Wednesday

Jerry Korab

Buffalo fans endeared themselves to a monstrous defenseman named Jerry Korab - better known as King Kong Korab, or just Kong.

Korab was nicknamed King Kong because of his intimidating size and his appearance. At 6'3 and 220lbs he was a big as the giant gorilla. Plus he sported a messy mop of hair and big bushy moustache.

He also played a bit like King Kong on skates- his intimidating presence kept the opponents honest while allowing his teammates - particularly the French Connection line of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert - to thrive. Opponents knew that they could not take liberties on the Sabres star players because Korab would answer the bell every time.

Such aggressive play made him a fan favorite. One fan even dressed regularly in a gorilla suit in tribute to the rugged blueliner.

But Korab was much more than just an intimidating enforcer. Korab was a very skilled rearguard, who was also shuffled to the left wing early in his career. In his first season in Buffalo he broke all club scoring records for defensemen when he scored 12 goals, 44 assists and 56 points. He later bettered his goal scoring record to 14 goals (all records have now been surpassed). Over much of his career in Buffalo he played the point on one of the power play units in the 1970s.

Korab was originally property of the Chicago Blackhawks but after three seasons of being shuffled between the blueline and left wing, he was traded to Vancouver. He appeared in just 31 games with the Canucks before he was moved to the Canucks expansion twins - the Buffalo Sabres in a trade for Tracy Pratt and John Gould.

In Buffalo the inconsistent Korab developed into a solid and more consistent rearguard. Under Punch Imlach, Korab gained much confidence in his game, and became an all star by 1975. Korab teamed with Jim Schoenfeld to form one of the biggest and most physical defensive pairings in NHL history. In addition to settling down defensively he became a decent offensive threat. Six times he reached double digits in goals, and was a constant 45-50 point threat in his stay in Buffalo.

The Sabres traded the aging veteran to Los Angeles in exchange for a 1st round pick in the 1982 entry draft (The Sabres used the draft pick to select the outstanding Phil Housley), on March 10, 1980. Korab had one great year left in him when he scored 9 goals and a career high 52 points in his first full season in Los Angeles, but he quickly settled into more of a defensive role in the twilight of his career.

And by 1983 the Sabres reclaimed Korab via the waiver wire when the Kings exposed Korab, who was clearly a step too slow in the new explosive NHL of the early 1980s. Despite that, Korab played parts of two more seasons with Buffalo, retiring in 1985.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native retired from the NHL with 114 goals, 341 assists and 455 points in 975 games. He collected a well earned 1629 penalty minutes in that time as well.

4 comments:

sherry white 1:41 AM  

Hi Jerry i just wanted u to know that i have your Chevy 1977 van with the paintings of King Kong on the sides of it one is a little faded but the other side is in great shape it needs a little work on it but i thought it may interest u that your van is alive and well in Bath NY and we love it and want to put in car shows so that people can see it and have a little piece of Sabers history thank u it will be appreciated here and taken good care of i wish i could locate the artist that did the work on it one side is good the other side needs so reburishing but we will get it back into shape and make u proud i bought it on e-bay in Elba NY and now i am looking forward to putting it in shows it is aready getting alot of looks and like here so lets see what happens in the shows thank u sherry white winter_diva_44@yahoo.com

Anonymous,  1:35 PM  

Jerry I think the time has come to be in the Hockey Hall Of Fame your rated in stats 25th all time defensemen!!!!! 2 time all star team

Rob Andre 8:13 AM  

Do you have any good stories of Tracey Pratt and do you know what his nickname was?

Graham Clayton 11:28 PM  

After Jerry moved back to Chicago to live, he was honoured with a street named after him:

http://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=640494

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