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Ruff Around The Edges

The Curious Case Of the 1993-1994 Buffalo Sabres

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Over time a lot of Sabres fans have pointed to specific seasons for the teams that could have been the ones to hoist the elusive Stanley Cup. Rightfully so, a lot of fans (and younger ones) look to 2005 -2006 and 2006-2007, and the much older fans look at years in the 70's (1975 and 1979-1980) as well.

I have always felt one team that had just about everything to win it all but never got out of the 1st round: The 1993-1994 Buffalo Sabres

Lets look deeper:

Goals For: 282 (11th of 26), Goals Against: 218 (1st of 26)

Very good offense and a very underrated defense with superior goaltending with Dominik Hask posting sick numbers; 30-20-6 with a 1.95Gaa and a .930SV%. How the heck did Dom lose 20 with numbers like this?

On offense, you had firepower:

image.thumb.png.93afb0ba5249293e0102e7b09eb51598.png

 

Dale Hawerchuk with 86 points such an underrated great player during his time, the great Alexander Mogilny with 79 points (and he only played 66 games). The big one missing from the top of this list? Pat LaFontaine, 18 points in only 16 games played in 1993-1994, the Sabres were 11th in scoring and all those games missed, would have been Top 10 easy if #16 played a normal amount of games that year.

The series against the Devils was an epic battle defensively, we all know about Dave Hannan, imagine if #16 was there in a series only decided by 1 goal? I remember that year my Dad and I went to 'Tux and Pucks Night' on NYE and watched the Sabres thoroughly outplay the who would be Stanley Cup Champion NY Rangers 4-1.

This team has grit, toughness all over the place: Wayne Presley, Brad May (18G and 171 PIM), Rob Ray and even Matthew Barnaby. Solid players galore like Donald Audette with 29 goals, Yuri Yuri Khmylev with 58 points.

John Muckler at the helm was nothing to sneeze at either

If the Sabres were fortunate enough to advance past NJ, I truly believe they make it to the Wales Conference Finals and give the Rangers everything they can handle and more. This team will always be one of my all time favorite Sabres teams.

Oh what could have been....

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ruff Around The Edges
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This is an under-rated team that I think contends for the best Sabres team ever.  Patty could have made this team truly scary.

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They were big favorites going into the following lockout year.  Beating the Rangers in the opener was considered a torch passing at the time.  
But, yes, the 1993-94 team gets forgotten as a really solid team.

 

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I love that team.  Started 1-7-0.   Seven games with NJ, some one goal games and empty net two goals.  I believe LaFontaine, who missed the playoffs, gets you a goal and a series win.  And, yes, I was at the 4 OT game, as Valdermort’s guest.  I was wearing a Crossroads Arena lapel pin.

Dale H ...  7 games, 7 assists.

Check out Dom’s stat lines as the LOSING goaltender in a seven game series.

7 games        3W 4L       GAA 1.61      Save % .950     SO 2

 

Check out the season game by game progress chart

image.png

Edited by Neo
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47 minutes ago, E4 ... Ke2 said:

This is an under-rated team that I think contends for the best Sabres team ever.  Patty could have made this team truly scary.

I don't know about best ever, but a very, very good team.

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This was the beginning of the Dead Puck era (goals per game went from 7.3 in 92-93 to 6.5 that season) and the first year of the conference playoff format. The Sabres had the best penalty killing and second-best power play.

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That team was great but Scotty Bowman will tell you that 1979/1980 team was best ever.

Legend has it that he traded Rick Martin in large part because of his performance against the Islanders.

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11 hours ago, tom webster said:

That team was great but Scotty Bowman will tell you that 1979/1980 team was best ever.

Legend has it that he traded Rick Martin in large part because of his performance against the Islanders.

I have concluded that it was because Scotty determined that Rico would never be the same after his knee injury.  Scotty was right about that -- after the trade, Rico only played 4 games over 2 seasons for the Kings.

Regardless, I never forgave Scotty.

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The Sabres were great that year, but I don't think there was any denying the Rangers their cup in '94.

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1 hour ago, Skibum said:

The Sabres were great that year, but I don't think there was any denying the Rangers their cup in '94.

The Rags weren't exactly overwhelming.  They needed to win three elimination games in the last two rounds, one of which went to OT and two of which were one-goal wins.

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17 hours ago, tom webster said:

That team was great but Scotty Bowman will tell you that 1979/1980 team was best ever.

Legend has it that he traded Rick Martin in large part because of his performance against the Islanders.

I agree with Scotty on the 1979/1980 team.

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On 4/8/2020 at 8:00 PM, tom webster said:

That team was great but Scotty Bowman will tell you that 1979/1980 team was best ever.

Legend has it that he traded Rick Martin in large part because of his performance against the Islanders.

Bowman was shred and a bit ruthless.  He traded Martin because Martin was hurt and was never going to be same player.   Bowman dumped Martin (and Luce) for draft picks, one ended up being being Tom Barasso.
 

I think the 79--80 team was excellent, better than 93-94 (due to the absence of LaFontaine).  

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51 minutes ago, Pimlach said:

Bowman was shred and a bit ruthless.  He traded Martin because Martin was hurt and was never going to be same player.   Bowman dumped Martin (and Luce) for draft picks, one ended up being being Tom Barasso.
 

I think the 79--80 team was excellent, better than 93-94 (due to the absence of LaFontaine).  

I usually think of the 1993-4 team "at full strength" with LaFontaine in the line-up, just like I think of the 2005-6 team "at full strength" with Kalinin, Numminen, Tallinder, McKee, and Connolly.  Just my bias.

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That team had the combo of "Elvis" Presley and Dave Hannan on the PK.

They were as a good a penalty killing pair of forwards as I think we've never had.

We could use them now.

 

 

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14 hours ago, E4 ... Ke2 said:

I usually think of the 1993-4 team "at full strength" with LaFontaine in the line-up, just like I think of the 2005-6 team "at full strength" with Kalinin, Numminen, Tallinder, McKee, and Connolly.  Just my bias.

I don’t know, a 29 year old Gil Perreault, Danny Gare scoring 56, Rick Martin 44, Luce and Ramsey, a youth infusion with Ric Seiling, McKegney and Derek Smith, Edwards and Sauve. A defense core that added Mike Ramsay after the Olympics.

The 79/80 team was third in goals and first in goals against and easily won the first two series. If only the Islanders waited another year to start their dynasty.

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15 hours ago, E4 ... Ke2 said:

I usually think of the 1993-4 team "at full strength" with LaFontaine in the line-up, just like I think of the 2005-6 team "at full strength" with Kalinin, Numminen, Tallinder, McKee, and Connolly.  Just my bias.

Don't forget, that team at "full strength" also included Fuhr who Muckler trusted waaaaay more than Hasek.  If that team is fully healthy, the Devils shut them down in the 1st round (presuming that would still be the matchup).  Until Fuhr got injured about 1/4 of the way through the season, the net was Fuhr's as he was getting 3 of every 4 starts.

Hasek played way too well while Fuhr was out for Muckler to justify swapping back to Fuhr for the playoffs, but don't forget he played an injured Fuhr instead of a healthy Hasek against Moe-ray-all in '93 costing them that series and gave Fuhr the season opener in the abbreviated '95 season.  Were Fuhr healthy, Dom never gets to show North America what he'd already shown Eastern Europe - he WAS THE DOMINATOR.

So, for that team at "full strength" to have been more successful than they were, they still needed Fuhr to get injured to allow that magical "coming out" party of a season for Hasek to have happened.  And imagine what would've been in '93 & '94 & even that next disappointing lockout shortened '95 season had the Sabres not given up Andreychuk, Puppa, and a 1st for Fuhr when the Sabres already had Hasek!

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2 hours ago, Kruppstahl said:

That team had the combo of "Elvis" Presley and Dave Hannan on the PK.

They were as a good a penalty killing pair of forwards as I think we've never had.

We could use them now.

 

 

Ramsay and Luce say hi.

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10 minutes ago, Weave said:

Ramsay and Luce say hi.

They were probably the best two-way Sabre forwards ever.  And they had a 50+ goal scorer, in Gare, on that 3rd line with them.

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21 minutes ago, New Scotland (NS) said:

They were probably the best two-way Sabre forwards ever.  And they had a 50+ goal scorer, in Gare, on that 3rd line with them.

I would never call Ramsay-Luce-Gare a 3rd line.  Among other reasons, most teams only had 3 lines; Buffalo was no exception - behind them and Martin-Perreault-Seiling were Smith, McKegney, Dudley, Gould, and Savard.  This, aside from the deep, mobile, sound defence and Vezina goaltending, is why we can argue for 1979-80 being the best Sabres team ever.

I will state that if LaFontaine is back before the playoffs, that 1993-4 team is in the running for best Sabres team ever.

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On 4/9/2020 at 11:25 PM, E4 ... Ke2 said:

I usually think of the 1993-4 team "at full strength" with LaFontaine in the line-up, just like I think of the 2005-6 team "at full strength" with Kalinin, Numminen, Tallinder, McKee, and Connolly.  Just my bias.

You can think that, but he played just 16 games that year and only 22 (plus 5 in playoffs) the next.  He was simply not a factor that year.  

They were a fourth place team, they played 1 round of playoff hockey.  They road Hasek all season  (.930 Save Percentage and 1.9 GAA) and somehow Hasek still lost 20 games.  They simply did not score enough without Pat in the line up.  To call them one of the best Sabres Teams ever is a stretch, but yes, what could have been with Patty in his prime in that lineup.  
 

The Buffalo News is running a series of “what if” scenarios fir Buffalo sports.  I have not read one article.    I’m tired of those conversations as I lived through all of it and already spent too much time pondering what if’s.   I want an organization that accepts only one thing, being the best by accumulation of championships.  

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3 hours ago, Pimlach said:

The Buffalo News is running a series of “what if” scenarios fir Buffalo sports.  I have not read one article.    I’m tired of those conversations as I lived through all of it and already spent too much time pondering what if’s.   I want an organization that accepts only one thing, being the best by accumulation of championships.  

Althpugh I agree with much of this sentiment, I figure that, with nothing else going on, it is one way to pass the time and keep our spirits up.  Even without Social Distancing, I think it is natural for someone over 40 to be both more reflective and more nostalgic -- even though our memories filtered out how much the 1993-4 Sabres could not score, how horrible Dolly Parton's Country-Disco album was, or how controversial The Beatles were.

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The 1992-93 team was also incredible. It’s too bad Muckler didn’t play Hasek more and let him develop instead of trading Andreychuk for Fuhr.

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On 4/8/2020 at 8:21 PM, Eleven said:

I don't know about best ever, but a very, very good team.

Best ever was probably one of the French Connection teams or even possible the 05-06 Sabres

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On 4/15/2020 at 9:37 PM, Jerry Jabber said:

The 1992-93 team was also incredible. It’s too bad Muckler didn’t play Hasek more and let him develop instead of trading Andreychuk for Fuhr.

Andreychuk was run out of town by media and fans, imo. Talk radio howled about him. Last night kind of explains why. May was on that line for toughness. Dave Poulin was just assaulting LaFontain, basically trying to hurt him, as was the rest of the league. The officiating was cowardly, they mostly let it go and the backlash fell on Andreychuk who it was said was not tough enough to stick up for Patty. I think today that trade wouldn't be made as players are not allowed to just smash up the stars. 

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2 hours ago, bob_sauve28 said:

Andreychuk was run out of town by media and fans, imo. Talk radio howled about him. Last night kind of explains why. May was on that line for toughness. Dave Poulin was just assaulting LaFontain, basically trying to hurt him, as was the rest of the league. The officiating was cowardly, they mostly let it go and the backlash fell on Andreychuk who it was said was not tough enough to stick up for Patty. I think today that trade wouldn't be made as players are not allowed to just smash up the stars. 

He was a truly horrible skater.  People mistook that for not trying.  TBH, I needed someone more aware than I was to show me what he did wrong on the ice to really get it.

He, like Barrasso and Housley, also had the misfortune of being around after Bowman was canned -- they bore the brunt of the residual anger people felt for him.

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