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Buffalo Sabres legend Rene Robert dies at 72

Mar 16, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; A view of an NHL puck and hockey stick before the game between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 16, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; A view of an NHL puck and hockey stick before the game between the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Rene Robert, part of the Buffalo Sabres’ “French Connection Line” of the 1970, died Tuesday at age 72.

Robert passed away at hospital in Port Charlotte, Fla., where he had been on life support since suffering a heart attack last week.

“Kim and I were saddened to hear the devastating news of Rene Robert’s passing,” Sabres owner Terry Pegula said on behalf of himself and his wife. “When we first took over as owners, the members of The French Connection were three of the first people to welcome us to the organization. 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. Our thoughts and prayers are with Rene’s family during this difficult time.”

The Sabres acquired Robert, who played right wing, on March 4, 1972, in a trade with Pittsburgh Penguins, joining future Hockey Hall of Fame center Gilbert Perreault and Rick Martin on the famed line. All three players were from Quebec, leading to the French Connection nickname. A statue of the three is outside the Sabres’ arena, KeyBank Center, and the team retired the numbers of all of them.

“He had fire in his eyes,” added Sabres Hall of Fame forward Don Luce. “Every time he stepped onto the ice, you knew he was going to try to score because he was driven, he brought a lot of energy to that line. They clicked. They knew how to play with each other.”

Robert played in 744 regular-season games with four teams from 1970-82 — starting and ending his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the Penguins, Sabres and Colorado Rockies sandwiched between.

Of those games, 524 came with the Sabres, and he scored 222 goals and 320 assists. But he is known as a playoff here in Western New York.

In 47 postseason games, he had 22 goals and 39 points. Three of those goals were overtime game winners.

His 22 playoff goals rank fourth in franchise in history, with his points fifth.

–Field Level Media

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