BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Rick Martin and the French Connection hold a special place in the memories of Sabres fans.
Whether you knew him personally, or felt like you knew him from watching him on the ice, everyone who's ever watched Buffalo hockey in the 70's has a memory of Rick Martin.
As Sabres Nation mourned Sunday, they also paid tribute to their beloved Rico. Before the game against Ottowa, a moment of silence. You could hear a pin drop in HSBC arena. During the game the players wore Rick Martin's #7 and a Flur-De-Lys on their helmets. After the game they raised their sticks to his retired jersey.
Those who knew him best shared their memories.
"There wasn't anybody who could shoot the pucks like Rico could," said Sabres coach Lindy Ruff. "We lost a heck of a guy."
Martin's former teammate Mike Robitaille said, " I didn't realize how good a hockey player he was until I played against him. And I found out how much fire he had in him."
Sabres Equipment Manager Rip Simonick said, "He was an innovator in hockey. He worked at everything. He worked at his sticks. He worked at his golf game. He worked at his friendship. That's the way I remember Rick."
On the ice, the famed member of the French Connection was a legend. Martin's 382 goals are second in team history. His 21 hat tricks are first. Off the ice, the 59 year old was just an all around great guy.
Robitaille said, "What he stands for is to have fun and laugh. Man. We should have the biggest party in the world for Richard."
Martin's final time taking the ice was fittingly with the French Connection all together. They greeted new owner Terry Pegula at center ice last month, honoring the team's past as the Sabres begin a new era.
Pegula said, "We had plans a lot of plans in the future for these guys, and I guess we'll just have an empty chair around. But it'll be there."
Robitaille said, "God Bless you, Richard. We love you."
Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized. But once we learn when and where Sabres fans can pay their respects to Rick Martin, we'll be sure bring it to you on News 4 and WIVB.com.
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