- Gilbert Perreault
Infobox Ice Hockey Player
position = Centre
height_ft = 6
height_in = 1
weight_lb = 185
nationality = Canada
birth_date = birth date and age|1950|11|13
birth_place = Victoriaville, QC, CANcite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php3?pid=00004248|accessdate=2007-07-24|publisher=The Internet Hockey Database|title=Gilbert Perreault]
draft = 1st overall
draft_year = 1970
career_start = 1970
career_end = 1987
halloffame = 1990
Gilbert Perreault (born November 13, 1950, in Victoriaville,
Quebec) is a retired Canadian professional ice hockeycentre who played for seventeen seasons with the Buffalo Sabresof the NHL. Known for his ability to stickhandle in close quarters, he was regarded as one of the most gifted and skillful playmaking centres ever to play the game.cite web|url=http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/LegendsMember.jsp?mem=p199003&type=Player&page=bio&list=#photo|accessdate=2007-07-24|date=2007|publisher=Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum |work=legendsofhockey.net|title=The Legends:Gilbert Perreault] He is the original Buffalo Sabre because he was drafted first by the team in their inaugural season in the NHL. He is well known as the centre man for the prolific trio of Sabres forwards known as "The French Connection".
Perreault was a standout
Junior hockeyplayer who went on to become a nine time NHL ALL-Star, two time Official NHL All-Star Team(second team centre) selection, a Calder Trophywinner, a Lady Byng Trophywinner and a Hockey Hall of Famer. He played his entire 17 year career with the Buffalo Sabres and continues to be the all-time franchise leader in career regular season games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals, and shots on goal, serving as the team's captain from 1981 until his initial retirement in November 1986. He led the team to eleven consecutive playoff appearances ending with the 1984–85 season.
Over the course of his 17 season career he accumulated 512 goals and 814 assists in 1191 games. Among his career highlights was the game winning goal in overtime of the 1978
National Hockey League All-Star Gameplayed at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. Perreault once totaled seven points in a single game which remains a Sabres record. He also recorded the first power play goal and the first hat trick in the team's history. He is the only Buffalo Sabre to wear number 11, with the number being retired in his honor.
Perreault began playing organized hockey at about age six. He preferred
street hockeyto playing on the ice and did not skate until he was eight.Dryden, p. 123.] At age nine, he made his first appearance at Peewee hockey tournament in Quebec City. He left home at the age of 16 to join his first Junior hockey team.cite web|url=http://www.legendsofhockey.net/html/spot_oneononep199003.htm|accessdate=2007-07-24|date=2007|publisher=Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum |work=legendsofhockey.net|title=One on One with Gilbert Perreault] His first year (1966–67) of junior hockey was spent with Thetford Minesin the Quebec Junior A League. His teammates included Rick Kehoeand Marc Tardif. The team won the league championships.
Perrault joined the
Montreal Junior Canadiensafter the Quebec Junior A League shut down for the 1967–68 season, which was his first of three years with the Junior Canadiens. His 49 points in 47 games helped the Junior Canadiens to a second place finish during his first season with the team. During his second year on the team that included future NHL talents Réjean Houleand André Dupontas well as future professional teammates Jocelyn Guevremontand Richard Martin, Perreault blossomed. His 97 points were second on the team to Houle's 108 points, and they earned him OHA First All-Star Team honours. As Perreault blossomed, the team excelled. In his second season, the team finished first the OHA and won the 1969 Memorial Cup. It was the first Memorial Cup win for Montreal since 1969.
After Houle moved on to become the NHL's first overall pick, Perreault assumed the leadership role and compiled a 51 goal, 71 assist season, which led the team in both categories and second in the league to
Marcel Dionne's 132 points. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/leagues/seasons/oha19551970.html|title=1969-70 Ontario Hockey Association [OHA] |publisher=hockeydb.com|accessdate=2008-10-10] The Canadiens defeated the Weyburn Red Wingsto become the third junior team to successfully defend their championship.
In 1969 and 1970, Perreault was on the
Memorial Cup-winning Montreal Junior Canadiens, that provoked a change in Memorial Cup eligibility rules. Previously, all Junior Clubs in Canada were eligible for the cup, but the Junior Canadiens beat a club from Prince Edward Islandso badly in the playoffs that Junior A was split into Major Junior and Junior A, with only the Major Junior clubs eligible for the trophy. After leading the Junior Canadiens to their second championship, he was named Ontario Hockey Association most valuable player.
In 1970, two new franchises were awarded in the NHL — the Buffalo Sabres and the
Vancouver Canucks. Sabres General Manager Punch Imlachchose his favorite number, number eleven, for the roulette wheelspin to determine which franchise would have the first choice in the 1970 Entry Draft. Buffalo, by the luck of the draw chosen by a roulette wheel, in which the number "11" came up for the Sabres, won the right to the first choice in the amateur draft. This was the first year that the Montreal Canadiensdid not have a priority right to draft Québécoisjunior players. Consequently, Perreault was available and taken first overall by the Sabres. [cite web |url=http://www.nhl.com/futures/firstoverall.html |title=First Overall Selections |accessdate=2008-06-20 |publisher= National Hockey League]
Perreault, wearing number #11 in honour of the roulette wheel's choice, became an immediate star. His immediate impact included a goal in the franchise's very first game, which was a 2-1 victory on October 10, 1970, against the
Pittsburgh Penguins.cite web|url=http://www.sportsecyclopedia.com/nhl/buffalo/sabres.html|accessdate=2007-07-24|title=Buffalo Sabres|publisher=Tank Productions|date=2007-05-10] During his first season, he led the Sabres in scoring (with 38 goals and added 34 assists) — a feat he would never fail to accomplish in any season in which he did not miss significant time to injury before his penultimate year — and won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year.cite web|url=http://www.nhl.com/trophies/calder.html|title=Calder Memorial Trophy|accessdate=2007-08-21|publisher=NHL]
Perreault developed a reputation as a superb stickhandler, and scored a goal on his first shift in a professional scrimmage. [Bailey, p. 12.]
Bobby Orronce said of Perreault: "His head and shoulders go one way, his legs go the other way, and the puck is doing something else. When I first saw it I couldn't believe it." [McKinley, p. 180.] His popularity and respect surpassed that of O. J. Simpsonin a poll of Buffalonians about the best Buffalo athlete. Phil Espositoonce said if anyone was to break his 76 goal, 152 point season records "It will be Gilbert Perreault."
1971–72 NHL seasonthe Sabres drafted Perreault's Junior Canadiens teammate, Rick Martin, with their first pick. The two gelled as a tandem with each scoring 74 points. Late in the season the Sabres traded Eddie Shackfor Rene Robert. The trio formed one of the decades most memorable and exciting lines, known as "The French Connection" with Rene Robert on right wing and Rick Martinon left wing. They ended the following 1972–73 season sweeping the top three scoring positions for the team and leading the franchise to its first playoff appearance with Perreault winning the Lady Byng Trophy as the most gentlemanly player. In 1973–74, Perreault endured a broken leg that limited him to 55 games.
1974–75 NHL seasonseason was memorable for the Sabres' Stanley Cup Playoffs Stanley Cup Finalsappearance. The Sabres finished first in the newly reformatted league's Adams Division, and the French Connection members each finished in the top ten in league scoring. The Sabres defeated the Chicago Black Hawks and Montreal Canadienson their way to a Finals appearance against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Sabres lost the series four games to two. 1975 was the closest that Perreault would come to winning the Stanley Cup.
Perreault was named to the Canadian national team ("Team Canada") that participated in the
1972 Summit Seriesagainst the Soviet Union. He managed to contribute two goals in two games but left the team after game five.
In 1976, Canada hosted the first Canada Cup series. Perreault played with future Hockey Hall of Fame members such as Bobby Orr,
Darryl Sittler, Bobby Hull, Guy Lafleurand Marcel Dionne. Perreault often played on a line with fellow Québécois Lafleur and Dionne. Canada won the series after beating Czechoslovakia in a best two out of three. He later played in the 1981 Canada Cupon a line with Wayne Gretzkyand Lafleur. He was playing some of the best hockey of his career, leading all scorers with nine points in four games, when he was forced out of the tournament with a broken ankle. Canada lost the final to the USSR 8–1. [cite web|url=http://www.hockeycanada.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/4516/la_id/1.htm|title=1981 Canada Cup|publisher= Hockey Canada|accessdate=2008-10-10]
Perreault retired at the end of the 1986 season. Thereafter, pension changes came into effect significantly boosting the pensions of retired players who played at least twenty games in the 1987 season. He duly came out of retirement, and still played effectively, scoring 9 goals in the first 14 games. He retired for good on
November 24 1986after his twentieth game.
He finished his career with scoring totals of 512 goals and 814 assists for 1326 points in 1191 games. At the time of his retirement, Perreault was the sixth leading scorer in NHL history. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990, and the Sabres retired his number 11 in the same year.
Since his retirement from hockey, Perreault has remained active in the game, coaching Junior teams in the
Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In addition, he also plays on occasion with the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Hockey Teamfor charity events. [cite web|url=http://www.sabresalumni.com/history/roster.php?letter=P|title=Buffalo Sabres All-Time Roster|publisher=Buffalo Sabres Alumni Assocation|publisher=2008-10-10]
Perreault is married to Carmen, and has two sons, Marc-André (born 1978) and Sean (born 1984). After retiring from playing, Perreault coached junior ice hockey, and invested in real estate. [cite web|url=http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1012108/index.htm|title=Gilbert Perreault, Buffalo Sabres Center|publisher=Sports Illustrated|author=Kostya Kennedy|date=1998-03-02|accessdate=2008-10-10] In his spare time, Perreault enjoys golfing, listening to music, and going to the movies.
* Tied with
Marc Bergevinfor 70th for most games played with 1191.cite web|url=http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/records/index.php|title=All-Time Record Book|publisher=hockeydb.com|accesdate=2008-10-10]
* Holds franchise record for most goals and points with the Buffalo Sabres. [cite web|url=http://sabres.nhl.com/team/retired_numbers.htm|title=Retired numbers|publisher=Buffalo Sabres|accessdate=2008-10-10]
* Currently 30th in all-time goals scored.
* Currently 23rd in all-time assists scored.
* Currently 26th in all-time points scored.
* Won the
Calder Memorial Trophyin 1971.
* Won the
Lady Byng Memorial Trophyin 1973.cite web|url=http://www.nhl.com/trophies/ladybyng.html|title=Lady Byng Memorial Trophy history|accessdate=2007-08-20|publisher=NHL]
* Named an NHL Second Team All-Star in 1976 and 1977.cite web|url=http://sabres.nhl.com/team/app?page=HistoricalPlayerDetail&pkey=8450308&service=page|title=Gilbert Perreault|publisher=Buffalo Sabres|accessdate=2008-10-10]
* Chosen to play in nine All-Star Games in (1970–71, 1971–72, 1973–74, 1974–75, 1976–77, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1983–84).
1998, he was ranked number 47 on " The Hockey News" list of the 100 Greatest Hockey players. [cite book|title=The Top 100 Nhl Hockey Players of All Time|author=Steve Dryden and Michael Ulmer|publisher=McClelland & Stewart Ltd|date=1998|ISBN=9780771041754]
List of NHL statistical leaders
List of NHL seasons
List of NHL players with 1000 points
List of NHL players with 500 goals
*Bailey, Budd, "Celebrate the Tradition: 1970–1990," Boncraft Inc., 1989
*Dryden, Steve, "The Top 100 NHL Players of All Time," Transcontinental Sports Publications, 1997, ISBN 0-7710-4175-6.
*McKinley, Michael, "Hockey Hall of Fame Legends: The Official Book," Triumph Books, 1993, ISBN 1-57243-093-1.
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