I was so sad to hear of the passing of NHL Hall of Famer and Sabres great Rick Martin yesterday.  He died of an apparent heart attack while driving on Main Street in Clarence.  And the news was eerily similar to the death of Sabres defenseman Tim Horton who was killed in car crash in St. Catherines in 1974 at the age of 44.  News of the passing of both Martin and Horton came the day after the Sabres played a game in Toronto.    

Rick Martin played 10 seasons for the Sabres and scored 44 or more goals five times during his season.  He scored 52 goals in back to back seasons (1973-74 and 1974-75).  He was a member of the Sabres famed French Connection line, so-called because all three members, Martin, Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert all were born in French-speaking Quebec, Canada.

Martin began his career during the days when most NHL players didn't wear helmets, but an incident he was involved in had a big impact on the switch to mandatory helmets.  It was a game against the New York Rangers at Memorial Auditorium when Martin was tripped and knocked unconscious when he hit his head on the ice, then went into convulsions.  It was one of the scariest moments in the history of the Aud.  The entire crowd went silent.  Helmets became mandatory in 1979.

It was just recently that all three members of the French Connection were reunited for the first time in years when Terry Pagula was introduced as the new owner of the Buffalo Sabres.

Rick Martin was 59.