When the Knox brothers were awarded an NHL expansion franchise for Buffalo in December 1969, Seymour Knox was told by a number of people to go hire a veteran hockey man to run that aspect of the operation. Luckily for him, one was available right up the QEW.
Punch Imlach had won four Stanley Cups during his time in Toronto, but he was fired after a playoff loss in 1969. He joined the Sabres on this date as general manager and coach. Imlach had been expected to be involved in the other expansion franchise in Vancouver, but his group's bid for it fell short.
Shortly after his hiring here, Imlach put up a big sign in his office: "Beat Toronto." Those Sabres learned to beat the Maple Leafs and the rest of the NHL in the next few years. Imlach put together a good hockey team in almost record time, helping the Sabres reach the Stanley Cup Finals as general manager in Year Five.
His legacy was a bit tarnished by his return to Toronto after leaving Buffalo in 1978. But no one should forget that he was a key figure in making hockey a success in Buffalo. And Toronto fans have never forgotten who was behind the bench on the night in 1967 that the Maple Leafs last won a Stanley Cup.
-- Budd Bailey
Sports Ink blog at buffalonews.com/blogs