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The Sabres Observer

The Twelve Greatest Sabres of All Time

What started out as a debate on Phil Housley not being selected as one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players of All Time turned into this piece.

I made it clear on hockey twitter that I agreed with Housley not making the list, mentioning that the offensive defenseman isn't even one of the top ten greatest Sabres.

A number of disgruntled fans, most of whom likely never saw Housley play and based their opinions on stats from a career points leaders list, found fault with this and asked for my All-Time Sabres Top Ten.

I accept this challenge head-on, with a caveat that I can only narrow it down to twelve. I can't in good conscience take any more Sabres greats off the list. It's perfect just the way it is.

In the spirit of this weekend's format of the NHL Greatest 100, these legends are unranked but sorted by era.

This is the #SabresDozen -- the 12 Greatest Buffalo Sabres of All Time:

1970s

Danny Gare - One of the best wrist shots of his time. Fourth all-time in goals (267). Team captain from 1977-82. Tied for NHL goal scoring title with 56 in 1979-80. One of seven Sabres to have his jersey number retired.

Richard Martin - Second greatest goal scorer (382) in team history. Terrifying slap shot. Referred to by former Sabres coach and GM Punch Imlach as "the greatest natural goal scorer I've seen". Scored over 40 goals five times and over 50 twice. Passed away in 2011 at age 59.

Gilbert Perreault - The original Sabre. The greatest ever. Leader in most offensive categories. 1191 games, 512 goals, 814 assists. No other Sabre is within 500 points of him on the career leaders list. And he could fly like the wind from end to end.

Craig Ramsay - The true definition of a shutdown forward. Eight consecutive 20-goal seasons. In the top ten in nearly every offensive category. 1976 NHL All-Star and 1985 Selke Trophy winner.

Rene Robert - The third link of the French Connection line, Robert ranks ninth in goals (222), fifth in assists (330) and sixth in points (552). Four seasons with over 30 goals. First Sabre in history with 100 points in a season.

Jim Schoenfeld - Gritty defenseman, captain and heart-and-soul player during the mid-70's glory years. Two-time NHL All-Star and Norris Trophy vote getter. Relentless body checker and shot blocker. Fearless against brutal opponents in an age when courage mattered.

1980s

Dave Andreychuk - A mainstay around the net, especially with the man advantage. Career leader in Sabres power play goals (161). Third in goals (368), second in assists (426), and second behind Perreault in points (804).

Mike Ramsey - A member of the fabled 1980 US Olympic team who became the best Sabres defenseman of the decade and beyond. Four-time NHL All-Star and Norris Trophy vote getter. If the Sabres feel the need to retire another jersey number soon, they should look no further.

1990s

Dominik Hasek - The second-greatest Sabre in history. Six Vezina Trophies. 55 shutouts. At his peak, it felt like when the Sabres scored their second goal of the game that two points were virtually locked up. At times he seemed literally unbeatable.

Pat LaFontaine - 1984 Olympian who tallied 385 points in only 268 games as a Sabre. Buffalo's all-time leader in per game averages in goals (.59), assists (.85) and points (1.44). Formed second-best forward line in Sabres history with Alexander Mogilny and Andreychuk.

Alexander Mogilny - Perhaps the greatest combination of speed and sniper Buffalo has ever seen. Six seasons, 211 goals and 444 points, highlighted by his incredible 76-goal, 127-point season in 1992-93.

2000s

Thomas Vanek - The lone representative from the great Sabres team that came out of the 2004-05 NHL lockout and nearly won a Stanley Cup. Fifth all-time in goals (254), tenth in points (497). Was Buffalo's leading goal scorer six times.

dd@kuklaskorner.com

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  Tags: sabres+all+time+team, sabres+dozen, top+sabres+of+all+time

Comments

Canucklehead's avatar

I’m not a Sabres fan, but that’s a pretty good list.  Where would you rate Peca?  Just outside the top 12?

Posted by Canucklehead from Ottawa, Ontario on 01/30/17 at 10:42 AM ET

TreKronor's avatar

Great list and nice write ups. Reminded me of some memories!

Posted by TreKronor on 01/30/17 at 10:57 AM ET

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Never saw the French connection play but you’d put one of the above Hasek? Was he that good? As a teenager I watched Hasek take a group of grinders to one illegal (at the time) goal from the cup.

Posted by Iamhaljordan on 01/30/17 at 11:08 AM ET

@DaveDavisHockey's avatar

Good question on Peca. Impact player during his time but no way I could find room for him here. Probably somewhere between 15th-20th.

Posted by @DaveDavisHockey from Buffalo, NY on 01/30/17 at 11:13 AM ET

Canucklehead's avatar

Good question on Peca. Impact player during his time but no way I could find room for him here. Probably somewhere between 15th-20th.

He was always my favourite player from that era of the Sabres.  Heart and soul player.  Never took an off night.  Same with Drury.  Great players in their time.

Posted by Canucklehead from Ottawa, Ontario on 01/30/17 at 11:19 AM ET

@DaveDavisHockey's avatar

Never saw the French connection play but you’d put one of the above Hasek? Was he that good?

Perreault was the best. He defines the franchise. And, by the way, the Sabres weren’t one goal from the Cup in ‘99. They still would’ve had to score the next goal in overtime and then win a road game 7 in Dallas. For me, it felt like they were closer to a Cup in 2006.

Posted by @DaveDavisHockey from Buffalo, NY on 01/30/17 at 11:19 AM ET

shazam88's avatar

Never saw the French connection play but you’d put one of the above Hasek? Was he that good? As a teenager I watched Hasek take a group of grinders to one illegal (at the time) goal from the cup.

Posted by Iamhaljordan on 01/30/17 at 10:08 AM ET

Perreault was a megastar, though somewhat eclipsed in the public’s broader perception by Lafleur’s career. And when looking at “Sabre” careers, he was there for 15 or so years, so yeah, he would rightly sit above Hasek amongst Sabre greats.

Posted by shazam88 from SoCal on 01/30/17 at 11:20 AM ET

Avatar

“overtime and then win a road game 7 in Dallas. For me, it felt like they were closer to a Cup in 2006.”

I remember. My opinion is that if they beat Dallas that night they win game 7 too. 2006? Really? I’m not a sabers fan but that wasn’t even a cup finals for you guys.

Posted by Iamhaljordan on 01/30/17 at 11:26 AM ET

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Afinoganov was literally the only sabre most people could name for a pretty long spell in the aughts.

Posted by PMP5030 on 01/30/17 at 12:10 PM ET

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what about the (future) Jimmy Howard?

lol. jk.

Posted by wingsrul91 on 01/30/17 at 03:34 PM ET

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No disrespect, but Perreault in his prime, great as he was, was still at most the third-best forward in the NHL behind Lafleur and Dionne (and by ‘77, Bossy). And you’d still have to make an argument for him against the likes of Trottier, Clarke, and Sittler. Personally I probably would go with Perreault out of that second group, but the margins are pretty razor thin.

Hasek in his prime, though? He was utterly peerless, not only among his contemporaries, but arguably any other goalie ever to play in the history of the game.

No offense to Perreault, who is awesome and historically underrated by the wider hockey community, but there’s no way Hasek isn’t the No. 1 Sabre of all time.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/30/17 at 05:54 PM ET

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About The Sabres Observer

Dave Davis has covered the Buffalo Sabres for various NHL accredited websites and newspapers since 2003.  He was the senior writer and Sabres correspondent for The Fourth Period, covered hockey for Western New York Sports and Leisure Magazine, and has had articles featured on NHL.com, FOX Sports, Yahoo Sports and in New York Sportscene.  Sabres news and notes can be found on his Twitter page.

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Email: dd@kuklaskorner.com Twitter: [@DaveDavisHockey]