Buffalo Sabres

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The Buffalo Sabres play in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference.

The Sabres, along with the Vancouver Canucks, joined the NHL in the 1970–71 season. Buffalo had long been a hotbed for hockey. The Buffalo Bisons had been one of the pillars of the American Hockey League (AHL), winning the Calder Cup in their final season.

Their first owners were Seymour Knox III and Northrup Knox, scions of a family long prominent in Western New York. The Knoxes had tried twice before to get an NHL team, first when the NHL expanded in 1967, and then unsuccessfully attempting to buy the Oakland Seals with the intent of moving them to Buffalo.

The Sabres, playing their first of many seasons at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, got off to a good start before they even hit the ice when they, despite being disputed by the Vancouver Canucks, and by spinning a roulette wheel, won the NHL draft lottery, and picked future Hockey Hall of Fame center Gilbert Perreault first overall in the 1970 NHL Amateur Draft. Perreault was available to the Sabres, as this was the first year that the Montreal Canadiens did not have a priority right to draft Québécois junior players.

The Sabres finished in a tie for the best record in the NHL in the 1974–75 regular season. The team was built around a line called”The French connection”(Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert) and would advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in team history to play against the rough Philadelphia Flyers. Philadelphia would wind up taking the Cup Final to six games, winning the series 4 games to 2.

The 1995–96 season was the last for the Sabres at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, or “the Aud”. In their first season at the Marine Midland Arena in 1996-97, the Buffalo Sabres won the Northeast Division (their first division title in sixteen years) with star goaltender Dominik Hasek winning both the Hart and Vezina Trophies (the first goaltender to do so since Montreal’s Jacques Plante in 1962). Despite having such an amazing regular season, Hasek wouldn’t play for the majority of the playoffs for Buffalo, complaining of Knee soreness. Buffalo managed to get past the Ottawa Senators in the first round (based mainly on the goaltending of Steve Shields), but without Hasek they would lose to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round 4 games to 1.

The Sabres finally returned to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999, this time against the Dallas Stars. In the sixth game, Dallas Stars winger Brett Hull’s triple-overtime goal — as Hull’s skate was clearly visibly in Hasek’s crease — ended the series, and the Stars were awarded the Cup. In 1999, it was illegal to score a goal if an offensive player’s skate entered the crease before the puck did. The rule was changed for the following season, but the bitter taste remains for Sabres fans.

The Buffalo Sabres reached the Eastern Conference Finals in consecutive years after the lockout season of 2004-05, but were eliminated before reaching the finals both times. The sabers biggest challenge in the coming seasons will involve player salaries, being a small-market franchise.

 

 

1st Round Draft Picks

Franchise Scoring Leaders
Year # Player Player
G
A
Pts
2009 13 Zach Kassian Gilbert Perreault
512
814
1,326
2008 12 Tyler Myers
Dave Andreychuk
368
436
804
2008 26 Tyler Ennis Rick Martin
382
313
695
2006 24 Dennis Persson Craig Ramsay
252
420
672
2005 13 Marek Zagrapan Phil Housley
178
380
558
2004 13 Drew Stafford Rene Robert
222
330
552
2003 5 Thomas Vanek Don Luce
216
311
527
2002 11 Keith Ballard Mike Foligno
247
264
511
2002 20 Daniel Paille Danny Gare
267
233
500
2001 22 Jiri Novotny Miroslav Satan
224
232
456
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