1971 NHL Entry Draft Pick
Round Overall
1 5
Rick Martin
Selected by Buffalo from Montreal (OHA)
Buffalo Sabres Montreal Junior Canadiens
Rick Martin

5-foot-11, 167 pounds

Left-hand shot. Hockey News Pre-Draft Ranking: 5

Left Wing

Pre-Draft Statistics

Year Team League GP G A TP PIM
1968-69 Montreal OHA 52 22 21 43 27
1969-70 Montreal OHA 34 23 32 55 10
1970-71 Montreal OHA 60 71 50 121 106

Pre-Draft Notes

Memorial Cup: 1969 and 1970. ... 1970-71 OHA All-Star 1st Team, Goals Leader.  
Canadian • Born July 26, 1951 in Verdun, Quebec • Hometown: La Salle Que. • Died March 13, 2011

Score Early and Often

Rick Martin came into the NHL with great pedigree. He was a 1967-68 QJHL First Team All-Star with the Thetford Mine Canadiens, had won the Memorial Cup in back-to-back seasons with the Junior Canadiens, and led the OHA in goals in 1970-71. He backed up his resume with a debut season for the ages in 1971-72, scoring a then-record 44 goals and finishing second to Ken Dryden in voting for the Calder Trophy. It was just the begining, as Martin would quickly establish himself as one of the league's best snipers over his first five seasons. He followed up his unforgettable rookie year with a 37-goal season in 1972-73, before erupting for back-to-back 52-goal seasons, followed by 49 goals in 1975-76. Playing with Gilbert Perreault in Buffalo helped, but Martin was a pure scorer in his own right, having scored an OHA record (since broken) of 71 goals in his final junior season. The reunion with Perreault in Buffalo only made Martin that much more dangerous as a scorer.

Video from NHL.com

ABOVE: The video played at Martin's memorial service in 2011.

Remembering MartinTribute VideoRuff Remembers Martin
Robert on MartinPerreault on MartinGare Remembers Martin
One Fan's TributeTragic Day in Buffalo2009 Martin Interview

Career Vitals

First contract: September 3, 1971
Debut: October 10, 1971
(Buffalo vs. Pittsburgh)
Final NHL game: December 5, 1981
(Los Angeles vs. Philadelphia)
Retired: December 12, 1981
Stanley Cup: Never won
Numbers worn: 8, 9, 7 (number retired) (Buffalo);
10 (Los Angeles)

Career NHL Statistics

Teams: Buffalo, Los Angeles
Years: 1971-1981. Playoffs: 1973-1981

Regular Season
11 years 685 384 317 701 477
Stanley Cup Playoffs
8 years 63 24 29 53 74
Complete statistics available at NHL.com 

NHL Awards and Honors

(with Buffalo)
1971-72:Hockey News NHL Rookie of Year, Sporting News NHL East Rookie of Year, All-Star Game
1973-74:All-Star First Team, All-Star Game
1974-75:All-Star First Team, All-Star Game
1975-76:All-Star Second Team, All-Star Game
1976-77:All-Star Second Team, All-Star Game MVP
1977-78:All-Star Game

Team Awards and Honors

(with Buffalo)
1971-72:Points Leader (74, tie), Goals Leader (44)
1973-74:Wayne Larkin Memorial Trophy (fans' MVP), Star of Stars Trophy (home 3-stars leader), Frank Eddolls Memorial Trophy (most popular player), Points Leader (86), Goals Leader (52)
1974-75:Goals Leader (52), Playoffs Points Leader (15, tie), Playoffs Goals Leader (7, tie)
1975-76:Playoffs Points Leader (11), Playoffs Goals Leader (7)
1978-79:Star of Stars Trophy (home 3-stars leader), Goals Leader (32), Playoffs Assists Leader (3)


300th Goal: October 28, 1978
(Buffalo at St. Louis)
50-Goal Seasons:1973-74 (52), 1974-75 (52)

Team Records

Buffalo Records
Most career hat tricks: 21
Most career 4-goal games: 4
Most career goals
by a left wing:
Most career playoff
power-play goals:
Most points by a rookie: 74 in 1971-72
Most goals by a rookie: 44 in 1971-72
Most hat tricks, one season: 7 in 1975-76
(shares record)
Most points in one season
by a left wing:
95 in 1974-75
Most goals in one season
by a left wing:
52 (1973-74, 1974-75)
Most points in one season
by a rookie:
74 in 1971-72
Most goals in one season
by a rookie:
44 in 1971-72
Most power-play goals
in one playoff year:
5 in 1975
(shares record)
Most shots on goal
in one playoff series:
38 vs. Montreal (1973)
Most points in one
Stanley Cup Final series:
6 vs. Philadelphia (1975)
Most assists in one
Stanley Cup Final series:
4 vs. Philadelphia (1975)
Most shots on goal
in one semifinal series:
27 vs. Montreal (1975)
Most power-play goals
in one quarterfinal series:
3 vs. Chicago (1975)
Most consecutive
50-goal seasons:
2 (1973-74 to 1974-75)
Most consecutive
40-goal seasons:
3 (1973-74 to 1975-76)
Most consecutive
30-goal seasons:
6 (1971-72 to 1976-77)
Most career appearances
in the NHL All-Star Game:
Most career points
in the NHL All-Star Game:
Most career goals
in the NHL All-Star Game:
Most 50-goal seasons: 2 (shares record) 
Most 40-goal seasons: 5

The 1972 Summit Series

Coming off an remarkable rookie season in the NHL, Martin was honored by being named a member of the Team Canada squad that faced the Soviet Union in the 1972 Summit series. He traveled with the team over the first half of the series in Canada, and made the trip to the Soviet Union for the final four games. However, he did not get a chance to play in any games because there were many more experienced NHL stars on the roster. Following the team's Game 5 loss on Sept. 22, some players were frustrated -- unhappy with the conditions in Russia and how they were being treated on the team. As a result, after Game 5, Martin joined Vic Hadfield, Buffalo teammate Gilbert Perreault, and Jocelyn Guevremont in flying home. Guevremont had to leave because his wife was sick, but the departure of Martin, Perreault, and Hadfield was based largely on Canadian coach Harry Sinden's declaring within team circles that several players, including these three, would not be playing in any more games in the series. With no reason to stay and an incentive to come home for training camp, the players left. Canada went on to win the series in the dramatic final game. As part of Team Canada, Martin was honored with induction into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame alongside his Summit Series teammates in 2005.

Transaction History

March 10, 1981 -- Traded by Buffalo to Los Angeles in exchange for 1981 third-round pick (Colin Chisholm) and 1983 first-round pick (Tom Barrasso).

Life Outside the NHL

Full Name: Richard Lionel Martin
Nickname: "Rico"
Also Known as: Richard Martin

Education: Attended Montreal's former Sir George Williams University, which is now part of Concordia University.

Career Beyond Hockey: Returned to Buffalo area after retirement and got involved in a local computer consulting business while becoming active in Oldtimers/Legends hockey. In 1994, he and his wife founded a company called Globalquest Staffing Solutions in Williamsville, N.Y. The company helps  businesses find contract workers, focusing on clients who need computer support or IT staffing. In 2000, the Martins added another business called Globalquest Solutions. Martin worked was a key part of the company from its founding until his death.

Career Highlights

Set NHL record (since broken) for goals by a rookie with 44 for Buffalo in 1971-72. ... Set Buffalo single-season record (since broken) with 299 shots on goal in 1972-73. ... Scored the first playoff power-play goal in Buffalo Sabres history at 16:48 of the first period on April 5, 1973, at Montreal. ... Became first player in Buffalo Sabres history to score on a penalty shot, when he beat Hall of Fame goaltender Bernie Parent on Jan. 31, 1974, at Philadelphia. ... Became the first Buffalo Sabres player and the 10th in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season when he notched No. 50 at 8:39 of the first period of Buffalo's April 7, 1974, game vs. St. Louis. The goal, scored against St. Louis goalie Wayne Stephenson, was the first in what became a hat trick as Martin added a pair of goals in the third period. Set Buffalo single-season records (since broken) with 52 goals, 320 shots on goal, and four hat tricks in 1973-74. ... Set NHL record (since broken) for most goals over the first three years of a career with 133 through 1973-74 season. ... Became the first NHL player who started his career on a post-1967 expansion team to be named to NHL All-Star First Team when he received the honor in 1973-74. ... Set Buffalo single-season record (since broken) with 21 power-play goals in 1974-75. ... Tied Buffalo single-season record (since broken) with 52 goals in 1974-75. ... Set NHL record (since broken) for most goals over the first four years of a career with 185 through 1974-75 season. ... Played on Buffalo team that lost to Philadelphia in 1975 Stanley Cup Finals. ... Set Buffalo single-season record (since broken) with 327 shots on goal in 1975-76. ... Set NHL record (since broken) for most goals over the first five years of a career with 270 through 1975-76 season. ... Had three goals and two assists in four games for Team Canada squad that won inaugural Canada Cup tournament in 1976. ... Named MVP of the 1977 NHL All-Star Game at Vancouver for leading Wales Conference to a 4-3 win over the Campbell Conference. Martin scored at 4:00 of the third period t break a 2-2 tie. After the Campbell team tied the game 3-3 on Phil Esposito's goal at 12:23 of the third, Martin responded by scoring the game-winner against Campbell goalie Glenn "Chico" Resch with only 1:56 left in regulation time. ... Forced overtime in the 1978 NHL All-Star Game at Buffalo when he scored at 18:21 of the third period to tie the game 2-2. Martin's Wales Conference team went on to win the game on a goal by his Buffalo teammate, Gilbert Perreault. ... Scored his 300th career NHL goal as the first goal in a hat trick against St. Louis on Oct. 28, 1978. He had a goal in each period of the game. ... Left Buffalo in 1981 with career records (since broken) for goals (382),  shots on goal (2,519) and as one of only two players in team history to score 20 game-tying goals. ... Scored a goal in his final NHL game. ... Inducted in the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame in 1989. ... Inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1992.

Retired Sweater Number

On Nov. 15, 1995, in a special ceremony prior to their home game vs. the Dallas Stars, the Buffalo Sabres retired Martin's No. 7 alongside the numbers of his French Connection linemates Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert. It marked the first time in NHL history that three numbers were simultaneously retired in recognition of the players' work together on one line. Martin and Robert became the third and fourth Sabres players to see their numbers go to the rafters, since Perreault's number had already been retired.

The Amazing Rookie Season

Martin wasted little time making a big impression in the NHL with one of the more memorable rookie seasons in league history. He scored his first NHL goal in his second game on Oct. 12, 1971, at St. Louis. He had his first two goal game in a 3-2 Buffalo victory on Oct. 27 at Los Angeles, and followed that up with his first NHL hat trick during Buffalo's Oct. 30 game at Vancouver, which ended in a 4-4 tie. He was named the Hockey News NHL East Player of the Week for the week ending Oct. 31 after picking up five goals over a three-game span. He had a seven-game point streak from Nov. 7 to Nov. 24 that saw him record five goals and eight assists. On Jan. 2, 1972, he started off the new year with a hat trick in a 4-4 tie with Buffalo to reach 28 goals on the season. Only Phil Esposito (30) ranked ahead of Martin at this time. On Feb. 13 vs. Philadelphia, at 2:44 of the first period, Martin scored his 38th goal of the season against Flyers netminder Doug Favell to tie teammate Gilbert Perreault's NHL record for goals by a rookie. At the time he tied the record, there were still 21 games left in the season and he ranked third in the NHL in goal-scoring, trailing only Esposito (46) and Bobby Hull (39). On Feb. 19 at Toronto, Martin broke Perreault's record by scoring his team's lone goal in a 4-1 loss. the goal, at 9:05 of the second period, came against Hall of Fame goaltender Jacques Plante to tie the game at 1-1. On Feb. 24, he became the first NHL rookie to score 40 goals in a season when he collected No. 40 in a 5-3 home win over Chicago. The goal, scored on Gerry Desjardins of the Black Hawks, was a game-winner at 17:59 of the third period, breaking a 3-3 tie. He scored his 44th and final goal of the season on March 22 at Pittsburgh. The goal, at 16:15 of the second period, tied the game 3-3, and the Sabres went on to win it in the third period. Martin missed five of the last 15 games of the season with an injured shoulder. Had he been fully healthy down the stretch, he might have been the first rookie to reach 50 goals. During his remarkable season, Martin also set Buffalo single-season records (since broken) with 19 power-play goals and four game-tying goals. His Buffalo rookie record of 44 goals in a season still stands to this day. Buffalo head coach Punch Imlach marveled at what Martin had done as a rookie, at the time calling him the "greatest natural goal-scorer I've ever coached."

The French Connection

At the start of the 1972-73 season, Martin was put on a line with Gilbert Perreault, his former junior teammate in Montreal, and Rene Robert. Their chemistry was instantaneous, and they were eubbed "The French Connection" because all three were French-Canadians from the province of Quebec. The trio would play together for the next seven seasons and were widely recognized as one of the best lines in NHL history. On Nov. 15, 1995, the Sabres honored the French Connection's historic contribution by becoming the first NHL team to retire the numbers of an entire line at once. Perreault's No. 11 had already been retired in 1990, but it was brought down from the rafters to be sent up again between Martin (No. 7) and Robert (No. 14). Fittingly the three numbers were the last ones to go to the Memorial Auditorium rafters before the Sabres moved into a new arena in 1996. On Oct. 12, 2012, the trio was once again honored with the unveiling of a statue in Buffalo's Alumni Plaza.

A Great Career Cut Short

Rick Martin was one of the best pure goal-scorers of his era, and he likely would have been a Hockey Hall of Famer if injuries had not hampered his career. Unfortunately, it was a right knee injury that effectively ended his career before he turned 30 and led to his NHL exit early in the 1981-82 season. Martin was very unhappy about the circumstances surrounding his final injury. He had suffered it during Buffalo's Nov. 9, 1980, game vs. Washington, when he was tripped by the Capitals' Ryan Walter while on a breakaway and collided with Capitals goalie Mike Palmateer, who had come way out of the crease. Martin claimed he was not hurt during the collision, but rather when Palmateer seized the moment to deliberately kick him in the knee as he was getting up from the ice. The knee was sprained, but the injury was more serious than the Buffalo coaching staff and trainers first thought. Martin missed 20 games but then returned to the lineup for one game in which he re-aggravated the knee. He was out for another 10 days before returning for nine games in January. During this time, Martin and Buffalo general manager Scotty Bowman disputed the severity of Martin's injury. Martin insisted that Bowman was downplaying the problem and forcing him to come back too soon. Even after Martin had surgery in early February, Bowman told reporters he would only need 10 days to recover when, in fact, it would take nealry two months. When Martin was unable to come back effectively from the surgery -- the knee was wrecked by time he started his 1981-82 season -- he publicly blamed Bowman for forcing him into retirement by having pressured him to play those January 1981 games when he was still injured. After a three-game stint with the Kings made him realize his knee was still a problem, he retired at age 30 on Dec. 12, 1981, saying that he would destroy his knee and be unable to walk if he kept on playing. He said his knee was only about 40 percent of what it had once been and eventually filed a $10 million medical-negligence lawsuit against the Sabres and Buffalo General Hospital, first reported in June 1982. The suit was dismissed by a New York State court in July 1982 on the grounds that the only money Martin had been entitled to was workman's compensation funds, which he had received following the injury. Other lawsuits followed, including one against Bowman, but their results were never widely reported, as some might have involved settlement out of court.

The Death of Rick Martin

Martin's life came to a tragic end at age 59 when he suffered a fatal heart attack while driving to a flea market in the Buffalo suburb of Clarence, N.Y., on Sunday, March 13, 2011. He lost control of his car, crossed the center line and hit a utility pole on the other side of the street before coming to a stop against a tree. The accident took place at 12:30 p.m. He was rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead at 1 p.m. Witnesses said they had seen him with his eyes closed and his head leaning on the steering wheel just before the car went out of control. He was unresponsive to CPR when pulled from his vehicle, and it soon became evident that the crash was due to a medical emergency. One day later, an autopsy revealed Martin died of hypertensive heart disease. He was discovered to have suffered from high blood pressure and clogged arteries. On March 24, the Sabres held a one-hour memorial service for Martin on the ice at HSBC Arena. The event included eulogies from both of his "French Connection" linemates, Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert. In addition, the Sabres honored his memory by painting Martin's No. 7 on the ice behind both goals for the balance of the 2010-11 season. Months after his death, researchers at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy announced that an examination of his brain had revealed the presence of early-stage chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a disease linked to repeated blows to the head. Martin, who had a concussion in 1977, was the first former NHL player who was not a regular fighter to show evidence of the disease.

International Tournaments

1976:Canada Cup (won championship)

Significant Injuries

Missed part of 1971-72 season with bruised shoulder, an injury suffered when he was checked into the boards by Guy Lapointe during Buffalo's March 1, 1972, game at Montreal. He did not return until Buffalo's March 11, 1972, game at Los Angeles. ... Missed part of 1974-75 season with torn ligaments in right thumb, an injury first suffered when he crashed into the boards in Buffalo's Oct. 26, 1974,  game at St. Louis. He played through the injury, but he re-aggravated it in early December 1974, and he could no longer keep going after Buffalo's Dec. 26, 1974, game vs. Chicago. His hand was placed in a cast, and he did not return until Buffalo's Jan. 12, 1975, game vs. Vancouver. ... Had off-season surgery to fuse bone in right thumb during summer of 1974. ... Missed part of 1974-75 season with re-aggravation of right thumb injury, suffered in fight with Lanny McDonald during Buffalo's March 16, 1975, game at Toronto. He did not return until Buffalo's March 30, 1975, game vs. Toronto. ... Missed part of 1976-77 season with slight separation of shoulder, suffered in Buffalo's Feb. 9, 1977, game at N.Y. Rangers. While he was out, he re-aggravated the injury in a Feb. 13, 1977, automobile accident with his wife. He did not return until Buffalo's March 5, 1977, game at Boston. ... Missed Buffalo's March 26, 1977, game at Los Angeles when he slipped in the locker room after a game the previous night and suffered a nine-stitch cut in his right foot. ... Missed part of 1977-78 season with bruised tailbone, an injury suffered when he slipped on ice outside his home on Jan. 31, 1978. He did not return until Buffalo's Feb. 8, 1978, game at Cleveland. ... Missed part of 1977-78 season with concussion, an injury suffered when he was pulled down backwards by Dave Farrish during the third period of Buffalo's Feb. 9, 1978, game vs. N.Y. Rangers. His head hit the ice when he landed, and he went into convulsions -- scaring everyone in the building. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and spent the night in a hospital. He did not return until Buffalo's March 9, 1978, game vs. Los Angeles. He returned wearing a helmet for the first time in his NHL career and would wear one from that point forward. ... Missed part of 1978-79 season with bruised ribs, an injury suffered during Buffalo's Nov. 22, 1978, game vs. Philadelphia. He did not return until Buffalo's Dec. 3, 1978, game vs. Montreal. He re-aggravated the injury in that game and did not return until Buffalo's Dec. 13, 1978, game at Chicago. ... Missed 20 games of 1980-81 season with hyperextended right knee, an injury suffered when he collided with goalie Mike Palmateer during Buffalo's Nov. 9, 1980, game vs. Washington. He did not return until Buffalo's Dec. 28, 1980, game vs. Boston. ... Missed part of 1980-81 season with re-aggravation of right knee injury, suffered during Buffalo's Dec. 28, 1980, game vs. Boston. He did not return until Buffalo's Jan. 7, 1981, game vs. Quebec. ... Missed part of 1980-81 season with re-aggravation of right knee injury, suffered during Buffalo's Jan. 21, 1981, game at Quebec. The injury required surgery on Feb. 3, 1981, and while he was out recovering from the operation, Martin was traded to Los Angeles, and he did not return until Los Angeles' regular-season finale on April 4, vs. Chicago.

Non-Playing Career

Named Buffalo skill-development coach on Sept. 22, 2003, and held position through 2003-04 season.


Selected by New England Whalers in 1972 WHA Draft, the first WHA Draft, February 1972. Was a passionate collector of vintage automobiles during his playing days. Owned a four-wheel drive repair and customizing business during his years in Buffalo. Owned a restaurant in Niagara Falls, N.Y., that was called Rick Martin's Slap Shot.
An outstanding golfer, he had scratch handicap during his playing days. Never played in a minor-league game during his 10-year professional career. Sabres players grew their 2011 playoff beards to mimic Martin's moustache and sideburns. Ranked as the fourth greatest Buffalo Sabres player of all-time by Buffalo News in 2010.
Total Selected: 117
Forwards: 63
Defense: 45
Goaltenders: 9
Major Junior: 84
College Players: 19
Canadian: 107
Euro-Canadian: 2
American: 8
European: 0
Reached NHL: 50
Won Stanley Cup: 5
Hall of Fame: 3
All-Star Game: 10
Year-end All-Star: 5
Olympians: 4
Picks Traded: 18


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