Just days after suffering a heart attack, Rene Robert has passed away in Florida at the age of 72.
Robert, from Verdun in Quebec, played on the right wing of the famed ‘French Connection’ at the Buffalo Sabres between 1972 and 1979 alongside fellow Quebecois natives Gilbert Perreault and Rick Martin, fully earning their legendary status.
In a statement released by the Sabres, owner Terry Pegula paid tribute to the player who made his name on the ice and continued to achieve greatness after with his work in the community.
“Kim and I were saddened to hear the devastating news of Rene Robert’s passing. 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.”
Robert was traded to Buffalo as a 23-year-old from the PIttsburgh Penguins in March 1972 for the well-loved veteran Eddie Shack, the winger had a rough start before landing up on a line with Perrault and Martin and vaulting the team to higher levels.
The trio’s numbers have been retired with their bond made permanent and raised to the rafters. Rick Martin passed away a decade ago in a car accident at just 59, leaving Perreault as the sole survivor of the group.
Speaking to the Buffalo News at a Sabres Road Crew event in early 2020, Robert was saddened by the struggles of the team over the last decade, but hoped there were better days coming for the franchise.
“It bothers me because I spent most of career there, in good times and bad, and I feel for the fans. I remember how good they were and I know how good they are. No better fans anywhere in sports than in Buffalo. I keep saying, ‘Be patient, be patient’ but I think this time I see the light around the corner. I really do.
“I sincerely believe that the Pegulas have the right personnel in place now like they do with the Bills. Let’s watch the kids grow and you can see how a year can make a difference.”
Rest in peace Rene Robert, the thoughts of all of us at Die By The Blade are with his family, friends and fans.