Jim Schoenfeld became one of the most popular of Sabres as he played and then coached Buffalo as well as creating two albums in his first few years with the Sabres called “Schony” and “The Key is Love” with some assistance from John Valby on the latter album.

     When he stopped playing Mr. Schoenfeld did local television mattress commercials for years and even some broadcasting which Mr. Schoenfeld said he was not suited for and his bar “Schony’s” was a popular watering hole with live music.

As a bartender in my city I would tell my customers that I only ever cheered for one Boston NHL player. People invariably would shout out “Orr” or “Esposito” and although I highly appreciate these players and their accomplishments the response was always “nope”.

     I would inform my customers that it was “Jim Schoenfeld” and about Mr. Schoenfeld’s 39 regular season games for Boston during the 83-84 NHL season.

     We all have a sicken memory of Malarchuk’s life bleeding away in front of us and gratefully he physically survived the ordeal.

     But how many remember Mr. Schoenfeld bent over on his hands and knees blood pouring from his face from another blocked shot? Or who remembers how Tim Horton was Mr. Schoenfeld’s mentor and friend, so much so Jim cried on the ice when the announcer asked for a moment of silence before the next game after Mr. Horton’s fatal crash.

     I know Mr. Schoenfeld would have been an outstanding defenseman for the Sabres but the mentoring of Mr. Horton assisted his development into one of our best defenseman ever to wear the Blue & Gold.

     In Mr. Schoenfeld’s best offensive season 79-80 he scored 36 points and was a plus 60, and he was the third runner-up in the Norris Trophy behind only Larry Robinson and Borje Salming, while earning a roster spot on the All-Star team.

      In Mr. Schoenfeld’s first season he was fourth in the Rookie of the Year, Calder Trophy voting, and in his third season, he Captains Buffalo’s advance to the Cup Finals.

     There have been flashy scoring defensemen and even a rookie of the year defensemen in Campbell and Myers for Buffalo but in my heart, (and ears), there is no other defenseman quite like Jim “Schony” Schoenfeld.

From 1972-73 until 1981-82  Mr. Schoenfeld scored 45 goals for the Buffalo Sabres and during the 1980-81 campaign in the middle of March Mr. Schoenfeld registered his lone career NHL Hat Trick in a four point game against the Winnipeg Jets.

     In the opening period with 90 seconds remaining Mr. Schoenfeld earns the primary assist on Danny Gare’s goal to give Buffalo the 1-0 lead.

     Winnipeg ties the game early in the Second Period but Mr. Schoenfeld scores his sixth goal of the season on the PP with less than five minutes remaining in the period.

     Buffalo and Winnipeg trade goals in the next 88 seconds for a Buffalo 3-2 lead heading into the final period.

     Winnipeg’s cross-checking penalty called with seven seconds remaining in the Second Period carrying over into the Third afforded Mr. Schoenfeld an opportunity to score his second PP of the game and seventh of the year with 22 seconds remaining on the PP.

     Half way through the period Mr. Schoenfeld hooks one of the Jets but the Sabres defense and goalie are up to the task and Winnipeg fails to score.

     With Buffalo maintaining a 4-2 lead on Winnipeg Mr. Schoenfeld with approximately three and half minutes remaining scores his eighth of the season to complete his one and only NHL Hat Trick.

     When Mr. Schoenfeld was on a popular online video interview/talk show hosted by two former Sabres a couple of Halloweens ago,  he talked about one year there was like nine players wives expecting and they were a tight knit group of young players that spent significant time together with each other’s families away from the rink. Mr. Schoenfeld said it was the closest team he ever belonged to.

     Mr. Schoenfeld related the unwritten rule that the young single players had to throw the Halloween party and that they did a tremendous job. When pressed for information   Mr. Schoenfeld could not remember the specific costumes but commented that the parties were terrific.  

     He then told a story about a costume he does remember… someone was dressed as an “old man” and he was making passes at all the women and if they had on a skirt he used his cane to try and look up the their skirts and he would attempt to look down their tops and all night long during the party the players were trying to figure out who it was.

     Well as it turns out that it was one of the player’s wives…too funny…an absolute hysterical Halloween costume and prank on the players by their wives.

      A Family man that was an outstanding defenseman, Captain, combative coach, excellent executive, spokesperson, tavern owner with a musical career who is admired and respected by NHLers and fans alike, ladies and gentlemen I give you…Jim “Schony” Schoenfeld.  

Author: Buffalo Winter


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