Ted Darling

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Buffalo Sabres Broadcaster

On the night of October 10, 1970, a new National Hockey League franchise took the ice at the Civic Center in Pittsburgh to challenge the Penguins. High above the ice, a young broadcaster from Kingston, Ontario took to the mike to broadcast his first play-by-play assignment in the NHL. Few would anticipate that the team and its play-by-play announcer would enjoy an affiliation lasting 22 glorious seasons. The new team was the Buffalo Sabres, and the announcer was Ted Darling.

Ted announced a Sabres victory in their surprising debut, and he would call over 800 more during his illustrious career. Opening night also featured the first call of a goal by a French-Canadian rookie destined for greatness, Gilbert Perreault; that call would be repeated 511 times. As the franchise matured, Ted was at the mike to relay to thrilled listeners each important first and historic milestone in team history, including Perreault’s 35 goals of the 1970-71 season, breaking the NHL record for rookies, Rick Martin’s 39th goal a year later, which eclipsed Perreault’s mark, a Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1975, and the 12-6 embarrassment of the Soviet Wings team a year later. In time, Darling became much more than a play-by-play announcer; he chronicled the Sabres’ rise to prominence for the first generation of its fans. The familiar voice became that of a trusted friend. In the steady parade of players and coaches through the years, only Darling, the “Voice of the Sabres”, remained constant.

Darling’s professionalism was his acknowledged hallmark, and that standard was tested by severe adversity and disappointment on several occasions. Ted’s familiar soothing tones tempered the devastation of the Sabres’ loss in the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals. His call of a game from his living room via television feed from the Montreal Forum during the Blizzard of ’77 became legendary. Darling’s finest moment as a broadcaster, however, occurred on February 21, 1974, the night after defenseman Tim Horton died tragically in an automobile accident. Ted called that game against the Atlanta Flames under the most difficult circumstances imaginable. On an occasion when the overwhelming realities of life (and death) overshadowed athletic endeavor, the gritty Sabres rallied for a 4-4 tie while their unwavering play-by-play voice brought the action home faithfully to saddened listeners.

Ted has been recognized following his premature retirement by induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame (one of the few broadcasters so honored) and Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame. The well deserved recognition of Ted’s excellence continues tonight with his induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame. For those who came of age during the Sabres’ first two decades, this award ceremony was yet another opportunity to express Ted Darling our most heartfelt sentiment: “Thanks for the memories.”