Kings retire Robitaille’s No. 20

LOS ANGELES (TICKER) Luc Robitaille arrived on the NHL scene “Out of the Blue” and put together a career that he likely would say he could have imagined “Only in My Dreams.”

On a night when 1980s pop star Deborah Gibson sang the national anthem, the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday honored Robitaille by retiring his jersey No. 20 during a ceremony prior to their game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Robitaille’s number joined those of former Kings Wayne Gretzky (99), Marcel Dionne (16), Dave Taylor (18) and Rogie Vachon (30) in the rafters of Staples Center.

Prior to the raising of the banner, a number of former teammates - including current Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky - as well as family members were escorted onto the ice to help pay tribute to “Lucky Luc.”

A video reflecting on his career was accompanied by taped messages from future Hall of Famer Mark Messier and Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, while speeches were given by current Kings captain Mattias Norstrom, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, former Los Angeles defenseman Jim Fox and Barry Melrose, who coached Robitaille in the early 1990s.

After receiving gifts from the team that included a painting, a truck and a snowmobile, it was Robitaille’s turn on the microphone.

“It wasn’t about scoring goals, it wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about fame,” Robitaille said. “I just wanted to play hockey. It was like a dream to me, I wanted to play in the NHL. It was a vision.”

Selected in the ninth round of the 1984 draft, Robitaille made an immediate impact with the Kings, recording 45 goals and 39 assists in 1986-87 en route to the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. He eclipsed the 40-goal mark in each of his first eight NHL seasons and netted at least 20 tallies in his initial 11 campaigns.

The all-time leading scorer among left wings with 1,394 points in 1,431 games, Robitaille spent 19 seasons in the league, including three separate stints with the Kings. The 40-year-old, who retired after the 2005-06 campaign, set career highs of 63 goals and 125 points with Los Angeles in 1992-93, when the Kings made their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance.

An eight-time All-Star, Robitaille also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Detroit, helping the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup championship in 2002. The Montreal native, who was named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team on five occasions, is 19th on the all-time points list and 10th in league history with 668 career goals.


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Updated Saturday, Jan 20, 2007