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Representing Buffalo, New York in the NHL’s Eastern Conference, playing in the Atlanta 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 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 eight of the last ten years.
Last season’s record of 33-37-12 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.
There will be a new head coach behind the bench for the Sabres this season. NHL great and former Sabre Phil Housley aims to clean up the mess and get this team back on track. There are definitely a number of pieces in place on the roster to help him achieve this goal. Robin Lehner has signed a one year deal to stay in Buffalo and maintain his spot between the pipes, allowing management to focus on working with the team in front of him. Major assets for the Sabres include Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly, Sam Reinhart, Rasmus Ristolainen, Kyle Okposo, and Evander Kane.
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. A new captain must be chosen among the group as Buffalo has parted ways with Brian Gionta. 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.