In 2014-15, the Los Angeles Kings will continue their Legends Night series by honouring three more members of the franchise's family.
As per Jon Rosen of LAKingsInsider, next season's Legends Night series will kick off on February 12, 2015 when the Kings honour former head coach Barry Melrose before hosting the Calgary Flames. 12 days later, the Kings will honour former right-winger Tony Granato before a matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. Then, on March 7, the series will wrap up before a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins when the Kings honour Hall-of-Famer - and their current President, Business Operations - Luc Robitaille. But that's not all the recognition Robitaille will receive. In addition, the highest-scoring left-winger in NHL history will have a statue of his likeness unveiled in front of Staples Center, the home of the Los Angeles Kings.
Robitaille's statue will join the likes of former teammate Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Lakers legends Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West and Chick Hearn as well as former boxer - and Los Angeles native - Oscar De La Hoya. Robitaille's new statue, which was created by Julie Rotblatt Amrany and Omri Amrany, will be the newest addition and, with all due respects to the others, the most deserving.
Many can argue with the latter statement - and rightfully so. After all, what Magic, Kareem, Jerry West and even Chick Hearn in the broadcast booth have accomplished is second-to-none as they are all synonymous with sporting success overall, much less in Los Angeles. Heck, the Lakers have even had more success at Staples Center than the Kings have, although that is rapidly changing. But the Staples Center belongs to the Los Angeles Kings, and it is only fitting to have the statue of the player who led the team into their new home in 1999.
During his 19-year NHL career, Luc Robitaille spent 14 of those with the Los Angeles Kings, spanning three different tenures. He is the franchise's all-time leader in goals with 557 and points with 1,154 scored over 1,077 games. Despite being a ninth-round draft choice in 1984, the one they called 'Lucky Luc' was determined to make a name for himself in the NHL - and he did just that. Between 1987 and 1993, the left-winger averaged 105.5 per season. In fact, en route to Los Angeles's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993, Robitaille achieved career-highs with 63 goals and 125 points - all this while skeptics wrote off the Kings early in the season when the aforementioned Gretzky was injured.
Speaking of Gretzky, he is the only other King to have his own statue in front of Staples Center. The honour certainly is appropriate. Never mind that No. 99 is arguably the greatest player to ever play the game but his arrival to Los Angeles brought new life to Southern California, strengthening the state of hockey in the Golden State beyond comprehension. After all, franchises in San Jose and Anaheim with the addition of so many more prospects coming out of Los Angeles - and California in general - have Wayne Gretzky to thank due to his enormous impact. With all that said, however. not even the Great One can equal what Luc Robitaille has meant to the Los Angeles Kings and their devoted fanbase.
As decorated as his playing career was, Luc Robitaille made a successful transition to the front office in 2006 and now, thanks in large part to his contributions, the Los Angeles Kings are enjoying success so vast that not even the most learned of hockey experts could have predicted. The Kings have won two Stanley Cups in three years while reaching the Western Conference Finals for three-straight seasons, somewhere they reached only once in their previous 44 years of existence.
When I suggested that Rob Blake deserves to have his No. 4 retired earlier this month, it was met with a mixed reaction. There will be no such reaction this time as I firmly believe that everyone can agree on how integral Luc Robitaille is not only the Los Angeles Kings but to the city's sports scene overall.
Winning a Stanley Cup is wonderful and being inducted into the Hall of Fame is humbling, but for as many who have celebrated the two formers, even a more select few have been immortalized in such a way that is having their own statue. Just consider the list of sports figures who have been recognized in such a way in their respective cities:
Bobby Orr in Boston, Gordie Howe in Detroit, Michael Jordan in Chicago, Roberto Clemente in Pittsburgh, Stan Musial in St. Louis, Ty Cobb in Detroit, Willie Mays in San Francisco and the list goes on. But those names alone just show you how legendary they were not only to their cities but to their sports. Luc Robitaille is no different to Los Angeles and the game of hockey.
Having won gold medals at the 1991 Canada Cup and 1994 World Championship to winning the silver Stanley Cup three times to soon having a bronze statue of himself, we can all agree that Luc Robitaille has rightfully - and deservedly - swept the podium. This could not have happened to a better person.
Congratulations, Mr. Robitaille.