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1974-75: 'The birth of hockey in Buffalo'

Sabres.com will share stories from the 1974-75 season each day this week

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber / Sabres.com

Which team was the best in the 50-year history of the Buffalo Sabres?

You can make an argument for 1979-80, when Gilbert Perreault's 106 points and Danny Gare's 56 goals led the Sabres to a 110-point finish, good for first in the Adams Division. They lost the playoff semifinals in six games to a New York Islanders team at the doorstep of a dynasty. 

The 1998-99 team featured the world's best goaltender playing at the height of his powers in Dominik Hasek. He won his fifth Vezina Trophy and, behind a 40-goal scorer in Miroslav Satan and one of the game's premier two-way players in Michael Peca, guided the Sabres to the Stanley Cup finals.

Younger fans might cast their vote for the teams of the mid-2000s. Daniel Briere, Chris Drury and co. electrified the city with their run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2005-06, then came back and won the Presidents' Trophy the following season. 

All those teams have their merits. But ask those who played during the franchise's inaugural decade, and there will be little hesitation about which team stands above them all. 

"Seventy-four, seventy-five, by far," Rene Robert said. 

Don Luce concurred: "Seventy-five was the best team."

Video: '70s Night Video

Five years removed from their inception, the 1974-75 Sabres earned 113 points and made it to their first Stanley Cup Final, where they fell in six games to the reigning champion Philadelphia Flyers. 

Sabres.com spoke with 12 alumni to reflect on that year, one Gare still looks upon as setting the stage for the 45 that followed. We'll publish a story about the season each day for the remainder of the week. 

"I think that was, to me personally and I think the guys who played on that team, that was the birth of hockey here in Buffalo," Gare said. "When I think of the Sabres over 50 years, that year was the year that it escalated to being a legitimate National Hockey League team."

 

Monday: The team that Punch built
Tuesday: Danny Gare's unforgettable debut
Wednesday: A record-setting season
Thursday: "The fans were rocking"
Friday: The Final, the fog, and a lasting legacy

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