Sault Legends: Jerry Korab

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Jerry “King Kong” Korab, as he was known in the NHL and in the Sault, managed to be a defensive force for the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, the Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks earning 1,629 penalty minutes in his career.

At 6’3″ 220 lb. Jerry was known for his heavy shot from the point, physical toughness and he was handy when you needed the puck cleared from your zone.

He started off with Chicago’s farm team, the St. Catharines Blackhawks of the OHA scoring 57 points in only 97 games, notably making 34 assists and 10 goals in his 1967-68 season.

His next season was even better with the Port Huron Flags, scoring 18 goals and 46 assists for almost a point per game.

He spent the next season and a half with the Portland Buckaroos before getting his shot at the NHL in Chicago, helping them to the playoffs three years in a row.

In May 1973, Korab and backup netminder Gary Smith were sent to the Vancouver Canucks for Dale Tallon. That lasted only 31 games before he was shipped to the Buffalo Sabres for John Gould and Tracy Pratt.

In Buffalo he notched over 10 goals four times and helped the Sabres reach their frst Stanley Cup final in 1975, as they spent four years in the playoffs in a row.

Korab was picked to play in the 1975 and 1976 NHL All-Star Games and was a popular figure at the Memorial Auditorium. He was particularly great at allowing his teammates – the French Connection line of Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Rene Robert – to dominate.

One fan would even wear a gorilla suit in his honour during games.

The burly defender’s time in Buffalo ended when he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for a first round draft choice, Phil Housley. Korab spent over three years with the offensive-minded Kings and helped the team to a dramatic playoff upset of the powerful Edmonton Oilers in 1982.

In 1983 he retired but two months into the season he was offered a chance to make a comeback in Buffalo.

Korab added experience to the Buffalo defence in the last 48 games of the season and three playoff matches before he was released.

The next year an offer came from the Minnesota North Stars but Buffalo coach Scotty Bowman wouldn’t let him pass through waivers and claimed him for 25 games. Korab nally retired at the end of that season with 455 career points and almost 1,000 games.

Korab currently owns and operates Korab Inc., a packaging service located in Bellwood, Illinois.

78th Avenue in Chicago was renamed Jerry Korab Way recently.

“The way people remembered me after those three years with the Blackhawks really made me want to come back,” Korab said, moved after unveiling the street sign. “I was gone for a long time, but when I came back after about 14 years of playing—mostly against the Hawks, not with them—the people of Chicago still embraced me. They remember who you were and the way you presented yourself.”

This scrapper got into a total of 65 fights in his NHL career.