Ranking the 5 Most Beloved Figures in Los Angeles Kings History
While team success was hard to come by for four decades, a number of individuals built legacies in L.A. Many are remembered for their skill, others for their toughness and some for their colorful personalities.
These are the most beloved figures in the history of the Kings.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
5. Kelly Hrudey
When Kelly Hrudey was traded from the New York Islanders to the Los Angeles Kings in 1989 he wasn’t one of the NHL’s elite netminders. And by the time he left in 1996, not much had changed.
Despite that fact, Hrudey was still a very popular player in L.A.
With such a strong offense, the Kings didn’t necessarily need stellar play between the pipes. Hrudey got the job done, carrying the bulk of the load from 1990 through 1994. His greatest achievement was likely reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 1993, even though he and the Kings came up short against a Montreal Canadiens team led by Patrick Roy.
Hrudey will always be remembered for his Hollywood mask and the bandana he wore beneath it. His vibrant personality helped him win the team’s Most Popular Player award and has led to a successful broadcasting career on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
4. Dustin Brown
Dustin Brown has done something no other captain in the history of the Los Angeles Kings has done: hoist the Stanley Cup.
Brown became just the second U.S.-born captain to win it all, which helped him gain popularity not only in L.A., but among all American hockey fans.
Brown has led by example throughout his NHL career, playing a gritty, no-nonsense brand of hockey. He plays on the edge, laying big hits, but has also perfected the art of drawing penalties. Most importantly, Brown had a huge impact offensively during the team's Cup run, tallying eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 20 games.
Outside of hockey, Brown has done a great deal of work in the L.A. community. He’s made so much of an impact that he was named the winner of the 2011 NHL Foundation Player Award.
At just 28 years old, Brown still has plenty of time left to climb this list and perhaps bring another Stanley Cup to Los Angeles.
3. Marcel Dionne
Too often Marcel Dionne is overlooked when hockey fans discuss the greatest players of all time.
As far as the Kings go, Dionne is a legend. Unfortunately, during his 12 years in L.A., the team lacked the depth to make a dent in the playoffs.
Still, Dionne brought his A-game each and every night, centering the “Triple Crown Line” which featured Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer on his wings.
Dionne was a model of consistency, rarely appearing in fewer than 78 games and topping the 100-point mark seven times for L.A. His eight career 100-plus-point seasons ranks third all time behind only Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. He ranks fourth all time in goals with 731 and fifth in points with 1,771.
And who could forget the “Miracle on Manchester”? In 1982, Dionne and the Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 in their first-round playoff series, which today is still considered one of the biggest upsets in playoff history.
While the team may not have gotten past the second-round of the playoffs during the Dionne era, his talent alone is enough to make him one of the most beloved Kings ever.
2. Luc Robitaille
For many hardcore, longtime fans of the L.A. Kings, he may be the most beloved player in franchise history. To hockey fans in general, he’s recognized as one of the greatest left wingers to ever play the game.
Lucky Luc Robitaille.
However, luck wasn’t what made him successful.
Selected 171st overall by the Kings in the 1984 NHL entry draft, Robitaille would spend 14 seasons with the club during three stints. He worked hard to develop into a skilled, dynamic forward in junior. He then burst onto the scene in 1987, winning the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.
He went on to have a stellar career, appearing in eight All-Star Games and notching 668 goals and 1,394 points. Robitaille has also done significant charitable work and appeared in a variety of TV shows and movies.
Robitaille was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and has served as the president of business operations for the Kings since 2007.
1. Wayne Gretzky
The image of Doug Gilmour sprawling to the ice in Game 6 of the 1993 Campbell Conference Final is burned into the minds of Maple Leafs fans.
What happened later in overtime and in Game 7 reminded the hockey world why Wayne Gretzky was, and always will be, “The Great One.”
No. 99 stole the show, scoring the overtime winner to force a seventh game. The Kings won that game 5-4 as Gretzky scored a hat trick and added an assist. Although the Kings would lose to the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final, it was still a remarkable point in the team's history.
Gretzky personally turned thousands of people into hockey fans. People who had never seen a hockey game before were suddenly following the Kings and Gretzky very closely.
He didn’t spend the majority of his career in an L.A. uniform or bring a championship to the city, but he didn’t have to. Gretzky became the most beloved player in the team’s history the moment he moved south of the border.