The Buffalo Sabres' white and gold 50th anniversary jersey was unveiled to rave reviews Friday, but the talking point for the surviving members of the famed French Connection line Saturday was about the colors they wore.
In conjunction with the 50th anniversary sweater, the team announced it was returning its primary color to royal blue for the 2020-21 season. Just as it wore in the days of Memorial Auditorium from 1970 to 1996.
"It's great. The crest, the color are very important," said Hall of Fame center Gilbert Perreault, the franchise's first draft pick and still its No. 1 scorer. "This was a new franchise from the '70s. First color. Got to keep the crest and color.
"When you change the crest, it kills the alumni. You've got to keep the same crest, the same color. That's very important to me."
Right winger Rene Robert agreed.
"I like it. Go back to the old roots," Robert said. "This is the way it should be. I understand the NHL and marketing and so many different jerseys. But to me, the original jersey will always be the Sabres jersey."
When winger Jeff Skinner was asked what he thought about the new uniforms, he joked to reporters, "That 50th one looks pretty good to me. But I guess the royal blue is the hot topic so if I want to be popular I guess I'll say that."
Center Casey Mittelstadt, meanwhile, said he favored the 90s "goatheads" look.
"My high school team (in Eden Prairie, Minn.) was red, white and black so I'm favorite to those jerseys," Mittelstadt said. "I like those a lot."
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General Manager Jason Botterill deferred any updates on the Sabres' injured players until the start of training camp. Zach Bogosian (hip) and Lawrence Pilut (shoulder) underwent offseason surgeries and are not expected to be ready for the regular season. The same is likely true for presumptive No. 1 Rochester goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who had hip surgery.
No. 1 draft pick Dylan Cozens continues to work back from thumb surgery after he was injured during the 3-on-3 scrimmage that capped development camp. He may not be be able to take part in training camp, either.
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As part of FanFest, the team's retired number banners were lowered to the arena floor for fans to pose in front of for photos. There was also a large memorabilia display set up at one end of the rink, curated by John Boutet, exhibit chairman for the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.
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Heavy downpours in the morning forced the Sabres to move all of their activities inside KeyBank Center after the original plan called for the bulk of the event to be held outside in Alumni Plaza. ... Rasmus Dahlin was scheduled to appear at the event but was unable to make it due to travel difficulties coming from Sweden. ... The Sabres next official event is expected to be the Prospects Challenge in HarborCenter. It opens Sept. 6, with Buffalo hosting New Jersey-led Jack Hughes in a 7 p.m. game.
— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) August 17, 2019