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FRENCH CONNECTION STATUE UNVEILING TO HIGHLIGHT DEDICATION OF SABRES’ ‘ALUMNI PLAZA’

Occasion marks 40th anniversary of season in which the unit first played together

Wednesday, 10.10.2012 / 2:58 PM / News
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FRENCH CONNECTION STATUE UNVEILING TO HIGHLIGHT DEDICATION OF SABRES\u2019 \u2018ALUMNI PLAZA\u2019
BUFFALO, N.Y. (October 10, 2012) --- The Buffalo Sabres will formally unveil a statue honoring the team\u2019s renowned French Connection, one of hockey\u2019s all-time greatest forward lines, in a public ceremony outside First Niagara Center on Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. This date was chosen because the French Connection first played together on one line in October 1972.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (October 10, 2012) --- The Buffalo Sabres will formally unveil a statue honoring the team’s renowned French Connection, one of hockey’s all-time greatest forward lines, in a public ceremony outside First Niagara Center on Friday, Oct. 12 at 7 p.m. This date was chosen because the French Connection first played together on one line in October 1972.

The bronze statue depicts all three members of the French Connection – comprised of center Gilbert Perreault, left winger Rick Martin and right winger Rene Robert –and will serve as the anchor of Buffalo Sabres Alumni Plaza, a tribute to all former players of the team. The plaza, which is presented by Tops Friendly Markets, sits directly outside First Niagara Center along Perry Street and will be a lasting acknowledgement of the 400-plus players who have donned the Blue and Gold as a member of the Sabres throughout the team’s 42-year history.

Perreault, Robert, and family members of the late Martin will be attending Friday’s ceremony along with over 30 Sabres alumni and Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula. Also in attendance will be Jerry McKenna, the award-winning sculptor of the statue, Ron Moscati, the former team photographer whose photograph served as inspiration for the statue. Longtime Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret will serve as the master of ceremonies for the evening’s events.

Along with the statue, the plaza features five brick columns that are covered in plaques bearing the names of all 401 Sabres alumni. Each column represents a decade of Sabres history and they all support a pedestrian walkway, which features a pictorial display of players throughout the franchise’s history. In addition to the player plaques, fans were given the opportunity to purchase custom plaques that are mounted alongside the player plaques throughout the plaza.


ABOUT THE STATUE:

Inspiration for the statue came from a photograph taken during a playoff game in April 1975 that features all three members of the French Connection. The photograph, which was taken by Ron Moscati, is considered extremely rare because so few pictures exist with all three players in the same shot during play. The photo is also significant in that all three players scored a goal in that game, which secured a playoff win against the Montreal Canadiens.

A specially-designed pedestal, constructed by HHL Architects of Buffalo, features an integrated lighting system and an illuminated informational panel that provides a base for the statue.

To design and construct the statue, the Sabres commissioned American sculptor Jerry McKenna. McKenna, who is based out of Boerne, Texas, is a distinguished sculptor who is well known for his sports statues. He was named the 2003 ‘Sports Sculptor of the Year’ by the All-American Football Foundation in recognition of his 17 portrait busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his sculpture of legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne at the College Football Hall of Fame and countless others throughout the country. McKenna is a decorated Air Force veteran and received early recognition from his bronze portraits of famous Air Force leaders such as Generals Billy Mitchell, Ira C. Eaker, and Jimmy Doolittle. His work can be found in museums, parks, churches, public buildings, universities, halls of fame, and private collections around the world.


ABOUT THE FRENCH CONNECTION:

The combination of Hall-of-Fame center Gilbert Perreault, left wing Rick Martin and right wing Rene Robert is widely considered to be one of the greatest forward lines in NHL history and remains as the Sabres’ most celebrated offensive unit in team history. The trio, all of whom were French-Canadian, was dubbed ‘The French Connection’ –after the 1971 film of the same name – and played together in the Blue and Gold from 1972-1979. During that span, the Sabres went to the playoffs six times, including the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals, and the three were honored with a combined 18 NHL All-Star Game appearances. All three are members of the Sabres Hall of Fame and have had their numbers officially retired from use by the team. Perreault, winner of the 1971 Calder Trophy and the 1973 Lady Byng Trophy, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82