A CONNECTION TO HISTORY
Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert were back at First Niagara Center today, as the Sabres unveiled the first plaques that will be placed on the bricks in Alumni Plaza. Every player in Sabres history will be immortalized with plaque depicting the date of their first game with the team. The brick project is just another historical element in Alumni Plaza, which will also include a seven-foot high French Connection statue that will be revealed to the public on Friday, October 12.
According to Perreault, the statue will be just “another cherry” on the top of his Hall of Fame career with the Sabres.
“It’s not something that I ever expected at the start of my career, and it’s going to be a great honor to see that,” Perreault said today. “A lot of tourists will come to Buffalo (to see it). I know that people from Quebec will come take a picture in front of the statue. I also know that people from my hometown are going to come down here for sure. It’s going to be a great souvenir for them.”
Robert echoed Perreault’s sentiments, saying that just playing in the NHL was good enough for him.
“It never crossed my mind one bit; believe me when I say that. I just wanted to play in the NHL, which I lived. I lived my dream. This is certainly way beyond my expectations. This is much, much bigger than I ever anticipated.”
The two also lamented the absence of their former linemate Rick Martin, who passed away suddenly in March 2011. The statue will permanently reunite the high-scoring trio in front of First Niagara Center.
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“Rico might be gone, but he’s still with us every day,” said Robert. “Yesterday, Gilbert and I played golf. When we got to the seventh hole at Park (Country Club) we started talking about Rico. He was not only a good hockey player, he was a great icon. You can never forget what Rick Martin has done for the city of Buffalo, not only as a player but with the charities he was involved with.”
“It’s sad that Rick is not here. Spiritually he’s here, but physically he’s not,” explained Perreault. “He’s always in our heart.”
Joining Perreault and Robert at today’s press conference was Mike Casullo of North Tonawanda, who became the first fan to purchase an Alumni Plaza brick when they went on sale during the summer.
Casullo said his record-setting brick purchase was purely coincidence.
“I had been getting the emails, and always intended to purchase one,” said the longtime Sabres fan. “I just happened to be on my lunch break one day, and figured ‘why don’t I just do it now?’”