By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 28: March 10, 1981 – The Sabres trade Rick Martin to Los Angeles for a third-round draft choice in 1981 (Colin Chisholm) and a first-round draft choice in 1983 (Tom Barrasso).
Rick Martin’s career seemed headed for the Hall of Fame throughout the 1970s. He had one of the most accurate slap shots in hockey, and he used it to score 50 goals twice. Martin finished 1979-80 with 45 goals.
But then Martin’s career took a turn for the worse. He suffered a knee injury in 1980 in a game with Washington, and it took him several weeks to get back into the lineup. Martin criticized the Sabres’ organization for rushing him back into action. In Feb. 1981, Martin had surgery on the injured knee in Toronto. Meanwhile, the Kings had lost left winger Charlie Simmer to a broken leg just before the trading deadline, and needed someone to play on the “Triple Crown” line with Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor.
Thus, a trade was completed between the two teams – one that had to be reworked when Martin’s knee was examined. Los Angeles eventually sent two picks to the Sabres, including a first in 1983. Martin played in only two games (one in the playoffs) for the Kings that season, and three more the following season before he was forced to retire. Buffalo took Tom Barrasso with the top draft pick, and that worked out well.
Martin later won an out-of-court settlement on his medical case. The winger died in 2011, and an autopsy found that he was suffering from CTE – brain damage from a severe concussion obtained during a 1977 game.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)