At a ceremony in Boston on Thursday, Chris Drury was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Sabres fans called him ‘Captain Clutch.’ And for good reason. Chris Drury captained the team that was rightfully referred to as “good… scary good.” The team reached back-to-back Eastern Conference finals in 2006 and 2007 and electrified the City of Buffalo. It fueled fans’ imaginations with comeback wins, big-time goals, and dreams of a Stanley Cup.
He was great player on the ice and the class act off it. But most notable was his knack for coming through in clutch situations. He was something special.
In the ’07 playoffs, Drury scored two game-winning goals in the first round against the New York Islanders.
Then, in the second round, he scored one of the most dramatic goals ever in Sabres’ history against the New York Rangers, scooping up rebound and wristing a laser short side by Henrik Lundqvist with seven seconds left to force overtime.
After a fist pump, Tim Connolly excitedly jumped on his back in celebration. It was a surreal moment, epitomizing how Drury was single-handedly carrying the team that year. (Maxim Afinogenov eventually scored the winner, five minutes into overtime and the Sabres won the series in six games).
In the Conference Finals, though eventually losing to the Senators in five games, Drury also lit the lamp with a game winner in game four to stave off elimination.
HIS NHL CAREER
Drury was a third-round pick (72nd overall) of the Quebec Nordiques in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. Over 12 seasons in the NHL, he played for the Avalanche, Flames, Sabres and Rangers, amassing 615 points in 892 games. Almost 20% (47) of his 255 goals were game-winners, an incredible statistic that underscores his timely scoring.
In 2001, when the Avalanche raised the Stanley Cup, Drury notched 11 postseason goals–the second most of all playoff scorers.
His career highs for goals (37) and points (69) came in ’06-’07 in Buffalo.
“Throughout his career, Chris Drury was always a great competitor, a tremendous leader and teammate, and the heart and soul type of player that every team would love to have,” said New York Rangers President Glen Sather. “His commitment, determination and will to win were apparent each and every day.”
During Drury’s four-year collegiate career at Boston University (1994-98), he amassed 214 points in 155 games and is still today the school’s all-time leading goal scorer with 113. He was a primary reason the Terriers won the NCAA National Championship his freshman year.
He was also named a two-time Hockey East Player of the Year (1997, 1998) and took home college hockey’s penultimate individual honor his senior season, winning the Hobey Baker Memorial Award. Several of Drury’s teammates also went on to successful NHL careers, including Mike Grier, Jay Pandolfo and Tom Poti.
At the induction ceremony held in Boston’s Seaport District, Drury reflected, “The USA jersey was my life for 15 years, and I’m honored to have worn it more than anyone else. I always knew that hockey was the center of my universe. It gave me a sense of purpose and taught me about myself.”
He added, “There’s so many deserving players before me, and to be side by side with them now is a huge thrill. The game was so fun and so good to me.”
Chris and wife, Rory, have two daughters and a son and currently reside in Greenwich, CT.
In addition to owning a popular pizza franchise with three of his friends from the 1989 Little League World Series team, he recently accepted a job with the New York Rangers as director of player development.
Also inducted as part of the Class of 2015 were Ron DeGregorio, Angela Ruggiero, and Mathieu Schneider. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame is located in Eveleth, Minnesota, roughly 200 miles north of Minneapolis.
A WINNER EVERYWHERE
Fans and teammates alike fell in love with Drury’s drive, passion and leadership.
Chris Drury hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001, is a three-time medalist in international competition, is the only player ever to capture the Calder Memorial Trophy and Hobey Baker Memorial Award, and helped Boston University earn the NCAA title in 1995.
But ask any Sabres fan, and it’s clear he also won something else… our hearts.