NHL logo rankings No. 5: Buffalo Sabres

We head down the stretch of our NHL logo rankings by entering the top five. This week, we start with the Buffalo Sabres, who a few years ago returned to their original look after attempting two other designs.

Down the stretch we come. We started from Carolina and now we’re here, heading into the top five of our NHL logo rankings. On Friday, we’ll reveal which one we’ve ranked No. 1 (though you’ll be able to figure it out on Thursday), but we start the week at No. 5. Thankfully, the Buffalo Sabres moved away from the Buffaslug a few years ago – and hopefully never look back. The return to an original look was one welcomed with open arms by just about everyone in and outside of Buffalo for good reason – the current logo is a homerun. Sure, sometimes Buffalo sports teams are reviled for relying too much on the animal the city is named after in their logos, rather than using something related to the team’s nickname. The NFL’s Bills have forever been guilty of this. The Sabres used a buffalo as their logo for about 14 years in the ’90s and ’00s – but the current throwback look integrates both the city and team name into the design. We despise when a team needs to spell out its entire name in the logo, but the Sabres get around this. Their full team name appears in the logo, but it’s represented by images instead of text. It’s as if this logo came as a result of a game of Pictionary. This design gets the job done. It represents the city in a way it all its sports team do, while also pointing to the team’s nickname. The blue and yellow colors are also easy on the eyes. But if you think you can design a better look for the Sabres, now is your chance. Send in your redesign to and we’ll run our favorites next week, after we finish revealing our logo rankings. We’ve got some
good ones on the other teams so far, but are looking for more. It’s crunch time! (All logos below from
Chris Creamer’s website.)
HISTORY OF THE SABRES LOGO When the first Buffalo owners, Seymour Knox III and Northrup Knox, had to come up with a name for their NHL team, they wanted something different and unique. Bisons, a popular nickname for teams in the city, was not an option. A contest was opened up and the winning name came from Toronto filmmaker Harry Cole. So, when Buffalo hit the ice for the first time in 1970, they did so as the Sabres, a name the team says is “renowned as a clean, sharp, decisive and penetrating weapon on offense, as well as a strong parrying weapon on defense.” This is the logo that comes to mind when you think of the
French Connection or
May Day. The familiar blue, gold and white color scheme was settled on and wouldn’t be changed for 26 years. The Sabres made their first Stanley Cup final in 1974-75, their fifth season of existence, losing to the Flyers in six games.

The first major change to the Sabres’ primary logo came as the team moved away from The Aud and into Marine Midland Arena (now known as the First Niagara Center). The Sabres had made it past the first round of the playoffs just once in the previous 13 seasons, but had a two-time Vezina winning goalie who was about to take this team to new heights. In 1996-97, the Sabres introduced a new logo and color scheme. They moved away from a blue and yellow look in favor of black (of course), red and silver. The swords in the logo were removed and replaced with the head of a buffalo. Now, the horned design is a nice-looking logo, but the team name isn’t “Buffaloes” it’s “Sabres” and there was absolutely no connection to that in the team’s second image. But this logo represented a golden age of sorts for the Sabres. Hasek would go on to win four more Vezinas between 1997 and 2001, plus two Hart Trophies. The Sabres lost in the second round of the playoffs in their first year using this logo, before making it to the conference final in 1998. In 1999, they reached their second Stanley Cup final, losing to the Dallas Stars on a controversial Brett Hull overtime goal.
sabres2 Two seasons after the NHL lost a year to a lockout, the Sabres again went through a redesign. The return to their blue and yellow color scheme was a good call, but the design is recognized as one of, if not the worst logo in professional sports history. Deemed the Buffaslug, this travesty was the result of a combined effort from the Sabres, NHL and Reebok. Its designer, Kristopher Brazen, used the NFL’s San Diego Chargers lightning bolt as an inspiration for something quick and powerful. The leg-less, tail-less buffalo was selected by the team, which it said combined the original logo with the second one. Fans hated it and
Brazen felt terrible about that fact. The logo would eventually set off protests to bring death to the slug, which were ultimately successful. But not until after this thing was used on an NHL uniform for four seasons. If this ranking took place when Buffalo was using the cashew nut, the Sabres would have given the
Carolina Hurricanes a run for their money at No. 30.
sabres3 In 2010-11, the Sabres went old-school, reverting to a look they never should have gotten rid of in the first place. Though the current Sabres logo throws back to the original look, it comes with a few minor adjustments. The silver that was introduced on the 1996 logo remains as an outline on the current design, while the yellow circle is thicker. This retouched look is great on jerseys, but it also represents the team and city well. So far, the Sabres haven’t found any success since switching back to this logo, but with the way GM Tim Murray is building up his future assets, Buffalo is on the right path back to contention. By 2020, the
Sabres may be ready to win their first Stanley Cup with this logo.
Dissenting opinion: “I respect the use of the crossing Sabres, but I’m fed up with Buffalo sports teams incorporating the buffalo itself into their logos. Just admit it: you are the Buffalo Buffaloes. That should knock this team down several pegs in my eyes.”
– Matt Larkin

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