By Mary Kate Wirfel
It is a very sad day here in the 716, former Buffalo Sabre Rene Robert known for playing on the Sabres “French Connection” line in the 1970s passed away at the age of 72 after suffering a heart attack last week.
Robert was adored by so many fans in Buffalo, his impact on the community of Buffalo went on long after his playing career with the Buffalo Sabres. He will be missed by all and his legacy will live on forever.
Robert was acquired by the Sabres when they traded Eddie Shack to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Robert in 1972. Robert was the final piece to the Sabres “French Connection” line. Robert played alongside center, Gilbert Perreault, and left wing, the late Rick Martin. This line would wow fans and impress other players. “The French Connection” to this day is the greatest line in Buffalo Sabres history. Robert really did make his linemates better when he played with them.
Robert led the Sabres with 40 goals during his first full season with the team. Two years later, he became the first in Sabres franchise history to post 100 points in a season. Robert spent a total of eight seasons in Buffalo, scoring 222 goals and 320 assists in 524 games. Those points were the eighth best in the NHL at the time. Robert scored the first overtime goal in team history in Game 5 versus the Montreal Canadians in 1973. One of the most memorable goals Robert scored was during the Stanley Cup finals versus the Philadelphia Flyers. What became known as the famous “fog game” in Buffalo; the temperature was 82 degrees outside which was rare for early May and The Memorial Auditorium lacked air conditioning. A thick layer of fog appeared on the aud’s ice surface making the visibility very hard to see. This caused delays and stoppages during the game. Tied at 2, the Sabres and Flyers went into Overtime. The Sabres were already down 2-0 in the series. With 1:31 remaining in the overtime period. Robert took a shot at the net in the fog beating the Flyers goaltender Bernie Parent scoring the overtime winning goal. Sadly the sabres fell to the Flyers in the end of the series, but Robert's goal during the famous “fog game” will be remembered in Buffalo Sports history forever. Robert scored 22 playoff goals and 39 points with the Sabres. This ranks fourth and fifth in Sabres franchise history.
In October 1979, Rene Robert was traded to the Colorado Rockies, before finishing his career in Toronto and playing for the Leafs, where he originally started. Robert was inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame with his “French Connection” linemates in 1989. His number 14 was retired by the Sabres in 1995 and hangs in the rafters alongside Perreault’s 11 and Martin’s 7. Robert was immortalized with a statue along with his “French Connection” linemates in Alumni Plaza outside of the Buffalo Sabres current home KeyBank Center.
Robert remained an ambassador for the Sabres team by helping out with the community and always loved talking with his fans. Rene Robert loved his fans and the city of Buffalo. Rene Robert will be missed by everyone and he will never be forgotten.