Mike Ramsey

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Buffalo Sabres Defenseman

If one accepts the popular notion that a strong defense lies at the core of a championship team, then the Sabres’ commitment to winning in the 1980s was unquestionably signaled by the selection of Mike Ramsey as the first pick in the 1979 entry draft. While the road from college hockey to the NHL is now well-traveled, Ramsey was one of the players who helped blaze that trail. Ramsey was an All-Tournament selection in the 1979 NCAA championship as he sparked the University of Minnesota to the National Collegiate title. Even greater glory waited at the 1980 Olympic games, as Ramsey played a key role in the USA’s stunning gold medal odyssey. By the time Ramsey joined the Sabres in March 1980, he had laid the foundation for a promising NHL future.

That future met, and exceeded, expectations. Known and respected as a heady, steady defenseman who could also contribute at the offensive end, Ramsey was honored by four All-Star game appearances during his Sabres’ career. He was also chosen for Team USA for the 1987 Canada Cup Series, and was the only Sabre chosen for the NHL squad in the Rendezvous ’87 Series against the Soviets. A natural leader, Ramsey was a logical selection as team captain in 1991, but graciously relinquished the title when Pat LaFontaine appeared on the scene a year later.

On defense, Ramsey was a shot-blocker without peer, and as a result, played through many nagging injuries. However, he was also familiar with the offensive end of the rink. Mike is the second highest scoring defenseman in Sabres’ history (73 goals, 256 assists, 329 points).

“Iron Mike” played 911 games in a Sabres’ jersey. Along the way, he was feted by teammates as Most Valuable Player (1982-83 & 1986-87) and by selection as the Punch Imlach Award recipient (for dedication to hockey in 1987-88) and Tim Horton Award (unsung hero, in 1981-82 and 1985-86). Mike’s NHL career concluded with stops at Pittsburgh and Detroit, enabling Ramsey to become only the 99th player to appear in over 1,000 NHL games. The Sabres continue to benefit from his presence as current assistant coach, and his contributions have this young team poised on the brink of contention for the Stanley Cup which cruelly eluded Mike during his playing days.