11 Best Captains in Los Angeles Kings History
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
The L.A. Kings have had 13 players that have worn the "C" over the course of the franchise's history. From great role players to great scorers, the Kings' captaincy has belonged to players of all sorts.
The most famous of the players to wear the "C" in L.A. was Wayne Gretzky. But was he the best captain in Kings history? There was also Dustin Brown who led the Kings to their first Stanley Cup victory this past summer. Could Brown be the greatest captain in Kings history?
Let's take a walk down memory lane and look back at the 11 Greatest Captains in the history of the L.A. Kings.
No. 11 Bob Wall
An interview with the original LA Kings captain
Bob Wall was named the first captain in Kings franchise history in 1967 when the franchise started play in the NHL. Wall, who did not see much playing time in the NHL, played three seasons with the Kings after being taken in the expansion draft.
Wall spent his time prior to the '67 expansion draft playing in the Detroit Red Wings system. Having only seen action in 40 NHL games prior to L.A., Wall, like many of his teammates, was a fresh face to the NHL.
When owner Jack Kent Cooke was granted an expansion franchise, the players and the team knew that things were going to be different. Instead of fans flocking to the team, it was going to be the other way around.
“We had to sell the game to the fans,” Wall said. “It was a tough sell. We didn’t draw very many people in our own rink, unless we played against the Original Six teams. Against our own expansion teams, there were 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 people at the most. That was it.”
While many people credit Wayne Gretzky with creating a hockey community in L.A., it all started with Bob Wall and the original L.A. Kings.
No. 10 Bob Pulford
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Pulford only played in L.A. for two seasons(1970-1972), but was an important captain in the history of Kings hockey.
Acquired through a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he won four Stanley Cups in 14 years, Pulford brought experience and knowledge to a fledgling Kings team. The Kings had been around for seven seasons prior to Pulford's arrival.
While his career was on the downslope when he arrived, Pulford's experiences helped him lead the Kings and prepare them for future success. After his retirement, Pulford stayed in L.A. where he took over as the coach of the Kings in the 1972-1973 season.
As a coach he led the Kings to their first playoff berth in his second season, and won the Jack Adams Award for the league's top coach in 1975
No. 9 Mike Murphy
Murphy's classic goal from 1982
Murphy, who is now the Senior Vice President for Hockey Operations for the NHL, spent 10 seasons in the NHL. For five of those seasons, Murphy represented the Kings as their captain.
First arriving in L.A. in 1973 when the Rangers sent Murphy over in a trade, Murphy spent his time helping the Kings rise among the ranks to become one of the NHL's better teams. During his 10 seasons in L.A., Murphy scored at least 20 goals five times.
He became only the second player to transition to the bench of his former team when, upon his retirement, he rejoined the Kings organization in 1984 as an assistant coach. Murphy took over as the Kings head coach in 1986, a post he held for two years.
No. 8 Dave Lewis
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Lewis, who captained the Kings from 1981-1983, was a constant defensive presence during his tenure in L.A. Despite not being a flashy player or the most popular player during his time, Lewis knew what his role was on the team and filled it.
Lewis was a gifted defenseman and a strong one. Known for his ability to move the puck and not make many mistakes, he brought a confidence and ease to the Kings blue line. His skill set helped the Kings knock off the Oilers in one of the biggest playoff upsets in NHL history.
Upon retiring from playing Lewis, like many other former Kings' captains, took to the bench to begin his coaching career. Lewis spent time in Detroit and Boston before returning to L.A. where he spent one season as an assistant coach.
No. 7 Dave Taylor
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Taylor, who most recently served the Kings in the role of GM, wore the captains "C" from 1985-1989.
Most famously known for his work alongside linemates Marcel Dionne and Charlie Simmer, Taylor created a legacy. His line with Dionne and Simmer was known as the "Triple Crown Line" after all three scored over 100 points during the 1980 season.
A mainstay in the Kings lineup from 1977 to 1994, and when he retired, Taylor was a well endeared player. On April 3, 1995, the Kings put Taylor's No. 18 sweater in Kings lore when they lifted it to the rafters, and retired it.
After his time as a player was done, Taylor traded his skates for a suit and joined the administrative side of hockey were he took over as the GM of the Kings. He held this position from 1997-2006.
No. 6 Terry Ruskowski
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Ruskowski holds the achievement of being the only player in NHL history to captain four different NHL clubs. That record speaks volumes to the respect and command that Ruskowski commanded during his time in the NHL.
Arriving in L.A. in 1982, Ruskowski captained the Kings from 1983-1985. Known as a player who was not afraid to get his hands dirty, Ruskowski was a player who made an impact on the Kings during his short stint in L.A.
Upon his retirement, Ruskowski, like many other Kings captains, joined the coaching ranks. Ruskowski most recently coached in the CHL for the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.
No. 5 Luc Robitaille
Noah Graham/Getty Images
Despite only wearing the captains "C" for a part of one season, Robitaille makes the list of greatest Kings captains. Robitaille who spent most of his career with an "A" perched on his chest took over the captaincy for 39 games in the 1992-93 season when Wayne Gretzky was out with an injury.
Nicknamed "Cool Hand Luc," Robitaille was a fan favorite during his stint in L.A. A star player on the ice for the Kings, Robitaille has worked his way into Kings hockey tradition.
Robitaille tallied 1,394 points over the course of 19 seasons in the NHL. Of those 19 seasons, 14 of those were spent with the Kings. As the holder of several Kings records, Robitaille will go down as one of the greatest players to ever put on a Kings jersey.
The Kings great only makes the list at No. 5 because of the brevity of his stint with the "C" on his jersey.
No. 4 Mattias Norstrom
Juan Ocampo/Getty Images
Norstrom has been called one of the most underrated captains in NHL history. As Kings captain from 2001-2007, the Swedish defenseman was a strong reliable presence during his time in L.A.
As the first European captain of the Kings, Norstrom was held in great regard by teammates and coaches. During a recent trip back to L.A., Luc Robitaille was asked about Norstrom. He responded by talking about the importance players like Norstrom have to teams.
The Kings, under Robitaille's lead, had invited Norstrom to be honored by the Kings faithful.
Never a flashy player, Norstrom was always a solid reliable leader for the Kings. Often overlooked, it's time the former King gets his due as one of the top captains in Kings history.
No. 3 Dustin Brown
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Brown, who has been the Kings captain since 2008, became the first captain in Kings history to raise the Stanley Cup in 2012.
A New York native, Brown has quickly found a home in Southern California. As the Kings' top pick in 2003, Brown has spent his whole career with the organization. Brown was widely respected and regarded as an important leader, and he was an easy choice to take over the captaincy after the retirement of Rob Blake.
Leadership and involvement in the community have been a big part of Brown's life since his arrival.
In 2011, Brown was recognized by the NHL when they awarded him the NHL Foundation Player Award for his work within the L.A. community.
As a player Brown has made an impact on and off the ice for the Kings.
No. 2 Wayne Gretzky
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
It is not often that you find Gretzky's name anywhere but the top of a list, however, on this list Gretzky falls to the second slot. As one of the greatest players of all-time, "The Great One," helped raise the popularity of hockey in Southern California.
Gretzky was named the Kings captain upon his arrival in L.A. in 1989. Gretzky kept the "C" during his tenure in L.A. until 1996.
His arrival and time in L.A. was a precursor to the Kings Stanley Cup Championship this past summer. Prior to his arrival in L.A., the Kings were not giants of the NHL. His reputation preceded him that year, and his presence immediately boosted the economic profits of the Kings.
Anytime a player with the magnitude of Gretzky's stature joins a team, the team will immediately grow in popularity and that was definitely the case in L.A.
Gretzky should be credited with some of the responsibility of the Kings recent success. His time in L.A. took hockey in Southern California to a new level, and created a team that had opportunities to win.
No. 1 Rob Blake
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Blake has been regarded around the league as one of the best defenseman to ever play in the NHL.
Serving as captain from 1996-2001, as well as 2007-08, Blake was a fan favorite during his time in L.A. Blake's hard-nose style of play as well as his dedication and hard work made him a staple in the Kings lineup during his time there.
Blake was a player who was always putting the team first. He was more than willing to sacrifice his body if it meant a team victory. At the end of his time in L.A., Blake stepped down as captain because he felt it was best for the team.
Even now as an NHL executive Blake is still fighting to help the Kings succeed. Last year Blake went as far as saying that the NHL needed to help the teams out West gain more exposure and become more popular.
Blake helped take what Gretzky and Wall created and turn it into what Brown finished this season.