Welcome to Sunday Sabre, a new Sunday feature where we will bio one Buffalo Sabre from the 41 year history of the team. Some of the names will be easy to recognize, others you might scratch your head at, and some might lead you to go “Whaaaaaat?”
Today’s Player Bio is Steve Atkinson.
Steve Atkinson was nicknamed “The Snail” – but it could have very well have been “The Draft” – having been drafted three times in his career. Originally drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1966 draft, he was immediately traded to the Boston Bruins, never putting on the red and white sweaters. He played one game for the Bruins, and was then shipped to the Oklahoma City Blazers for two seasons. The Buffalo Sabres saw promise in the young forward – and since he already was familiar with the town, was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in their entry draft designed to fill their roster with NHL ready players.
Atkinson was familiar with the town because he played with the Niagara Falls Flyers of the OHA prior to being selected by Detroit. His tenure in Buffalo was longer than any other NHL franchise he was connected with. Atkinson played with the Blue and Gold from 1970 to 1974; Atkinson was a memory for 1974-1975 for the first ever Stanley Cup run, but never saw Buffalo – having been assigned to the Richmond Robins of the AHL after having been selected by the Washington Capitals in their entry draft.
Atkinson was the 1968-1969 CHL player of the year, but never translated that success to the NHL.
The Buffalo Sabres were not the only stop that Atkinson made in his hockey career in the Steel City. After one unsuccessful campaign with the Washington Capitals – he returned to Buffalo via North Tonawanda to play as a member of the Fabled Buffalo Norseman, a minor league team that had its 15 minutes of fame in the movie Slapshot. The Hollywood style pre-game brawl that took place between the Charleston Chiefs (Johnstown Jets) and the Peterboro Patriots (Buffalo Norseman).
Jim Stanfield is another Buffalo Sabres that spent time with the Norseman.
The Snail would end his career with a brief stint in the WHA and two seasons in the OHA Seniors league. Atikinson died at the age of 54 due to a heart attack.
Tune in next Sunday as we look at another member of the Buffalo Sabres past, present, or future.