Ranking the 5 Greatest Captains in Los Angeles Kings History
The Los Angeles Kings have had two of the greatest players of a generation wear the "C." They also had a legendary player who was never captain and a couple of players who were that even hardcore hockey fans may not recognize.
With that said, it's not all about talent and statistics when examining great captains. Leadership ability and the legacy a player leaves is also important to consider.
The Kings have had 15 captains spanning from the team's inception in 1967 to the Wayne Gretzky years to the present—the glory days. This is a look at the greatest captains in the history of the Los Angeles Kings.
5. Rob Blake
Rob Blake remains a bit of a controversial figure in L.A., but that doesn't change what he did as a captain of the team.
His first run as captain was from 1996-97 to 2000-01 and his second from 2007-08 after Mattias Norstrom left. Blake is remembered for his punishing hits, excellent positioning in the defensive zone and booming slap shots.
One of the top defensemen of the 1990s and early 2000s, Blake led by example every night, setting a high standard for his teammates to live up to. He won the Norris Trophy in 1998 and would later win a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche and a gold medal with Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
Now an assistant general manager with the Kings, Blake will have his number retired at the Staples Center this season and rightly so.
4. Terry Ruskowski
A true leader.
Terry Ruskowski captained the Kings for just two seasons, but he made a major impact in that short time.
A physical forward, Ruskowski battled hard and wasn't afraid to drop the gloves. He stood up for his teammates and inspired them with his aggressive style. He racked up 1,356 penalty minutes in 630 career games in the NHL. Ruskowski offered more than that, however, notching 125 points in his three seasons in L.A.
He holds the distinction of being one of only three players—along with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier—to captain three different NHL teams. He also captained a fourth professional team, the Houston Aeros of the WHA.
3. Mattias Norstrom
When you think about Mattias Norstrom one of the first words that comes to mind is reliable.
In his 10 seasons in L.A. he played fewer than 73 games just once, and he brought the same level of intensity to each game and to every shift, regardless of the score.
The first European captain in franchise history, Norstrom led the Kings from 2001-02 to 2006-07. These were tough times for the team, as they made the playoffs just once in that span, regularly finishing third or fourth in their division.
However, Norstrom could always be counted on as a shutdown defender. Standing 6'2" and weighing 210 pounds, he often faced the opposing team's best players.
He probably doesn't get nearly enough credit for the leadership role he played both on and off the ice.
2. Wayne Gretzky
Had the result in the 1993 Stanley Cup Final been different, perhaps so too would this list.
Wayne Gretzky captained the Kings from his first season with the team in 1989-90 until his departure in 1995-96. Only relinquishing the "C" to Luc Robitaille for a brief period in 1992-93 because of injury.
He is The Great One for a reason, and that reason is his skill, which is unmatched in hockey history. Gretzky saw the ice in a way no one else ever has, and he racked up goals and assists with ease. He was a great captain too, although he benefited from having one of the best leaders in NHL history in Edmonton, Messier.
In L.A. he was tasked with leading a team with far less talent, and he did a remarkable job. Unfortunately, the team would come up just short of capturing the ultimate prize.
1. Dustin Brown
You can't argue with two Stanley Cups, especially when no other captain in team history even has one.
Dustin Brown was named captain in October 2008. The 15th captain in L.A. history is also the youngest and first American-born.
Brown isn't one of the best players in franchise history; he might not even be in the top five on the current team. But, he is a heart-and-soul player who leads by example every game. He doesn't have to say anything; his play speaks for itself.
Brown plays whatever role he is asked and does so to the best of his ability. He goes hard to the net, digs pucks out of corners, lays huge hits in open ice contributes timely offense.
He's been a key contributor to two Stanley Cup runs, finishing tied for first in playoff scoring in 2011-12. There is no reason he can't lead the Kings to another championship or two.