From the early to late Seventies Don Luce was an amazing two-way forward
As a teenager Mr. Luce played for the OHA Kitchener Rangers where he led the team in assists in 1967-68 and CHL Omaha Knights where he won the CHL regular season 1969-70 title along with fellow future Buffalo player Mike Robitaille.
Both players are called up to the NHL NY Rangers where Mr. Luce plays only 21 games over the end of the 1969 season and beginning of the 1970 season garnishing a goal and three assists.
On November 2nd, 1970 the Rangers trade Mr. Luce to the Red Wings for a player who never plays an NHL game.
After only six months and 58 games with 14 points as a Red Wings player Detroit trades Mr. Luce along with Mr. Robitaille to Buffalo for a mask-less goalie that only plays 29 games for Detroit earning a 3.15 GAA before jumping to the WHA.
Mr. Luce played for Buffalo from 1971 until 1981 and for the 1974-75 Cup Finals run Mr. Luce scored 76 points in 80 games on the strength of 33 goals, his playoff pace was similar with 13 points in 16 games.
During the Inaugural Draft of the World Hockey Association of February 1972, Mr. Luce was selected by the Chicago Cougars, fortunately for the Sabres Mr. Luce stayed with Buffalo.
Three days before Christmas 1974 Mr. Luce records his lone Hat Trick which was a Natural Hat Trick scored in the second period. Within less than four minutes Mr. Luce scores three times with the last two goals incredibly Short-Handed. Mr. Luce’s stunning offensive was so quick that his Hat Trick still stands as a Buffalo record for: Fastest Three Goals by One Player.
His play throughout the 1974-75 NHL season earned Mr. Luce the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to Hockey.
In the 1975 Season the NHL All Star Game changed to a battle between Conferences with the Wales Conference dominating the Campbell Conference in a 7-1 seemingly easy victory. Mr. Luce scored just over 12 minutes into the first period to make the game 2-0.
Playing for the Buffalo expansion team Mr. Luce became the first Sabres player to score a playoff assist in April 1973 against the Canadiens. Mr. Luce also scored the first playoff shorthanded goal for the team in May of 1975 once again against the Canadiens.
During the late Seventies when the Sabres were flying high and Mr. Luce was paired with Mr. Ramsey they became Buffalo’s top Penalty Killers with their stellar defensive play.
It was during this time that Mr. Luce in the late 1970s was a Frank J. Selke Trophy finalist, (“to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game”), three years running in the first three years of the Trophy’s existence.
Mr. Luce has held a wide range of management positions for Buffalo:
Assistant Head Coach, Pro Scout, Director of U.S. Scouting, Director of Amateur Evaluation and Development, Director of Player Personnel which Mr. Luce was until the 2005-06 season.
After his last season with Buffalo Mr. Luce filled the same Director position for the orange colored Hockey sweater clad team from Eastern Pennsylvania until 2012-2013 when Philadelphia then named Mr. Luce one of their Pro Scouts until 2015 when Toronto added Mr. Luce to their staff.
The Soviet Affair
It cannot be overstated how much personal danger Mr. Luce put himself in by assisting Mr. Mogilny’s expatriation.
Mr. Mogilny was a Lt in the Central Red Army of the Union Soviet Socialist Republic, an officer in the Soviet Regime towards the end of the Cold War before the Wall came down in Berlin.
Mr. Luce did not just assist a foreign national defect to the United States of America to play Hockey it was also support of a Soviet Officer deserting the Central Red Army of the USSR.
As a Cold War Veteran I understand that Mr. Mogilny was not a combat officer but a Hockey player, still I highly appreciate what Mr. Luce did for Mr. Mogilny, the Sabres, and the fans that support Buffalo.