Saturday, November 7, 2009

Word Association with Robitaille - Luc on His Teammates

Each group of players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame has a uniqueness about it. Occasionally, guys that were rivals during their playing days are enshrined during the same year. However, rarely does a player going in share the stage exclusively with guys he called teammates during his career. Luc Robitaille is once again Lucky, as he has played with all three of the other members that make up the class of 2009.

Before heading to Toronto he shared a few thoughts with us on each of them...

Steve Yzerman - Along with Mark Messier, he was one of the best leaders I ever played with. Stevie is right up there. He had to lead a group of primadonnas when I was in Detroit. We were a bunch of superstars. But somehow, they way Stevie is, how hard he works, how humble he is...made it that we all excepted a role and played for one cause, which was winning. Certainly for me he is one of the players I have the most respect for that I ever played with. I think very, very highly of him.

Brett Hull - For me to play with him was the ultimate. I had always watched him throughout my career and wondered how he got so much of an opening on the ice. To see him day in and day out, to see how much he loved the much he put into it. People don't realize how much he put into it because he always seemed to be that relaxed guy, so loosey goosey - but he worked hard at being really good at his game.

Brian Leetch - Obviously, he was one of the best defensemen to ever play the game. But what impressed me the most was in those days we didn't have time sheets. We didn't know how many minutes a guy was playing. If I were to guess, when I was there (in New York) he was playing 35 minutes a game and he never missed a practice. Never took a day off. One of the hardest workers I ever played with.

The greatness of those three guys is obvious, as all three are headed into the Hall this Monday. Additionally, Luc had the chance to play with other legends, like Wayne Gretzky, Marcel Dionne and Mark Messier during his career. Yet, I wondered if there was one guy that he didn't get to play with that when looking back over his career he really wished he could have...Luc wasted no time in answering:

Mario. When I went to Pittsburgh, Mario didn't play that year. When the lockout happened my first year there it changed my contract situation. They wanted me to come back and they kept trying to entice me with the thought of playing with Mario. Because of the lockout though my option year wasn't going to be a factor. My agent filed for arbitration like he was supposed to. Because of that, at the time I was the only player to have scored 40 goals eight straight seasons, so they knew we had a good case. When they figured out they weren't going to be able to resign me, that's when they traded me to New York. But if I had gotten to play with Mario it certainly would have been special.

Finally, for a little fun, we played word association using current and former Kings. Here were Luc's answers:

Jim Fox - he's quick, like a fox
Marcel Dionne - like a father figure to me
Tiger Williams - I was scared of him
Steve Duchesne - good friend
Kelly Hrudey - great goalie under pressure
Tomas Sandstrom - what a competitor
Tony Granato - great person
Robb Stauber - crazy goalie, couldn't believe the way he would run at guys
Marty McSorley - worked hard, put everything into being a better player
Dustin Brown - a pure power forward
Ian Laperriere - one of the greatest teammates you could have
Matty Norstrom - a really great roommate
Rob Blake - one of the greatest people I know, good leader
Adam Deadmarsh - played the game the right way
Sean Avery - my little puppy (he laughs)
Jeremy Roenick - great player, amazing guy in the locker room
Anze Kopitar - great future with the Kings
Alexander Frolov - underrated, a pure goal scorer

We'll have more on Luc leading up to the Hall of Fame ceremonies on Monday.

The Mayor


20 Questions with #20 - an interview with Luc Robitaille

Interview with Rob Blake

Interview with Kelly Hrudey

Interview with Marcel Dionne

High / Low with Luc


High / Low with Lucky Luc

For many hockey fans Toronto is the center of the universe. There's no denying that's true for at least the next few days as four of the greatest players ever will be inducted into the Hockey Fall of Fame there on Monday. They all have something special about them. Yet, Luc Robitaille is just a little different than the rest. We all know the story of the ninth round draft pick that went on to become the highest scoring left wing in NHL history. But for the Kings organization and it's fans its the first time truly one of their own is being enshrined. Dionne and Gretzky had great years in LA and are key parts of the team's history. However, Luc was selected by the Kings and grew up right before our eyes. He is Los Angeles. He is a King.

Right before Luc and his family headed off to Toronto for the festivities this weekend he spent some time with Mayors Manor and reflected on his playing days. We'll be publishing a series of articles over the weekend reviewing various parts of his career. To start things off, let's look at what Luc said were the Highs and Lows of his career:

  • My first game in the NHL
  • The Gretzky trade in '88
  • My entire career in Los Angeles
note: I had to interject here with "Interesting, Luc. You left the cup off the list." He said "yeah" with a real drawn out pause, as if to rethink his answer. Then he said "Well, I guess you could put it down as an asterisk, you know." Funny thing was, I had the impression he wasn't being sarcastic. It really struck me.
  • Leaving LA the first time
  • The Stanley Cup Finals in '93
  • Being traded in 1994 after playing with a broken ankle
Luc wasn't just a player. He's always been a fan of the game too. And fans connected with him because of it. So, it's only fitting that a few of his highs and his lows would match up with those of many Kings fans. The connection lives on.

It was a pleasure to watch Luc play the game he loved so much. I'm sure I'm probably not the only person in Los Angeles who can say this, but...thanks, Luc - you helped me love love the game a little more too.

We were the lucky ones.


other MayorsManor articles surrounding Hall of Fame weekend:

20 Questions with Lucky - the full interview
Luc on his teammates
Players speak out about Luc

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Different Type of Payback

First of all, everybody breathe. It's only one game. Two points, that's all the Kings received for the victory.

Now that said, damn what a victory it was. Sure, people love to brag about beating the Stanley Cup champions...but, two things come to mind. One, you didn't beat them FOR the Stanley Cup. Big difference! Two, in a regular season game things happen. A lucky bounce here, a bad call there. Things happen.

And that my friends is what makes last night's game so special. It wasn't just a lucky win. The Kings were down 2-1 going into the third with the deck stacked against them. Besides playing the defending champions, they were playing a team riding a perfect 7-0 streak on the road this year. Plus, they were facing one of the best goalies in the world right now. The guy that could be starting for Team Canada when the Olympics roll around in February. Somebody must have forgot to tell the Kings though because they came out and took over the game - again. In the last two games they've now outscored their opponents 7-0 in the third period.

The win also provided a payback of sorts. After the Malkin hit on Simmonds last year many fans had circled this game when the schedule came out in July. There was a receipt coming all right. It just came in a different form.

A few other thoughts on the celebratory experience from downtown last night:

  • While it was a team victory, with 10 different Kings getting points in the game... damn that Anze Kopitar is making life fun again in LA. Both goals were pure joy.

  • Marcel Dionne talks about confidence being everything to a player. Well, the Kings must be full of it right now. Proof - last year's team would have folded after going down 2-1 in the second. This team regrouped and ran over their opponent in the third.

  • At the end of the day (an expression I've never heard used more by anybody than AEG executive Tim Leiweke) the 3 Stars of the Game don't mean anything. Yet, I have to strongly disagree with the selections last night. Yes, Dustin Brown had another solid game. However, Jonathan Quick was the #2 star behind Kopi. He kept the Kings in that game time and time again. Just ask Bill Guerin.

  • Former King Dan Blysma ('95-'00) gets a lot of pub the job he's done as head coach of Pittsburgh (and rightfully so). But, who ever saw this coming? Let's be honest, as a player, this was a guy that Barry Melrose would have called a "plumber" or a "pipe fitter." Now he's wearing a ring. Oh by the way, his assistant this year is another former King - Tony Granato.

  • Stat Check: (ONE) Somebody should look up the minutes on Ivanans. It seemed like he played 15 minutes in the first period alone. Wow! (TWO) At the other end of the talent spectrum... Crosby was held to just one shot on goal in the entire game. Sid the Kid began the night leading the team in penalty minutes - because you know, nothing says Captain like leading from the box. He added to his totals with a tripping call midway through the third. Fortunately, the Kings didn't take this game to a shootout, where Crosby is a perfect 4 for 4 this season. (THREE) Pitt d-man Mark Eaton was -3 for the night. Ouch! That'll make a bad night worse.
  • This brief home stand concludes Saturday vs. another Western Conference team looking to battle the Kings for a playoff spot this year, the Nashville Predators. Kings Killer - Steve Sullivan - only has two goals this year in 14 games. Can Quick find a way to shut him down? The game isn't on TV, so get off the couch and get to Staples Center by 1pm for the drop of the puck.

    Monday the Kings head out on the road for a brutal 5 games in 8 days. With the way the team has played this week, maybe the front office should look into extending the dad's trip.


    Thursday, November 5, 2009

    "We Need to Win it for Scuds"

    That's what Ryan Smyth said when asked about tonight's game against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.

    If that's the extra motivation the Kings need to beat the Pens tonight, so be it. However, there are plenty of other reasons if that alone doesn't do the trick:
    • Other teams in the West - Colorado and San Jose to name a few - continue to pick up points and keep the race tight. Two points is two points. LA needs them.
    • Keep the streak alive - the Kings are 5-0-2 in their last seven games.
    • End the streak - the Pens are a perfect 7-0 on the road this year. It may be an early season game, but don't you think a few people around the league would stand up and take notice if LA won tonight? Not to mention the confidence it would give the Kings.
    • The hit - so much has been written about the Malkin / Simmonds thing from last Spring already. Even though Malkin won't be playing tonight, the motivation is there.
    • Top line in Top shape - in their last game together (a reunion of sorts), the Smyth-Kopitar-Williams line picked up right where they left off. Each guy had a goal and the unit looked sharp. How many points will they get tonight? It's going to be tough. They're playing an elite goalie in Fleury, who boasts 1.98 goals-against average in his three games vs LA.

    The puck drops at 7:30pm.

    Tickets are still available for some crazy reason.


    Attn: Ducks Fan

    Go Kings.

    Wednesday, November 4, 2009

    10 Tidbits on the bday boy - Dustin Brown

    Dustin Brown is the youngest player to ever where the "C" for the LA Kings.

    A New York native, he played junior hockey rather than going to college.

    He claims to have been a better lacrosse player than hockey player growing up. But hey, things seem to have worked out OK for him. It's just hard to believe he's only 25 years old, as it seems like he's been suiting up for the Kings for a decade now.

    In honor of his birthday today, we give you 10 Tidbits on Brownie:
    • Was selected in the first round, #13 overall, of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. For a team that has been criticized for decades about trading away their picks, it was an odd year for the Kings. They had three first round picks. Brown was the only one who panned out.
    • The Guelph days - He wore #32 for his Junior team, the Storm. They also claim Dan Cloutier and Drew Doughty as former players. Brown left with 194 points (and 195 penalty minutes) in 174 games. He also left with quite a few awards - Scholastic Player of the Year all three years he was in Guelph, was voted the most popular player on the Storm in 2001-02 and was the Top Scorer in 2002-03.
    • Becoming a fixture on Team USA - played twice at the World Junior Championships ('02 and '03), totalling 8 points (3 goals, 5 assists) in 14 games. Alexander Frolov's Russian team beat Canada for the gold in 2002, with Brown's US squad finishing fifth. Then in 2003, the US lost the Bronze Medal game to Finland. He's also played for Team USA four times at the World Championships that take place late in the Spring each year. Last April he was named captain of the team and they finished fourth in the standings.
    • Regarding the NHL lockout in 2004 he said "It was a blessing in disguise for me. I loved my time in Manchester. I learned a ton about how to be a pro."
    • His wife also had a stellar hockey career before settling down with Dustin and becoming a full-time mom.
    • In baseball you would call him a five-tool player. Brownie has it all - the ability to score, play defense, dish out big hits...and he's even been known to drop the gloves when needed (see clip below)
    • 2007-08 led the Kings in goals with 33.
    • 2008-09 was a monumental year for Brown. He was the first American born player ever chosen to captain the Kings, he played in his first NHL All Star Game and in December '08 he scored his first hat trick against St Louis. After the game against the Blues, the always humble Brown said "I felt like I'd been in a slump. I was getting chances, but the pucks weren't going in. So, I was just trying to keep it simple and putting pucks on the net. That's what we need as a team, throwing pucks at the net."
    • On January 1, 2010 - live on NBC, during the NHL Winter Classic game - it'll officially be announced that Brown is headed to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver as part of Team USA.
    • He is currently under contract with the LA Kings through June, 2014. While it has never been officially confirmed, it is believed he has the LA Kings logo "tattooed on his ass" like GM Dean Lombardi has said he needs his players to have.
    Happy Birthday #23. Fans throughout Staples Center appreciate what you do on a nightly basis to help the Kings win and are proud to call you THE CAPTAIN.

    The Mayor

    Added Bonus - some footage of a little Captain on Captain crime:

    Monday, November 2, 2009

    High / Low: Marcel Dionne

    As the season wears on, we're pushing forward here at MayorsManor too. Last week former Kings netminder Kelly Hrudey stopped by to give us his take on the young NHL season. In honor of the festivities coming up this weekend, we decided to talk to not only a former Kings legend, but a Hall of Famer - the original King of Kings, Marcel Dionne. Throughout his career and post hockey life Marcel has never been shy about his views on the league, the game, former name it, he'll give you his honest thoughts.

    Here's what the great #16 had to say about the first month of play in the NHL:


    • Pittsburgh Penguins - Look at the way they've started the season, like playing all those games last year didn't hurt them a bit. The short summer didn't bother them. It's so tough to repeat, yet they look like they're headed to the same place. It's even more amazing because they lost some key players. Those guys compete at a very high level every night.
    • Washington Capitals - They play the game the way I liked to play the game. Just drop the puck and go...and keep going the whole game. Their coach, Bruce Boudreau, doesn't seem to care if they win 8-6. He just wants them to compete hard every game. That's fine with me. The only question mark on that team is the goaltending. Do they have enough to go all the way?
    • Los Angeles Kings - I'm not just saying this to you, they are so, so close. I was disappointed in the way they played on opening night, but they've turned it around since then. They did lose a few on the start of that long road trip, then came back and won four in a row. I'm just happy for their fans. They've been fed such b.s. for so long and always seem to be rebuilding. There are great fans in Los Angeles. Fans that are really loyal. Right now they're playing like I thought they would this year. Kopitar is amazing.
    • Toronto Maple Leafs - What do I need to say? It's been terrible.
    • Montreal Canadians - I don't think they have enough. With the 100th anniversary and everything the expectations were so high. I don't even think they'll make the playoffs. They're barely winning games. It's too bad they didn't get Vinny Lecavalier from Tampa Bay. He looks totally lost down there. I cant read him. But with their ownership situation and everything going on, he needs to get out of there and try it somewhere else. His confidence might be shot. As I've always said, confidence is everything to a player.
    • The NHLPA - The whole debacle with the Player's Association makes me sick. This thing has been a mess for a long, long time. A definite low.

    There you have it, straight from the mouth of one of the greatest players to ever lace up the skates. Marcel Dionne played for the LA Kings from 1975 to 1987. He was only the third player in history to tally over 700 goals, finishing his career with 731. Dionne is in the top 10 of almost every major offensive category for the Kings. His number was retired to the Forum rafters in 1990 and two years later he took his rightful place along side all of the other hockey legends in the Hall of Fame.