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Taro Tsujimoto: Misc

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Ice Hockey

Up to date as of February 02, 2010

An Ice Hockey Wiki article.

Taro Tsujimoto is a fictive Japanese player created by Punch Imlach at the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft.

While a totally imaginary player, Tsujimoto nevertheless was legally drafted by the Buffalo Sabres 183rd overall in the 11th round of the 1974 Amateur Draft by Punch Imlach, then general manager of the Sabres. Imlach was reportedly fed up by the tedious draft process, which was very slow and done via the telephone. To lighten the hardship of the process, he decided to pull a little prank to have some fun at the league's expense. He contacted public relations director Paul Wieland and asked him for the translation of the name "Sabre" in Japanese. Meanwhile, he found a common Japanese name in a Buffalo-area phone book. When came his turn to speak at the 11th round, Imlach drafted an unknown player named Taro Tsujimoto, whom Imlach assured was a stellar center for his Japan Ice Hockey League side, the Tokyo Katanas. Not knowing any better, the NHL made the pick official and all the major media outlets reported the Sabres' pick, including The Hockey News.

Even though nobody had ever heard of this alleged star nor of his equally fictive team (and possibly even of the JIHL, which, unlike Tsujimoto and the Katanas, did exist at the time), the pick remained official and legal until Imlach acknowledged he faked everything about this pick several weeks later. NHL President Clarence Campbell, who had been at the head of the league for 28 years, did not find the prank nearly as funny as Imlach did and the pick was eventually changed to "invalid claim" for the league's official record-keeping purposes.

On the Sabres' side however, any media guide issued by the team still lists Tsujimoto as the 183rd overall pick of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft. Actually, the prank has become an inside joke among Sabres' fans and staffers. For years after the pick, the fans at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium would chant "We Want Taro!" when the games became a little too one-sided.

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This article uses material from the "Taro Tsujimoto" article on the Ice Hockey wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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