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.
Ken Priestlay is a bit of a unique case. He played for both the Sabres and the Rochester Americans and had an overall playing career that allowed him to see action in various levels and in numerous countries. In addition to the NHL and AHL, Priestlay’s playing career also took him overseas and saw him play in numerous British ice hockey leagues.
But it all began with Buffalo, when the Sabres drafted the Vancouver-born center with the 98th pick in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft. Priestlay was playing with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars at the time, and he’d eventually make the transition to the AHL and NHL, beginning with four games with the Amerks in 1985-86.
The 1986-87 season was the real kickstart of his career; Priestlay spent 33 games with the Cougars, racking up 82 points in that time. But he also saw his first NHL action that year, notching 11 goals and six assists in 34 games with the Sabres.
The next three seasons would see Priestlay’s time split between Rochester and Buffalo. He ultimately spent more time in Rochester than in Buffalo, but still played a respectable number of games with the Sabres.
Then, in 1990, it was off to a new adventure. Priestlay spent most of that season with the Canadian National Team, accruing 46 points in 40 games. He also played two games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it was in Pittsburgh that he spent most of the following season. But the 1991-92 season also saw Priestlay take the ice in some IHL action. He played 13 games with the Muskegon Lumberjacks that season, then spent the entire next season with the Cleveland Lumberjacks. The 1993-94 season was his final one in North America, spent with the Kalamazoo Wings, also of the International Hockey League (defunct since 2001).
From that point on, Priestlay took his talents overseas.
First, he spent two seasons with the Sheffield Steelers of the British Hockey League. In 1996, the team moved to the British Ice Hockey Superleague (BISL) , and he continued there for three more seasons. After a few seasons off, he finished his playing career with the Dundee Stars of the British National League in 2002-03.
Overall, Ken Priestlay appeared in 159 games with the Rochester Americans, scoring 209 points with the team between 1985 and 1990. He also appeared in 131 games with the Sabres and had 50 points in that time, from 1986 until 1990.
Other players to wear jersey number 56 for the Sabres: Steve Bernier