Rob Blake honors LA Kings teammate during number retirement (Video)

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Rob Blake had his No. 4 raised to the rafters of Staples Center on Saturday night, and the ceremony had the expected fanfare: Honors from former Los Angeles Kings teammates, current captain Dustin Brown, Kings executives and of course the ultimate honor: a pre-recorded video message from Wayne Gretzky.

One of those that honored him: Mattias Norstrom, the perpetually underrated defensive rock who played 11 years with the Kings.

From 1995 to 2001, when Blake was traded from the Kings to the Colorado Avalanche, Norstrom skated with Blake to form the top defensive pairing for the Kings. He also inherited the captaincy after Blake was shipped out. 

"No person has meant more to me and my career than Rob, and no player benefited more from playing with Rob than me,” said Norstrom at the ceremony.

"Some people dream of success. Others wake up and work hard at it. And for me that is Rob Blake,” he said.

So at the moment before Blake’s number was lifted to the roof, he did the coolest thing a Hall of Fame defenseman can do when being honored: He paid tribute to his former defensive partner.

“I kind of look at this as like the last shift the No. 4 will take,” he said. “I think it’s only appropriate … when I was on the ice, I knew there was always one guy that had my back no matter what.”

He called over Norstrom and had him stand at his left side, where he skated for so many years. It was the “you can be my wingman any time” Top Gun moment of hockey retirement ceremonies.

As Blake said, for every great offensive defenseman, there's another guy covering up for him when he's cheating up ice. And for many years, that was Norstrom.

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