Sunday

Mike Ramsey

Mike Ramsey will be remembered by Buffalo Sabres fans as one of their greatest defensemen in team history. That is quite the claim when you look at some of the great defensemen who have played in Buffalo - Tim Horton, Bill Hajt, Jim Schoenfeld, Phil Housley, and Alexei Zhitnik to name a few.

Mike was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on December 3, 1960. He grew up dreaming of playing hockey, and got his big break when he made the University of Minnesota team. In just one season of collegiate action, Mike made quite an impression on NHL scouts as he was simply outstanding in leading the University to the NCAA collegiate championship!. So impressed were the Sabres that they used their first round draft pick, 11th overall, to select the 6'3" and 200 pound defenseman.

Mike didn't return to college after just one year. But he didn't turn professional either. He opted to join the United States national team in hopes that a full season there could earn him a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. The Olympics of course were being held in Lake Placid, New York that year, and Mike definitely wanted to be a part of it. That USA Olympic team needs no introduction. With the likes of Neal Broten, Mark Johnson, Dave Christian and Mike Eruzione, the upstart bunch of college kids upset the greatest team in hockey - the powerful national team representing the Cold War political rivals from the Soviet Union. The victory will forever be remembered as the greatest hockey feat in American history, and set the stage for rapid growth of the game in America.

Mike, who was unrelated to long time teammate Craig Ramsay (note the spelling difference), joined the Sabres immediately following the Olympics and it was quickly obvious that he was star on the rise. He scored 1 goal and 7 points in 13 games to finish off the season, and followed that up by helping the Sabres through 13 post-season contests, picking up 1 goal and 2 assists.

Points production doesn't paint the proper picture of Mike Ramsey. He never scored more than 9 goals in a single season, and scored only 79 in a career that spanned 1070 games and 18 NHL season. He never scored more than 40 points in a season, and had only 345 in his career.

But make no mistake, Ramsey was a star. he was a perennial All Star candidate and 5 times as a Sabre he represented the team at the mid-season celebration, including in 1987 when the NHL put together a team of 20 players to take on the Soviets in Rendez-Vous '87. He also twice represented the United States in the Canada Cups, once in 1984 and once in 1987. He also played in the 1982 World Championships, but usually couldn't compete in that tournament as he was too busy leading the Sabres into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Ramsey was a very intelligent defenseman with a great understanding of the game. He was always in great position and always made a solid play and clearing the zone dependably. He also was an honest physical player - very tough in front of his net and a good open ice hitter. He was also recognized as one of the game's best shot blockers. His work ethic, dependability, and importance to the team made him a natural choice to serve as the Sabres captain after Mike Foligno's departure in 1990.

Mike played in 911 games in as a Sabre. However the two time Sabres MVP would depart to Pittsburgh in a late season trade for Bob Errey in 1993. He would play a season and a half in Pittsburgh before signing on with the Detroit Red Wings for 2 seasons. He initially retired at the end of the 1995-96 season, but late in the 1996-97 season he came out of retirement very briefly - playing 2 final games..

Mike would return to Buffalo in 1997 as an assistant coach. At the turn of century he would return to his original home of Minnesota as part of the coaching staff of the Minnesota Wild.

1 comments:

Buffalo66 5:35 AM  

In 2nd grade back in 1985, the only I wanted for my First Communion gift was a Mike Ramsey jersey. My parents bought it in a men's medium, figuring I would grow into it.

It fit until senior year of High School - 1994.

I still have that replica jersey hanging in my closet. I'll never forget the day against Minnesota when Rammer scored 2 goals - and so did Mal Davis. The headline of the Niagara Gazette the next day was "Davis scores 2 to lead Buffalo over Minnesota." I remember thinking, how many times does Ramsey score 2 goals? You'd have thought that would've been the headline! Oh well. He was a great player for the Sabres and I always wished he got a Cup w. either Pitt or Det, but it never came to fruition. Still, he was my favorite player. Thanks for the memories!

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