Blog Entry

Rick Martin, member of French Connection, dies

Posted on: March 13, 2011 3:35 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 5:00 pm

Rick Martin, a member of the Buffalo Sabres’ legendary French Connection line, died Sunday after apparently losing consciousness behind the wheel of his car. He was 59. 

"We lost a heck of a guy today," Sabres coach and Martin's former teammate Lindy Ruff said. "It's tough when you lose anybody, and we lost a real good person today. It's a tough one to take."

The Sabres announced Monday that a public memorial service will be held at HSBC Arena on March 24. 

Martin was driving in suburban Buffalo when his 2001 Buick Lacrosse sedan crossed the center line and eventually came to rest against a tree. Two passers-by and later a state trooper performed CPR on Martin as his German shepherd, the only other occupant of the car, stood alongside, New York State Police Capt. Steven Nigrelli said.

On Monday, authorities said an autopsy revealed Martin died of hypertensive heart disease, which is related to high blood pressure and clogged arteries.

News of Martin’s death spread as the Sabres were set to play the Ottawa Senators at HSBC Arena, where just a few weeks ago he joined his linemates French Connection linemates -- Rene Robert and Gilbert Perrault -- as the Sabres’ new owner, Terry Pegula, was introduced.  A video tribute of Martin ran before the game.

"It was great sadness and a heavy heart that we lost a member of the Sabre family today," longtime team broadcaster Rick Jeanneret said, as pictures of Martin were shown. "Rick Martin was a person of joy. You'll be missed `Rico,' but you will be remembered."

Martin was drafted fifth overall by Buffalo in 1971 and scored 41 goals during the 1971-72 season, a rookie record at the time. He spent 10-plus seasons in Buffalo before a severe knee injury against the Washington Capitals in November 1980 cut short his career. He was traded to the Los Angeles Kings, but would only play in four games with the club before retiring. 

Martin, a two-time 50-goal scorer, finished with 701 points (384 goals and 317 assists) in 685 career NHL games. He also had 24 goals and 29 assists for 53 points in 63 career playoff games. His 382 goals while with the Sabres ranks as the most by any Buffalo left winger. He also is tops in Sabres history in three-goal game (21), second in game-winning goals (77) and third in points (695). 

"He certainly made a lot of us laugh, didn't he?" said former defenseman Mike Robitaille, who played three years with Martin in Buffalo. "I don't know what we're doing being so emotional when what he stands for is to have fun and laugh. Man, we should have the biggest party in the world for Richard. ... A lot of good memories."

-- A.J. Perez

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Photo: Getty Images
Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 16, 2011 9:57 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: March 14, 2011 3:29 pm

Rick Martin, member of French Connection, dies

Growing up in Chicago, the French Connection was a great line and formidible foe for my Blackhawks.  Sad day for hockey and fans of that era.

RIP Rick Martin.

Since: Jan 16, 2009
Posted on: March 14, 2011 2:04 pm

Rick Martin, member of French Connection, dies

one of the greatest lines to ever play the game he had such a wicked slap shot.players like him don't come around too's a very sad day thanks for the memories . god bless his family.

Since: Feb 10, 2009
Posted on: March 14, 2011 11:03 am

Rick Martin, member of French Connection, dies

good guy and great career, RIP Rico

Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: March 14, 2011 10:47 am

Rick Martin, member of French Connection, dies

What a sad day for longtime Sabres fans everywhere. Rick Martin was a Buffalo sports icon. He was a fantastic player and a great person as well. He will be missed. RIP Rico!

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: March 14, 2011 7:34 am

Rick Martin, member of French Connection, dies

RIP Richard and God Bless.  My prayers go out to his family.  I grew up watching the French Connection and they were the guys that made you love to watch hockey.  You will be missed.

Since: Jun 29, 2010
Posted on: March 13, 2011 11:52 pm

Sympathy from a Ranger Fan

Growing up as a Ranger fan and respecting the greats of the game in the '70s, I feel badly about the loss of one of the "French Connection" being taken too soon.  Sad day for any hockey fan for such a great as Rick Martin to be taken from us and his family in the prime of life.  On behalf of Ranger fans, long live the "French Connection".  All the best, and all sympathies, to the Martin family! 

Since: Mar 20, 2010
Posted on: March 13, 2011 9:16 pm

Rick Martin, member of French Connection, dies

I had the pleaseure of meeting Rick Martin many times, and he was an all around great guy and a funny guy. He signed many autographs for me and he always had time for a chat.... R.I.P  Rick, we all love you and we will miss you #7.........

Since: Nov 14, 2008
Posted on: March 13, 2011 9:05 pm

Rick Martin, member of French Connection, dies

RIP Rick Martin. Buffalo will never forget you. One of our greatest hockey players ever.

Since: Oct 12, 2006
Posted on: March 13, 2011 7:07 pm

Rick Martin, member of French Connection, dies

..Man..what a terrible loss....I am the biggest Leaf fan-BUT...there was NOBODY that disliked those 3 guys!!!  Our thoughts for huge strength to the family, and knowing that there ARE fans in ALOT of other cities  that f eel your loss!!  RIP, Richard..Repose In Pace!!

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