Be sure to read my story on new Sabres assistant coach Joe Sacco in Thursday's paper. Had a nice chat on the phone with him Wednesday and he had a good laugh when I asked him what it was like to be an expansion team guy. Didn't have room to get it in the story but he had some interesting thoughts on it.
Sacco played on the 1993-94 Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, a first-year expansion team that tied an NHL record for wins by a first-year team with 33.
They wore cartoonish uniforms based on the movie (note the pic of Sacco above) and had a team of castoffs. For his part, Sacco was chosen from Toronto in the expansion draft.
"All the players came from different teams. You get to Anaheim and you're in a similar situation -- you're coming from a team that I guess at the end of the day really didn't want you," Sacco said. "Because we all had that same attitude and felt we had something to prove, we really came through as a unit and a team. We didn't have a superstar, any name players. We were a bunch of muckers and grinders, castaways from other teams.
"We had good leadership like Troy Loney, our captain. He won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh. We had a group that wanted to belong. We wanted to prove we could stay in the National Hockey League."
Sacco had a career-high 19 goals and 37 points and played all 84 games for the Mighty Ducks that year. It was the first of his five seasons in Anaheim. (Check out his career stats here)
"Young players have to have that similar mindset whether they've played half a year or one year that they have to belong," he said. "They're not there yet. I always say with young players that the real guys on real teams do it year after year after year. It's 10-12-13-14 years. What can make me stand out from the guy next to me? That's what I try to pass on as a coach and we had it on that team."
(Photo: Getty Images)