Tag Archives: Rene Robert

Dudley Comes Aboard

Rick Dudley has been lured away from Toronto to assist Marc Bergevin in Montreal, and it’s another step on the road to respectibility for our wounded bunch. I remember Rick Dudley as a player, especially with Buffalo in the 1970’s when he’d wear a headband, and he was a solid and important guy on a team that boasted the French Connection – Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert.

Now, with the GM and assistant GM in place, I suppose naming a coach is next, and with each change that is made, I get excited because I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to this team. I expect them to win the Stanley Cup every year, and it’s probably a bad thing that I do.

Brian Burke in Toronto had asked that Dudley not take part in the June draft with Montreal, considering he knows all of the Leafs trade secrets, and that’s fair that he sits on the sidelines. Although it’s kind of neat when we see Burke’s blood pressure rise, and I’m not sure we want to know any of Toronto’s trade secrets anyway.

The full story about this Dudley hiring can be seen right here.


A Great Player Goes Too Soon


Rick Martin, one-third of the great French Connection line in Buffalo, (number 7 in the photo), has died in a one-car accident. He was just 59.

Martin spent three years with the Montreal Junior Canadiens, from 1968 to 1971, where he lit it up as a young star. He, along with mates Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert, would have looked just excellent in a Habs uniform. (That’s Robert and Perreault with Martin in the photo, along with new Sabres owner Terry Pegula).

Myself, and I’m sure all hockey fans, give heartfelt condolences to the Martin family. He was a great player.

Montreal’s Not The Only Team With Problems. How ‘Bout Those Sabres?

Really interesting story in the Buffalo News about Rene Robert and his point-blank shots at the Sabres organization. You see, Montreal’s not the only team with problems.

Robert unafraid of criticizing Sabres
One-third of the French Connection calls out Golisano, Quinn
By Bucky Gleason
You think you’re frustrated with the Buffalo Sabres? Rene Robert feels your pain and then some. The only difference between you and him these days is, well, the former right winger played on one of the famed lines in NHL history and his No. 14 hangs from the rafters at HSBC Arena.
Well, it’s up there for now, anyway.
To say he’s frustrated is an understatement. Robert has grown increasingly angry and disgusted from watching his former team, your favorite team, miss the playoffs in two straight seasons after building a contender. He also wanted fans to know they weren’t alone.
“If I didn’t care, I wouldn’t say a word,” he said. “I’ve been frustrated for I don’t know how many years. I want nothing other than to see this team to succeed and do well.”
He certainly cares.
Passion during a telephone conversation last week poured from Robert, one-third of the high-flying, hair-flowing French Connection in the 1970s. Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin and Robert had one of the best lines in NHL history and helped the Sabres reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1975.
Robert, 60, whose number was retired in 1995 during a ceremony in Memorial Auditorium, said he was ostracized two years ago for criticizing the Sabres on the radio. Sabres minority owner Dan DiPofi, their chief operating officer, said alumni privileges that include free tickets and access to a private suite were revoked for Robert’s behavior, not his opinions.
“He had been treating people in our box office rudely and being a bit of a jerk,” DiPofi said. “We do things for the alumni that’s a basic way to thank them for things they do for us in the community. He had been rude to people in our office and expecting things when he wants them. [Sabres Alumni President] Larry Playfair was consulted on it every step of the way, and he was completely on board with it.”
Regardless, the spat is not what infuriates Robert. It’s the hockey.
“I’m not looking for a handout,” he said. “I live very well. I’m sure I’m going to take another slap for this, but I really don’t give a [darn]. Sometimes, people have blinders on when it’s time to listen to the truth. But how many years can you go on before finally saying, “[The criticism] is right’? I just want them to know the truth.”
Robert’s beef is with majority owner Tom Golisano and his second-in-command, minority owner Larry Quinn, whose decisions contributed to the Sabres becoming the first team in history to win the Presidents’ Trophy for having the NHL’s best record one year and missing the playoffs in the two years that followed.
“For years, they’ve been looking at me like I’m [ticked] off and I’m grumpy, but that’s not it at all,” Robert said. “They always have excuses for why they don’t win. If Golisano has no interest in hockey and wants to nickel and dime everything, sell the team to someone that’s interested in winning.
“The fans of Buffalo deserve better than what they’ve been getting. I’m frustrated. I speak my mind when nobody else does. [Former teammates] are afraid that the Sabres will get mad at them. I don’t care because I don’t work for them. I’ll tell people the truth.”
Blunt, opinionated, brash, outspoken and, many believe, accurate.
That was Robert’s reputation as a player, and not much has changed. Several former Sabres players who were reached last week agreed with Robert’s assessment but did not want their names used. They didn’t want to get caught up in controversy or involved in a feud with management.
Publicly, Robert stands alone. Privately, he has plenty of company. Several ex-teammates supported him and called for changes at the top. Golisano, the billionaire once praised for rescuing the Sabres from bankruptcy, is now being criticized in hockey circles for not making a strong enough commitment to winning.
“Rene is going to tell you what’s on his mind, and he has a [funny] way of putting things,” one ex-Sabre said with a laugh. “He always had a bit of a chip on his shoulder but usually, when it comes to hockey, he’s right. And he is right. I agree with him. I know a lot of guys out there feel the same way he does.”
Quinn did not return a telephone call Friday. Several former Sabres believe Quinn should be removed from daily operations related to personnel and replaced by someone with more hockey knowledge and experience. Robert recalled a conversation with Quinn a few years ago like this:
Robert: “What’s your background, Larry?”
Quinn: “I’m a land developer.”
Robert: “Do you think I could do your job?”
Quinn: “No, I don’t think you could.”
Robert: “Then what makes you believe you’re a hockey man?”
Quinn said immediately after the season that the entire organization would be evaluated from top to bottom.
The Sabres announced Friday that General Manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff would be retained. The Sabres still have not had their season-ending news conference announcing possible changes.
Ruff is coaching Canada in the world championships in Switzerland. He has not spoken publicly since the season-ending win over Boston. Robert believes Ruff and Regier were placed in difficult situations.
“If Golisano wants to retain the team and continue as an owner, he needs a president that knows the game of hockey,” Robert said. “Get a guy that runs the business aspect, get a general manager that’s given a budget to play with, carte blanche to trade whoever the hell he wants, and go from there.
“If you look at the organizations that have been successful, you don’t see owners getting involved in hockey decisions. You hire people to do a job you’re not capable of doing. Until proven wrong, you let them do their jobs. If they can’t, you get rid of them.”

The Buffalo Sabres Are Almost A Canadian Team, Eh?

The thing about the Buffalo Sabres, who the Canadiens play Friday night in their season opener, is that for the most part, they’ve been fun to watch over the years, with the French Connection, Scotty Bowman, Punch Imlach, Tim Horton, and that little pipsqueak Daniel Briere, all doing their thing, many of them, or most of them, at the old Memorial Auditorium.


And did I mention the French Connection?


But then there’s the Sabre sweater, which looks like it came from George Jetson’s closet.


Certain teams must sometimes ask themselves the question – what was so wrong with the original sweater?


I’d probably like the Sabres slightly more if they were in the west instead of the east. But because they’re in the east, they’re going to be trying their best to be right up there in the Eastern Conference standings, which means they’re gonna try and beat the Habs.


And I have no time for such attitude.


The city of Buffalo itself might as well be in Canada. It’s close to the Canadian border, just down the road from Niagara Falls, and their snowstorms are as good or better than ours. I don’t know if folks there say “eh” but it wouldn’t surprise me. And they have a rich sporting history, with major and minor league baseball teams over the years, and of course the Buffalo Bills of the NFL.


And Buffalo had the Buffalo Bisons, a great American Hockey League team for years (1940-1970) but got bumped aside when the Sabres came into being. So Buffalo is a good, solid hockey town. How can it not be, with all those snowbanks, ice, and chicken (Buffalo) wings?


 Like I said, it might as well be Canadian.


Montreal needs this opening game. A nice jump out of the gate would be good, get the ball rolling, grab a quick two points, and then head up to Toronto to play the Leafs, a team which needs no introducton. They don’t deserve it.


So the Canadiens season begins on Friday, and it’s about time. Summers are nice and all that, but the road to the Stanley Cup trumps all the beaches, canoes, and frisbee-throwing out there.


And they have to start by beating those Sabres, eh?  

Pre-Game Rituals Before The Big Game in Buffalo. And Then The Big Win Happens

It’s 2:20 pm Pacific time and the boys are in Buffalo sharpening their skates, blow-torching sticks and drinking umpteen cups of coffee and a Red Bull or two, while ticket takers and ushers and hot dog vendors slowly drift in to ready themselves for when the Habs trounce the Sabres.slum.jpg         more-slum.jpg

                                            (Here’s a couple of pictures of some of the nicer parts of Buffalo.)

I’ve got my pre-game ritual in motion too. Head over to TC’s pub for some drafts, eat lasagna for energy, and today, as an extra little ritual, laugh my head off because rental Marian Hossa got injured in his first game with the Penguins and will be out a week or longer!

Pittsburgh gave up some crazy talent (Christensen, Armstrong, and Angelo Esposito, AND A FIRST-ROUND DRAFT PICK!) for Hossa, who may be gone again in a couple of months because unlike Toe Blake and the boys, it’s all about money. This deal might come back and bite Pittsburgh in the ass.

4:30 Pacific time  – Game time. If all reports are correct, not one Montreal player got mugged on his way to the Buffalo rink.

5:00 Pacific time – Montreal jumps out to 2-0 on goals by Pekanec and Streit. Not sure if Montreal fans who made the trek to Buffalo have started to sing the ‘olay’ song just yet. Many though, are having a riot and drinking lots of beer. 

5:07 Pacific time – Just thinking that Buffalo used to have some good teams in the days of the French Connection line with Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, and Rene Robert. You know, it’s sad that Perreault didn’t play for the Habs. With him and Lafleur together, it would have been historic. People would still be talking about them. It could have been Morenz, Richard, Beliveau, Harvey, Lafleur, and Perreault.

6:08 Pacific time – Tomas Plekanac just scored for the third time tonight as the good guys are beating the bad guys 4-1. The ‘experts’ say there’s too many small guys on Montreal for them to be dangerous. But Plekanek, who’s only 5’10, one of those small guys, looks pretty dangerous to me.

Do you know that TSN guy Pierre McGuire picked the Rangers and Minnesota as two of the five teams he thinks will win the Cup. Montreal didn’t even get a sneeze. But McGuire and his fellow ‘experts’ like Bob McKenzie and Dave Hodge all picked Montreal to finish 14th and so far out of the playoffs you’d need a telescope to see them.

7:01 Pacific time – Holy smokes. 6-2 Montreal over Buffalo. What a big win. It was 5-1 over Atlanta, and now 6-2 in Buffalo since the Habs made Carey Price their number one goalie. And this win catapults them over Ottawa for top spot in the north-east!

I’m sure the team flies back tonight, so guys, get home, have a midnight sandwich, relax, and get ready for another big game Saturday night against the Devils. But leave your wives alone. Eddie Shore, Victor Tikhonov, Punch Imlach and Toe Blake all believed there should be no sex the night before the game. So it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for you.