervous goaltender named Jacques Plante. Frank saw the coaching genius of Billy Rea and Fred Shero. Later, with the Sabres, Frank bandaged the bruises of the French Connection, taped the sticks of Gare and Foligno, and imparted his wisdom to a host of players who wore the blue and gold during his tenure with the club.

No individual in Buffalo hockey history was more involved with more players on an everyday basis than Christie, and he grew to be a friend, counselor, and confidant to nearly every one of them. Players would seek out Christie for assistance in dealing not only with strained muscles, but also with strained relationships.

“It (hockey) is a hard life, and a lot of these kids are scared,” Christie once remarked. “They’ve got to have someone they can talk to.” Frank provided that sounding board for generations of players.

Punch Imlach, then the Sabres’ coach and general manager, told The Buffalo News in 1970: “He has always been an asset to the sport, and his popularity with the players is well known. It would almost be unthinkable for a club representing Buffalo to take the ice without Frank Christie in attendance.”

Frank toiled for the Sabres almost until his passing in 1986. His subtle, yet invaluable, contributions to Buffalo hockey were rewarded with his selection to the inaugural class of the Sabres Hall of Fame.

Before There was Rayzor

Before Buffalo’s obsession with Rob “Rayzor” Ray, there was “Scary Larry” Playfair.

Larry lead the Sabres in penalty minutes for six straight seasons (1979-85) He was the first Sabre to reach the 1000 penalty minute mark in a career as well as the first to break the 200 PIM plateau in one season, which he did twice.

He also set a club record for most PIM’s in one season, racking up 258 in ’81-’82. (Rayzor would later crush the record, putting up 354 PIM’s in ’91-’92.)

Playfair was also used up front when the Sabres needed some extra punch to their offense. A typical line? Lindy Ruff, Val James, and Larry Playfair. Crunchtime.

Here’s a classic clip of Larry in action. Love the commentary.

The Sabres hit Rock Bottom and Get “Sneaky”

In 1986-’87, the Sabres finished the season dead last in the league for the first time in franchise history.

Their 308 goals allowed during the season was the most ever in franchise history. Offensively, the team didn’t fare much better, scoring only 280 goals, the lowest since the 1973-74 season.

At least they got Pierre “Sneaky Pete” Turgeon out of that mess, with the first overal pick in the 1987 NHL entry draft.

Here is a video of Turgeon’s selection on that draft day. Vintage stuff. Very cool.

Sabre Killers, Part III

Finally. “A Sabre Killer” list where we can’t see Daniel Alfredsson’s name. From the Sabres Media Guide:

CAREER GOALTENDER WINS vs. BUFFALO

Martin Brodeur 27
Patrick Roy 24
Mike Liut 22
Dan Bouchard 19
Bernie Parent 18

Parent, though at the bottom of the leader board, likely pains fans the most. In the ’75 Cup FInals, Parent led the Flyers, allowing only 12 goals in the six games, capped with a shutout. (He became the first player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for two consecutive years.)

“We’re gonna’ win that Cup?” Nice song. Wrong outcome.

Someday…

Someday soon, hopefully.

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About scottymcss

Homeschooler. Freelancer.
This entry was posted in Sabres and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to The Ultimate Buffalo Sabres Factoid Miscellany

  1. S. Tooth says:

    Great stuff. Only thing: The Baltimore Skipjacks weren’t named after the tuna species. The Skipjack is the state boat of Maryland. http://www.msa.md.gov/msa/mdmanual/01glance/html/symbols/boat.html

  2. S. Tooth says:

    This is a great resource Scott.
    I’m surprised no additional mention of Randy Cunneyworth for holding the record for the longest gap between two goals with the same team. He scored in 1981-1982 season for the Sabres and didn’t score again for the Sabres until the 1998-1999 season – an impressive 17 years.

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