Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Born on this date in 1966, Luc Robitaille was not drafted until the ninth round, 171st overall, by the Los Angeles Kings in 1984, mainly due to concerns about his skating ability.
Still, Robitaille dominated in junior hockey, scoring 149 points in 64 games in 1984-85 and was then named Canadian Hockey League Player of the Year following the 1985-86 season in which he scored 68 goals and 123 assists for 191 points in just 63 games, an average of over three points per game.
He was impressive in his rookie season in Los Angeles in the 1986-87 season, averaging over a point per game with 84 points from 45 goals and 39 assists in 79 games. His accomplishments were recognized when he was named the winner of the Calder Trophy. The following season he would reach the 50 goal plateau for the first time, with 53, and surpass 100 points as well, finishing with 111.
After four more very consistent seasons with at least 44 goals and 91 points, he would have his career best season in 1992-93 with 63 goals and 125 points, as well as his only 100 penalty minute season as the Kings would reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. During the playoffs, Robitaille would add 22 more points in 24 games.
After one more season with the Kings, Robitaille was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the strike shortened 1994-95 season. His stay in Pittsburgh was brief, and he was moved to the New York Rangers where he would play for the following two seasons.
Another trade saw Robitaille back with the Kings for the second time. Injuries would limit Robitaille in the 1997-98 season but he would return to play a full season of 82 games in 1998-99, which included scoring his 500th goal in January. The return to familiar surroundings in Los Angeles would see a resurgence in his scoring, as he would put up consecutive season's of 74, 74 and 88 points, his highest totals since 1994.
He would sign a two-year free agent contract with the Detroit Red Wings for the 2001-02 season at a lower amount than he could have made elsewhere, but calculated that Detroit offered him the best chance to finally win the Stanley Cup, which in fact happened at the end of his first season with the Red Wings in which he contributed 30 goals and 50 points.
After his second season in Detroit, Robitaille would once again return to the Kings to close out his career. In 2003-04 he would play in his 1000th game in a King's uniform. During his final season of 2005-06 he would score a hat trick on January 19th to pass Marcel Dionne's franchise record as the leading goal scorer with 550.
All told, Robitaille played in the purple and gold jerseys of his rookie season, the black, white and silver jerseys adopted upon Wayne Gretzky's arrival in 1988, which were worn until his return in 1997-98 for his second stint with the Kings. 1998-99 saw the Kings adopt their newest look with their black, white and purple jerseys with metallic silver. By the time he returned to Los Angeles for the third time, the Kings had swapped colors and logos on primary and alternate jerseys, giving Robitaille a final total of ten different Kings jerseys worn, and more if you count the minor variations in lettering during the Kings black and white era. He would be the only Kings player to have worn both the original purple and gold colors and the new purple and black jerseys.
Robitaille would conclude his career with 668 goals, an NHL record for left wings, 726 assists and 1394 points, only the second player in NHL history to record 1,000 points after being drafted as low as the ninth round.
His number 20 was retired by the Kings in 2007 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1986-87 Los Angeles Kings Luc Robitaille jersey as worn during his rookie season in which he won the Calder Trophy. The jersey sports the addition of the Los Angeles Kings 20th Anniversary patch on the left sleeve.
The Kings were founded in the NHL expansion of 1967 and immediately stood out with their brightly colored gold home jerseys and their unique purple road jerseys at a time when the most daring colors in the NHL were green and orange. The Kings would stick with the purple and gold for 21 seasons before changing their look for 1988.
Plenty of video options today. Too many perhaps. Here's the best of the bunch, with one exception...
First up, a nice tribute video from Robitaille's jersey retirement ceremony with some great action footage.
Next up is a brief tribute video and interview with Robitaille on the occasion of his final game.
Here is Robitaille's acting skills are on display in this TV commercial from 2003 when he was with Detroit.
Speaking of acting, here's media darling Robitaille on the set of the TV series "Bones".
Our next video is Robitaille's Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech from 2009.
Last up is Robitaille's wife Stacia with a black eye and apparently suffering from a concussion as well, as it takes her two minutes to say "So when you're married to a hockey player and walk around like this, it makes people talk." Eight seconds worth of words and two minutes of your life you will never get back. You've been warned, and will not be docked points if you pass on this one.
Dasherboard: The favorites all took care of business on Day 1 of the Olympic hockey tournament as the United States did what they needed to do by defeating Switzerland 3-1 in regulation to earn the full 3 points available, while Canada thumped Norway 8-0 and Russia got their schedule underway by taking down Latvia 8-2. All those teams now get a day off to practice and correct any issues from Day 1 before resuming play on the 18th, except for Latvia, who get two days off.
Today's games are Finland against Belarus (MSNBC) followed by Sweden versus Germany (CNBC) in Group C, and the game of the day and your night owl game, a Group B matchup between neighbors the Czech Republic and Slovakia (CNBC), with reports that Marian Gaborik will not play in tonight's game, as well as Slovakia's next game against Russia as he recovers from the cut on his leg he, while it looks as if they will have the services of Marian Hossa.