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'Sabres,' not 'Mugwumps,' made final cut in Buffalo

How 1970 NHL expansion team got its name among Fischler's favorite fun facts

by Stan Fischler / Special to

Legendary hockey reporter and analyst Stan Fischler will write a weekly scrapbook for this season. Fischler, known as "The Hockey Maven," will share his knowledge, humor and insight with readers each Wednesday.

Today he reveals 10 more of his favorite off-the-wall facts about the NHL. For the first 10, click here:


'Sabres' made the cut in Buffalo

When Buffalo was granted an NHL franchise for the 1970-71 season, fans in Western New York were asked to suggest a team nickname - and plenty of them did. A total of 13,000 entries suggesting more than 1,000 different names were submitted; owners Seymour Knox III and Northrup Knox, who wanted something other than variation of buffalo or bison, selected "Sabres" (a name suggested by four people) because "a sabre is renowned as a clean, sharp, decisive and penetrating weapon on offense, as well as a strong parrying weapon on defense." Among the names that didn't make the final cut were "Mugwumps," "Buzzing Bees" and "Flying Zeppelins."


Lamoriello took college route to NHL

Lou Lamoriello, who built three Stanley Cup-winning teams with the New Jersey Devils and is in his first season as general manager of the New York Islanders, used college hockey as a path to the NHL. Lamoriello played and coached at Providence College, then became athletic director in 1982; one year later, he was a driving force behind the formation of Hockey East. Lamoriello left to become president and general manager of the Devils in 1987. Hockey East named its championship trophy the Lamoriello Cup in 1988.


Christoff was model player

The Hobey Baker Award, presented annually since 1981 to the best Division I hockey player in the United States since 1981, is 16 inches high and weighs 40 pounds. Sculptor Bill Mack, a Minnesota native, was the designer and began the process of making the trophy by searching for a model. That search led to Steve Christoff, a Minnesota high school star who became a member of the "Miracle on Ice" U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics before playing five seasons in the NHL. The original casting of the trophy is on display at Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild.


Lowe started it all for Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s smashed goal-scoring records and won the Stanley Cup five times in seven seasons. Hall of Famers such as Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were part of the Oilers when they joined the NHL from the World Hockey Association for the 1979-80 season. But the honor of scoring the first NHL goal in Oilers history belongs to rookie defenseman Kevin Lowe, who did it in the second period of their first game on Oct. 10, 1979, against the Chicago Blackhawks at Chicago Stadium. After scoring in his NHL debut, Lowe had just 83 goals in his next 1,253 NHL games; however, he did play on six Cup-winning teams.


Gretzky gets first Oilers penalty

If Lowe was an unlikely choice to score the first NHL goal in Oilers history, the first Edmonton player to be penalized is equally one of the most unlikely. Gretzky, the NHL's all-time scoring leader, took the first penalty in Oilers history when he was called for slashing at 5:19 of the first period in Edmonton's debut game against the Blackhawks. He later assisted on Lowe's goal for the first of his 2,857 NHL points, though the Oilers lost the game 4-2. Gretzky finished his NHL career with 577 penalty minutes (an average of less than 29 per season during his 20-year career) and won the Lady Byng Trophy for his combination of skill and clean play five times.


Red Wings were goalie factory

From the 1940s through the early 1960s, the Detroit Red excelled at churning out top-flight goalies. Johnny Mowers helped the Red Wings reach the 1942 Stanley Cup Final, then was a First-Team All-Star and Vezina Trophy winner the following season. He was followed by Harry Lumley, Terry Sawchuk, Glenn Hall, Sawchuk again and Roger Crozier. Lumley, Sawchuk and Hall are all members of the Hall of Fame.


Blackhawks first to pull goalie

The idea of pulling a goalie in favor of a sixth skater is almost 80 years old. On March 16, 1941 the Black Hawks (then two words) did it when coach Paul Thompson replaced goalie Sam LoPresti with an extra attacker; it was the first time that tactic was employed in an NHL game. The only problem for Thompson and the Blackhawks was that it didn't work; the Toronto Maple Leafs won the game 3-0.


Guidolin led wartime youth movement

NHL teams had their rosters decimated after the United States entered World War II, so they had to look for players who were too old or too young to join the military. The youngest of these was Bep Guidolin, a 16-year-old forward from Thorold, Ontario, who made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 12, 1942. He turned 17 a few weeks later and finished the season with 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in 42 games. Guidolin played nine seasons in the League and later coached the Bruins and Kansas City Scouts; he's still the youngest player to skate in an NHL game.


He's No. 2

Any hockey fan worth his weight in pucks knows that Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens was the first goalie to wear a face mask on a full-time basis. It didn't take long for other goalies to follow suit. The second goalie to wear a mask was Don Simmons of the Boston Bruins. Simmons later played on three Stanley Cup-winning teams with the Toronto Maple Leafs, finished his NHL career with the New York Rangers in 1969 and went on to post-career success as the founder of Don Simmons Sports, an Ontario business that specialized in goalie equipment.


Red Wings pioneer season tickets

Today's fans take the idea of season tickets for granted. But no team in any major pro sport sold season tickets until the Red Wings got the idea for the 1930-31 season. They offered Detroit fans a season-ticket plan that provided the option of paying for their seats in five monthly installments. At the time, no other team could make that statement.

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