We continue our series about Buffalo Sabres history, with each day’s post highlighting a player to have worn the subsequent jersey number with the Buffalo Sabres. This series is not designed to say that any player is the ‘best’ to have worn that jersey number, but rather to allow fans to get a taste of the team’s history and learn more about some of the players in it.
Jerry Korab was the first player to ever suit up for the Sabres in jersey number 44. Since then, four other players have worn that number for Buffalo, including most recently, Andrej Sekera. If there’s one thing Korab had than none of the others did, well…. I don’t think any of the others ever had a nickname quite like “King Kong Korab.”
Korab was so aptly-nicknamed as such due to his size and intimidating presence on the ice. He was 6-3, 220 pounds and according to Drop Your Gloves, had 79 recorded fights in his time in the NHL. While I never got the chance to see him play in person, I’ve heard the stories, and Korab was not only a big guy, he was also a pretty solid defenseman who broke several Sabres records for blueliners.
He’s one of just five defensemen in Sabres history to score a hat trick, is tenth in Sabres history in penalty minutes (870), and was once a plus-41, which is the seventh-best plus/minus in a season in Sabres history. He’s also in the top 10 for most assists by a defenseman in a season (44, in 1974-75).
He appeared in two NHL All-Star Games during his time with Buffalo (1975, 1976) and was named to the Wales Conference All-Star Team in 1975 and 1976.
Korab began his NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks, then was traded to the Vancouver Canucks and eventually wound up in Buffalo.
He’d play for the Sabres from December 1973 until March 1980, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a 1982 1st-round pick (Phil Housley). After parts of four seasons with LA, Korab rejoined the Sabres organization in 1983. He split the final two seasons of his career between the Buffalo Sabres and the Rochester Americans.
In the end, over half of his NHL career was played in Buffalo.
He had seven points and eight penalty minutes in seven games with the Amerks. With the Sabres, Korab racked up 870 penalty minutes, 67 goals and 216 assists (283 points total) in 537 regular season games with the Sabres between 1973 and 1985.
Korab was inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame in 2001.
During his time with Buffalo, Jerry Korab also wore jersey number four.