Buffalo Sabres

Thu, 05 Mar 2009 01:48

History of Buffalo Sabres

Information about NHL team Buffalo Sabres.

Based in Buffalo, New York, the Buffalo Sabres are a professional ice hockey team. The Buffalo Sabres are a member of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League (NHL).

Early history

In the 1970-71 season of the NHL, the Sabres joined the league. The Buffalo Sabres team was originally owned by prominent people in Western New York -- Seymour Knox III and Northrup Knox. The name Sabre was chosen by Seymour Knox himself in a name-a-team contest because of what the sabre signifies--a great tool for offense as well as defense.

The Sabres started off their season in luck, when they won in the NHL draft lottery and had chosen Gilbert Perreault. Perreault later became a Hockey Hall of Famer. In the 1970-71 season, Perreault proved to be an asset to the team by scoring 38 goals and was given the Calder Memorial Trophy as Rookie of the Year. However, the Buffalo Sabres still did not make it to the playoffs. In was in the 1972-73 season that the Buffalo Sabres made to the playoffs for the very first time. However, the team was lost in the quarterfinals to the Montreal Canadiens.

In 1974-75, the Buffalo Sabres were given the chance to fight against the coarse Philadelphia Flyers for the Stanley Cup. During this game, the fog was so thick that the players were nearly impossible to see. In this season, the Flyers went home with the Cup.

On their tour to the United States, the Buffalo Sabres became the first team to beat the Soviet Olympic Team. Yet despite this achievement, the team was still unable to get the chance to reenter the Cup Final. The season also highlights the debut of veteran player Randy Burridge who received the Tim Horton Award and was voted as the team’s Most Valuable Player.


The Buffalo Sabres won their first division title, the Northeast Division, for the first time in the span of 16 years. Nolan received the Jack Adams Award as merit for being the league’s top coach. The Hart and the Vezina Trophies were won by Dominik Hasek. The team’s general manager, John Muckler, was considered as the Executive of the Year. Another awardee during that season was Michael Peca who received his Frank J. Selke Trophy. The success on the playoffs during the season was overshadowed by the tension among the members, specifically between Nolan and Hasek.

The new management

Seymour Knox died in May 22, 1996. Northrop Knox then sold the franchise to the owner of Adelphia Communications, John Rigas. The outgoing President of the team, Larry Quinn, fired John Muckler, the team's general manager who was in disagreement with Nolan. The goal tender, Hasek, publicly shown his dislike for Nolan. The new general manager, torn between Nolan and Hasek, came to a decision when he offered Nolan $500,000 for a one-year contract, which the latter did not accept. Lindy Ruff, the former captain of the Sabres, replaced Nolan as the Buffalo Sabres’ coach.

In 1998, the team made its way to the Conference finals, but lost to the Washington Capitals in six games. In 1999, the team made its way to the Stanley Cup Finals, against the Dallas Stars. Unfortunately, the latter won the Cup. The game was controversial because of some scoring rules.

The next season was marked by various losses due to Hasek’s injuries and the hopelessness that the other players felt. To improve the team’s performance, the management acquired Doug Gilmore from the Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately, Gilmore suffered from stomach flu which also contributed to the team’s poor performance in its fight against the Philadelphia Flyers. In 2001, the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Flyers in the initial round of the playoffs. However, the Buffalo Sabres were defeated by the Penguins on the second round.

It was also in year 2001 that Sabres let go of its star goaltender, Hasel, by trading him off to the Detroit Red Wings. In 2002, because of the absence of their star player, the Buffalo Sabres did not get the chance to enter the playoffs.

Another controversy sparked in 2002 when John Rigas, along with his sons, was arrested for embezzling not less than $2 billion from Adelphia. Though the Rigas remained the legal owners, the league took charge of the team. After what happened, no one was interested to buy the franchise. The attendance also decreased.

The new owners

For two years, the future of the team was left hanging because there was no owner, until it was sold to a consortium led by Larry Quinn, the former president of the Sabres, and the New York billionaire Tom Golisano. Among the three, Golisano became the team owner in 2003. The new owner lured fans by offering tickets for lowered rates.

After the team escaped its financial difficulties, the team still missed the playoffs. However, there was a promise to its prominent young players. In 2005, the Buffalo Sabres lost their television broadcaster, when the Empire Sports Network stopped its operation because of the Adelphia scandal.

2005-up to the present

Since 2005, the Buffalo Sabres showed an improved performance. In the 2006 award ceremony, the team’s coach, Lindy Ruff, received the Jack Adams Award for being the Coach of the Year.

In October 2006, the Sabres won against the Carolina Hurricane, making it their 12th regular-season victory. In November of the same year, the Sabres beat the New York Rangers.

Three Buffalo Sabres, Ryan Miller, Daniel Briere, and Brian Campbell, was voted by fans to be starters in the 2007 All-Star Game. Briere got the coveted All-Star MVP Award. The team won 50 games again in March 2007. In April of the same year, the Buffalo Sabres beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, securing the Northeast Division title. In that same month, the Buffalo Sabres received for the first time the acclaimed Presidents’ Trophy.

The Buffalo Sabres were ranked by the ESPN the Magazine as the first of the 122 sports franchises in North America. In 2007, the team made its way to the Eastern Conference Finals by beating the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers.

Unfortunately, the Buffalo Sabres lost their excellent captains, Daniel Briere and Chris Dury; the former became part of the Philadelphia Flyers and the latter went to join the New York Rangers.

After the shootout win over the Ottawa senators in 2007, the team was involved in a fight. This happened when Chris Neil, the Senators winger, hit Chris Drury, the Buffalo Sabres’captain. Players in one team fought against another. Even the coaches of the two teams argued with each other. Ruff was fined $10, 000 by the league. The interesting thing is that Buffalo Sabres fans offered to raise money to pay Ruff’s fine. Ruff thanked the Buffalo Sabres fans, yet he preferred to pay the fine on his own.

In 2008, the Buffalo Sabres imported various players. In July, the team signed the goaltender Patrick Lalime to a two-year contract. The team then traded Steve Bernier to Vancouver and acquired Craig Rivet from San Jose. Contract extension was also bestowed on three players. Paul Gustard got a four-year extension, Ryan Miller received a five-year extension, and Jason Pominville signed a five-year extension.