The Buffalo Sabres and their fan base are among those in mourning today, as the team revealed that beloved alumnus Rene Robert has passed away at 72. Robert had been hospitalized in Florida this weekend with a heart attack and died early on Tuesday. A member of the famed “French Connection” line with Gilbert Perreault and Rick Martin, Robert played seven plus seasons with the Sabres during the prime of his career. In 524 games with the team, he recorded 552 points, including a 100-point All-Star season in 1974-75. Robert also had two stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs and spent time with the Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Penguins as well. However, his name will always be synonymous with the Sabres and Robert remained an active part of the organization long after his retirement. The team has released a statement calling Robert a “tremendous player, teammate, and person [who] truly loved this organization”. Owner Terry Pegula also called the new of the loss of his friend “devastating”.
- In the midst of a postseason in which officiating has been a hot-button issue, the NHL is without one of its top referees for the time being and no one knows exactly why. Sportsnet reports that Wes McCauley, considered by one of, if not the best referee in the league is currently at home and will not work again during the semifinals. There is no word yet on if he will be available for the Stanley Cup Final. McCauley is not believed to be sick or injured, but is sidelined nonetheless. The league has not commented on the situation other than stating that they hope he will be available soon. In these playoffs, inconsistent officiating within series and even within games as well as a reluctance in the same or similar manner as the regular season has brought referees and the NHL under fire. McCauley would be a valuable asset for the championship round.
- The officials were not wrong when they kicked the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal out of Monday night’s Game Five. A high-stick to the face of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jan Rutta earned him a five-minute major and game misconduct and the NHL Department of Safety agreed with the egregiousness of the penalty, additionally docking Barzal with a maximum fine. Who else agreed that Barzal’s play was a poor display? His own coach, in fact. Barry Trotz told ESPN’s Greg Whyshynski that he was “disappointed” in his star center and his decision-making. Even in the case of bad penalties, coaches usually refrain from such direct criticism, especially deep in the playoffs. It remains to be seen if Trotz will show his displeasure in his usage of Barzal or if Barzal’s play might slip as a result of his coach’s comments.