The Franchise Four. The Mount Rushmore. Four players who tell the story of an organization. In this series I’ll be taking a look at the history of all 30 NHL squads. For criteria, I’m choosing one forward, defenceman, goaltender and a wild card from any position.
Since 1970 the Buffalo Sabres have roamed the ice in Western New York.
From “The French Connection” to Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny;”The Dominator” to Jack Eichel, the rabid fans of Buffalo have seen everything but an elusive Stanley Cup title.
Along with the aforementioned players, there’s also the likes of Dave Andreychuk, Danny Gare, Thomas Vanek, Craig Ramsay, Mike Foligno and Ryan Miller. So which players are on the top shelf? Or as Rick Jeanneret would say, “where mama hides the cookies!”
Below, their “Franchise Four.”
4. The Defenseman – Phil Housley
Housley ranks first all-time in points, among U.S. born defensemen and second only behind Mike Modano in points by a U.S. born player. As one would also guess, Housley also ranks first among Buffalo blue liners with 558 points and ranks fifth overall in points. Additionally, Housley was a three-time All-Star with the Sabres. Housley is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
3. The Wild Card – Rick Martin (LW)
Given how Gilbert Perreault is a lock on this list, it was between Martin and Rene Robert from “The French Connection” line and Martin gets the nod. Martin was a seven-time All-Star and twice an NHL first team All-Star. Martin was a two-time 50-goal scorer and netted 40-plus markers in a season five-times. Furthermore, Martin ranks second in club history with 382 goals and third with 695 points.
2. The Forward – Gilbert Perreault
Perreault skated 17 seasons in Buffalo and was a star right off the rip, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1970-71. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Perreault is the Sabres all-time leader in games played (1,191), goals (512), assists (814) and points (1,326). Perreault was a six-time All-Star and won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 1972-73. Perreault was a three-time 40-goal scorer with Buffalo. In 90 postseason contests, Perreault accumulated 103 points.
1. The Goalie – Dominik Hasek
It takes a special goaltender to garner the top spot on a list of this magnitude and “The Dominator” was exactly that. Hasek helped carry an overachieving Buffalo team to the 1998-99 Stanley Cup Final. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Hasek won the Hart Memorial Trophy twice and was a six-time Vezina Trophy recipient. Hasek was a five-time All-Star and a two-time William M. Jennings Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award winner with Buffalo. From 1993-1999, Hasek was tops in save percentage. Hasek also ranked first in shutouts four-times and goals against average twice for the Sabres. Additionally, Hasek registered 234 victories and 55 shutouts with Buffalo.
Michael Gwizdala covers the New York Islanders for The Hockey Writers. Michael is also an Associate Producer at WNYT NewsChannel 13. Additionally, Michael was once a Media Relations intern for the AHL Albany River Rats. Michael is a graduate of The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.