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)

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has been involved in almost every aspect of the local sports scene for the last 40 years. He worked for WEBR Radio, the Buffalo Sabres' public relations department and The Buffalo News during that time. In that time he covered virtually every aspect of the area's sports world, from high schools to the Bills and Sabres and everything in between. Along the way, Budd served as a play-by-play announcer for the Bisons, an analyst for the Stallions, and a talk-show host. He won the National Lacrosse League's Tom Borrelli Award as the media personality of the year in 2011, and was a finalist for that same award in 2017. Budd's seventh and eighth books, one on the Transcontinental Railroad and the other about Ichiro Suzuki, are scheduled to be released in the fall.

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