By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
Rick Dudley – Signed by the Sabres in 1971
The news that the Sabres had signed Rick Dudley to a contract didn’t receive much notice. And why should it? He had played without distinction in the minor leagues for two seasons, and probably was scheduled to be a spare part on Buffalo’s farm team in Cincinnati. That looked like the case when he had six goals for the Swords in 1971-72.
But a year later, Dudley’s game clicked. The right winger had 40 goals and 44 assists in Cincinnati. That earned him a promotion to Buffalo, where he scored 26 points in 67 games in 1973-74. Few, then, predicted what happened next. Dudley blossomed into rugged NHL forward with a scoring touch. He had 70 points and 116 penalty minutes for a Sabre team that reached the NHL finals. It looked like Dudley would be a key part of the Buffalo roster for years to come.
However … he jumped to Cincinnati of the World Hockey Association instead. There he scored 131 goals in almost four seasons before returning to the Sabres near the end of the 1978-79 season. Dudley stayed through the midway point of the 1980-81 campaign, but was unable to regain his old scoring touch. The forward was acquired on waivers by Winnipeg, where he wore No. 99.
Dudley might be best remembered now as the coach of the Sabres for more than two seasons, starting in 1989-90. He has had several front office positions over the years, and is still a frequent visitor to the KeyBank Center as a scout.
Here’s an old clip of Rick in, um, action:
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)