Saturday, October 17, 2009
After seventeen seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Gilbert Perreault had his #11 retired on this date in 1990, the only Sabre to ever wear #11.
The first ever draft pick for the fledgling Sabre organization, Perreault was drafted first overall in the 197o NHL Amateur Draft after the Sabres won a spin of a wheel to determine if they or the Vancouver Canucks would pick first. Sabres general manager Punch Imlach chose his favorite number 11, which proved lucky for the Sabres, and is why Perreault was assigned sweater #11.
Perreault scored a goal in the Sabres first ever game on October 10, 1970 and went on to lead the Sabres in scoring with 72 points in 78 games and win the Calder Trophy. He was also the first Sabre to record a power play goal and a hat trick.
Joined by wingers and fellow French-Canadians Rene Robert and Richard Martin during the Sabres second season, they formed "The French Connection" line which would excel for the seven seasons the trio played together, including all three being named to the same NHL All-Star Team on two occasions.
Perreault would lead the Sabres in scoring during 11 of his 17 seasons, including five in a row from 1975-76 to 1979-80. The Sabres would also qualify for the playoffs 11 consecutive seasons, including making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1975.
He would be named team captain in 1982, a position he would hold until his retirement in November 1986 and amass 512 goals and 814 assists for 1,326 points in his career in 1191 games - all Sabres franchise records which still stand to this day. He also holds Sabres career records for game winning goals, shots on goal and points in a game with seven.
He would also have the distinction of scoring the game winning goal in overtime of the 1978 NHL All-Star Game played in Buffalo at the Memorial Auditorium, one of nine NHL All-Star games he would appear in during his career.
In addition to his success with the Sabres, Perreault would also play for Team Canada during the 1972 Summit Series and the 1976 Canada Cup.
When he retired, he was the sixth leading scorer in NHL history and was subsequently inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.
Today's featured jersey is a 1983-84 Buffalo Sabres Gilbert Perreault jersey from the CCM vintage line. The Sabres played with essentially the same jerseys from 1970 to 1996 with only slight variations such as eliminating the original tie-neck collars in 1978, the same year they added shoulder logos, and minor changes to the arm and waist stripes in 1983.
This jersey proved so popular with the Sabres fans that it was brought back as a third jersey in 2006-07 and was modernized for a new third jersey again in 2008.
First, a real treat, footage from the first ever Buffalo Sabres game and Perreault's first ever NHL goal against Pittsburgh.
Here is the Legends of Hockey biography of Gilbert Perreault.
Next up is a great compilation of Perreault action highlights.
Finally a musical tribute to "The French Connection" line, featuring Gilbert Perreault.