Monday, 14 March 2011

French Connection Memories

It's always a tough day when the hockey world loses a legend, but it's even harder when that legend is one of the nicest men to ever walk the planet. Rick Martin, a Buffalo Sabres legend, passed away yesterday at the age of 59 from what was determined to be Hypertensive Arteriosclerotic Cardiovascular Disease, which is related to high blood pressure and clogged arteries. Martin had suffered a heart attack while driving which forced him to be in a single-car accident. The former member of "The French Connection" was loved in the Buffalo area, and always seemed to have a smile on his face. The Sabres great will always be remembered as a team-first guy who loved his extended Sabres family as much as he did his immediate family, will always stand out as a fantastic hockey player.

"On behalf of the Sabre family and all his former teammates, friends, as being a guy that I've been in the community with now for 30 years, we lost a heck of a guy today," said Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff said on Sunday. "He was a teammate, he was somebody I worked with as part of the coaching staff, somebody I played golf with. He was a great person. I think anybody that crossed his path would say the same. It's tough when you lose anybody, and we lost a real good person today. It's a tough one to take."

Channel 4 WIBV in Buffalo put together a really nice video about Rick Martin. I think this says a quite about how great Mr. Martin was as a person, teammate, and Buffalo Sabre.

I never had the opportunity to watch Rick Martin play before he retired, but there are lots of clips online that show Martin's abilities very well. The fifth pick of the 1971 NHL Entry Draft showed soft hands and great skill in a lot of his goals on The French Connection line when teamed with legends Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert, and there are some great clips of him in action. To the video!

Rick "Rico" Martin pots his first of two against the Soviet Wings in 1976.

And his second goal against the Soviet Wings.

Rick Martin vs. Phil Esposito on April 13, 1978 in the playoffs.

Marin still holds the team record of hat tricks as Sabre with 21, and he's still in top-ten for points scored as a Sabre with 695. His number proudly hangs from the rafters at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, and he has been immortalized as a Sabres legend by thousands of adoring fans.

Rest in peace, Mr. Martin. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die. All my best go out to the Martin family during this difficult time.

Until next time, raise your sticks high for this legend!

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