Tuesday, January 23, 2007


Saturday was a long day. The Clippers game was just the appetizer for Saturday night's Kings game at Staples Center. I actually played a gig later Saturday night, and under normal circumstances, would have gotten rid of my hockey tickets. But on this night, The Kings were retiring the jersey of one of my all-time favorite players - Luc Robitaille.

During the hour and fifteen minute pre-game ceremony, we were constantly reminded that Luc was picked a dismal 171st when he was drafted. He was slow, and couldn't skate. Yet somehow, he went on to be the top scoring Left Winger in the history of the NHL!

Between a few video montages, the Kings introduced a dozen or so of the greatest players in Kings and NHL history. They walked onto center ice on a red carpet flanked by season ticket holders, and randomly chosen fans in Robitaille jerseys.

I'll never forget Robitaille's rookie season. 1986. At the Fabulous Forum (it wasn't the Great Western Forum yet) tickets were $5 if you had a student ID. The stands were nearly almost always empty, so you could pretty much move to any seat you wanted. The people who did show up were die-hards. I swear, before Gretzky came to LA a few years later, you never saw a woman at a game.

The Kings had three exciting rookies. Besides Robitaille, there was Steve Duchesne and Jimmy Carson, who at the age of 18, became the youngest US born player to score 50 goals in a season. I still have a puck that Carson shot into the stands in one of those early games. I keep it in my freezer, where I keep all my pucks, which makes Gina really happy. I went to as many games as I could that year, and rooted as hard as I could that Robitaille would be named Rookie of the Year. (Flyers Goalie Ron Hextall looked like a shoo-in, but thankfully the NHL voted the right guy in.)
Luc always looked like he was having fun. He was an excellent ambassador for the sport, and seems like a classy, genuinely likable guy. In an era where players seem to join a new team every other week, Luc spent something like 15 of his 20 years in Los Angeles.

The game started so late, I only got to watch one period before I had to leave for my gig. Just as well. The Kings managed to lose in an atrocious way that only they seem capable of. I swear they suck so bad this year. I am so glad I got rid of my season tickets. There is very little to root for, espicailly now that Luc Robitaille is retired.

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