Feb. 17, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; A general view of a sculpture featuring former Buffalo Sabres players from the French Connection Rick Martin, Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert outside of the First Niagara Center before a game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins . Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Who Wore It: Sabres History – #11

Gilbert Perreault may forever be known as the franchise player of the Buffalo Sabres. He was the first ever draft pick of the Sabres, spent his entire NHL career with the team, and continues to hold several franchise records even to this day. He’s the only player to ever wear #11 in Sabres history, so it’s only natural that we take today to honor him and his legacy.

Center, b. 1950
Drafted by the Sabres, 1st overall 1970

How do I even begin to capture Perreault’s legacy? Let me start off with his pre-Buffalo life.

Perreault was born in Victoriaville, Quebec. He spent three seasons with the OHA’s Montreal Junior Canadiens from 1967 until 1970. From that point on, the center spent the rest of his career with the Sabres – 17 seasons. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1971 and also captured the Lady Byng in 1973. Although he unfortunately never won a Stanley Cup, Perreault set numerous individual, team and career records for the Sabres and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.

Perreault notched several ‘firsts’ in Sabres history. He scored the first ever Sabres power play goal, on October 10, 1970 against Pittsburgh. He had the first hat trick on January 29, 1971 against California. He also had the first playoff game-winning goal on April 8, 1973 against Montreal.

Of his 17 seasons in Buffalo, Perreault led the Sabres in points scoring 11 of those. He also led the team in goals five seasons, and in assists nine seasons.

Despite it now being almost 24 years since his number was retired, Perreault continues to hold several franchise records to this day.

  • Career games played (1,191)
  • Goals (512)
  • Assists (814)
  • Points (1,326)
  • Game-winning goals (81)
  • Most seasons of service (17)

He had fifteen 20-goal seasons, the most of any player in Sabres history, and had 12 consecutive seasons of 20+ goals, from 1974 until 1986. He also had 10 seasons in which he scored at least thirty goals.

Perreault set the Sabres record for assists in a game (five) and, at one point, had an 18-game point streak, the longest in team history. I could go on and on about all of his achievements and the records he holds, but at some point, all the numbers would become less and less meaningful. They’re statistics and in the end, they can’t say enough to represent just how important Perreault, the “Original Sabre”, was to the Buffalo franchise.

He was named to the Sabres Hall of Fame in 1989 and to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990. His number #11 was retired by the Sabres on October 17, 1990.

Perreault will forever be remembered by his number hanging in the rafters of the First Niagara Center, as well as the bronze statue of himself, Rene Robert and Rick Martin in Alumni Plaza. To this day, he’s still active within the Sabres organization, acting as a liaison for corporate and community relations.

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