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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Rick Dudley

(Born on January 31, 1949) -- Rick Dudley and the Buffalo Sabres have been together a couple of times over the years. He’s always brought intensity to his work, making him a fan favorite.

Dudley grew up in Port Credit, Ont., and worked his way up to the Buffalo Sabres roster in 1972. The winger was good for three seasons here, as he had an aggressive style mixed with a scoring touch.

Dudley was a big part of the Sabres’ team that played the Flyers in the 1975 Stanley Cup finals.
Then Dudley opted to jump to the World Hockey Association. The Cincinnati Stingers kept him until 1979, when the Sabres acquired his rights. Buffalo lost him on waivers to Winnipeg a year later, and he wore #99 for the Jets.

After retirement, Dudley turned to coaching. He worked at a variety of levels in the minor leagues. Then he took over the Sabres’ head-coaching position in 1989, and led Buffalo to a fine season in 1989-90 (98 points). But a first-round playoff loss didn’t go over well, and the next season ended no better. Dudley was let go in the middle of the 1991-92 campaign.

He moved to the front office of NHL teams, working as the general manager of the Senators, Lightning, Panthers and Thrashers. From there he joined Montreal’s organization in 2011.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Larry Carriere

(Born January 30, 1952) -- The Buffalo Sabres needed defense in the summer of 1972 if they wanted to improve on the ice. Larry Carriere turned out to be part of the solution.

Carriere had played in Quebec junior hockey for a while, and then moved on to play and study at Loyola University in Montreal. It was an unusual move at the time, but Carriere did catch the attention of the Sabres there. They made him a second-round draft choice.

Carriere and Jim Schoenfeld, the team’s top draft choice, surprised a few people by making the NHL roster right away. Helped by the guidance of Tim Horton, both players provided a boost to the Sabres as they made the playoffs for the first time. He stayed through 1975 and helped Buffalo reach the Stanley Cup finals.

Carriere was traded to the Flames in 1975 in a deal involving Jacques Richard, one of the bigger disappointments in Buffalo hockey history. Carriere finished his career in a Toronto uniform in 1980, as Punch Imlach talked him out of retirement into a brief comeback.

Carriere joined the Sabres as a scout, and worked his way up the front office ladder there over the years. After leaving Buffalo, Carriere landed with the Montreal Canadiens’ organization.

--- Budd Bailey

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Dominik Hasek

(Born on January 29, 1965) -- All right, Dominik Hasek turns 48 today. Does he think he can still play goal in the National Hockey League? Could be, and who can argue? After all, Hasek is without question one of the all-time greats.

Hasek started playing hockey at the age of six in his native Czechoslovakia. His new team needed a goalie, so that’s where he played. Hasek turned pro at the age of 16, the youngest Czech player to ever do so. He won a couple of league titles, and caught the eye of the Blackhawks, who drafted him in 1983.
In 1990, Hasek arrived in Chicago, and he served as a backup to starter Ed Belfour. He achieved some fame when he replaced Belfour in Game Four of the Stanley cup finals, playing superbly in a losing cause against Pittsburgh. That caught the eye of the Sabres, who in a complicated transaction acquired him.

Hasek didn’t start right away, but took over the position in the 1993-94 season when Grant Fuhr was injured. Hasek was terrific, and Fuhr eventually was traded. For the next several years, Hasek was worth the price of admission in Buffalo. He won the league’s MVP trophy two straight times, and piled up numerous other honors (including a gold medal in 1998).

Hasek was traded to the Red Wings in 2001, and earned a Cup there. He jumped to Ottawa and then back to Detroit. From there Hasek moved overseas for a couple of more seasons, finally retiring - we think - after the 2011 season.

--- Budd Bailey

Video: What's wrong with the Lakers discussion on the 'Bucky & Sully Show'

Watch all the segments of this week's show here.

This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Mark Napier

(Born on January 28, 1957) -- The career of Mark Napier didn’t quite turn out the way we thought it might. However, it was a long and successful one by most standards.

Napier looked like he had a chance to be one of the best players in hockey when he was a junior. He was so good that he jumped to the World Hockey Association with two years of eligibility remaining. For Toronto he was rookie of the year in 1975-76, and followed that with a 60-goal season.

The Canadiens drafted him in the first round in 1977, and lured him to Montreal. He eventually led the team in goals in three different seasons. Napier was traded to Minnesota for Bobby Smith, and lost his scoring touch somewhere along the way. In 1985, he was sent to Edmonton  in a deal involving ex-Sabre Terry Martin.

In March of 1987, Napier made his last NHL stop - in Buffalo. He came here in a trade for Norm Lacombe. He played a little more than two seasons here, and was a smart two-way player who was a respected veteran on the team.

Napier crossed the ocean to play in Italy in 1989-90, and showed he still had a scoring touch. He scored 154 points in 42 games in his first season there.

--- Budd Bailey

Video: Sully's Super Bowl pick & more on Quick Hits during 'Bucky & Sully Show'

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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Rhett Warrener

(Born on January 27, 1976) -- Rhett Warrener made quite an impact during his relatively short time as a Sabre. That’s not a deliberate pun on his aggressive style of play, although it could be.

Warrener was born and raised in Saskatchewan, and spent three full years with the Saskatoon Blades. He was the second-round draft choice of the Florida Panthers in 1994.

After finishing junior hockey, it took Warrener less than a year to break into the Florida lineup. He was a regular on the 1996 team that reached the Stanley Cup final, only to lose to Colorado. He stayed until March of 1999, when he was dealt to the Sabres for Mike Wilson.

Buffalo was happy about the way that came out. Warrener fit in well and helped the Sabres reach the Stanley Cup finals. He was hurt in Game Five against Dallas; maybe he could have made a difference in Game Six.

Warrener stayed in Buffalo until 2003, when he was traded to the Flames for Chris Drury. The defenseman played the final four years of his career in Calgary, and is reportedly a morning radio host there now.

--- Budd Bailey

Live from First Niagara Center: Bandits vs. Wings

7:08 p.m. - The Buffalo Bandits have a hard act to follow tonight. Last week's game was mighty exciting.

Neither the Bandits nor the Rochester Knighthawks could pull away from the other, as the largest lead in the second half was one goal. Tracey Kelusky provided the last lead with his behind-the-back shot in the final seconds to win it.

That improved the Bandits' record to 2-1, with the one loss coming to Philadelphia. And that same Philadelphia team is in town tonight. The Wings come in unbeaten at 2-0.

This is a tough weekend for Philadelphia. The Wings host Calgary tomorrow afternoon. The Roughnecks beat up Colorado on Friday.

The only anticipated lineup change for Buffalo tonight is the arrival of Billy Dee Smith. Jimmy Purves is slated to go to the scratch list to make room for him.

7:21 p.m. - Anthony Cosmo and Brandon Miller are the starting goaltenders. The Wings scratched third-string goalie Chris Collins. I'll resist the temptation to say Collins is busy in Congress this weekend.

7:37 p.m. - Another solid job by anthem singer Kevin Kennedy. And he kept his orange suit and dress shoes. Wonder where you can buy that outfit? 

7:44 p.m. - We've played a little more than four minutes, and it's already 3-2 Buffalo. Last goal wins, perhaps. Shawn Williams has celebrated his 200th straight game with three assists.

7:53 p.m. - Sure enough, the scoring has stopped for the moment. Buffalo had a power play, but the best chance by either team came when it was over. Steve Holmes came out of the box for a breakaway, but Anthony Cosmo stopped him.

8:01 p.m. - The first quarter ends quietly, with the score tied at 3-all. We had a total of five goals in the first 4 minutes, 5 seconds, and one in the following 10:55. Bandits had a 14-9 edge in shots.

8:05 p.m. - Billy Dee Smith took a roughing penalty at one second of the period to give Wings a two-man advantage. Jordan Hall capitalized to give the Wings their first lead.

8:10 p.m. - Bandits went more than 16 minutes without scoring until Chad Culp ended the drought. It's 5-4, Phillly, with 10:12 left. The pace of the game has slowed since the opening minutes.

8:17 p.m. - Strike that last remark. Suddenly it's been up and down, and the Bandits have done most of the scoring lately. They are ahead, 6-5, with 5:36 left in the half.

8:30 p.m. - The Bandits got the lead up to 8-6, but Jordan Hall has two goals in 21 seconds for the Wings. We're tied, 8-8, with 30.4 seconds left.

8:32 p.m. - And that's the way it ends, 8-8 after a half of play.

8:57 p.m. - Scott Self and Dhane Smith have scored for the Bandits, so it's 10-8 with 9:43 left in the third quarter. Philadelphia hadn't given up 10 goals in an entire game this season.

9:06 p.m. - Bandits have taken an 11-9 lead. They gave up a power-play goal to Drew Westervelt to see the lead cut to 10-9, but Dhane Smith took a shot that looked like he was bowling, and he beat Brandon Miller to restore the two-goal margin.

9:16 p.m. - Bandits and Wings both scored in the final minutes of the period, so we're at 12-10, Buffalo, after 45 minutes. It's the first time this season Buffalo has led after 45 minutes this season, for what that's worth. Obviously, we're a long way from being done.

9:24 p.m. - Indeed we are. The Wings have climbed back into a tie at 12-12. One actual penalty and one delayed penalty have led to two Philadelphia goals, and that has left us tied.

9:38 p.m. - John Tavares had given Buffalo a one-goal lead but Philly responded with 42.7 seconds left. It's 13-13.

9:44 p.m. - Luke Wiles apparently has scored with 23.6 seconds left to give Buffalo the lead. They are reviewing it. ... And it counts.

9:51 p.m. - Bandits win, 14-13, in another thriller. Off to locker room.

11:39 p.m. - These thrillers are taking a lot of me. That's two games in a row decided in the final 30 seconds by a Buffalo goal, and three games that have come down to the game's last shot. It's tough on writers, fabulous for fans.

There's been plenty of talk about the parity in the league this season, and deservedly so. I don't think there's an upset to be found in this league right now.

And closer to home, I wondered how the Bandits would do at the start of the season with so many new faces on the roster. Would it take long to get everyone playing together? Apparently not. Now comes the first appearance of the season in Buffalo of the Toronto Rock, a frequent measuring stick lately for the Bandits. That's next Saturday.

--- Budd Bailey

Video: Discussion of Sloane Stephens' emergence on the 'Bucky & Sully Show'

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Bandits notebook: Billy Dee is back

The Buffalo Bandits worked out for about an hour this morning at the First Niagara Center, and a significant lineup change is coming for tonight's game with the Philadelphia Wings.

Billy Dee Smith will make his 2013 debut tonight. Smith had been on the physically unable to perform list, as he had a sprained ankle suffered at work. Smith is now ready to go and will play tonight.

Smith was eligible to come off the roster because Jon Harasym will serve a two-game suspension beginning tonight. Harasym appealed the suspension and could have played last week in Rochester, but didn't.

That means the Bandits will have to sit someone who played last week against the Knighthawks to make room for Smith. That person is Jimmy Purves, who has been taking too many trips to the penalty box lately to the coaches' liking.

I'll be along tonight with a live blog of the game between the Bandits and the Wings.

--- Budd Bailey

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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.