Things We Know This Week: “Oh Captain, My Captain”

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Gilbert Perreault holds the franchise record for consecutive games registering a point at 18 games. That goes all the way back to both his and the franchises sophomore season in 1971-72. Obviously, it is an extremely tough task considering he never repeated that feat. Even as he matured and became part of the French connection line with Rene Robert and Rick Martin.

“Oh Captain, My Captain.”

This is not a Rick Jeanneret classic call from one of the many great captains in Sabres history. This is simply my favorite line from the 1865 poem by Walt Whitman, I steal shamelessly from Robin Williams classic movie, Dead Poets Society. I digress…

Great Sabres captains? Well, Brian Gionta and Steve Ott never really had the opportunity to let us see how good or bad they would be as captains here in Buffalo. They had the distinct timing of being given that honor of the captaincy during the tanking years. From what I know of both of these players, they are solid choices and would have succeeded under really any other circumstances. In some situations outside of Buffalo, they did.

Thomas Vanek had a nice run in Buffalo as a goal scorer. His time as captain was far too short as the rebuild was already underway. He simply took over for a short stretch after Pominville was traded. Vanek would soon be shipped off for draft capital and a player as well. The Ryan Miller’s, Tyler Myer’s and Paul Gaustad’s were already long gone as that core was being dissembled.

Craig Rivet was a player’s choice captain immediately upon arrival. He was a perfect leader for the postilion. Unfortunately, his physical skills were about spent after his first full season as the captain here. It is tough to lead the team from the press box as a healthy scratch, but he became a liability on the ice. Prior to him, Lindy did the rotation which he had done in a previous stint in town. I do not really count them as captains because they were only given the letter for a temporary time based on recent performance and not league-wide or career reputation.

Chris Drury and Daniel Briere were co-captains, but they were permanent and were the leaders during a couple of the teams best seasons. I would consider them clutch. They led by example. They were real captains worthy of being considered two of the great Sabres captains in history. The Drury goal in the playoffs, sending the game into overtime, against the Rangers was right up there with “May Day”.

Stu Barnes worked his tail off. He was very much a reason the Sabres were able to go on the run to the finals in 1999. Michael Peca was the captain then although it was Hasek’s team. With that said, Peca was one of the very good captains Buffalo had. He played physical. He scored big goals, not a ton of them, but would get a goal when the team needed it the most. Barnes, unfortunately, took over after Peca’s hold-out-leading-to-trade. The powerhouse team that went on three runs, each deeper than the previous, was being dissembled. No more Peca. Hasek then dictated his own trade more or less, landing in Hockey Town to add Stanley Cups to his hardware collection. So based on poor timing, Barnes really did not have a huge impact as captain. His better days were before taking that role.

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Patty Lafontaine was the team’s captain for a solid stretch. Both he and the team had some serious success until injuries started catching up with the U.S. born superstar acquired in part of the Pierre Turgeon trade. Ooh-La-Pierre was never the captain in the Queen City as the team had rocks in place for quite sometime before and after his arrival as the first overall selection in the 1987 draft. Mike Foligno, Mike Ramsey, Lindy Ruff and of course number eleven, Gil Perreault were locks as captains, not to be removed by a young kid who at the time only played in one end of the rink.

Danny Gare, a goal scorer, penalty killer, blue-collar worker, would drop the gloves with anyone. He was the captain that another great captain, Jim Schoenfeld, stepped aside when it was time for new leadership to sport the “C”. Prior to those two greats, Gerry Meehan held the post for several years replacing the original franchise captain, Floyd Smith. Meehan continued in leadership after his playing days as he was a very successful NHL General Manager right here in Buffalo.

“Oh Captain, My Captain.”

Jack Eichel is no slouch by any means. His two-goal performance against the Blues gives him a 14 game point streak. That is four games away from Perreault’s record that has stood since 1971-72. He is close. But knowing how hard it is to get points in four-straight games makes a 14 game stretch that more challenging.  I hope he breaks the record. He has been great. If he is not going to get the total respect around the league as he deserves, then a least he will gain it slowly by dominating the franchise record books. Everyone will always associate him with the consolation prize the year of the McDavid/Eichel draft. The year of “McEichel”.

On that note, Buffalo managed to keep Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl off the score sheet in their overtime victory in Edmonton as they gained three out of six possible points on the three-game western Canadian road trip.  Eichel was named the NHL third star of the week. This is the fourth time in his career he has been named one of the weekly three stars of the entire league. Not too shabby.

The Sabres rallied around coach Krueger who spent three seasons with the Oilers prior to his time at the Olympics and across the pond in the English Premier League. (soccer). The players knew this was an extra meaningful game to their popular coach.

Colin Miller celebrated a couple of firsts in Edmonton. He scored his first goal as a Sabre.  He also scored his first career overtime goal. At 1:13 into overtime, Marcus Johansson slipped a perfect pass to Miller who finished by finding the back of the net. Eichel was rewarded an assist on the goal as well which sustained his point streak.

The Roaring ’20s line has found some of that success they had earned back before Halloween. Girgensons, Larsson and Okposo were assembled as that relentless hard-working line. Hard work eventually pays off for these three blue-collar players on the score sheet. That continued along with Eichel’s streak as the team dominated the Stanley Cup champions as they returned home.

Up next they stay at home hosting the Predators from the Music City. I politely request no Miracles compliments of the team from Nashville.

I shall stand on my chair if needed.  “Oh Captain, My Captain.”

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