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Representing Buffalo, New York in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, playing in the Atlantic Division, is the Buffalo Sabres. Founded in 1970, the Sabres come from a cold weather region with a fan base that has a red hot passion for hockey. Their two Stanley Cup appearances in franchise history have not yielded any victories, keeping the Buffalo faithful thirsty for a championship.
While the first few seasons entailed the typical struggles of an expansion team, there was definitely room for optimism. The Sabres first draft pick, Gilbert Perreault, was making it clear that he deserved to be in the lineup, scoring 38 goals in his first year and winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. By the following season, Perreault was put on a line with Rick Martin and Rene Robert which would go on to be known as “The French Connection”, one of the most famous and productive lines of the decade.
By 1975, the Sabres, powered by the French Connection line, made their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Losing to the Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo had established themselves as a threat and would make the playoffs for the next 11 years straight. Despite the play of some great stars over the years, the Sabres would not find themselves in the final round of the Stanley Cup playoffs again until the end of the 1998-99 season. Pushing the Dallas Stars to the brink of a deciding game seven, the Sabres lost in the third overtime of game six on a controversial goal call.
Looking to avenge the loss, the Sabres take to the ice each night with the intention of making it back to the finals and hoisting the Stanley Cup for their home crowd. Unfortunately, Buffalo has been on the outside of the playoff tournament looking in for nine of the last eleven years.
Last season’s record of 25-45-12 had them in last place in the Atlantic Division. There is no doubt that major changes are needed in Buffalo. Management has already made several moves in the last few years, including the trade of former goaltender Ryan Miller, a staple of the franchise.
NHL great and former Sabre Phil Housley took over the role of head coach last season and aims to clean up the mess in Buffalo, getting this team back on track. The first decision that will need to be made will be about their plans for a long term solution for goaltender. Robin Lehner started the majority of the games this past season but was lost due to injury. This could usher in a new netminder in Buffalo. Meanwhile, the team has some major assets working in front of the goalie including Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen, and Kyle Okposo.
The Sabres also were able to pick up Jason Pominville and Marco Scandella via a trade with Minnesota and Nathan Beaulieu from Montreal. Benoit Pouliot will also join the team, signing with Buffalo in free agency. The team must also address the issue of their vacant captaincy. Since Brian Gionta left the team in 2017 the position has been open. Housley will look among his group to find the Sabres leader. While no one knows what the outcome will be for this team, one thing is for certain: it will be an interesting season in Buffalo.
The city of Buffalo loves its hockey team. Some of the most loved players to don the Sabres sweater over the years include Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert, Dominik Hasek, Pat LaFontaine, Alexander Mogilny, Phil Housley, Dave Andreychuk, Dale Hawerchuk, Mike Ramsey, Chris Drury, Danny Briere, and Ryan Miller. Additional information about the Buffalo Sabres organization can be found by clicking here.