Gilbert Perreault

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If ever there was an athlete who truly fit the description “the franchise player,” it was former Buffalo Sabre great Gilbert Perreault. The National Hockey League Sabres literally built their organization around Perreault, making him their first pick (and the league’s first pick overall) as an expansion team in the 1970 draft.

The 20-year-old Perreault had already established himself as the league’s hottest prospect with his performance in the two years he played for Montreal of the Ontario Hockey League. In only 108 games there, Perreault scored 88 goals and 130 assists for 218 points while being named to the league’s all-star team both years and winning the league’s most valuable player award in 1970.

Beginning his NHL career with the expansion Buffalo Sabres in that same year, Perreault would go on to play every game of his illustrious 17-year-career (all 1,191 of them) for the blue and gold of the Queen City. Over the years, the masterful Perreault would tally 512 goals and 814 assists for 1,326 points, all Sabre records. Perreault also represented the Wales Conference All-Star team on several occasions, and was named the NHL’s Second Team All-Star center twice (1976 and 77).

In addition, the nifty playmaker won two of the NHL’s coveted individual awards: the Calder Memorial Trophy, for the most outstanding rookie of the year in 1971 and the Lady Byng Trophy, for sportsmanship, in 1973.

After retirement, Perreault was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada and was honored in 1990 by the Buffalo Sabres with the retirement of his number “11” jersey.