Rene Robert, a member of the Buffalo Sabres’ legendary “French Connection” line and one of the most popular players in franchise history, is hospitalized in Florida after suffering a heart attack, according to multiple reports.
Robert, 72, is in critical but stable condition and on life support systems as he awaits more heart procedures, according to The Buffalo News.
Throughout much of the 1970s, Robert, center Gilbert Perreault and left wing Rick Martin formed hockey’s most dynamic trio. In 2012, the Sabres immortalized the line by erecting a statue of the three players.
In 1995, the Sabres retired Robert’s No. 14 and Martin’s No. 7 beside Perreault’s No. 11 in the Memorial Auditorium rafters.
Robert’s arrival in Buffalo in a trade with Pittsburgh on March 5, 1972 – a graying Eddie Shack was dealt to the Penguins – ignited his career and helped the Sabres morph into an NHL heavyweight.
His overtime winner in Game 3 of the 1975 Stanley Cup final inside a humid Memorial Auditorium, a 5-4 triumph against the Philadelphia Flyers known as “The Fog Game,” remains perhaps the most iconic goal in franchise history.
Robert recorded the Sabres’ first 100-point season in 1974-75. The right wing cracked the 40-goal mark two times in his seven full seasons in Buffalo. He registered 222 goals and 552 points in 524 games with the Sabres.
Scotty Bowman traded Robert to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for defenseman John Van Boxmeer on Oct. 5, 1979. The Rockies dealt Robert to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team he broke into the NHL with in 1970-71, late in the 1980-81 season.
He retired following the 1981-82 season.
While Robert spends much of the year in Punta Gorda, Fla., he keeps a home in Williamsville and returns in the summer.
Update: The Sabres released the following statement Saturday:
“Our thoughts are with Sabres legend Rene Robert, who is recovering in Florida after suffering a heart attack. Rene has been a fixture in our community since his days playing with the French Connection – a true legend on and off the ice. The entire organization is behind Rene and his family and we pray for a full recovery.”