WAYBACK WHEN (LGS) — A few Wednesdays ago, we released the first two of 11 nominees for Greatest Moment in Buffalo Sabres' History. This Wednesday we present the other edge of the sword — the first two Worst Moment nominees. Keep watching throughout the season as we release more moments on our way toward a vote that will determine the final order. If you want to suggest a nominee, please email us below.
April 24, 1983, Boston Garden
The Sabres, one of the youngest teams in the league in 1982-83, swept the Canadiens in the best-of-five Adams Division semifinal. The story of the series was bookend shutouts by Bob Sauve in the first two games at the Montreal Forum, earning him the nickname Bobby O.
Against the Bruins in the best-of-seven Adams Division final, the series was tied at two with Game 5 in Boston Garden. First-round hero Sauve was bombed from the nets in a 9-0 loss, but the Sabres won back on Aud ice to force the first Game 7 in franchise history.
Early in the deciding game, Ric Seiling struck for two goals to put the Sabres up 2-0, but the Bruins came back with a pair of their own to tie the game. Early in overtime, off a faceoff in the Buffalo zone, Brad Park's shot from the point was tipped by Craig Ramsay, throwing off Sauve. The puck went through Sauve onto the stick of Andre Savard, who was in effect playing goal.
Savard tried to shovel the puck under his goaltender, but it slid all the way back to Park, who one-timed it past a confused Sauve to break the hearts of Sabre fans everywhere.
It was one helluva way to lose a playoff series, and a decade would pass before the Sabres won another one.
As The Sabres Turn
June 30, 1997
During the 1996-97 season, the soap opera that was the Buffalo Sabres went something like this, according to published reports.
Head coach Ted Nolan challenged general manager John Muckler to a fight. In a moving car.
Muckler went to team president Larry Quinn and got permission to fire Nolan, but only if Muckler would take over as coach, which he would not.
Quinn offered Nolan a contract extension, but Nolan rejected it, thought to be because he did not receive an assurance that Muckler would be gone after the season.
Quinn fired Muckler, then took it back.
Tension surrounding "philosophical differences" between Dominik Hasek and Nolan bubbled over in Boston, with Hasek trashing the visitors lockerroom after a practice.
Hasek left a playoff game against Ottawa with a suspicious injury and did not return, but he was well enough to accost writer Jim Kelley.
It was hard to imagine that the offseason could top all that, but it did. Quinn fired Muckler for real and hired Darcy Regier. Hasek reappeared. "I cannot respect him," Hasek said of Nolan before heading back to the Czech Republic for the summer. "That's my problem. I don't want to play for someone I don't respect."
Nolan's contract was set to expire at the end of June, and backed into a corner Regier offered the coach of the year a one-year deal that, of course, Nolan rejected. Despite a rally by the fans, and the support of Jean Knox, widow of the team founder Seymour Knox, Nolan's job could not be saved.
On this date, Regier flew to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to tell Nolan the Sabres were headed in a different direction. Fans were outraged, and many canceled their season tickets. Resentment toward the team, and Hasek, lingered through the fall, but the team started winning again.
Ironically, one of the worst moments in team history led directly to the hiring of Lindy Ruff — and some of the greatest.
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