Earlier this week the Anaheim Ducks went back to the start of their franchise and busted out Mighty Ducks retro jerseys for their game against Ottawa on Sunday. Seeing all this got me thinking, why can’t the Buffalo Sabres do something similar? And what better night to turn the clock back to red and black than when the Sabres finally retire Dominik Hasek’s number?
Buffalo - October 16, 2013 - Earlier this week the Anaheim Ducks went back to the start of their franchise and busted out Mighty Ducks retro jerseys for their game against Ottawa on Sunday.
The jerseys were worn as part of Anaheim’s 20-year anniversary celebration and the practice was widely embraced as a great idea by fans, players and media members alike. The Ducks went all out with the event, as well. In addition to the uniforms, they also went retro with the scoreboard, intros and TV graphics for the night.
Seeing all this got me thinking, why can’t the Sabres do something similar? I’m not saying a direct ripoff of the Ducks idea, but something out of the same playbook.
Considering the Sabres current home and road uniforms are practically identical to their original jerseys, going back to the original design for a night wouldn’t yield a drastically different look for the team on the ice. Because of that, the only true option for a throwback-type night would be to rewind to the red and black era. And what better night to turn the clock back to red and black than when the Sabres finally retire Dominik Hasek’s number?
Ted Black has already come out and said the Sabres will be retiring Hasek’s number in the very near future. I also believe there was some insinuation that Hasek may also end up with a statue out in the plaza. Obviously the Sabres have pretty big plans for the greatest goaltender in franchise history.
For my money, there’d be no other way to go than a statue and jersey retirement on the same night. His performance and legacy is right there with the French Connection and combining the two events would make for a very cool special night for Hasek and the fans. Taking it one step further by decking the team out in the red and black uniforms that were worn during Hasek’s prime would make it that much cooler.
Yes, Hasek did indeed wear blue and gold for a portion of his tenure in Buffalo but his greatest highlights along Perry Street came wearing the the divisive “goat head” uniforms. To not only honor him with his jersey retirement – and perhaps a statue unveiling too – but with the team in the colors worn during his greatest would make for a pretty cool theme night.
There is a two-fold issue that would likely crop up. First is that the Sabres have done a pretty good job (non-matching fonts excluded) in keeping their jersey banners set in the team’s original colors and appearance; setting the night up in red and black could throw that off. Second, the fact that the team has gone back to the original crest serves as a benefit to wearing those uniforms on nights they choose to honor their legends. You also have the fans who hate the red and black uniforms, which adds an additional layer of push back for such an idea.
All that being said, both Pat LaFontaine and Danny Gare had their jerseys retired in 2006 when the team still wore red and black and there wasn’t much issue back then. Additionally, as stated above, Hasek’s greatest moments in a Sabres jersey were dominated by the red and black era, why not honor him in the very jerseys he wore during that heyday?
For those fans who despise the red and black jerseys and logos, bear in mind that not only was the team the most successful during that era but the Ducks throwbacks weren’t exactly the most widely loved uniform set out there either. With so much interest in embracing the past, there’s no reason to overlook the franchise’s greatest period of success.
When the chips are on the table it seems odd to not go all out for Hasek. The Ducks got nothing but good press for rolling the clocks back recently and if there’s something the Sabres desperately need it’s good press. Additionally, the Sabres have been somewhat underwhelming in the player honoring department lately and going all out for Hasek would be a nice move to work their way back to par.
I forget the precise timetable that the French Connection statue followed but I’d assume that by spring of 2015 the Sabres would be able to hold a joint unveiling and jersey retirement night for Hasek.
Chris Ostrander is a 2008 graduate of John Carroll University where he played all four seasons with JCU's ACHA hockey team. After graduation Chris spent the 2008-09 season with the Buffalo Sabres organization working for the Sabres and Buffalo Bandits (indoor lacrosse) Public Relations department. After his time with the Sabres, Chris worked with NBC's hockey coverage for the 2010 Olympic games prior to his current role as the Public Relations Director for the American Collegiate Hockey Association. He runs the Sabres, Bills and Buffalo-centric blog Two in the Box. If you have questions or wish to contact Chris, you can email him at email@example.com
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