“Dr. Buss was our partner, our mentor and our friend,” said President and Chief Executive Officer of the Anschutz Entertainment GroupTim Leiweke, who also serves as Governor of the Los Angeles Kings. “He was kind enough to allow us into his world, and much of the success we enjoyed at Staples Center and LA Live is directly attributed to him. I do not believe we will ever find anyone quite like him. Our prayers and thoughts are with Jeanie and the entire Buss family.”
Former LA Kings defenseman Mattias Norstrom (center), was honored by the Kings
during a pre-game ceremony on October 30, 2010, when the Kings hosted
the New Jersey Devils at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Photo: Los Angeles Kings
EL SEGUNDO, CA — During the Los Angeles Kings’ February 14 practice session at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo, California, a strange, yet familiar figure was taking in the goings on, both on the ice and off.
This player patrolled the Kings blue line for more than ten seasons, serving as their captain from the 2001-02 season through 2006-07. The physical, stalwart blue liner was a warrior on the ice, a competitor as tough as they come—not necessarily in terms of dropping the gloves—and he always was the consummate professional.
LA Kings superstars Rogie Vachon (second from left) and Marcel Dionne (second from right) help carry the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship banner onto the ice.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI/Getty Images
via the Los Angeles Kings
LOS ANGELES — While the attention of just about everyone in the building was focused on what was happening on the ice, another important event was happening just off of it.
Just prior to them helping bring the banner onto the ice, former Kings superstars Marcel Dionne and Rogie Vachon were presented with Stanley Cup rings by Kings Governor Tim Leiweke, and Kings President/Business Operations Luc Robitaille.
Leiweke gave the ring to Dionne, but he did not just hand it to him and shake his hand.
“He says, ‘here it is,’” Dionne told the Niagara Falls Review. “He got down on his knees. He said, ‘Thank you, Marcel. It’s well deserved.’”
“It never crossed my mind,” Dionne added. “They hand out rings to staff, doctors…[but] they didn’t play. It’s about legacy, no doubt about that.”
“This is the closing chapter in my hockey life.”
While Dionne was interviewed about receiving the ring, there has been nothing in the media about Vachon’s reaction to receiving the Stanley Cup ring…
“Just before we went out on the ice with the banner, Luc Robitaille and Tim gave me a box,” said Vachon, 67. “I’m just sitting there [in the ‘Zamboni’ tunnel at Staples Center], waiting for the whole thing to happen, and I open the box, and there’s a ring in there.”
“I had absolutely no idea, no clue, that it was coming,” added Vachon. “It was just incredible.”
“They said, ‘we’re glad you’re part of it,’ something like that. I don’t remember [the exact] words that were said, but it was pretty cool just to be part of it.”
Like Dionne, Vachon said that Leiweke and Robitaille were honoring them for helping pave the way.
“I think it was [an acknowledgement of] what we did back in the 1970’s,” Vachon noted. “For Luc and Tim, [I think they were saying], ‘these guys put us on the map a little bit.’”
“We had the most points [in one season] in Kings history [in 1974-75], with 105 (still a franchise record),” Vachon added. “Even though we didn’t win the Cup, they were saying [that we] deserve to be part of [all this], which is incredible. I didn’t expect it. It was phenomenal.”
“Now that they’ve won the Cup, they’re saying, ‘let’s go back [and look] at our history, look at how we got there, and why we didn’t win the Cup before,’ which is really great. Even at the ownership level, Mr. [Philip] Anschutz thought, ‘let’s get these guys a ring. They deserve it because of what they did in the past,’ which is incredible.”
LA Kings 2012 Stanley Cup Championship Ring.
(click above to view larger image)
Photos courtesy Los Angeles Kings
As noted earlier, Dionne and Vachon helped carry the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship banner onto the ice before it was raised to the rafters.
“[That] was really exciting, even for us, because we’re sort of pioneers for the Kings,” said Vachon. “We worked really hard to try to make this franchise better, and finally, one team came in [last] year and did it. I’m very proud of the guys who did it.”
“It was really a proud moment for me, and Marcel, and for the Kings, and all the fans,” added Vachon. “It’s the first time in 45 years, so it was absolutely phenomenal, and I was very proud to be a small part of it.”
A Vezina Trophy recipient (shared with teammate Gump Worsley) and a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Montreal Canadiens before being traded to the Kings, the ceremony brought back some great memories for Vachon.
“It’s hard to describe,” Vachon said about what it feels like to win the Stanley Cup. “You almost have to go through it to realize how big [a moment] it is, and how important it is. I went through both. I won the Cup with the Montreal Canadiens, and also won the Canada Cup in 1976.”
With a 1.39 goals-against average, a .963 save percentage, and two shutouts in seven games, Vachon was the Best Goaltender of the 1976 Canada Cup tournament, and the Most Valuable Player for Canada.
“It reminded me of the old days,” he noted. “When I was in Montreal, we won three Stanley Cups. If they can win another Cup this year, it’s going to be even better than the first one.”
Raw Audio Interviews
(Extraneous material and dead air have been removed; click on the arrow to listen):
Rogie Vachon (4:47; interview conducted on January 19, 2013, prior to Stanley Cup banner raising)
Rogie Vachon (5:28; interview conducted by telephone on February 11, 2013)
TRAINING CAMP: Los Angeles Kings star center Anze Kopitar looked good in practice for a second straight day. Will he be back in the lineup for the season opener? News on Kopitar’s status, Willie Mitchell getting back to skating, contract extensions for the Kings’ braintrust and more. Raw audio interviews also available.
Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar.
(click above to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net
EL SEGUNDO, CA — The Los Angeles Kings spent the final day of their abbreviated training camp trying to hammer out all the kinks in their game that they possibly could before Saturday’s season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks (noon PST; televised regionally on NBC).
“It was a short camp, so there’s going to be kinks all the way [throughout the season],” said head coach Darryl Sutter. “Every team’s going to have’em. You try and cover as much as you can without overloading them.”
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