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THE NAMING OF A FRANCHISE

On the 43rd anniversary of Buffalo becoming an NHL city, find out how the team was named

Wednesday, 05.22.2013 / 9:23 AM / Features
By Kevin Snow  - Sabres.com
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THE NAMING OF A FRANCHISE
May 22 marks the 43rd anniversary of Buffalo officially being granted an NHL franchise for the 1970-71 season. After their two previous attempts at landing an NHL franchise had fallen short, the Knox brothers were rewarded for their patience and perseverance when they \u2013 along with Vancouver \u2013 were awarded a franchise on December 2, 1969.

May 22 marks the 43rd anniversary of Buffalo officially being granted an NHL franchise for the 1970-71 season. After their two previous attempts at landing an NHL franchise had fallen short, the Knox brothers were rewarded for their patience and perseverance when they – along with Vancouver – were awarded a franchise on December 2, 1969.

But before the team would play a game, the fledgling franchise would need a name. To learn more about the naming process, the following is an excerpt from the book “A Spin of the Wheel,” written in 1975 by best-selling author Ross Brewitt.


“As a first venture into the publicity field, a contest was announced to choose a name for the Buffalo team, with rewarding, if almost, overwhelming results. Mail poured in from as far away as Vancouver; Bangor, Maine; and even an entry from Germany.

The names were as varied as the postmarks, some serious, others obviously tongue-in-cheek. Over 13,000 names were sent in, over 1,000 of them different; as many of the applicants submitted names already in use, or spin-offs on anything and everything connected with buffaloes.

The selection committee was looking for a completely new name, one that wasn’t being used by any team in professional sports – a name that would lend itself to news items (a concession to the newsmen who would have to write the headlines), and particularly a name that would disassociate itself from the usual Buffalo team titles.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, the names poured in. Bees, Mugwumps, Flying Zepplins, Knoxen, Herd, Border Riders, and Comets fell by the wayside. The field was narrowed to a single name very quickly. The more it was repeated, the more it began to fit the image the Buffalo group was trying to establish.

Four people had submitted the name “Sabres” and a draw was held to determine which of the four would receive the first prize of a pair of season tickets. Mayor Sedita performed the honors, and Robert Sonnelitter, Jr. went down in Sabres history as the man who named Buffalo’s NHL team.

The name “Sabres” fitted the specifications to a “T”. As a press release from Chuck Burr’s department would point out, “A sabre is renowned as a clean, sharp, decisive and penetrating weapon on offense, as well as a strong parrying weapon on defense.” While there were sportswriters and sportscasters who would laugh openly at the thought of the infant Sabres being anything decisive or sharp for several years to come, it did open the door for some great lead-ins for the stories they would have to report.

In addition, Sabres was a completely new name in professional sports, and it also got away from the Bisons-Bills-Herd mentality.

So Sabres it was, and would be. The days of referring to the “group” or “team” were over, and through liberal amounts of publicity (and window decals) the name Sabres became almost a household word before the club picked up its first player. Finding the players became the next order of business.”


Click here for more information on author Ross Brewitt and his other books.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82