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.
That former player, now retired for five years, was none other than Mattias Norstrom, who played for the Kings from late in the 1995-96 season through February 27, 2007, when he was sent to the Dallas Stars, where he finished his career.
Norstrom scored 14 goals and added 128 assists for 142 points with 583 penalty minutes with the Kings. He ended his NHL career with 18 goals and 147 assists for 165 points with 661 penalty minutes in 903 regular season games with the New York Rangers, Kings and Stars.
He also played in 56 playoff games for the three teams, scoring two goals and adding five assists for seven points with 16 penalty minutes.
Norstrom, who missed just 33 games during his time with Kings, was back in town to shoot a five-part documentary, primarily about the growth of youth hockey in California.
“I’m shooting a [Swedish] documentary, a little bit about the Kings going all the way to the Stanley Cup, but also about hockey in California, and how that’s developing,” he said. “It’s taken 45 years for the Kings to win the Cup, and it’s also taken a long time—not too long, but it’s taken a long time to get youth hockey [going in California], and now, we’re seeing kids from California getting [selected] in the NHL Draft.”
The first European-born captain for the Kings added that he was thrilled that the Kings finally won the Stanley Cup, but was green with envy, to coin a phrase.
“I was really excited, [but] I was envious, too,” said Norstrom. “I wished I could be part of that team, but I was so happy to see it happen here, in L.A., for the Kings, as an organization, [and] for all the fans here in L.A. [It was] just excitement all around. It means a lot.”
Although the Stanley Cup eluded him, Norstrom came ever so close when his NHL career began.
“My first year in the league, I was fortunate enough to be with the New York Rangers when they won the Cup in 1994,” he noted. “People were chanting, ‘1940,’ because that was the last time the Rangers had won it. [It was] the same thing [that Kings went through, waiting 45 years before winning the Stanley Cup] there that they were going through.”
With the Rangers that season, Norstrom played in just nine regular season games, and only three playoff games. He did not get his name on the Stanley Cup.
“Once the year goes by, pressure builds up because you want it so bad,” he said. “When it finally happens, it means so much to any organization, especially when you’ve been waiting for it.”
Not long after the Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup on June 11, 2012, Norstrom spoke to an old friend and former teammate.
“Luc [Robitaille] has been [involved with] many sides of this organization, so he’s [been] involved in so many different ways,” said Norstrom. “It was more to congratulate him on the work he’s done.”
That other side refers to Robitaille’s current position as Kings President/Business Operations.
“[He also congratulated Robitaille for having been] such a big part—to have the experience, if it’s as a fan, or being around the game, Luc contributed so much on the ice for so many years, now he’s doing it on the other side, too,” Norstrom noted.
Now 41 years old, Norstrom lives in his home country, Sweden. But he stays in touch with former Kings teammates.
“I stay in touch, especially with the guys I was close to, [such as] Nelson Emerson and Rob Blake, Luc, all those guys,” he said. “Then you run into people you haven’t seen for a long time.”
“It’s always good to talk about something positive, like winning the Cup, and getting it here to L.A.”
Frozen Royalty Video via YouTube
Interview with Mattias Norstrom – February 14, 2013
More On Mattias Norstrom
- Here’s To A Great King: Mattias Norstrom
- Former LA Kings Defensive Stalwart Mattias Norstrom Left The Game On His Own Terms
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I can actually remember Norstrom from his first NHL season with Rangers. Not that he promised all that much at the time ;) However, nice to hear from him again. He’s a living legend!