The Sabres are one of the recent teams that NHL on NBC Sports Network has been discussing lately. The network has been putting out a question on Twitter every day, asking who the best player in each NHL franchise’s history is, according to the fan vote.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) July 15, 2014
Naturally, the question posed received a number of responses, some more serious than others. Either way, it brings up a good question, so let’s put it out there – who is the greatest player in Buffalo Sabres franchise history?
For me, Perreault is the player I instantly think of when someone mentions the Sabres. He’s historically linked to the team and his number is retired by Buffalo as part of the infamous French Connection line. He’s a well-known player, he’s in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and he is, in my mind, Mr. Sabre, if you’ll allow that nickname for a minute.
But many also give Hasek the claim to the greatest player in Sabres franchise history. He was spectacular in his time in Buffalo, set many records, won several league awards and definitely hit the best and biggest stretch of his career during his time with the Sabres.
So let’s make a case for both of them, and then you be the judge. Is one of these two the greatest player in Sabres history? Are there any other players you make a case for instead?
Perreault is, by all means, the original Sabre. He was the team’s first draft pick in 1970 and led the team with 72 points in his rookie season.
He had the first hat trick in franchise history, on January 29, 1971 against California. He had 18 hat tricks in his career with Buffalo, second-most in franchise history. Nearly every year, he led the Sabres in goals, assists, or points.
He’s the Sabres career leader in several categories, including games played (1,191), goals (512) and assists (814). He has the most shots of any player in franchise history (3,079) and still holds many franchise records to this day.
Will there ever be a player with the caliber of Gil Perreault? His 17 seasons of service with the Sabres are the most of any player in franchise history, and he’ll always be the player I think of whenever anyone mentions the Sabres.
Of course, Dominik Hasek also had an incredible career with the Sabres.
He played with the Sabres from 1992 until 2001 and set several franchise records during that time, some of which have since been broken by Ryan Miller.
He’s the all-time Sabres leader in shutouts (55) and is second in games played for goaltenders (491), wins (234) and minutes played (28,664). He has the best single-season save percentage in franchise history (.937, in 1998-99), lowest goals-against average (1.87, 1998-99).
Hasek’s career with the Sabres included several NHL awards, including two Hart Memorial Trophies and two Lester B. Pearson Awards, six Vezina Trophies, two William M. Jennings Trophies and five All-Star Game nominations.
One of the things that I noticed people commenting about Hasek is that he didn’t spend his entire career with the Sabres; should that deter people from calling him the greatest player in franchise history? His time in Buffalo was certainly the prime of his career – just look at the number of awards he won with Buffalo and how few he won once he left the team. His impact on the Sabres was a tremendous one and he was certainly a key player during his time in Buffalo.
You could make an argument for either player — so which one would you pick?