|6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
185 lb (84 kg)
Victoriaville, QC, CAN
|NHL Draft||First overall, 1970
|Pro Career||1970 – 1987|
|Hall of Fame, 1990|
Gilbert Perreault (born November 13, 1950 in Victoriaville, Quebec) is a retired Canadian professional centre who played for seventeen seasons with the Buffalo Sabres of 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. 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 hockey player who went on to become a nine time NHL ALL-Star, two time Official NHL All-Star Team (second team centre) selection, a Calder Trophy winner, a Lady Byng Trophy winner 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 Game played 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. 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. His first year (1966–67) of junior hockey was spent with Thetford Mines Canadiens in Quebec's Provincial Junior Hockey League. His teammates included Rick Kehoe and Marc Tardif. The team won the league championship and advanced to the 1966-67 Eastern Canada Memorial Cup Playoffs. This league was regarded as a step below the Ontario Hockey Association's junior league and the Thetford Mines Canadiens were a farm team of the Montreal Junior Canadiens.
Perreault was promoted to the Montreal Junior Canadiens of the Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) for the 1967–68 season, the 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 second year on the team, one that included future NHL talents Réjean Houle and André Dupont as well as future professional teammates Jocelyn Guevremont and 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. The team excelled as well. In his second season, the team finished first in the the OHA and won the 1969 Memorial Cup. It was the first Memorial Cup win for Montreal since 1950.
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 place second in the league to Marcel Dionne's 132 points. The Canadiens defeated the Weyburn Red Wings in the 1969-70 Memorial Cup Final to become the third junior team to successfully defend their championship and the Memorial Cup. Perreault was named the Ontario Hockey Association's most valuable player.
In 1970, two new franchises were awarded in the NHL — the Buffalo Sabres and the Vancouver Canucks. Buffalo, by the luck of the draw chosen by a roulette wheel won the right to the first choice in the amateur draft. This was the first year that the Montreal Canadiens did not have a priority right to draft French-speaking Quebec junior players. Consequently, Perreault was available and taken first overall by the Sabres.
Perreault 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. 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.
Perreault developed a reputation as a superb stickhandler, and scored a goal on his first shift in a professional scrimmage. His popularity and respect surpassed that of O. J. Simpson in a poll of Buffalonians about the best Buffalo athlete.
Before the 1971–72 NHL season the Sabres drafted Perreault's Junior Canadiens teammate, Richard Martin, with their first pick. The two gelled as a tandem with each scoring 74 points. Late in the season the Sabres traded Eddie Shack for Rene Robert. The trio formed one of the decade's most memorable and exciting lines, known as "The French Connection" with Rene Robert on right wing and Richard Martin on left wing. They ended the following 1972–73 season sweeping the top three scoring positions on 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.
The 1974–75 NHL season season was memorable for the Sabres' Stanley Cup Finals appearance. 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 Canadiens on 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.
In 1976, Canada hosted the first Canada Cup series. Perreault often played on a line with fellow Québécois [Guy Lafleur]] and Marcel Dionne. Canada won the series after beating Czechoslovakia in a best two out of three. He later played in the 1981 Canada Cup on a line with Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur. He played 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. Perreault was named to the All Tournament Team, despite playing in only four of Canada's seven games.
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 1986 after 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 teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In addition, he plays on occasion with the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Hockey Team for charity events.
|1967–68||Montreal Junior Canadiens||OHA||47||15||34||49||10||11||8||9||17||5|
|1968–69||Montreal Junior Canadiens||OHA||54||37||60||97||29||14||5||10||15||10|
|1969–70||Montreal Junior Canadiens||OHA||54||51||71||121||26||16||17||21||38||4|
|All-Time NHL Rookie Season goal record
|NHL First Overall Draft Pick
|Buffalo Sabres Captain
|Winner of the Calder Trophy
|Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Gilbert Perreault. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ice Hockey Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.|
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