July 26 NHL History
1951: Rick Martin, the left wing on the Buffalo Sabres’ famed “French Connection” line in the 1970s, is born in Verdun, Quebec. The Sabres take Martin with the No. 5 pick in the 1971 NHL Draft and he scores 44 goals as a rookie in 1971-72. The line of Martin, Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert becomes one of the League’s best by the mid-1970s and powers the Sabres to the 1975 Stanley Cup Final, though they lose to the Philadelphia Flyers in six games.
Martin scores 52 goals in 1973-74 and again in 1974-75, and gets 45 in 1979-80. But he sustains a severe knee injury when he’s tripped on a breakaway during a game on Nov. 8, 1980, is traded to Los Angeles on March 10, 1981, and retires after playing three games for the Kings in 1981-82. He finishes his NHL career with 701 points (384 goals, 317 assists) in 685 games.
1989: Larry Robinson, a defenseman who’s one of the cornerstones of the Montreal Canadiens’ dynasty of the late 1970s, signs with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent.
“I know I’m not a young puppy anymore, but I still feel I can help the Kings win,” the 38-year-old says at a news conference.
During Robinson’s 17 seasons with Montreal, the Canadiens win the Stanley Cup six times, including four in a row from 1976-79, and he wins the Norris Trophy twice. Robinson spends three seasons with Los Angeles before retiring in 1992 and is elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1995. He also wins the Cup in 1995, 2000 and 2003 as a member of the New Jersey Devils’ coaching staff.
As a player, Robinson’s teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his 20 seasons in the NHL.
2011: Kris Draper, one of the biggest bargains in NHL history, announces his retirement after 20 seasons, the final 17 with the Detroit Red Wings.
Detroit pays the $1 waiver price to get Draper from the Winnipeg Jets in 1993. He goes on to play 1,137 games with the Red Wings, many of them as center of the “Grind Line” between Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty. Draper is part of four Stanley Cup-winning teams with Detroit and wins the Selke Trophy as the League’s top defensive forward in 2004, when he has career highs of 24 goals and 40 points.