Fred Hunt

Fred Hunt

Hockey Administrator, Bisons & Sabres

Golf is the ideal and oft-used form of recreation to discuss business, deals and mergers. Fred Hunt had a couple of memorable golf outings in 1965 for which Western New York hockey fans should forever be grateful. It was the equivalent of winning two majors on the tour.

The former Buffalo Bison forward, coach and general manager first played with another hockey fan, Dr. George Collins, and in the late 60’s the two discussed the impending expansion of the National Hockey League from its original six teams. Hunt told Collins that expansion was inevitable and suggested that Buffalo put together a bid . . . but only with a group that would have solid finances in place.

Dr. Collins didn’t have to think too long about potential investors. The following week, he and his good friend, Seymour Knox III and Hunt were on the course. The rest is history, although the road to securing the franchise would inevitably take a few twists and turns along the way.

On Dec. 1, 1969, the NHL informed Knox that the league was awarding Buffalo a franchise. The headline in one of Buffalo’s two newspapers could have read “Goal, Knox…Assist by Hunt.”

A few weeks later, George “Punch” Imlach was named general manager and coach of the fledgling, and still, unnamed team. Hunt was appointed assistant general manager and simultaneously served as general manager of the Sabres’ minor league affiliate Cincinnati Swords that took the AHL Calder Cup in 1973.

A native of Brantford, Ontario, Fred’s hockey roots were grounded playing junior hockey at St. Michael’s College in Toronto. He had American Hockey League stints in Springfield, Hershey and Buffalo. It was with Buffalo in the 1940’s that Fred blossomed, leading the league in assists in both the regular and post-season in 1943-44 and helping the Bisons to three Calder Cup championships. He retired in 1949 and was appointed coach of the Bisons in 1952; the following year he was named general manager but also served three stints as coach over the next 18 years.

In 1982, Fred was inducted posthumously into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame; the “Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award” is given annually to an AHL player who best exemplifies sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey and the Sabres present an award to their top rookie each year named in Fred’s honor.