What number you wear can often be a big part of a player’s hockey identity. Some players care more than others about the number they don, but even for those who are indifferent to them, those numbers help connect players with young fans and can even have sentimental value. Like it or not, numbers are a big part of what can make this game great.
Of course, some numbers are better than others. This is especially true in hockey where the history of certain numbers carries with it a certain folklore that others lack. Think of Vladislav Tretiak and his disciples wearing 20 in the crease or how number 19 became synonymous with Steve Yzerman and Hockey Canada. Hockey numbers are part of the sport’s lore and the good ones deserved to be honored.
It’s a great question which sparks some juicy debate. Do you go with goaltending (20-99) or the bulk of Buffalo’s retired numbers (0-19)? With the poll favoring 0-19, I have a feeling that the quick answer is representative of the first players you can think of within the two sets of digits he provided. It’s easy to come up with The French Connection, Pat LaFontaine, Mike Ramsey and Jack Eichel and go with 0-19 over Dominik Hasek and numbers 20-99.
But I felt with a little digging you’d find that you can form two very well-rounded teams from both sets of numbers. Teams which scope out to be closer than you may have thought initially. So I took it upon myself to dig into the Sabres’ number history and build what I feel are the two best teams from the groups of numbers provided in Schopp’s poll. Continue reading →
In 50 years of hockey, the Buffalo Sabres have swung their fair share of trades. From minor league swaps to marquee blockbusters, the club isn’t lacking when it comes to trade history.
Buffalo’s transaction history provides a beautiful cross section of NHL history. From the 70s and 80s eras where blockbusters came about regularly to the modern era where GMs are loathe to make any waves for fear of immediate retribution. In attempt to celebrate some of the club’s history, I ran down a list of some of the most noteworthy trades in franchise history. This isn’t a proper ranking or numbered list, nor is this meant to be a full accounting of every important trade in club history. Some of these trades in and of themselves are little more than blips on the radar, but they set the stage for bigger things down the road. Meanwhile, others are tried and true blockbusters, noteworthy for all the reasons you’d expect.
One thing that ties them all together is some sort of noteworthy feature or function, whether the inclusion of a franchise cornerstone or setting the wheels in motion for something bigger. Like laying the foundation to acquire a franchise cornerstone.
The Sabres didn’t fetch a king’s ransom for Dominik Hasek but it feels as if Hasek has claim to the highest profile trade in franchise history. Maybe the LaFontaine/Turgeon or Andreychuk/Fuhr swaps earn the title given their blockbuster status, but it’s not every day a team trades away of the greatest to ever pull on the crest.
The Hasek trade was pretty underwhelming, more so given Slava Kozlov’s disdain for the area and limited production on the ice. Of course, the Sabres paid pennies on the dollar for the greatest player to ever play his position. So even though the return from dealing Hasek pales in comparison to other marquee deals, Hasek’s on-ice contributions more than make up for it.
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TJ/@steadyriot – Favorite pad set of all time
You might as well try to figure out which wing joint is the best in Buffalo (hint: not Duff’s) before asking this. I assume I’m like most goalies when I say the masks were what first caught my attention and were why I wanted to play goal myself. However, what I really fell in love with were pads.
Nothing beat taking the quick drive to Don Simmons and trying on a few of the hundreds of sets they used to have on display. For me, it was the closest thing you could ever get to Willy Wonka’s factory.
From a strict playing perspective, this begins and ends with the Vaughn Velocity leg pads and a glove with a Koho 580 break (90 degree if we’re getting technical). The blocker is somewhat immaterial to me but I’ve grown partial to Vaughn or CCM/Reebok/Koho model. Continue reading →
Dominik Hasek was a special player. For the Sabres but for me as well.
I was drawn to goaltending because of the cool masks and pads but there’s no bigger influence on my commitment to sticking with the position than Hasek. My formative hockey years came in the thick of his prime with the Sabres and before I really refined my play, I did everything I could to replicate what Hasek did in the crease.
I would drop my stick, flop around, race out on breakaways and make just as many saves falling down sideways as I would with a traditional butterfly. While my style was in closer emulation to my other goaltending idol, Patrick Roy, Hasek will always hold a special place in my heart. And then he left. Continue reading →
Despite lacking a Stanley Cup Championship, the Sabres have a handful of banners adorning the roof of First Niagara Center. This includes 10 division and conference championship banners (and one President’s Trophy) along with six retired numbers. Dominik Hasek’s number 39 will join the French Connection, Tim Horton, Danny Gare and Pat LaFontaine on January 13.
The Sabres commissioned some very cool one-off merchandise for the LaFontaine retirement and I’d love to see them take the same approach this time. In fact, I think it’s a shame that the Sabres don’t offer a full collection of team banners in the Sabres store.
In addition to pictures and t-shirts, I’d assume the Hasek ceremony will also be accompanied by some sort of replica banner available for purchase. Why not make that final item a permanent addition to the Sabres Store? Why not offer the other six retired numbers as well?
I made a few purchases after Florida State won their third National Championship in January. One purchase was this three-pack of National Championship banners. They’re perfect. A uniform, understated design on a 12×18 felt banner which looks good from a distance and up close. I have them hanging from the ceiling in my basement and hopefully I’ll be able to add another in the near future. I’d love to add a few Sabres versions as well.
While the font isn’t uniform on all six retired number banners, the Sabres could make a killing selling replica 12×18 banners of their retired numbers. They could charge at least $50 for the French Connection pack and upwards of $100 for the entire group. I know I’d pay for them and I’m certain other fans would pay for them as well. Other teams do this and I think it’s a major missed opportunity that the Sabres don’t.
It almost seems foolish that the Sabres don’t do this. They sold tacky “Big John” t-shirts last year and have carried a number of very cool commemorative items in the past. Aud Bricks and the French Connection Statue immediately come to mind. This is a terrific money making opportunity that I’m certain fans would eat up. The Sabres need to be on this. Yesterday.
Earlier this week the Anaheim Ducks went back to the start of their franchise and busted out Mighty Ducks retro jerseys for their game against Ottawa on Sunday.
The jerseys were worn as part of Anaheim’s 20-year anniversary celebration and the practice was widely embraced as a great idea by fans, players and media members alike. The Ducks went all out with the event, as well. In addition to the uniforms, they also went retro with the scoreboard, intros and TV graphics for the night.
Seeing all this got me thinking, why can’t the Sabres do something similar? I’m not saying a direct ripoff of the Ducks idea, but something out of the same playbook.
Considering the Sabres current home and road uniforms are practically identical to their original jerseys, going back to the original design for a night wouldn’t yield a drastically different look for the team on the ice. Because of that, the only true option for a throwback-type night would be to rewind to the red and black era. And what better night to turn the clock back to red and black than when the Sabres finally retire Dominik Hasek’s number?
Ted Black has already come out and said the Sabres will be retiring Hasek’s number in the very near future. I also believe there was some insinuation that Hasek may also end up with a statue out in the plaza. Obviously the Sabres have pretty big plans for the greatest goaltender in franchise history.
Friday was supposed to be a truly impressive evening. Combined with the home opener for the Buffalo Sabres, the team would also unveil the centerpiece of the new alumni plaza with the French Connection Statue.
With the end of the lockout nowhere in sight, the home opener has been cancelled. But the statue unveiling will go through as planned and it should still serve as a wonderful way to honor three of the franchise’s greatest players.
From the very brief and obstructed view I got of the statue, it looks impressive. All three players are prominently featured and the layout should provide a unique view from just about any angle. Depending how the structure will be lit, I expect that the statue will be very impressive at night.
The next step will be identifying who else will join the French Connection in the plaza. Thanks to this week’s news, the next addition should be Dominik Hasek. Continue reading →
The Terry Pegula era has been greeted with unbridled enthusiasm. I don’t blame anyone for it either. He, and Ted Black, have said all the right things and have made all the right moves thus far. They have added numerous facets to the in-arena and home viewing experience.
Many of the improvements have come from the Sabres Suggestion Box. One suggestion that has been addressed by one (or more) fans is to do something with the red wall that lines the 100 level at HSBC Arena. This is something that has crossed my mind before and cropped back up when the suggestion box debuted.
My idea is to add some art to the wall. I first thought of this when I caught a game at Air Canada Centre. The ACC has put a mural of old pictures around their wall. The pictures are made up of old pictures of fans from Maple Leaf Gardens. This adds a very cool aspect to the in-arena experience there. That is where the genesis of my idea was born. Continue reading →