LA Kings Luc Robitaille Officially Becomes One Of The All-Time Greats

TORONTO — On June 23, former Los Angeles Kings left wing Luc Robitaille was named to the 2009 class that will be inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame on November 9, 2009, in Toronto.

Along with Robitaille, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Steve Yzerman were named in the players category, while New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello was named in the builders category.

Robitaille, the highest scoring left wing in National Hockey League history and the all-time Kings leader in goals, played in 1,431 career regular season games with the Kings, Detroit Red Wings (where he won a Stanley Cup in 2002), New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. “Lucky” scored 668 goals and added 726 assists for 1,394 points over his 19-year NHL career.

In 159 playoff games, Robitaille scored 58 with 69 assists for 127 points.

“This is a tremendous achievement for Luc, his family and the entire Kings organization,” said Kings Governor/Chief Executive Officer Tim Leiweke. “We have always been honored to have the greatest left winger represent our franchise and our fans, and we are thrilled to now share Luc with the Hockey Hall of Fame.”

Robitaille said he was excited when he got the call.

“When I saw the 416 [Toronto] area code on my phone, I called back right away,” said Robitaille. “Certainly, I figured if they were calling me, it wasn’t to give me bad news, so I was excited.”

The ninth round pick (171st overall) in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft said that he never dreamed of becoming an honored member of the Hockey Hall Of Fame.

“What I am feeling right now is very difficult to explain,” said Robitaille. “I never set out to accomplish anything like this. When I was a kid, I dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League and to now be alongside greats like Rocket Richard, Guy Lafleur and Wayne Gretzky is not only indescribable, it is beyond anything I ever dreamed of.”

“When I came into the league, I just wanted to play in the NHL,” added Robitaille. “I was fortunate that they put me on the same line with Marcel Dionne and Marcel basically said ‘just go to the net, kid, and I’ll find you.’ So I just found a way to get to the net. But at the end of the day, I always felt it was about winning.”

Robitaille also talked about being inducted with Hull and Yzerman, two of his teammates from the 2002 Detroit Red Wings team that won the Stanley Cup.

“Certainly, being [inducted] with [two] of my teammates is very special,” said Robitaille. “I want to thank everyone.”

After the Kings decided they were not interested in Robitaille’s services after the 2000-01 season, Robitaille set his sights on Hockeytown.

“The biggest thing for me was we [the Kings] beat Detroit [in the 2000-01 playoffs] so, in a way, that helped me,” Robitaille explained. “When the decision came and I was a free agent, I remember talking with my wife, trying to figure out where we were going to go. She asked me who I thought had the best shot to win the Cup. I said Detroit, so she said ‘well, why don’t we try to go there first?’”

“I’ll never forget when my agent called [Red Wings general manager] Ken Holland,” Robitaille elaborated. “He came back and said they were interested. So we didn’t really shop any other team. That was really the goal, to go there and we were able to get it done."

"To go there the next year and to see the team that was put together, it was a great amount of good pressure where we were expected to win, but it was good fun.”

The 2001-02 Red Wings was a team that was so loaded with talent, they are sometimes compared to the all-time greatest NHL teams.

“Looking back, I do remember someone [telling] me at the time that they thought there were ten to eleven potential Hall of Famers on that team,” said Robitaille. “It certainly was something very special. At the time, the goal was simply to win, but looking back, it certainly was an amazing team.”

Despite having to leave the Kings to win the Stanley Cup with Detroit, for Robitaille, it all comes back to Los Angeles and the Kings.

“The team you start with is always the team you feel that you belong to,” he said. “Obviously, when you play for another team, at the time, it’s all about the logo and the team you represent. I spent so much time here and I ended up finishing my career here. A lot of people have treated my very special here in Los Angeles, so that will always be something I really can’t describe.”

“Saying that, I had an amazing experience in Pittsburgh and with the Rangers,” he added. “Obviously, winning the Cup in Detroit is something I will cherish forever. I think for me, I just wanted to play in the NHL and I got lucky that I got to play for one franchise for a long time. But at the end of the day, I wanted to play in the NHL and today, to have this to happen, it’s something truly amazing. It’s hard for me to truly describe.”

Robitaille has traveled an unlikely road to the Hall of Fame, one that started with him almost not being selected on draft day in 1984.

“I do remember thinking that my name was on the list, so someone was going to have to give me a chance and watch me one time,” Robitaille said about being selected so late in the draft. “I remember thinking at the time that I want to make sure I’m ready for that. All I cared is that I was on the list. From then on, it was up to me.”

“They got it right, they drafted me,” Robitaille added. “The biggest thing was that I refused to listen to that. I just played the game. I was trying to improve every day, I was trying to be better every day. I was always trying to help the team win. Maybe sometimes it didn’t look good out there or it didn’t look fast, but I knew that no matter what, I was trying to give my best and that’s the reason I played so long.”

Robitaille’s infamous speed, or lack thereof, was just one of many obstacles that he overcame during his ascent to the hallowed halls of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“The good thing about me was that I never had a step so I never lost it,” Robitaille said with a chuckle. “Maybe that’s why I was able to play nineteen years.”


Photos: Luc Robitaille. Courtesy Los Angeles Kings.

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