Looking Back at the Sabres’ Goaltenders
Though there is still some way to go before the start of the new NHL season, speculation has already begun on how teams will fare once October finally comes around. One team that could be facing some issues is the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres have had problems with their goaltending and that unfortunately still looks likely to continue this season. Their current goaltender, Carter Hutton, failed to live up to expectations and posted a 3.00-goals-against average, a .908 save percentage plus zero shutouts. Linus Ullmark, Hutton’s backup, hasn’t fared much better: 3.11 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage, and two shutouts.
Yet history shows us that the Sabres haven’t always had this problem. In fact, the team has had a few distinguished goaltenders over the years.
Don Edwards (1975-1982)
Edwards began his NHL career with the team, after being called up from the minor leagues. On his first night in Buffalo, Edwards completed his warm-up believing he was going to be back up to Al Smith. Instead he got the nod to be starting goalkeeper just minutes before the game. Edwards stepped up to the occasion, helping secure victory against the Minnesota North Stars.
During his career he achieved 14 shutouts (third-most of any Sabres goaltender). He also helped the Sabres reach the playoffs, appearing in 31 playoff games with a 13-18 record and one shutout.
Tom Barrasso (1983-1988)
Unlike most goalies, Barrasso went straight from high school to playing in the NHL. And it didn’t take Barrasso long to show that he could hold his own, going 26-12 with a GAA of 2.84 in his first season.
He would then go on to appear in over 200 games for the Sabres, accomplishing 13 shutouts, the fifth-most in Sabres history, and 124 wins. He also appeared in 12 playoff games for the team, sixth-most in the franchise’s history. Today, Barrasso holds the distinction of being only one of two Sabres’ players to win the Calder Memorial Trophy as top rookie in the NHL. Sports Illustrated called for the player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017 due to his success. While this has yet to happen, Barrasso’s place in Sabres’ history is undeniable.
Clint Malarchuk (1989-1992)
While Clint Malarchuk may not be the top performing goaltender on this list, he is certainly one of the most famous. Malarchuk joined the Sabres in 1989 after he was traded from the Washington Capitals. However, his season only lasted sixteen days after he suffered a life-threatening injury while playing against the St Louis Blues. The injury happened when Steve Tuttle of St Louis Blues crashed into the goal crease and his skate blade caught Malarchuk’s neck severing an artery. Ladbrokes reports how Malarchuk’s injury is classed as one of the most famous in the sporting world due to the seriousness of the accident. Amazingly, Malarchuk managed to recover and helped the Sabres reach the playoffs in the 1990-1991 season. His ability to get back on the ice after such a horrific injury makes him a Sabres legend.
Dominik Hasek (1992-2001)
Hailed by Runner Sports as setting the standard< for which all future Sabres’ goaltenders will be compared to, Hasek came to Buffalo in 1992 from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Stephane Beauregard. It wasn’t long before he earned a spot as a starter and eventually posted a record 234-170-70 in his nine seasons with the Sabres. Furthermore, he also accomplished a GAA of 2.22 along with 55 shutouts, far surpassing anyone else in the franchise’s history. Hasek eventually became the first Sabres goaltender to have his number retired by the team.