Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Luc Robitaille at ECHL Hall of Fame

As part of the ECHL All Star festivities in Ontario this week they hosted a Hall of Fame lunch to induct the four members of the 2010 Class, including former NHL goaltender Olaf Kolzig.

Luc Robitaille, a man who knows a thing or two about battling against the odds to make it the NHL, was the guest speaker. Below are highlights:

He opened with a few comments on this year's Kings team, saying they've "played to packed houses" most nights. He acknowledged they "weren't happy with the team's performance last night" and that's being addressed. With attendance up, they'll be focusing on TV ratings next. The most applause came after this proclamation "At the beginning of the season we said we would settle for nothing less than making the playoffs this year, so that’s what we’re focused on."
Luc reflected over his career by saying "I was just a kid and I wanted to play the game. Next thing I knew I was 35 years old and I was still shooting pucks into the net."

Like his Hall of Fame speech from November he acknowledged the scout that pushed the Kings to sign him, the only scout that actually looked at him and had him ranked. He also mentioned how tough it must have been to get the Kings to draft him. After all, they took Tom Glavine in the 5th round - a guy who told everybody he would never play hockey, choosing baseball instead.

On his approach to the game Luc offered "Every night when I sat in the locker room I made sure I didn't have any regrets. I didn't always have a good game. Many games I was a minus – so I had some tough games. But, I never wanted to think I wish I had done something different."

About his passion for the game and how he became a left wing: "In midgets I wanted to play center – my idol was Wayne Gretzky. I wanted to be a center and dreamed of being the greatest play maker in the game. My coach asked me to play left wing on the fourth line one day. I told him I'd play goalie if they needed me to. I just wanted to play. Then some guys got hurt and things happened, I moved up and I played left wing for the rest of my career."

Always humble and never shy about his lightning fast speed he offered "The good thing about being slow when you’re 20 years old is that you never lose a step. So, near the end of my career they couldn't say anything about my speed. I was still just as fast as I was when I first broke into the league."

Robitaille spoke about Reign owner Barry Kemp (then owner of the Long Beach Ice Dogs) mentioning to him 12 years ago that he wanted to build an arena in Ontario and bring a team to the area. He's proud to see how far the dream has come, with the team now hosting the ECHL All Star Game and the Hall of Fame inductions. He thanked the Reign staff and all they do in partnership with AEG on promoting the game of hockey and providing a quality product to fans in Southern California.

He wrapped things up saying "Ill keep this short because I know some of the players in the room want to go back and take a nap and I'm sure a few of you had a good time last night and can use the all the players, keep the dream alive, there will be many scouts in the crowd and watching the game on TV tonight. Character is number one. That’s what the Kings look for and it’s a hot topic in the NHL right now." He wants every player to remember that on and off the ice.

One more joke before he left - while thanking Reebok for their sponsorship and support of the game he quipped "I wish they had those tight (slimmer) jerseys earlier in my career."

The guy is always smiling. He's such a joy to be around. You can always be proud to call yourself a Kings fan when Luc is in the room.

The Mayor

more to come from the ECHL All Star Game later today

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