Frank Christie

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Buffalo Sabres and Bisons Trainer

Buffalo is blessed with a rich history and tradition in hockey, one that encompasses, but far pre-dates, the Sabres and the NHL. Throughout the decades, hundreds of players, and dozens of coaches, have paraded through the locker rooms of the Bisons and Sabres. During that time, one constant was the indispensable efforts of one man vital to the day-to-day operations of the teams. trainer Frank Christie.

Christie’s life in hockey began in 1933. A native of New York City, Christie’s first hockey job was working as a stick boy for the New York Americans, then a club in the National Hockey League. Upon completing his service in the army during World War II, Christie accepted the job of trainer for the American Hockey League’s Buffalo Bisons.

Christie was a fixture in Buffalo’s Memorial Auditorium for nearly forty years. As trainer for the Bisons until the team folded in 1970 to make way for the National Hockey League expansion club Buffalo Sabres, he watched a steady stream of players and coaches file through Buffalo on their way to greatness. He was on hand to witness the first training camp of a youngster named Bobby Hull, and he helped ease the path to the NHL for a young, nervous goaltender named Jacques Plante. Frank saw the coaching genius of Billy Rea and Fred Shero. Later, with the Sabres, Frank bandaged the bruises of the French Connection, taped the sticks of Gare and Foligno, and imparted his wisdom to a host of players who wore the blue and gold during his tenure with the club.

No individual in Buffalo hockey history was more involved with more players on an everyday basis than Christie, and he grew to be a friend, counselor, and confidant to nearly every one of them. Players would seek out Christie for assistance in dealing not only with strained muscles, but also with strained relationships. “It (hockey) is a hard life, and a lot of these kids are scared,” Christie once remarked. “They’ve got to have someone they can talk to.” Frank provided that sounding board for generations of players.

Punch Imlach, then the Sabres’ coach and general manager, told The Buffalo News in 1970: “He has always been an asset to the sport, and his popularity with the players is well known. It would almost be unthinkable for a club representing Buffalo to take the ice without Frank Christie in attendance.”

Frank toiled for the Sabres almost until his passing in 1986. His subtle, yet invaluable, contributions to Buffalo hockey were rewarded with his selection to the inaugural class of the Sabres Hall of Fame, where he joined Punch Imlach, Tim Horton, Fred Hunt, and Roger Crozier. Tonight, Frank joins a legion of Buffalo hockey legends in the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.