Longtime Buffalo Sabre Jason Pominville reached an elite milestone last night in Ottawa, as the 35-year-old dressed for his 1000th NHL contest. Though not in one term, Pominville is currently the longest tenured Sabre, having played for the team from 2004-2013 before he was brought back in the summer of 2017. It’s very fitting that his historic night came against the Senators in Ottawa, as some of the most notable occurrences of his career have taken place either against the Senators or in Canadian Tire Centre.
In honor of the Pominville Population’s 1000th anniversary, let’s take a look at a timeline of his career and commemorate some of his most memorable moments.
June 24, 2001– The Buffalo Sabres select 18-year-old Jason Pominville of the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL as the 55th pick of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. In his final year of junior play, Pominville records 121 points in 66 games and is awarded the Frank Selke Trophy as the QMJHL’s most sportsmanlike player. He joins the Rochester Americans of the AHL for the 2002-03 season.
December 27, 2003– Aged 21, Pominville is called up to the big show for the first time and makes his NHL debut against Washington at MCI Center. He sees 14:22 of ice time with no points and is sent back down to Rochester shortly after.
Summer of 2005– The Sabres attempt to waive Pominville before their legendary 2005-06 campaign begins. He was not claimed, and it wound up being one of the best things that never happened to the team.
November 27, 2005– Shortly after being recalled for the second time of his career, Pominville scores his first NHL goal in the same place he debuted, MCI Center against Capitals G Olaf Kolzig.
January 14, 2006– The Sabres route the Los Angeles Kings 10-1 at HSBC Arena. Pominville tallies thrice for his first career NHL hat-trick. He finishes his 57 game rookie season with 18 goals.
April 24, 2006– Game 2 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals- Pominville records his first career playoff hatter as the Sabres smoke the Philadelphia Flyers, 8-2. They win the series 4-2.
May 13, 2006– Game 5 of the 2006 Eastern Conference Semifinals- Tied at two in the first overtime period with the Senators on the power play, Pominville picks up the puck and dashes to NHL history. He slides around Senators legend Daniel Alfredsson and slams the puck past G Ray Emery for the first shorthanded, series-winning OT goal in NHL history. Buffalo stuns the heavily favored Senators 4-1 and advances to the Eastern Conference Finals to meet the Carolina Hurricanes. The miracle run ends there in a heartbreaking Game 7 loss.
January 1, 2008– The Buffalo Sabres do battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the inaugural NHL Winter Classic at Orchard Park’s Ralph Wilson Stadium. Pominville was an alternate captain for the Sabres at the time and this wouldn’t be the last outdoor game he played in.
March 2008– Scoring at nearly point-per-game pace, Lindy Ruff rewards Pominville by making him Buffalo’s captain for March and April 2008. He finishes the season with 80 points in 82 games and is nominated for the Lady Byng Trophy as the NHL’s most sportsmanlike player, Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk ultimately wins. Buffalo resigns Pominville over the summer for five years, $26.5 million.
October 13, 2010– Chicago’s Nicolas Hjalmarsson tattooes Pominville from behind into the boards. The head-first crash gives him a concussion and he was stretchered off the ice. His streak of 335 consecutive games played is snapped as a result. Hjalmarsson gets suspended two games for the infraction.
October 6, 2011– While in Helsinki, Finland to start the 2011-12 season, Pominville is named captain of the Sabres for the second time, this time permanently. He responds with arguably the finest season of his career.
January 29, 2012– Pominville is selected to represent the Sabres at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game in Ottawa, the first in his career. His history with the Senators comes full circle when hometown captain Alfredsson selects Pominville to his side for the game, in which he scored a goal and an assist. Pominville’s first full year as captain is highly successful, as he leads the Sabres with 73 points.
April 3, 2013– Sensing the inevitable call for rebuilding, Buffalo parts ways with its captain, sending Pominville to the Minnesota Wild in a blockbuster. 30 at the time, Pominville leads Minnesota with 60 points in his first season and spends 327 games in the Land of 1000 Lakes.
June 30, 2017– Buffalo brings back a familiar face as it trades Marcus Foligno and Tyler Ennis to the Wild in exchange for Pominville and Marco Scandella. Pominville keeps his traditional no. 29 after Jake McCabe, who had been wearing it since, agrees to switch to 19. The Population goes up by two in his first game with the team in four years.
January 1, 2018– Pominville dresses for his second outdoor game with the Sabres on the 10th anniversary of the 2008 game. His return made him the only member of the team to play in the original contest. His first season back with the Sabres arguably the team’s worst ever, but the fans love having him back.
November 1, 2018– The 1000 Game Club welcomes its newest member as Buffalo visits Ottawa. Fittingly enough, Pominville scores in the contest and gets a nice ovation from the Sens’ faithful.
Even if you somehow don’t like Jason Pominville, it’s pretty tough to deny his contributions and significance to Buffalo. He’s been a constant for the team throughout the years and has been on the ice for some of the team’s greatest moments in recent memory. He will turn 36 after Thanksgiving and is in the last season of his contract. If Buffalo elects to not bring him back next year, at least he got to play his 1000th game with the same team he played no.1 with, not many players do that anymore.
Thanks for the memories, no. 29. #Pommer1000.