The Instigator Podcast 9.27 – Remembering Rene Robert

The passing of Rene Robert struck the hockey world and the Sabres organization. We talk about the figure Robert was as a player and into his retirement for the Sabres. We also spend a few minutes talking about JJ Peterka after he signed his entry level contract and even touch on some signs of cautious optimism with regard to Buffalo’s draft capital and recent selections.

A trip to the Sabres Alumni Plaza

This is old news, I know. But I did manage to meander my way down to the Sabres Alumni Plaza the day after the French Connection Statue was unveiled.

The official unveiling was on the 12th and I managed to spend some time down near the arena (and Canalside) on Saturday the 13th. While this post is a bit tardy, it doesn’t make the plaza any less striking.

While the photo of the French Connection used in numerous locations (including beer paraphernalia) seemed to be a better picture of the group to use, the interpretation of the photo and the way the statue plays the scene is terrific. The action of Perreault and Robert reaching for the puck gives the ability to view the statue from a number of different angles.

The Alumni Plaza as a whole is somewhat underwhelming at this point just because the player and fan bricks are very much an ancillary addition. There isn’t much to the bricks unless you’re looking for a specific player or your individual brick. Ultimately the bricks will be a very nice addition to the entire atmosphere of that plaza, but as of now they are sort of just there.

One thing that a few people have brought up is the fact that they’re eventually going to run out of room on those pillars. Now, that won’t be a factor for a number of years. But there are no more pillars to utilize beyond the one pegged for the 2010’s. Perhaps the 70s era players should remain on the first pillar with the remaining ones used to mix in the rest of the players from the 80s, 90s and 2000s. At least that would allow for more flexibility as more and more players make their debuts.

That point is quite minute and truly won’t be an issue for at least another 10 years based on the number of players who will be making their debut. Worst case scenario is that the 2010’s column needs to be given a different distinction and becomes far more populated than the rest.

For me, the exciting part is what will come next. There is a ton of space in the plaza and there will be plenty of room to create a monument park with a number of different statues mixed in. Between previous posts and passing comments between Eric and myself in the Instigator Podcast, the full roster of future statues has probably been laid out.

Hasek is the most obvious next choice with Tim Horton being a close second or in a dead heat with the goaltender. Danny Gare and Pat LaFontaine would be fine additions too (as each retired number should get equal treatment). I love the idea of honoring the Knox Family along with the obvious need for statues honoring Ted Darling and RJ as well.

It is fairly obvious that Terry Pegula and Ted Black don’t just want to create avenues for additional fan involvement but that they strive to create unique and outstanding additions to FNC. To say I have the utmost faith that they will succeed with turning the Alumni Plaza into an unforgettable addition is an understatement.

Now the only thing left is to wait and see when another statue will be placed on the site.

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Sabres to unveil Alumni Plaza

In just over three months, Terry Pegula has tossed the Sabres hat in the ring on the Webster Block, donated money to finish landscaping work at Canalside and will now contribute to an alumni plaza outside of First Niagara Center.

This tweet from WGRZ kicked things off prior to the official announcement that a press conference will be held tomorrow to unveil the plans for a full alumni plaza.

This is something I had given thought to back in the winter after the second blog summit. In addition to paying tribute to the team’s most famous trio, I would suspect there will be a statue for each of the franchise’s retired numbers. There will certainly be space to honor the Knox family and those who helped bring the Sabres to buffalo.

The Sabres are in a unique position because of the design of the arena. The inclusion of the massive public plaza has not only provided space to throw big gameday parties, it will also provide more than enough space for a number of different statues.

Off the top of my head I can count the French Connection, Knox brother, Pat LaFontaine, Danny Gare, Tim Horton and Dominik Hasek as those who will have statues within the next few years. I would venture a guess that RJ and Ted Darling will each get their own down the line as well.

UPDATE: The Sabres press conference detailed a number of intricate details for the project. This includes the picture the statue will be based upon and the inclusion of every player ever to don a Sabres sweater. The additional players will be included on plagues on the brick pillars already in place.

It would seem to me that the plan only includes space for the French Connection statue at this point. Assuming the statue will be the focal point in front of the raised walkway, there will be plenty of room in the rest of the plaza for additional statutes, should the organization choose to build them.

The potential of this idea goes so far beyond anything else done by any other team simply because of the space afforded to the franchise in the plaza. Certainly tomorrow’s announcement will provide the rest of the details and perhaps some super cool, Tielman-proof renderings.

Terry Pegula is certainly proving that he could become a driving force in developing the area around FNC in the coming years. It is something the city of Buffalo has been without for a long time.

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