Sunday, December 8, 2019

Danny Gare Autographed Card

Earlier this week, the Buffalo Sabres continued their 50th anniversary celebrations by having a "Founders Night", commemorating the Knox brothers being awarded a new franchise (along with the Vancouver Canucks, two markets that had been passed over in the 1967 expansion).

Sure, that makes the Sabres and Canucks tied for second-longest Stanley Cup drought behind the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the fans there have almost never wavered their support despite having witnessed just two Cup Finals in their history (1975 and 1999), and not having made the playoffs since 2011 - the longest active sequence without postseason play.

That wasn't the case in the 1970s, as the "French Connection" - one of the era's best NHL line's, starring Gilbert Perreault, Richard Martin and René Robert - ensured Buffalo at least made the playoffs practically every season (save for 1973-74). It was adding a secondary All-Star forward like Danny Gare, however, that proved to be the spark that was needed to bring the Sabres to the final round of play.

A short and strong player, Gare willed himself to two 50-goal seasons in the era of the Broad Street Bullies (1974 and 1975 Stanley Cup champions) and Big Bad Bruins - and the third Montréal Canadiens dynasty, of course. It was his character that had his named the Sabres' captain (1977-81) ahead of Perreault (81-85), who may still today be the face of the franchise's first 50 years.

If I were to make an All-Sabres Team, my first unit would be:
Forwards: Perreault, Martin, Robert
Defence: Phil Housley and Lindy Ruff
Goalie: Dominik Hasek
Coach: Scotty Bowman
My second unit would likely be:
Forwards: Pat Lafontaine, Alexander Mogilny, Gare
Defence: Mike Ramsey and Larry Playfair
Goalie: Ryan Miller, slightly ahead of Roger Crozier
Coach: George "Punch" Imlach
Granted, the defence isn't as strong as that of other similar lists for other teams, but the offence, goaltending and coaching is nothing to sneeze at - you might even say "world-class".

Which brings me to card #88 from Topps' 1980-81 Topps set, showing Gare wearing the Sabres' classic blue (away) uniform with the captain's "C" prominent on his chest:
The cards, which he signed in blue sharpie at a card convention in a Toronto suburb nearly 10 years ago, reflects that he had been named as an end-of-season All-Star (2nd Team All-Star). He has also participated in two All-Star Games and played for Team Canada at the 1976 and 1981 Canada Cups (winning in his first attempt, losing to the Soviet Union the second time around).

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