Remembering the greatest Rick Martin

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The Buffalo Sabres pay tribute to Rick Martin

While a few people may have mistaken Rick Martin's death for that of the
'Livin' La Vida Loca' singer, those in the hockey community don't need
to be reminded of the man Martin was. One third of the Buffalo Sabres
famed “French Connection” died of heart failure yesterday while driving
in the Buffalo suburb of
Clarence. Martin was just 59.

The left winger, who played alongside fellow French-Canadians, Hockey
Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault
and Rene Robert, was selected fifth overall by Buffalo in the 1971 draft
and went on to play for the next 10 years in a Sabres uniform. He
scored what was then an NHL rookie record 44 goals in 1972, and twice
had 50-goal seasons.

Many Sabres fans growing up in the 80s remember the legacy left by the
French Connection. I was lucky enough to witness Perreault skate, but my
memories of Martin were limited to the stories of one of the areas
first rock star athletes. Oh yeah, and what an amazing person and player
Martin was.

The team and organization found out the sad news shortly before they
played a day home game against the Ottawa Senators. Prior to the game,
the organization paid tribute to Martin with a video tribute. The players also honored
Martin after the game with their sticks to the sky. But leave it to the
equipment manager Rick Simonick, who has been with the team since 1970,
to sum it up best.

“Rico was a Buffalo Sabre from Day 1. He played hard for the team, and
it's a little emotional for me … [The French Connection] brought a
lot of pride to Buffalo, New York. They brought a lot of pride to this
hockey team.”