LOS ANGELES -- Luc Robitaille became the fifth player to
have his number retired by the Los Angeles Kings, when his No. 20
jersey was raised to the rafters during a ceremony preceding
Saturday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Robitaille, who had three stints covering 14 seasons with the
Kings, was honored a year and a day after he set the franchise
record for goals with a hat trick against the Atlanta Thrashers at
Staples Center. The eight-time All-Star scored 557 goals with the
Kings, seven more than Marcel Dionne did.
"It wasn't about scoring goals, it wasn't about money, it
wasn't about fame. I just wanted to play hockey and play in the
NHL," said Robitaille, who got his nickname "Lucky" from former
Kings teammate Dave "Tiger" Williams.
"I wasn't the fastest player and I had flaws, but I was a
student of the game and every day I was grateful to live my dream.
I heard your chants every time I touched the puck or took a shot."
Rogie Vachon (30), Dionne (16), Dave Taylor (18) and Coyotes
coach Wayne Gretzky (99) are the other Kings to have their numbers
The rookie of the year in 1987, Robitaille retired at the end of
last season, his 19th, as the NHL's leading career scorer among
He had 1,154 total points in 1,077 regular-season games with the
Kings and is still a vital member of the organization, having been
named as alternate governor for the club on Nov. 13.
The other 10 players who wore No. 20 with the Kings were Bob
Pulford, Ray Ferraro, Mark Hardy, Brad Selwood, Gordon Labossiere,
Ron Anderson, Scott Garland, Don Howse, Larry Playfair and Steve
Larouche. They combined to score 174 goals for the franchise -- 383
fewer than Robitaille did.
Robitaille, No. 10 on the NHL's career goals list, scored a
career-high 63 the year the Kings went to the finals for the only
time in their 40-year history. They lost in five games to the
Montreal Canadiens, Robitaille's hometown team. But he eventually
got his name chiseled into the Cup in 2002 with the Detroit Red
The Staples Center crew painted a large "20" on the ice behind
each net, and all of the Kings' players skated out for the pregame
warmup wearing jerseys with Robitaille's name and numeral on the
back and a commemorative patch on the front.
The one-hour ceremony included video tributes from Mark Messier
and Lakers star Kobe Bryant, and Robitaille was presented with a
truck, two snowmobiles and a painting of himself with the four
other retired numbers in the background.
Among those walking the red carpet to center ice were NHL
commissioner Gary Bettman and 19 former Kings players including
Vachon, Gretzky, Larry Robinson, Jimmy Carson, Butch Goring Bernie
Nicholls, Jari Kurri, Marty McSorley and Bob Berry.
Barry Melrose, an NHL analyst for ESPN who coached the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals
in 1993, also was on hand.
"When you went to see Luc play, you never felt cheated,"
Melrose told the sellout crowd. "Every time I watched Luc
Robitaille play, he reminded me of why I love this game so much."
Taylor wasn't able to make it because of the death of his father
in Ontario, Canada. Neither was Dionne, Robitaille's mentor and
boyhool idol, who had a family commitment but promised him he would
be in Toronto for Robitaille's eventual Hall of Fame induction.
Both sent written messages that were read by Kings longtime
play-by-play man Bob Miller.