Los Angeles Kings 5 Biggest Unsung Heroes in Franchise History

Jason LewisCorrespondent IINovember 24, 2012

Los Angeles Kings 5 Biggest Unsung Heroes in Franchise History

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    You won't notice them too often. You won't include their names in the list of top players. Hell, they might even be a name that slips your mind when talking about your team.

    However, they are the kind of players that make a world of difference.

    The Los Angeles Kings over the years have had teams primarily made up of unsung heroes, character players and grit guys, rather than world-class superstars. And in reality, that's usually 90 percent of the makeup of a hockey team.

    With no shortages of unsung heroes, here are the five best in Kings history.

Derek Armstrong

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    A co-captain, a consistent 35- to 40-point player, a scrapper and a plus player on some struggling mid-2000s Kings teams.

    Derek Armstrong was a character player and unsung hero that every team desired when thinking about grinders, and depth guys. 

    Despite being an AHL player for nearly 10 years in the league, Armstrong stepped up for the Kings back when he arrived in 2002-03 and became a 35-plus-point player almost every season. Armstrong was also an important faceoff man, usually taking the majority of the Kings' draws after Eric Belanger.

    Armstrong also did things like this. When veteran Jamie Langenbrunner was trying to goad young King Patrick O'Sullivan into a penalty or fight, Derek Armstrong was right there to defend his teammate.

    It's just a shame that "Armie" was never able to get to the playoffs in his career, or in a Kings jersey.

Mattias Norstrom

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    Eleven seasons with the Los Angeles Kings from 1996 to 2007, a captain for the team from 2001 to 2007, a gold medalist for Sweden and a true unsung hero for the Kings for 10 years.

    Mattias Norstrom wasn't ever an offensive presence, but he was a pillar of the Kings defensive group, leading the team multiple times in blocked shots, ice time and among the top in hits.

    It's not a stretch to say that at the time Norstrom was one of the top shutdown defenseman in the league, despite never winning any major NHL award and appearing in just one All-Star Game.

    He was a strong and silent captain who led by example on the ice, much like current Kings captain Dustin Brown.

    Another top-class player lost in the disappointment of the mid-and-early 2000s Kings teams.

Rob Scuderi

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    Solid. Just plain underwhelming, and solid. 

    Rob Scuderi will never wow you with his play; he'll never stand out to other teams' fans or the casual by-passer. However, every single Kings fan knows the contributions of Ron Scuderi, and they know them well.

    He fills the mold of a Mattias Norstrom a bit, not quite as physical, but definitely as hard-nosed, and responsible in his own defensive end. Scuderi made a name for himself during the Penguins Cup run when he made this goal-line save in a pivotal Game 6. When he came to L.A., though, it was seemingly going back into obscurity.

    But again, despite his hard-to-notice contributions, Kings fans all around will tell you that "Scuds" has been one of the most instrumental players in the team's success.

Mike Donnelly

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    The early 90s Kings teams were so loaded with talent it was pretty easy to let a name like Mike Donnelly slip through the cracks.

    Gretzky, Taylor, Kurri, Sandstrom, Zhitnik, Blake, Granato...Donnelly was really one of the last names you would think of, but man was he important.

    It's an easy overlook, though, because up to joining the Kings in 1990, Donnelly played five seasons between Buffalo and the Rangers and really had little impact with the franchises. However, he got to Los Angeles and reinvented himself. 

    Twice Donnelly scored 29 goals, and 21 during one of the others. In his five seasons with the Kings he compiled 170 points in 307 games, and 23 points in 42 playoff games. Donnelly also had a knack for scoring big goals for the team, with 15 game winners in his Kings career.

    On a team full of stars, Donnelly stood out as a meaningful contributor and key depth player, even if he wasn't a household name.

Kelly Hrudey

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    The bandana, the flashy saves, the helmet, the attitude. Kelly Hrudey was fun to watch for sure. However, it was truly noticeable how big a contributor Hrudey was in his eight seasons with the Kings when he left in 1996.

    After Hrudey, the Kings could never quite get a solid No. 1 goaltender for some time, cycling through Stephane Fiset, Jamie Storr, Felix Potvin, etc. etc. 

    Hrudey's exit from the team started a spiral of shaky Kings goaltending for about a decade.

    His importance was never truly recognized outside the organization, but he was well liked and appreciated within. Hrudey twice won the most valuable player award from the team, and once won the unsung hero award.

    No goalie will ever sport a bandana under a helmet like Kelly Hrudey did.