NEWARK, N.J. -- Atlanta Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay said he was terribly saddened when he learned of the sudden passing of his close friend, Rick Martin, on Sunday.
Martin was 59 when he died in a one-car accident brought on by hypertensive heart disease. He scored 382 goals in 681 games with Buffalo from 1971-81 and helped lead the Sabres to the 1975 Stanley Cup Final by scoring 52 goals in the 1974-75 campaign.
Ramsay will always remember the day Martin, who was part of Buffalo's famous French Connection line with Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert, was drafted as the No. 5 pick in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft. Ramsay was the Sabres' second-round pick (No. 19).
Ramsay took the time to reflect on Martin's passing prior to his team's contest against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Tuesday night.
"It was Ricky first and I was second in that draft," Ramsay recalled. "We were touched quite deeply by (his passing)."
Martin spent three seasons with the Montreal Junior Canadiens of the Ontario Hockey Association before joining the Sabres in 1971-72. Ramsay also joined the Sabres that season following four years in the OHA with the Peterborough Petes.
"This was a guy we grew up together with in Buffalo," Ramsay said. "We came to a new team as a new group of new players and had some good success. He was a wonderful player, but a really good person. He stayed in the area and did a lot of charity work and put a lot of time in to maintain the image of the Buffalo Sabres. He was always an upbeat guy who was fun to be around. He's a player I'm going to miss, as will everyone."
Martin played 11 NHL seasons between 1971 and 1982 for the Sabres and Los Angeles Kings. Ramsay spent his entire 14-season career in Buffalo, collecting 252 goals and 672 points in 1,070 games.
Martin, who was inducted into the Sabres' Hall of Fame in 1989, is survived by his wife, Mikey, and their two sons, Corey and Josh.