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Sabres’ 5 Most Underrated Goaltenders – The Hockey Writers – Sabres Historical past

Goaltending is alleged to be a very powerful place within the sport, and albeit, arguing in opposition to that’s troublesome. No hockey workforce at any degree has ever amounted to something with out excellence in aim, and the best goaltenders of all time stand out because of this.

Each NHL workforce has had at the least one formidable netminder of their historical past. Followers of the Buffalo Sabres have been spoiled with the likes of Dominik Hasek and Ryan Miller. However the workforce has simply as many (if no more) who, for some purpose, haven’t obtained as a lot recognition. Right here’s a take a look at the 5 most underrated goaltenders in Sabres’ historical past, and why they’re deserving of extra credit score than they’ve obtained.

No. 5 – Gary Bromley

Not like others on this checklist, it might be simple to overlook that Gary Bromley was a Sabre since he was solely with the workforce for components of three seasons. However, in that point, he had a substantial influence. At age 24, Bromley was thrust into the beginning function as a rookie in 1974-75, which additionally occurred to be the yr the Sabres took off. After blended outcomes by way of their first 4 seasons, Buffalo took the hockey world by storm that season, ending second within the NHL and advancing to the Stanley Cup Remaining.

Bromley, pictured donning his signature “Bones” masks with the Vancouver Canucks in 1981, was pivotal in serving to Buffalo to its first-ever Stanley Cup Remaining look (Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Pictures).

Bromley didn’t carry the Sabres by any means. Their high-powered offense led by the French Connection did that. He greater than performed his half, nonetheless, beginning 50 video games and recording 26 of the workforce’s 49 wins. His 3.10 goals-against common (GAA) and .873 save share (SV%) aren’t spectacular by fashionable requirements, however goaltending statistics seemed very completely different in these days. However although he began over half of his workforce’s common season schedule, the person generally known as “Bones” didn’t seem in any respect throughout Buffalo’s playoff run.

The explanation was by no means made precisely clear. Maybe head coach Floyd Smith didn’t belief the rookie and opted for the extra skilled Gerry Desjardins and Roger Crozier as a substitute. However this successfully marked the top of his profession with the Sabres. He performed only one recreation the next season earlier than discovering himself within the World Hockey Affiliation. Nonetheless, Bromley was a useful piece of the primary actually nice Buffalo workforce and may at all times be remembered as such.

No. 4 – Tom Barrasso

It’s admittedly a stretch to name Tom Barrasso underrated given his prolonged checklist of accomplishments, however he’s within the scope of the Sabres. Not like the profitable groups of the Nineteen Seventies and ’90s, the Eighties have been a wierd decade for the Sabres stuffed with blended outcomes. Consequently, many who laced up for the workforce in that interval are typically ignored, Barrasso included. The Massachusetts native was chosen fifth general by Buffalo out of highschool in 1983 and opted to affix the workforce instantly with out taking part in within the junior or collegiate ranks.

Such a transfer was unprecedented on the time and it might have appeared that Barrasso was out of his thoughts, however he instantly proved he wasn’t. That season, he grew to become simply the third goaltender ever to be awarded each the Calder and Vezina Trophies as Rookie of the 12 months and Goaltender of the 12 months, respectively. It couldn’t have come at a greater time for the Sabres, who had lacked a real star goaltender to that time. He took off from there and held down the crease at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium for components of the following 5 seasons, including the William Jennings Trophy in 1985. His excellence continued even after the workforce declined within the latter a part of the last decade.

Associated: They Wore It As soon as: Sabres Gamers and Their Distinctive Numbers

It’s potential that Barrasso isn’t remembered a lot within the annals of Sabres historical past as a result of he wasn’t with the workforce for so long as he ought to have been. In Nov. 1988 he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in trade for the fourth-overall decide, Darrin Shannon — an ill-fated transfer designed to jump-start Buffalo’s struggling offense. Barrasso is certainly a top-five goalie in Sabres historical past, even perhaps top-three. However, for no matter purpose, his title isn’t held in the identical regard as Hasek or Miller, and he’s but to be inducted into the workforce’s Corridor of Fame. He’ll obtain his long-overdue induction into the Hockey Corridor of Fame later this yr.

No. 3 – Roger Crozier

Amongst Sabres followers, Roger Crozier is the reply to a generally requested trivia query: Who was the workforce’s very first goaltender? The legend nonetheless doesn’t get his due in Buffalo regardless of that, nonetheless. Acquired from the Detroit Pink Wings through the 1970 NHL Enlargement Draft, Crozier began the workforce’s first-ever recreation, fittingly donning No. 1.

He was integral to the Sabres’ early years and backstopped them whereas they have been rising as a workforce and looking for an id. His statistics weren’t spectacular (take that with a grain of salt because it was the Nineteen Seventies and the Sabres weren’t superb at first), however he nonetheless managed to carry down the fort regardless of battling extreme well being points that included pancreatitis.

His most interesting hour was the legendary Sport 3 of the 1975 Stanley Cup Remaining, dubbed “the Fog Sport.” He began on the bench however stepped in in aid of Gerry Desjardins, whom the Philadelphia Flyers chased after three first-period objectives. Regardless of the horrible visibility within the area and a extreme sickness, Crozier stopped all however one shot to assist his workforce rally and win the sport on Rene Robert’s memorable additional time aim. The workforce finally misplaced the collection in Sport 6 however wouldn’t have even made it that far had their growing older netminder not stood on his head.

Crozier stayed in Buffalo till he was traded in 1977. He tragically handed away from most cancers in 1996 at simply 53 years previous. He was removed from the very best goaltender ever to put on the Sabres’ uniform, however his contributions ought to by no means be forgotten.

No. 2 – Daren Puppa

After Barrasso was traded, the Sabres out of the blue had a gaping gap in web and wanted somebody to step up. In stepped the towering 6-foot-4 Daren Puppa. Exceedingly tall for a goaltender in these days, Puppa needed to battle for the beginning job however finally captured it regardless of a grizzly arm damage in Jan. 1989. He rewarded the workforce’s religion in him with an excellent 1989-90 season, main the NHL with 31 wins alongside a 2.89 GAA and .903 SV%. He was named an All-Star and completed second to Corridor of Famer Patrick Roy for that yr’s Vezina Trophy.

Darren Puppa RPI
Puppa in his faculty days the Rensselaer Engineers, with whom he received an NCAA championship in 1985 (RPI Athletics).

With him in aim, the Sabres continued to enhance into the Nineties. Nevertheless, like Barrasso, Puppa left abruptly in an ill-advised commerce. Hasek got here to Buffalo for the 1992-93 season, however the workforce evidently believed their goaltending was nonetheless inadequate. Although he was nonetheless taking part in effectively, Puppa was despatched to the Toronto Maple Leafs with Dave Andreychuk and a first-round decide in trade for Grant Fuhr in Feb. 1993, a deal that’s nonetheless baffling 30 years later.

Fuhr didn’t precisely work out for the Sabres, nevertheless it didn’t matter, as Hasek emerged not lengthy after and have become one of many largest stars within the historical past of the sport. Puppa’s time in Buffalo tends to be forgotten as a result of he instantly preceded one of many biggest gamers of all time. It doesn’t change the truth that he stepped up for the Sabres underneath robust circumstances and did a really admirable job.

No. 1 – Martin Biron

Martin Biron‘s contributions to the Sabres largely fly underneath the radar by way of no fault of his personal. The timing of his arrival was lower than very best, because the workforce was pressured to slash its payroll not lengthy after (for causes that will be revealed later). Hasek was traded to the Detroit Pink Wings in the summertime of 2001, a second Sabres followers will always remember. On the age of 24, Biron was out of the blue thrust into the No. 1 function and had the unenviable activity of following one of many biggest goaltenders ever. The Quebecois was not daunted, nonetheless, and embraced the problem.

He began a whopping 72 video games that 2001-02 season, going 31-28-10, regardless of a really spectacular 2.22 GAA and .915 SV%, a transparent indicator of the Sabres’ steep decline. It solely obtained worse from there, and the workforce very practically relocated the next season amidst the fallout of a fraud scandal by mum or dad firm Adelphia. They have been rescued by new possession that March and noticed an improved 2003-04 marketing campaign during which they narrowly missed the playoffs regardless of their goaltender’s greatest efforts.

After the 2004-05 lockout canceled your complete season, Miller emerged as the brand new starter, and Biron was relegated to the backup function. He dealt with the swap with grace and continued his robust play, profitable 13 consecutive video games that season whereas Miller was out with a hand damage. He finally requested a commerce, which was granted in Feb. 2007. The Sabres misplaced a core piece that day they usually struggled to discover a steady backup within the years that adopted.

Biron’s legacy speaks for itself, and he would certainly obtain far higher recognition had he not been caught between the 2 biggest goaltenders in franchise historical past. Although he wasn’t as gifted as Hasek or Miller, his contributions have been each bit as vital. He shouldered the workforce by way of their most arduous interval and at all times put the workforce first, even when it was at his personal expense. One of the vital beloved figures in Sabres historical past because of his goofy character and charity work, Biron has a particular place within the coronary heart of the workforce’s fanbase.

If something, this checklist proves that hockey followers in Western New York have had fairly a couple of good gamers to cheer for over time. What different goaltenders in Sabres historical past do you assume deserve extra credit score?

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Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown specializes in soccer, covering MLS, NWSL, and international competitions. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Sports Media. Olivia has written for and ESPN FC, providing thorough coverage and in-depth analysis of the sport.


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