When talking about the Buffalo Sabres' 50th anniversary, we're spending the season reliving great moments on the ice. The games, the goals, the players, the Aud, the broadcasters. All of it.
Of course, there are plenty of back stories. Most of the acquisitions have to do with a draft or a great trade. But there is one story that could only be searched out here, some 4,000 miles from home on a sunny and chilly Tuesday morning in Sweden a few days before the Sabres play their two games in the NHL Global Series.
It was just more than 30 years ago that the Sabres were involved a real-life spy novel, getting Alexander Mogilny to defect from the Soviet Red Army team after it won the World Championships in Stockholm.
Sabres alumni Gerry Meehan (then the general manager) and Don Luce (director of player personnel) orchestrated the defection. Another key alum, Craig Ramsay, was the assistant GM and worked on things back in Buffalo.
It started on a square known as Brunkebergstorg.
The Scandic Downtown Camper on the square is a plain-looking, boxy hotel, not the kind of postcard scenes you see from Sweden. It was here where the Sabres had their first meeting with Mogilny in May 1989.
Back then, it was known as the Scandic Sergel Plaza. No one here Tuesday knew the story of Mogilny, although front desk supervisor Axel Zarkisson said he remembered the name as a good hockey player.