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Sabres unveil statue of French Connection line @NHLdotcom

The Buffalo Sabres unveiled a statue honoring their French Connection line of Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert and Rick Martin on Friday night.

The ceremony was held in the team's new alumni plaza outside First Niagara Center.

The line first skated together 40 years ago, and the trio -- Perreault at center, Robert at right wing, Martin at left wing -- went on to combine for 738 goals and 1,681 points in 1,536 games from 1972-79.

''Our mission here was to put a great show on the ice for the Buffalo fans,'' Perreault said, according to The Associated Press. ''The French Connection was something very special. We had some great years together. It's a great honor. It's a very special night. We sure miss Rico, but it's part of life.''

Martin died of a heart attack at age 59 on March 13, 2011.

''It's difficult. Every time there is something that involves Gilbert and I, and we talk about the French Connection, he's missed," Robert said.

The 7-foot-high bronze statue by sculptor Jerry McKenna is based on a photograph taken by Ron Moscati during an April 1975 playoff victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Each of the three scored a goal in that game, and in its fifth season the team reached the Stanley Cup Final, where the Sabres lost to the Philadelphia Flyers.

"The people in this city loved the French Connection and made that team an instant success for a new team," Moscati said, according to The Buffalo News. "All these years I knew I had that picture, and I wanted them to somehow make it big so people could enjoy it."

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