The jersey number 17 has been a much-worn number in Sabres history. In fact, nineteen players in the team’s history have suited up under #17 at one point or another. Today however, let’s focus on just one of them: Mike Foligno.
Forward, b. 1959
Acquired via trade, 1981
While many current Sabres fans will be quick to think of Marcus Foligno when they hear the last name, he wasn’t the original member of the family in the organization. That title belongs to his father, who spent parts of 10 seasons with the Sabres from 1981 until 1990.
Foligno actually began his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, who drafted him 3rd overall in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. After four seasons with the OHA’s Sudbury Wolves, Foligno joined the Red Wings for the 1979-80 season after being drafted.
After two 80-game seasons with the Red Wings, he played just 26 games with the team in the 1981-82 season before being traded. December 2, 1981 – Foligno was traded to the Sabres along with Dale McCourt and Brent R. Peterson. In exchange, Detroit received Danny Gare, Jim Schoenfeld and Derek R. Smith.
It was with Buffalo that Foligno would spend the biggest portion of his NHL career, from that day in 1981 until December 1990. His time with the Sabres saw him appear in 664 regular season games with Buffalo. He scored 247 goals and added 264 assists for 511 total points. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that he also racked up 1,450 penalty minutes during his time with the Sabres. (If you care for math, that averages out to about 2.18 minutes per game.)
One of the legacies he left in Buffalo – and in the NHL overall – is the “Foligno leap” upon scoring, which his sons Marcus and Nick have both used in their NHL careers now.
He played parts of four seasons with Toronto before being traded to the Florida Panthers for cash on November 5, 1993. He spent part of the 1993-94 season in Florida before his playing career ended.
Foligno went to a coaching career then. Since 1995, he’s acted as assistant and head coaches in numerous organizations across various leagues, incluidng the Colorado Avalanche, Hershey Bears, Sudbury Wolves (OHL), Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Wolves.
Since last season, he’s been an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils.
(I hope you all finish reading this article and do a little “Foligno Leap” of your own.)
Other players to have worn #17 for the Sabres: Marc-Andre Gragnani, Raffi Torres, Dominic Moore, J.P. Dumont, Randy Cunneyworth, Dixon Ward, Jason Dawe, Brent Hughes, Craig Simpson, Todd Simon, Colin Patterson, Gilles Hamel, John Gould, Rick Dudley, Derek Smith, Fred Stanfield, Bob Richer, Floyd Smith