Drafted fifth overall in the 1971 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres, Rick Martin amassed 382 goals in 10 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres.
His rookie season, Martin tallied 44 goals and 30 assists. And that was only just the beginning.
Martin, of course, was a part of one of, if not the best, lines in hockey to ever be assembled: the French Connection. The year prior to Martin's drafting, Gilbert Perreault was drafted in the team's inaugural season. In March 4, 1972, the line was assembled, with the Buffalo Sabres acquiring Rene Robert.
Their first season together, they tallied 95 goals and 199 assists. Just as Martin's rookie season, this was the start of an epic seven seasons together, where the trio became the first in Sabres history to tally over 200 goals.
Rick Martin was the scoring player of the three. Sure, the others scored, but Martin's shot was pinpoint, with Martin amassing two seasons with over 50 goals and a 49 goal season. During the time at which the French Connection was assembled, they missed the playoffs just once, in 1973-1974.
The year after, the trio would play in the Stanley Cup, losing in six games to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Martin's accomplishments weren't just on the ice. When he retired from hockey in 1982 with the Los Angeles Kings (only playing four games outside a Buffalo sweater), he moved back to Buffalo, New York. His number, along with the rest of the French Connection's, was retired and now hangs in HSBC Arena.
He was a staple within the community, and for a short time, served as a coach with the Sabres. He could often be found in Clarence Center, New York, and was a figure who was liked by anyone he met. Even as a hockey legend, Martin was always a down to earth kind of guy and would sit and enjoy a time at the bar with anyone.
Today, the NHL lost a brother, a legend. The Buffalo Sabres lost one of their most prolific players, and the community of Western New York will never be the same. Rick Martin's legacy will be one not forgotten by any hockey fan of the Buffalo Sabres. I was unfortunate to never see him play, but everything I have seen and heard of and from Martin himself indicated he truly was the great man he presented himself as.
Most likely, especially with new owner Terry Pegula, the Sabres will honor Martin tonight when they host the Ottawa Senators.