Sabres 'French Connection' winger Rene Robert hospitalized

Sabres owner Terry Pegula poses with former Sabres players Rene Robert (14), Rick Martin (7) and Gilbert Perreault (11) in 2011. (David Duprey/AP)

Rene Robert, a retired winger who played on the Buffalo Sabres' famed "French Connection Line" in the 1970s, was in a Florida hospital on Friday after suffering a heart attack, three people familiar with what happened told The Associated Press.

The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because members of Robert's family had requested privacy.

The 72-year-old Robert has a home in Florida but maintains numerous ties to Buffalo, where he remains active in charitable endeavors.

Acquired by the Sabres in a trade that sent Eddie Shack to Pittsburgh in 1972, Robert went on to round out one of the most productive lines in NHL history. Robert played right wing alongside left wing Rick Martin and Hockey Hall of Fame center Gilbert Perreault on a line that earned its nickname because all three players were from Quebec.

Robert scored a career-high 40 goals twice during his seven-plus seasons in Buffalo.

He was traded to the then-Colorado Rockies in 1979 and closed his career with Toronto in 1981-82.

In 524 games with Buffalo, Robert had 222 goals and 552 points. Overall, he finished with 284 goals and 702 points in 744 NHL games.

Robert returned to live in Buffalo after he retired and eventually had his driveway built out of pieces of Memorial Auditorium after the Sabres' former home was demolished in 2009.

The Sabres have memorialized the French Connection by erecting a statue of the three players that stands in a plaza outside their arena. Their numbers have also been retired, and their names hang together from the rafters in the arena.

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