After Jack Kent Cooke was awarded a new franchise by the National Hockey League in 1966, the Los Angeles Kings started play in the Fall of 1967. Forty-seven years later, the Kings have become a fixture in the Southern California sports scene, and the team’s success paved the way for the establishment of several other NHL franchises in warm-weather cities. The Kings only recently won their first Stanley Cup in 2012, but the team has had no shortage of great players throughout its near half-century of history. The top five players are profiled here.
5. Rob Blake
Drafted by the Kings in 1988, Blake played 14 seasons with the Kings. This included his first 12 seasons in the NHL and a return trip to the Kings in the 2006-2007 season. Blake is the greatest defenseman in Kings history, anchoring the team’s defense throughout the 1990’s, and playing a solid role in the team’s Stanley Cup Finals run in 1993.
4. Dave Taylor
Taylor is the franchise leader in games played, appearing in 1,111 games between the 1977-78 and 1993-94 seasons. He also ranks third overall in career goals, assists, and points for Kings. Together with Marcel Dionne, Taylor was the team’s leader through the late 1970’s and 1980’s. Taylor formed a dynamic top line duo with Dionne through the late 70’s and early 80’s. He also later went on to become the general manager of the Kings after his retirement as a player.
3. Luc Robitaille
Commonly serenaded with chants of “Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccc” by Kings fans, first at the Fabulous Forum and later at Staples Center, Robitaille was a cornerstone of the franchise during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. The left-winger ranks second in team history in games played, only 34 games behind Taylor, and first in goals, fourth in assists, and second in points.
2. Wayne Gretzky
Now of course, Gretzky is greatest player and goal scorer in NHL history, I have no argument with that. His time and play with the Kings also helped to pave the way for more NHL franchises to be established in the Southern United States. However, while he played a great role with the Kings after his trade from Edmonton in 1988, Gretzky only played eight seasons with the team. These were eight great seasons, highlighted by the Stanley Cup Finals run in 1993, but eight seasons of great play are not enough to unseat my selection for the Kings’ greatest player of all time.
1. Marcel Dionne
A key player for the franchise throughout the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Dionne is the franchise leader in assists and points, coming in second in goals, only seven behind Robitaille (who played 156 more games for the team). Dionne was the first true star player for the Kings, the team leader for more than 10 years, and a Hall-of-Fame player. While he did not see much playoff success in his career, with the Kings or otherwise, Dionne still ranks as the franchise’s greatest player of all time.