Buffalo Sabres fans will say goodbye to Rick Martin today. Silence seemd to fall over Western New York on March 13 after news spread that the Buffalo Sabres legend had died at age 59.
Martin was best known for being one-third of the "French Connection," the most famous line in Buffalo Sabres history. Among other things, he was the first 50-goal scorer in the franchise, as well as the Sabres all-time leader in hat tricks (21), 40-goal seasons (5) and consecutive 50-goal seasons (2). He appeared in seven consecutive NHL All-Star Games, and one of Buffalo's two Stanley Cup Finals appearances.
Throughout his career, he totaled 384 goals, 317 assists -- 701 points in 685 games. Only a few of those statistics came during his two-year, injury-plagued stint with the Los Angeles Kings.
Off the ice, he was a great member of our community -- owner of a local restaurant and bar, Slapshot, an active member in the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association, and frequent participant in the Sabres Alumni Fishing Tournament, where he was often a fan favorite.
Growing up, I would hear great stories and history about the French Connection and Martin's booming slap shots. I was not old enough to see him play, but I saw his love for this community. Forever etched in my mind is the French Connection standing at center ice, welcoming new Sabres owner Terry Pegula last month.
An emotional part of this experience was during the game the evening he passed away when players had stickers placed on their helmets in his honor and the game began with an emotional, tear-jerking opening from Rick Jeanneret with a moment of silence. The game ended with the players gathering at center ice and raising their sticks to the rafters in honor of Martin.
As Jeanneret said, "You will be missed, Rico, but you will be remembered."
Alex Kaluzny is a senior at Lockport High School.