Continuing on with my love and understanding of Hockey I had begun with the press box now I delve into ownership.
Seymour Horace Knox III and his younger brother Northrup Rand “Norty” Knox are the main reason why my city has an NHL team.
It was a frustrating process that began in the autumn of 1965 when the Knox brothers submitted their application for a team to the NHL along with 14 other applicants from nine other cities.
Ironically the brothers were told that they were the best organized and structured application with all the parameters met. Then they were placed second behind Baltimore of all places in the event one of the original six applicants withdrew.
Shortly after the 1967 expansion denial, Seymour took advantage of a financial situation by paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in reparations owed by the Oakland Seals.
This move made possible for Seymour to claim a stake in ownership and become a minority owner. Because of this Seymour was elected Alternate Governor for Oakland and could attend and participate in the NHL meetings.
When Seymour initiated a push to move Oakland to Buffalo in 1968 the NHL stated “Absolutely not”, because the NHL insisted on having Bay area teams, no matter what.
Seymour was solidifying associations and friendships with the other NHL Governors during this time and on January 20th 1969 the NHL meeting confirmed two new expansion teams would be selected.
To begin Seymour had to manage selling his share of Oakland, which was picked up by Trans-National Communications who changed the team’s name to California Golden Seals.
He then had to come up with the increased entry fee of six million dollars, and recreate the agreements and blueprints from 1965 with the city of Buffalo, then submit another bid for a team. Seymour and his brother were able to complete all of this incredibly in less than three months.
Then on December 2nd 1969 Buffalo and Vancouver were awarded NHL franchises. Seymour and Northrup Knox were the principal owners of the Buffalo Sabres from day one until two years after Seymour’s death in 1998 when Norty sold the Sabres to John J. Rigas. It was three years before his passing that Seymour was in 1993 inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Not only do I appreciate and am grateful for their efforts to bring the NHL to Buffalo, I also am thankful for Seymour’s decorated service as a Corporal in the Field Artillery during WWII.
Some people scoff at collegiate Hockey but Norty earned two NCAA Varsity letters in Men’s Ice Hockey as a goaltender for Yale University. He also was the Court Tennis World Champion from 1959-69 until he retired, and was the number one player on the 1969 US Polo Team.
Two incredible men whom I have never met but feel indebted to and grateful for all that they accomplished for my city and making it possible for me to become a Buffalo Sabres Fanaticus.