(Born January 17, 1971) -- For someone who had injury problems, Derek Plante had a long and worthwhile career playing hockey. In fact, his association continues today.
Plante was drafted by the Sabres in 1989 out of high school, but the Cloquet, Minn., native opted to go to the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He was good enough there (92 points as a senior) to make sure that the Sabres kept watching him, and the center signed with Buffalo for the 1993-94 season.
As a Sabre he became the team’s second-line center after an injury to Pat LaFontaine. Plante stayed on the roster from there, and was the answer to a trivia question: who was the leading scorer on the Sabres’ 1996-97 division-winning team? His overtime goal in Game Seven against Ottawa that year will never be forgotten.
But back troubles started to catch up with Plante. He was traded to the Dallas Stars during the 1998-99 season. Ironically, he won a Stanley Cup ring that year for the Stars, who beat Buffalo in the finals. His days as an NHL player ended shortly after that.
Plante then headed to Europe and Asia to play for several years. He came back across the pond for good after that, but the hockey bug hadn’t left. Plante became an assistant coach for his alma mater, and helped it win a national championship.
--- Budd Bailey