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Buffalo Sabres

Conference: Eastern

Division: Atlantic

Stadium: KeyBank Center (capacity 19,220)

Head Coach: Don Granato (2021-present)

Starting Goaltender: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Star Players: Rasmus Dahlin (D), JJ Peterka (RW), Jeff Skinner (LW)

2022-23 Regular Season: 42-33-7 (10th in Eastern Conference)

2023 Playoffs: Did not qualify

Legendary Former Players: Dominik “The Dominator” Hasek (G), Gilbert Perreault (C), Phil Housley (D)

Stanley Cups (NHL Championships): 0

Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres, who play their hockey in upstate New York, joined the NHL as part of an expansion in 1970. The Sabres’ striking insignia (now sadly a thing of the past), featuring a buffalo leaping over a pair of crossed swords (i.e. sabres), was the most notable thing about the team for its first few years of existence until their impressive “French Connection” line (nicknamed after the movie) led by star center Gilbert Perreault propelled the Sabres all the way to the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately (for the Sabres), they came up against the brutal physicality of the Philadelphia Flyers (known as the Broad Street Bullies at the time) and lost the series in six games. The team was a constant presence in the playoffs during the 1980s and 90s, but struggled to get out of the divisional rounds up against the powerful Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens until the realignment of the league in the mid-1990s. Buoyed by the incomparable goaltending of Dominik “The Dominator” Hasek with his unconventional (and at times extremely angry) style and even less conventional helmet), the Sabres sent out warning signs in the playoffs of 1998 that they were becoming a team to be reckoned with, sweeping the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Semifinals before falling to the Capitals in the Conference Finals in six. The team sent their fans in Buffalo into dreamland in the following year, when they swept the Ottawa Senators, battered the Boston Bruins, and manhandled the Toronto Maple Leafs to set up a date with the Dallas Stars in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals. The series was a tough one and ended in Game Six at 15:13 of triple overtime (making it the second-longest Stanley Cup game of all time), on one of the most controversial goals in NHL history. Stars’ superstar Brett Hull appeared to have marginally entered the crease before shooting the puck into the net (a rule that has since mercifully been changed), but it was decided that he had been in control of the puck and thus the goal stood. Many Sabres fans have never forgotten the ruling and still refer to this infamous game as “No Goal.” As the millennium turned, the Sabres stayed competitive for a few years, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals in 2006 and 2007, but faded badly after that. As of now, the team has not made a playoff appearance since 2010, the longest such streak of any active NHL team. This is not the only unadmirable record held by the Sabres (albeit tiedwith the Vancouver Canucks): they are the longest-lived current NHL team never to have won a Stanley Cup. Sabres fans will be desperately hoping to see their team’s fortunes turn around, so that this can change in the years to come.

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