A few days ago, the Buffalo Sabres announced that they are opening their Hall Of Fame nominations to the fans this year. Fans will be able to vote for one player, coach, manager, or other team personnel member who they think should be inducted into the class of 2012. You can read about it here, and WGR has a handy list of who's already been inducted right here.
So the question is: who gets your vote, Sabres fans? Most of the big names from Sabres history are already in, such as the French Connection, Pat LaFontaine, Alex Mogilny, and Dave Andreychuk, but there are still some worthy nominations out there. We'll cover the most obvious choices here, and leave the less obvious but equally worthy ones up to you.
The first name that will probably spring to mind is Dominik Hasek. The Dominator holds pretty much every team record for goalies including wins, shutouts, save percentage, and goals against average, not to mention the fact that he's got to be in the discussion of the top goalies of all time thanks to both his unique style of making saves by contorting his body in impossible ways, but also the fact that he single-handedly carried the Sabres at the end of the 90's to multiple playoff appearances and the team's second Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Hasek will undoubtedly get the most votes for former players.
Another popular name will most likely be Rob Ray. A fan favorite thanks to his toughness, his frank way of dealing with the media, and his willingness to fight a grizzly bear, Razor remains synonymous with the Sabres even today as he continues to work for the team as an analyst. Ray leads the team by a mile in penalty minutes at over 3,000 for his career. If Rob Ray ever got a statue built in his honor at HSBC, he would undoubtedly be topless, and pummeling some helpless opponent -- I mean, the man had a rule invented for him because his strategy of stripping down before a fight presumably made too many ladies in the front row faint. Ray may not get as many votes as Hasek, but I bet he'll be right behind him.
Another former player still with the team is, of course, head coach Lindy Ruff. I'm not sure if they can put him in the Hall Of Fame while he's still actively coaching, but he'll probably be a popular fan choice anyway. While Ruff's statistics with the team were never mind-boggling, he's led the Sabres behind the bench for what seems like 25 years, and is second on the all-time list of coaches for wins with a single team. He's been a part of the organization for almost his entire hockey career (we won't mention that brief stint with the Rangers) and if he doesn't get in this year, he'll be a shoe-in when he retires.
Finally, the non-player who should get the most consideration is long-time Sabres announcer Rick Jeanerette. Joining the team in its second season, RJ has been making Sabres games a joy to listen to for 39 years. The man's had so many memorable calls behind the microphone that the team released a CD full of them, for crying out loud. The day we hear of Jeanerette's retirement from broadcasting will be one of the saddest days in Sabres history, and for that he deserves to be a team Hall Of Famer.
Those are my four most obvious choices for who should be nominated for the Buffalo Sabres Hall Of Fame - but what do you guys think? What other players, coaches, or team personnel deserve a nomination? Sound off in the comments.