May 20, 1972 -- The Sabres weren't a one-man hockey department in their first two years, but sometimes it felt that way.
Punch Imlach was obviously the man in charge. He was brought in after a successful stint in Toronto, and served as the Sabres' general manager and coach. But in 1972, Imlach became ill and needed to get away from one of his jobs. The coaching position was obviously the one to give up.
That meant the Sabres needed a new coach, and they happened to have one handy. Joe Crozier had been coaching the Cincinnati Swords, Buffalo's top minor league affiliate, when Imlach suffered his heart attack. Crozier was promoted on an interim basis then.
Even though the Sabres didn't win too often in the rest of the 1971-72, no one was blaming Crozier. So Imlach gave him the job on a full-time, permanent basis on this date.
Crozier made an immediate impact in his first full season on the job. He led the Sabres to the playoffs in 1972-73. Joe the Crow spent one more year in Buffalo before jumping to the World Hockey Association. He says he knew it was a mistake, and returned to Buffalo to work for the Sabres a couple of other times.
Crozier was one of the great characters in Buffalo's sports history, and he knew his hockey too.
--- Budd Bailey