Sometimes the reason a person is a fan of a certain team is due to the teams rich history. They’re hoping to relive the glory days of the 70’s. A great way for fans both young and old to dive into the history of their favorite team is to go and walk around the arena and look at the names, awards, jerseys that all around. The Buffalo Sabres hadn’t done a very good job of setting up a display area for former all-stars and legends who have donned the blue and gold. But that’s about to change; On Thursday the Sabres announced plans to build a new ‘Alumni Plaza’ to honour former players. The main feature in the new plaza at First Niagara Centre will be a statue of the famous French Connection line.
“We hope that this statue and the surrounding ‘Alumni Plaza’ will serve as a proper tribute to all the great players who have made this franchise what it is today. While also serving as an inspiration to future Sabres fans and players that will keep us a strong and successful team for years to come” ~ Sabres President Ted Black
The trio responsible for the French Connection line and arguably the Sabres most proficient scoring line in history include: Gilbert Perreault the Sabres first ever draft choice when they entered the league in 1970. Perreault was the centre and was joined by Rick Martin and Rene Robert the trio made up one of the best lines in NHL history. All three players were french Canadian and received the nickname following a film of the same name.
The trio played together for the Sabres from 1972-1979 during which the Sabres went to the playoffs six times including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 19 75. Together the trio was honoured with 15 combined All-Star game appearances. All three players were inducted into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame and had their respected numbers retired by the organization.
Perreault won the Calder Trophy in 1971 and the Lady Byng Trophy in 1973 was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.
The inspiration from the statue came from a rare photograph that the Sabres were lucky enough to find as there are few shots with the trio all together. It was important to the organization to find a legitimate picture and not make the statue as a figurative pose.
Mr. Pegula made it very clear he wanted the statue to be based on an actual image as opposed to a fictional pose” ~ Vice president of creative services Frank Cravotta
The photo is from a April playoff game in 1975 and was taken by Ron Moscati a famous news photographer who covered the Sabres. During the game this picture was taken all three members of the French Connection scored a goal and helped the Sabres defeat the Montreal Canadiens. The Sabres have commissioned Jerry McKenna to build/create the statue. McKenna is well known for his art work especially his sports statues and won the 2003 “Sports Sculpture of the Year” for creating 17 portrait busts which sit in the NFL Pro Hall of Fame. He also constructed the famous sculpture of Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne.
The French Connection will be the feature piece in the Alumni Plaza that will feature something to honour all former Sabres. Every player who has played for the Sabres throughout the team history will be honoured with a plaque. The statue will be unveiled October 12th to mark the 40th anniversary of the trio playing together in 1972.