Rene Robert, a member of the Buffalo Sabres’ famed “French Connection Line,” died Tuesday at a Florida hospital less than a week after suffering a heart attack. He was 72.
The Sabres confirmed Robert’s death in a statement released by the team. Robert had been on life support since being hospitalized in Port Charlotte, Florida, in the middle of last week.
The Sabres have memorialized the line by erecting a statue of the three players that stands in a plaza outside their arena. Their numbers also have been retired, and their names hang together from the rafters in the arena.
Acquired by the Sabres in a trade that sent Eddie Shack to Pittsburgh in 1972, Robert went on to round out one of the most productive lines in NHL history. Robert played right-wing alongside left wing Rick Martin and Hockey Hall of Fame center Gilbert Perreault on a line that earned its nickname because all three players were from Quebec.
About Mr. Robert’s Career
Playing eight of his 12 NHL seasons in Buffalo, Mr. Robert was able to collect 222 goals, 330 assists, and 552 points. It is said that his best offensive season traces back to the ’74-’75 campaign.
He got career highs in goals (40), assists (60), and points (100) back in those glorious days of his life. Based on the given information, it was the first 100-point season in franchise history.
His career In Buffalo is well remembered due to his three playoff overtime goals, best known in the hockey world was thanks to his game-winner in the famous Fog Game.
He said about his big win, the Fog Game:
“People say it was one of the greatest goals ever, but that was probably one of the luckiest goals ever, too.”
Later on, He added:
“You could try that a thousand times over and it wouldn’t go in. I didn’t have a lot of room. All I tried to do was hit the net and it happened to go in. We even shot from the far blue line because the fog was so thick. Anything you kept low and put on net, you had a chance. That’s what I tried to do. I kept it low and I was rewarded.”
Sabres owner Terry Pegula said in a statement released by the team
“During our time with the team, Rene has been one of the most active alumni and we’ve grown to know him well over the past 10 years. He was a friend to us and to the entire organization and will be missed dearly.”
Teammate and longtime friend Danny Gare said Tuesday night,
“The thing about Rene is he always had a swagger in a positive way. He was a guy in the room that didn’t say a lot, but when he did, he went out and did it. I think he pushed Gilbert, I know he pushed ‘Rico’ (Martin). I think the puzzle, the final piece of the French Connection, was getting him because he had that personality, that conviction, that strength and the will to win by scoring big goals at big times.”
The famous Sabres line, comprised of Gilbert Perreault, Richard Martin, and Rene Robert was a point-producing, highlight-making trio from 1972 until the fall of 1979. Each of the three French-Canadians from Quebec was talented individually, but when they were put together on the same line, magic ensued. The trio was unstoppable.
The Sum: The French Connection Line
The French Connection line was the league’s most electrifying and explosive combination of the era and one of the last great lines in the history of the game. With their flair and creativity, not to mention their mustaches and layered flowing hair of the era, they were looked up to admire, and idolized by fans of all ages.
The source of the line’s moniker has been claimed by different sources, but the reason for it was obviously the origins of the players and the 1971 Academy Award-winning crime thriller, The French Connection. It was one of the most feared scoring lines in NHL history. Each player finished his Sabres career with more than 200 goals and better than a point-per-game average, despite consistently facing the opposition’s top defensive lineups.