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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Rick Martin

(Born July 26, 1951) -- Rick Martin’s career came close to being of Hall of Fame caliber. Still, it’s easy to wonder what might have been with one of the most talented players in the history of the Buffalo Sabres.

Martin played for the Montreal Junior Canadiens before landing with the Sabres as their first draft pick in 1971. He teamed up with center Gil Perreault, the perfect target for his linemate’s slick passes. Martin scored 44 goals that rookie season to break Perreault’s one-year-old record.

It only got better from there. Martin had 52 goals in 1973-74, and duplicated it in 1974-75. That last season was noteworthy because Buffalo reached the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in history.

Martin continued to pile up the goals before injuries got in the way. A bad knee injury in Nov. 1980 essentially ended his effectiveness as a player. He was traded to the Kings in 1981 but only played four games in Los Angeles.

Martin eventually returned to Western New York after retirement, and no one enjoying mixing with hockey fans more than he did. He suffered a heart attack while driving and died in 2011. An examination revealed that he was suffering from brain damage, perhaps because of a severe concussion suffered during a game in 1977.

--- Budd Bailey




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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.