Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rob Blake Los Angeles Kings Jersey Retrospective

The Los Angeles Kings raised defenseman Rob Blake's #4 to the rafters in a ceremony at the Staples Center last night.

Blake 4 retired photo Blake4retired.jpg

Blake took the route less travelled for a Canadian by playing NCAA college hockey in the United States for Bowling Green University from 1987-88 through 1989-90. Drafted by the Kings early in round four 70th overall, Blake turned pro after the conclusion of his third season with the Falcons with 4 games at the end of the 1989-90 season as well as 8 playoff games, during which he would score his first NHL goal and points.

He immediately became a full time NHLer the following season of 1990-91 with a 75 game campaign and never played a single game in the minors throughout his entire career.

The Kings adopted an entirely new look for the 1988-89 season, changing from their original purple and gold colors of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA club, changing to the black and silver of the Los Angeles Raiders of the NFL. The jerseys remained the same through 1997-98, but the customization would undergo a series of adjustments. Blake arrived in Los Angeles during the original specification when the black jerseys had two color sliver names and numbers outlined in white on the black jerseys and sliver names and numbers outlined in black on the white jerseys, which would be the case for the first three seasons.

Los Angeles Kings 1990-91 jersey photo LosAngelesKings1990-91Fjersey.jpg
Los Angeles Kings 1990-91 jersey photo LosAngelesKings1990-91Bjersey.jpg

Blake was limited to 57 games in 1991-92, when the Kings changed to three color names and numbers for one season only, including swapping the low contrast silver numbers on the white jerseys to a much easier to read black, before returning with a 76 game, 59 point season in 1992-93, as the Kings made it all the way to the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals.

The jerseys still had the same three color numbers they would retain for the rest of the run of the jerseys, only now with more legible one color numbers.

Los Angeles Kings 1992-93 jersey photo LosAngelesKings1992-93jersey.jpg
Note the Stanley Cup Final patch is sewn onto a larger piece of fabric,
which was used to cover up the Stanley Cup 100th Anniversary
patch worn during the regular season

In 1993-94, Blake would have a magical offensive season, scoring 20 goals and a career high 68 points.

In 1995-96, the Kings introduced an alternate jersey for the first time, an unconventional design which was quickly dubbed "the Burger King" jersey due to the resemblance of it's logo to the mascot of the Burger King fast food chain.


After just six games of the 1995-96 season, Blake suffered an injury and did not play after October 20, 1995, and the Burger King jersey did not debut until January 27, 1996, meaning Blake never wore the Burger King jersey in a game.

Los Angeles Kings 1995-96 jersey photo LosAngelesKings1995-96Fjersey.jpg
Los Angeles Kings 1995-96 jersey photo LosAngelesKings1995-96Bjersey.jpg
The notorious Burger King jersey, worn only eight times by Los Angeles, and all after Blake's season ended early

After the departure of Kings' captain Wayne Gretzky, who was traded away from the Kings late in the 1995-96 season, Blake was named the 11th captain of the Kings, a position he would hold until his departure from Los Angeles.

In 1997-98 Blake would be named the winner of the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in the NHL following a career high 23 goal season.

Los Angeles Kings 1997-98 jersey photo LosAngelesKings1997-98Bjersey.jpg
Los Angeles Kings 1997-98 jersey photo LosAngelesKings1997-98Fjersey.jpg
A Blake captains jersey from his Norris Trophy winning season

In 1998-99 the Kings would return to having purple in their color scheme when they adopted an entirely new look, a quite gothic mix of black, purple and a brand new font for their names and especially numbers, which tended to look like sharp-edged weapons, particularly the axe-like #1.

Los Angeles Kings 1999-00 jersey photo LosAngelesKings1999-00Fjersey.jpg
 photo LosAngelesKings1999-00Bjersey.jpg
The 1999-00 season saw all players wear the NHL 200 patch

 Blake was traded to the Colorado Avalanche late in the 2000-01 season, as he was about to become a free agent, and the Kings feared losing an all-star caliber player and getting nothing in return.

After four seasons away. Blake would return to the Kings for the 2006-07 season to find the team now wearing the second generation of the jerseys they began wearing in 1998-99 for his final two seasons of his first stint with the club.

When these jersey were originally worn, they had the coat of arms crest on the front and the crown logo serving as the secondary logo. In 1999-00 a purple alternate jersey was introduced which now had the crown as the main crest. Perhaps owing to the coat of arms logo having too many small details, the decision was made in 2002-03 to keep the same jersey style, but reverse the placement of the logos, now featuring the bolder crown on the black and white jerseys with the purple third jersey now sporting the coat of arms.

 photo LosAngelesKings2006-07Fjersey.jpg
 photo LosAngelesKings2006-07Bjersey.jpg

For Blake's second, and final season of his second tour of duty with the Kings, the league switched to the new Reebok Edge jerseys, which aside from a change in the jersey's template, resulted in the waist stripe going away, as Reebok seemed intent on eliminating as much horizontal striping as possible league wide.

Los Angeles Kings 2007-08 jersey photo LosAngelesKings2007-08jersey.jpg
The road white version of Blake's 2007-08 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

 photo LosAngelesKings2007-08Fjersey.jpg
Los Angeles Kings 2007-08 jersey photo LosAngelesKings2007-08Bjersey.jpg
With the retirement of Luc Robitaille, Blake
was once again the Kings captain in 2007-08

Following the 2007-08 season, Blake would leave as a free agent and play two more seasons before retiring as a player.

Today's video section is Blake speaking at his retirement ceremony at the Staples Center.

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