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Kilgore’s Best Memories of Martin on Website

BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 23:  New Buffalo Sabres...

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Channel 2’s Ed Kilgore is the dean of local sportscasters who was working for the NBC affiliate when the French Connection (see right with owner Terry Pegula) was a high-scoring machine in the National Hockey League in the 1970s.

So it was nice to see Kilgore give an instant commentary about former Buffalo Sabre Richard Martin on the 11 p.m. newscast that aired hours after the left winger’s death Sunday afternoon.

It is times like this that you expect the dean to come up big. But as is often the case, I expected more from Kilgore.

I eventually found much more, too, on a story that Kilgore did for Channel 2′s website. He tells some wonderful, humorous stories about Martin in a blog that undoubtedly will get a fraction of the audience that Kilgore’s televised memories did.

In his brief on-air commentary Sunday, Kilgore told the audience that he used to travel with the Sabres when Channel 2 carried the team’s games. Remember, well before cable was big and players wore helmets, Sabre games used to be ratings winners on first Channel 7 and then on Channel 2.

Kilgore added he became friends with Martin on those trips and had remained friends with the famous Sabre until his tragic death Sunday night.

The sportscaster told the audience that Martin was “unique” and a pleasure to be around even though Kilgore joked that the smoke from Martin’s cigars could be bothersome.

And that was pretty much it before a commercial break in which Kilgore promised more memories of Martin.

I went to bed. If that was the best Kilgore initially could do to memorialize a friend, there was no reason to stay up past 11:30 p.m.

In fairness to Kilgore, sports anchors don’t get much TV time to do detailed eulogies. And I always hated doing remembrances after famous people died. It isn’t easy capturing the spirit of someone unless you knew them well.

However, Kilgore told the viewers that he knew Martin well so one might have expected him to be able to explain what made the hockey legend so unique. He did eventually — on Channel 2′s website.

Channel 4′s John Murphy, who is second in longevity among local No. 1 sports anchors, weighed in briefly on Martin Monday. He said that those who knew Martin well “remembered him for his wit, approachability” and generous nature. 

The best on-air remembrances of Martin came on news reports and WGR radio. Channel 2 did a nice piece on Martin’s kindness and thoughtfulness when it came to visiting sick children.

But it was calls to WGR radio from the ordinary people who ran into him over the years here and even in the Caribbean (one guy said he saw Martin there last week) that were the most enlightening. Those callers spoke to Martin’s uniqueness.

Almost all the eulogies Sunday on the air and in print left out more details than they gave.

Fans were told that Martin had a great slap slot, was a lot of fun to be around and did more than his share of charity work.

What they didn’t learn was what Martin has been doing since his National Hockey League career ended prematurely almost 30 years ago because of a knee injury. You had to wonder if he could have lived off his salary all these years since players weren’t making millions back then.

One report noted that Martin was a successful businessman but didn’t say what kind of business he was involved in.

Like Kilgore, I’ve been around since the days of the French Connection. I used to have season tickets at center ice in the last row of the oranges in Memorial Auditorium. As I’ve written before, I was the guy that had the Sabres announce before every game in the Aud that the no smoking role applied to the standing room only area in the balcony. I also covered the Sabres in a backup role as a sports reporter.

But my favorite memory of Martin wasn’t from watching or covering a game in the Aud. It was when the Sabres played a game in Montreal and the Quebec native on the French Connection scored a goal.

I can still hear the French Canadian announcer in the old Montreal Forum say “Buffalo goal scored by Ric-hard Mar-ton, on assists from Gil-bert Perr-ough and Rene Ro-bert.”

Now that was a unique call. I couldn’t get it out of my mind Sunday night. And I just wished one of the stations had found an old tape of the call and played it just once.

It would be fitting if the call was played at least once March 24 at Martin’s memorial service at HSBC Arena.

* Tonight’s opening round games of the NCAA tournament on truTV will not be carried in high definition on Time Warner Cable. A TWC spokesman said the cable company doesn’t have an HD carriage agreement with the channel, which is carried on digital channel 74.

pergament@msn.com

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4 responses to "Kilgore’s Best Memories of Martin on Website"

  1. Pergy's friend says:

    While it was nice to hear all the warm stories of Martin on WGR, I’m starting to wonder if it’s appropriate for news outlets to disclose the cause of a “private” individual’s death?

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