In continuing on with writing about my love and understanding of Hockey I am going to keep writing about the players that have donned a Buffalo Sabres Hockey sweater since 1970 in no particular order, after Mr. Martin of course.
The Buffalo Sabres in 1971 selected in the first round, fifth overall, in their second amateur NHL draft, Montreal Junior Canadiens stand out Richard Martin.
As a rookie Mr. Martin scored an unheard of 44 goals which the NHL never before seen a rookie even touch 40 goals much less eclipse that amount. Mr. Martin averaged a point per game in his rookie season with 74 points in 73 games. It was at the end of his rookie season when the Buffalo Sabres traded for a player that would compliment and benefit from Mr. Martin, and help form and create the French Connection line.
Mr. Martin was one of the greatest natural goal scorers in the NHL during the 1970s that had put in back to back 52 goal campaigns in only his third and fourth season in the NHL. During his fourth season Mr. Martin played only 68 regular season games but had 95 points, the French Connection was flying, the Buffalo Sabres more than qualified for the 1974-75 playoffs and earned a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals.
In January of 1976 the Buffalo Sabres became the first NHL team to beat one of the USSR’s allegedly superior Hockey teams. During the offensive onslaught that was a 12-6 Buffalo Sabres victory, Mr. Martin scored unassisted in the first period, had two primary assists in the second, and one more primary assist in the third period.
The 1976 Canada Cup team is considered one of the greatest National teams put together to represent Canada in international play that saw for the first time professional Hockey players participate in a best-on-best tournament. Mr. Martin played four games for victorious Team Canada and had five points with three goals.
In 1978 the 31st NHL All Star Game was held in Buffalo at Memorial Auditorium and had two of the Buffalo Sabres best offensive players on the roster, Rick Martin and his French Connection center. In an incredible game I witnessed as a teenager Mr. Martin with less than two minutes remaining in the contest scored and sent the All Stars into their very first Sudden Death overtime game in NHL history.
On November 8th 1980 a controversial trip and kicked knee caused an injury that saw Mr. Martin play only 14 more NHL games. Mr. Martin reportedly never forgave the goalie who came way out of his net to purposely kick Mr. Martin’s knee to knock him back down causing an injury that resulted in the demise of a great career.
Then on March 10, 1981, one of the worst trades the Buffalo Sabres ever made by their worst GM ever (who was named in a 10 million dollar malpractice lawsuit settled out of court in Mr. Martin’s favor approximately 10 years later) was completed sending French Connection star Rick Martin and beloved Don Luce to the Kings for a pair of draft picks.
Sadly on a Sunday March afternoon in 2011 Mr. Martin’s heart condition caused him to have a single vehicle accident, valiant efforts to keep Mr. Martin with us was not to be as he was pronounced gone upon arrival at the Hospital.