The Buffalo Sabres have initiated “The 291 Club” as part of the creation of a special French Connection statue to be unveiled on Oct. 12, 1972. The statue will commemorate former Buffalo Sabres forwards Rick Martin, Gilbert Perreault and René Robert. The unveiling will coincide with the 40th anniversary of the trio’s first NHL game as linemates.
The Sabres are looking for “291 individuals/companies (that) will have their names forever imprinted in Sabres history and be linked to the inaugural statue in Alumni Plaza.”
The 291 benefactors will have their name on the back of the statue, receive a miniature replica of the statue, receive a framed lithograph, and a pair of tickets to the statue unveiling.
Membership into the “291 Club” is $2,500. The statue will be placed in the new Sabres Alumni Plaza.
“Celebrating the contributions of every player who ever wore a Sabres sweater Sabres History is an important facet of our organization’s philosophy,” said Buffalo Sabres President Ted Black. “We hope this statue and the dedication of ‘Alumni Plaza’ will serve as a proper tribute not only to the French Connection, but also to the players who have made this franchise what it is today. The project will also afford Sabres fans from around the globe with the opportunity to have their names etched alongside their heroes.”
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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 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.
A specially-designed pedestal, being constructed by HHL Architects of Buffalo, will feature an integrated lighting system and an illuminated informational panel and will provide a base for the statue. Construction on the pedestal will begin later this summer.
The statue will be the centerpiece of a planned ‘Alumni Plaza’ that will honor all former members of the team. Last month, workers surrounded with bricks and mortar the six concrete columns that support a pedestrian walkway above the plaza. All 401 Sabres players in team history will be immortalized on plaques that will be placed on the bricks.