Don Edwards

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Buffalo Sabres boasted one of the league's best goaltenders in Don Edwards. Twice he was named to the NHL Second All Star team (1978 and 1980) and he and partner Bob Sauve shared the Vezina trophy as the league's best goaltending tandem in 1980. Don was also included on the 1981 Team Canada squad at the Canada Cup tournament as he backed up Mike Liut.

Goaltender Don Edwards was a fifth round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, 135th overall in the 1975 NHL draft. Edwards, a nephew of former Detroit and Pittsburgh goaltender Roy Edwards, enjoyed a brilliant junior hockey career with the Kitchener Rangers. Despite his obvious talent and ability, he wasn't drafted until late in the draft because of his lack of size. He was just 5'9" and 160 pounds. Don quickly dispelled any ideas that his lack of bulk would hinder him. He used his cat-like reflexes to impress enough to earn the nickname "Dart."

Don only spent a year and a half apprenticing in the minor leagues before he got the call up to the NHL during the 1976-77 season. He impressed immediately, as he posted a 16-7-2 record with 2 shutouts and a 2.51 goals against average. Don came out of seemingly nowhere to catapult himself to the top of the Buffalo Sabres goaltending depth chart.

Don remained atop of the depth chart for most of his 6 seasons in Buffalo. In his first full NHL season of 1977-78 he led all NHL goaltenders in games played (72) and wins (38). He also posted 5 shutouts and a 2.64 goals against average en route to be named to the NHL all star team. Edwards was quickly becoming the talk of the goaltending world. He seemed to be able to take his game to a higher level in important games against strong opponents.

The Sabres felt that 72 games was too much for their little puckstopper, and reduced his ice time to just 54 games in 1978-79. He had to readjust somewhat to not playing every night, but contributed with a solid 26-18-9 record while splitting time with backup Bob Sauve.

In 1979-80 Edwards and Sauve shared the Vezina trophy, then given to the team with the lowest goals against average. Edwards returned to his spectacular numbers of previous years. Though he played in just 49 games, he posted a 27-9-12 record with a puny 2.57 goals against average.

Edwards led all NHL goalkeepers with 3 shutouts in 1980-81, but as the 1980s progressed the Sabres and their fans became less than enchanted with the Sabres lack of success in the spring. Despite all the promise the Sabres showed the team was never much of a threat in the playoffs. Edwards played as well as could be in the playoffs but in 1981 and 1982 he had weak showings, which encouraged the Sabres to look to make some changes.

For Don, and defenseman Richie Dunn, change occurred on May 29, 1982 when the two were traded to Calgary in a confusing exchange of draft picks. Don spent the next three years in Calgary, but he was never able to duplicate the same level of spectacular play and results that he did in Buffalo. He often found himself backing up Reggie Lemelin instead of being the go-to guy.

Edwards was quietly moved to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization in 1985-86. It was a childhood dream come true for Don, who always grew up pretending he was a member of the Leafs. For much of his childhood he dreamed of scoring goals for the Leafs, as he didn't start tending the goal until he was 13 years of age! But by the age of 30 he found himself stopping goals for the Leafs. Unfortunately the childhood dreams weren't realized in reality. The Leafs were a brutal team in the mid 1980s, and after just 38 games, Don had his contract bought out.

That proved to be the final showing for the once great NHL goalie. He disappeared quietly, although did continue to play senior hockey in the Ontario town of Brantford in 1986-87. He also played in three minor league games for the Nova Scotia Oilers in a brief 1987-88 comeback attempt.

Don retired with some impressive numbers on his hockey resume. He posted a record of 208 wins, 155 losses and 74 ties in 459 appearances. He had 16 shutouts and a career 3.32 goals against average. In 42 playoff appearances he went 16-21 with 1 shutout.


Anonymous,  9:55 AM  

As a kid I always had to be DONNY EDWARDS. If not I was taking my Hockey net HOME. It was that simple. I remember looking at his hockey card and turning the card over to reveal that we shared the same birthday! That was so cool. I'm 38 now and I still love yelling out DONNY EDWARDS when I can manage to save one of my sons shots on net. Sabres fan forever and would love to see Don in the franchise organization again.

Anonymous,  10:09 PM  

I still remember his NHL debut in February 1977. Donnie had just been called up from Hershey after Gerry Desjardins injured his eye against the Bruins and Donnie was supposed to back up Al Smith vs. the N-Stars. Not so fast...Donnie got the start and pulled out a 4-2 victory while Al Smith never wore the uniform again. #29 and the Franskenstein mask won it and what an impression it made...I was 11 years old.

mirish25m 8:56 PM  

He was drafted 89th overall in the NHL draft, 135th overall was in the WHA draft. The Buffalo Sabres still have three current players, two prospects and two drafts picks due to drafting Edwards forty years ago. Edwards->Cyr->Mogilny->Wilson->Miller then Miller had a few branches of his own. Miller->StL 2015 1st Round->Kane, Bogosian, Kasdorf; Miller->Halak->Neuvirth->Johnson; Miller->StL 2016 3rd Round; Miller->Stewart->Min 2017 2nd Round. Obviously, other pieces were added along the way but Edwards legacy is still alive an well in downtown Buffalo.

Unknown 9:36 PM and my older brother at a community hockey rink in Marlborough in the city of Calgary late in the evening. We were the only ones there and who pulls up in a Flames van....Bearcat Murray and Don Edwards in full equipment.....took shots at him for almost an hour....pretty cool!

Unknown 8:12 AM  

Donnie Edwards was and is still my favorite all time goaltender. He was the goalie who inspired me to play goal. I bought (and created) my equipment to be as much like Edwards as possible. If Edwards hadn't gotten struck by a puck on the knee he would have had a longer career. Thanks Donnie at 52 your still my hero !

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