NHL great Robitaille to hang up skates
|E.J. Hradek's Blog|
Most scouts and "experts" figured [Luc Robitaille] couldn't skate well enough to find success in the big league. The old hockey expression is, "He can't get there." Translated, it means he's too slow.
Nineteen seasons, 668 goals (the most ever by a left wing), 1,394 points and a Stanley Cup later, I think Robitaille proved he could get there. He was always able to get to the scoring areas. Once there, he usually found a way to finish.
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Robitaille, the Kings' career leader in goals, will hold a news conference Tuesday to discuss his decision.
"Tomorrow is the opportunity for the Kings and Luc Robitaille to acknowledge his Hall of Fame-caliber career and give him an opportunity to address his decision to retire from the game of hockey," said Michael Altieri, the Kings' vice president of communications.
Altieri declined further comment.
Robitaille, who turned 40 in February, has 15 goals and nine assists in 62 games this season, his 19th in the NHL. He has 668 goals and 726 points for 1,394 points in 1,428 regular-season games with the Kings, Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers and Detroit. His career goals and points totals are good for 10th and 19th all-time, respectively. In 159 playoff games, he has 58 goals and 69 assists. He helped Detroit win the 2002 Stanley Cup.
"It came to a point after 19 years he felt it was time," said Pat Brisson, Robitaille's agent. "Some mornings he wakes up and says, 'Should I or should I not,' since he is so passionate for the game."
Robitaille has made a career of breaking records at his position. He scored the most goals in a season for a left wing, with 63 in 1992-1993. He is also the only one to record eight straight seasons of at least 40 goals.
"He's going out on his own terms," Brisson said. "He is walking out with his head up."
The native of Montreal played on Canada's gold-medal winning team at the 1994 World Championship. Robitaille scored the winning goal in a shootout, giving his country its first world title in 33 years.
|* - Steve Yzerman||692|
|* - Luc Robitaille||668|
|* - active player|
In January, the fan-favorite nicknamed "Lucky" broke the Kings' franchise record for goals with a hat trick in a win over Atlanta.
"He's given this organization so much, and an identity," Brisson said. "The L.A. Kings logo is right next to Luc Robitaille. His face is recognized in L.A. as being one of the best athletes in this town."
Robitaille broke in with the Kings in 1986 and was the NHL rookie of the year. He spent most of his career in Los Angeles during three stints with the Kings. He returned to the team for the 2003-04 season and had 22 goals in 80 games.
"This is where I started my career and this is where I believe I will end my career," Robitaille said in 2004. "This is where I belong. This is my home."
But he was benched for four games in December by former coach Andy Murray, who was fired last month. And then he was held out again for three games last week by new coach John Torchetti. Robitaille was back in the lineup Saturday against Anaheim.
"When he was scratched this year, he was extremely frustrated and disappointed," Brisson said. "I don't know if he has it in him to go through another year where it could be more and more like that."
The Kings, who are barely alive in the Western Conference playoff race, have three regular-season games remaining starting Thursday night in Phoenix. Brisson expects that Robitaille will play in each contest.
"It's logical now," he said. "The Kings are almost technically out of the playoffs anyway. They feel it's the right thing to do to let him play."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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