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Public memorial for ex-Buffalo Sabre Rick Martin

Buffalo is set to honor one of the city's most popular sports figures.

A public memorial service is planned Thursday for Rick Martin, a member of the Buffalo Sabres' famed French Connection who died of heart disease March 13.

The doors of HSBC Arena open at 10 a.m. for the 11 a.m. service. Martin family members are expected to attend.

The 59-year-old Martin was stricken behind the wheel of his car in suburban Clarence just two weeks after reuniting on the ice with his 1970s French Connection linemates, Rene Robert (rehn-AYE' roh-BEHR' ) and Gilbert Perreault (zhihl-BEHR' pehr-OH' ).

It was a surprise welcome for new Sabres owner Terry Pegula.

The trio is still revered in Buffalo. Banners with their old uniform numbers hang together in a row from the HSBC Arena ceiling.