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The fans have had their say on the top Sabres heading into the 40th anniversary season and their choice for No. 1 is ... No. 11.

Gilbert Perreault got the nod as the top Sabre in history, beating out Dominik Hasek and Pat LaFontaine in the fan poll conducted over a two-week period on Buffalonews.com.

Perreault finished with 8,333 votes while Hasek (8,232) edged out LaFontaine (8,227) by five votes to come in second. Hasek was the choice over Perreault by one vote in the 12-man panel of former and current staffers of The News that chose our all-time team.

Combining the totals of all 80 players on the ballot, more than 280,000 votes were cast by fans. And while there were some similarities to the voting of The News staff, there were also plenty of differences.

The coaching work of Lindy Ruff and the broadcasting work of Mike Robitaille clearly influenced the fan vote. Ruff, who finished 40th in The News poll, was rated 19th by the fans. Robitaille, rated on the outside of the top 40 by The News, was picked No. 35 by the fans.

The late Tim Horton, picked No. 39 by The News, finished 23rd among fans. Popular pugilist Rob Ray, now an almost equally popular broadcaster, shot from No. 30 to No. 16. Rene Robert, the right winger on the French Connection, was picked No. 4 by the fans and No. 11 by The News. Robert finished 38 votes ahead of linemate Rick Martin in the fan poll in the battle for fourth.

There were also plenty of similarities between the two tallies. Current Sabre Tyler Myers finished 38th in both votes. It's a tremendous affirmation of his spectacular rookie season that he could make an all-time team after playing just one year.

Outside the top three, players finishing within three places of themselves in both polls were: Jim Lorentz, Jay McKee, Larry Playfair, Brian Campbell, Thomas Vanek, Roger Crozier, Tom Barrasso, Pierre Turgeon, Dale Hawerchuk, Chris Drury, Daniel Briere, Phil Housley, Michael Peca, Jim Schoenfeld, Ryan Miller, Danny Gare and Rick Martin.

Marked down by the fans were Bill Hajt (19th in The News vote to 32nd by the fans), Don Luce (12 to 20), Alexander Mogilny (8 to 14), Don Edwards (21 to 27) and Jerry Korab (25 to 30).

Players who made The News poll but didn't crack the top 40 by the fans at all were Tony McKegney, Donald Audette, Ric Seiling, Alexei Zhitnik and Miroslav Satan. They were replaced on the fan balloting by Robitaille, Rick Dudley, Bob Sauve, Brad May and Matthew Barnaby, who finished 40th.

Barnaby, now an analyst for ESPN and TSN, had 3,146 votes and cracked the top 40 by 250 votes over current New York Rangers goalie Martin Biron.

Among current Sabres, the fans voted Miller seventh, Thomas Vanek 28th, Myers 38th, Jason Pominville 54th, Derek Roy 55th, Paul Gaustad 63rd, Tim Connolly 67th and Jochen Hecht 76th. Longtime defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who signed a free agent contract with New Jersey in July, finished 70th. His former partner, Toni Lydman, was 79th.

The final player in the fan poll was former winger Michal Grosek. He earned just 239 votes.

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

Player, Votes

1 Gil Perreault 8333

2 Dominik Hasek 8232

3 Pat LaFontaine 8227

4 Rene Robert 7772

5 Rick Martin 7734

6 Danny Gare 7729

7 Ryan Miller 7725

8 Dave Andreychuk 7282

9 Jim Schoenfeld 7240

10 Mike Ramsey 7070

11 Craig Ramsay 6913

12 Phil Housley 6823

13 Mike Foligno 6476

14 Alexander Mogilny 6444

15 Michael Peca 6312

16 Rob Ray 5995

17 Daniel Briere 5939

18 Chris Drury 5905

19 Lindy Ruff 5897

20 Don Luce 5708

21 Tom Barrasso 5691

22 Dale Hawerchuk 5501

23 Tim Horton 5451

24 Pierre Turgeon 5325

25 Roger Crozier 5160

26 Larry Playfair 4915

27 Don Edwards 4714

28 Thomas Vanek 4591

29 Jim Lorentz 4503

30 Jerry Korab 4259

31 Brian Campbell 4181

32 Bill Hajt 4173

33 Jay McKee 4140

34 Rick Dudley 3760

35 Mike Robitaille 3757

36 Bob Sauve 3683

37 Brad May 3657

38 Tyler Myers 3522

39 Stu Barnes 3188

40 Matthew Barnaby 3146

41 Martin Biron 2896

42 Alexei Zhitnik 2818

43 Donald Audette 2554

44 Tony McKegney 2421

45 Miroslav Satan 2343

46 Ric Seiling 2242

47 Gerry Desjardins 2174

48 John Van Boxmeer 2098

49 Rick Vaive 2084

50 J.P. Dumont 1707

51 James Patrick 1586

52 Gerry Meehan 1573

53 Rhett Warrener 1559

54 Jason Pominville 1555

55 Derek Roy 1499

56 John Tucker 1418

57 Maxim Afinogenov 1331

58 Lee Fogolin 1322

59 Teppo Numminen 1309

60 Jason Woolley 1193

61 Andre Savard 1137

62 Dave Hannan 1073

63 Paul Gaustad 1060

64 Doug Bodger 1057

65 Jocelyn Guevremont 1049

66 Richard Smehlik 1015

67 Tim Connolly 959

68 Christian Ruuttu 879

69 Derek Plante 876

70 Henrik Tallinder 874

71 Curtis Brown 864

72 Ray Sheppard 774

73 Vaclav Varada 712

74 Derek Smith 626

75 Richie Dunn 620

76 Jochen Hecht 617

77 Dixon Ward 543

78 Jaroslav Spacek 433

79 Toni Lydman 367

80 Michal Grosek 239

TOTAL Votes 280529