- Los Angeles Kings
team_name = Los Angeles Kings
bg_color = black
text_color = #8E8E91
conference = Western
division = Pacific
founded = 1967
history = Los Angeles Kings
Los Angeles, California
team_colors = Black, Purple, Silver
media_affiliates = FSN West
FSN Prime Ticket
KTLK (1150 AM)
head_coach = flagicon|CAN
captain = flagicon|USA
general_manager = flagicon|USA
owner = flagicon|USA
Philip Anschutzflagicon|USA Edward Roski, Jr.
Manchester Monarchs(AHL) Ontario Reign( ECHL) Reading Royals( ECHL)
stanley_cups = none
conf_titles = 1992–93
division_titles = 1990–91
The Los Angeles Kings are a professional ice hockey team based in
Los Angeles, California. They are members of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League(NHL). Founded on February 9, 1966, when Jack Kent Cookewas awarded an NHL expansion franchise for Los Angeles,cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | publisher = Los Angeles Kings | year = 2007 | pages = 4] the Kings called the The Forum in Inglewood, California(a suburb of Los Angeles) their home for thirty-two years until they moved to Staples Centerin Downtown Los Angelesto start the 1999–2000 season.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 5–6]
The Kings have not had a great deal of success in their history, winning their division just once in 1990–91,cite book |author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 129] and failing to get out of the first round of the playoffs twelve times in the twenty-four seasons they qualified for post-season play, advancing past the second round just once.cite book |author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 202–203] Indeed, the high point in Kings franchise history was when they won their conference championship for the first and only time, advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals in the 1992–93 season only to lose the series to the
Montreal Canadiensin five games.cite book |author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 5, 203]
The Kings' closest rival is the
Anaheim Ducks, who play approximately convert|35|mi|km|0 to the south in Anaheim.
The "Forum Blue and Gold" years (1967–68 to 1987–88)
Prior to the Kings' arrival in the Los Angeles area, both the
Pacific Coast Hockey League(PCHL) and the Western Hockey League (WHL) had several teams in California, including the PCHL's Los Angeles Monarchs of the 1930s and the WHL's Los Angeles Bladesof the 1960s.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Media Relations Department | title = Los Angeles Kings 1997–98 Media Guide | publisher = Los Angeles Kings | year = 1997 | pages = 4] When the NHL decided to expand for the 1967–68 season amid rumblings that the WHL was proposing to turn itself into a major league and compete for the Stanley Cup, Canadian entrepreneur Jack Kent Cookepaid the NHL $2 million to place one of the six expansion teams in Los Angeles.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Media Relations Department | title = 1993–94 Kings Media Guide | publisher = Los Angeles Kings | year = 1993 | pages = 115] Los Angeles has a large number of expatriates from both the Northeastern United States and Canada, which Cooke saw as a natural fan base.cite book |last=Duhatschek |first=Eric et al. |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Hockey Chronicles |year=2001 |publisher=Checkmark Books |location=New York City |isbn=0816046972]
Cooke was officially awarded one of the six new NHL franchises joining the NHL in the 1967–68 season, which included the California Seals,
Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguinsand the St. Louis Blues. He named his team the Kings, and picked the original team colors of purple (or "Forum Blue," as it was later officially called) and gold because they were colors traditionally associated with royalty. The same color scheme worn by the Los Angeles Lakersof the National Basketball Association, which Cooke also owned. [cite book |title=The Name Game: Football, Baseball, Hockey & Basketball How Your Favorite Sports Teams Were Named |last=Donovan |first=Michael Leo |authorlink= |coauthors= |year=1997 |publisher=Warwick Publishing |location= Toronto|isbn=1895629748 |pages= ]
Cooke wanted his new NHL team to play in the
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, home of the Lakers. But the Los Angeles Coliseum Commission, which manages the Sports Arena and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseumto the present day, had already entered into an agreement with the Blades (whose owners had also tried to land the NHL expansion franchise in Los Angeles) to play their games at the Sports Arena.cite news | last = Crowe | first = Jerry | title = He Got The Last Laugh In Dealing With The Coliseum Commission | publisher = [http://www.latimes.com Los Angeles Times] | date = 2007-11-30| url = http://www.latimes.com/sports/la-sp-crowe30nov30,1,4073542.column?coll=la-headlines-sports | accessdate = 2007-11-30] Frustrated by his dealings with the Coliseum Commission, Cooke said,"I am going to build my own arena...I've had enough of this balderdash."
Construction on Cooke's new arena, the Forum, was not yet complete when the
1967-68 NHL seasonbegan, so the Kings opened their first season at the Long Beach Arenain the neighboring city of Long Beach on October 14, 1967, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers4–2.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Media Relations Department | title = Los Angeles Kings 1997–98 Media Guide | publisher = Los Angeles Kings | year = 1997 | pages = 3] For the next two months, the Kings played their home games at Long Beach and at the Sports Arena. The Fabulous Forum opened its doors on December 30, 1967, with the Kings being shut out by the Flyers, 2–0.
The Kings made the Forum their home for the next 32 seasons. Players like Bill "Cowboy" Flett, Eddie "The Jet" Joyal, Eddie "The Entertainer" Shack, and Real "Frenchy" Lemieux helped introduce the Los Angeles area to the NHL in the team's first few seasons. Such player nicknames were the brainchild of none other than Cooke himself.
In their first season, the Kings finished in second place in the Western Division, just one point behind the Flyers.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 106] The Kings were the only expansion team that had a winning record at home, but were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the
Minnesota North Stars, losing the seventh game at The Forum on April 18, 1968, 9–4.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 202] In their second season behind head coach Red Kelly, the Kings finished fourth in the West Division—the final playoff berth.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 107] But after eliminating the Oakland Seals in the first round of the playoffs in seven games, the Kings were swept out of post-season play in the second round by the St. Louis Blues.
After two fairly successful seasons, the Kings hit upon hard times, mostly due to poor management. Kings general managers established a history of trading away first-round draft picks, usually for veteran players, many of them NHL stars on the downside of their careers, a problem that would hinder the franchise for years to come.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 178–187] The Kings' attendance also suffered during this time, leading Cooke to muse that the reason so many Northeasterners and Canadians moved to Southern California was that "they hated hockey."
In 1972, the Kings moved to bring some credibility back to the franchise when they hired former
Toronto Maple Leafswinger Bob Pulfordas their head coach. It took him just two seasons to lead the Kings back into the playoffs and in 1974, they faced the Chicago Blackhawks, only to be eliminated in five games. Pulford eventually led the team to three of the most successful seasons in franchise history, including a 105-point season in 1974-75 that is still a franchise record.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 113–115, 202]
In 1973, the Kings hired Bob Miller as the team's play-by-play announcer, and he has held that post continuously since that time. Miller, considered to be one of the best hockey play-by-play announcers in the NHL, is often referred to as the "Voice of the Kings." He was inducted into the
Hockey Hall of Fameon November 13, 2000cite book | author=Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title=2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 27] cite web | title = The Legends: Media Honourees: Foster Hewitt Memorial Winners | publisher = Hockey Hall of Fame | url = http://www.legendsofhockey.net/html/leg_broadcasters.htm | accessmonthday = September 3 | accessyear = 2006 ] and his first book, "Bob Miller's Tales of the Los Angeles Kings", was published in 2006.cite book | author = Miller, Bob | title = Bob Miller's Tales of the Los Angeles Kings | publisher = Sports Publishing, LLC | year = 2006 | id = ISBN 1-58261-811-9]
After being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in both 1973–74 and 1974-75, the Kings moved to significantly upgrade their offensive firepower when they acquired center
Marcel Dionneon June 23, 1975, in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings. Dionne was already a superstar in the NHL and he made an immediate impact in the 1975–76 season, scoring 40 goals and adding 54 assists for 94 points in 80 regular season games.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 114] He led the Kings to a 38–33–9 record (85 points), earning them a second place finish in the Norris Division.
Behind Dionne's offensive prowess, the strong goaltending of Rogie Vachon, and the speed and scoring touch of forward
Butch Goring, the Kings swept the Atlanta Flamesout of the first round of the playoffs, but were eliminated in the second round by the Boston Bruinsin seven games. The Kings would defeat the Flames and lose to the Bruins in the following year's playoffs as well.
January 13, 1979, Dionne found himself on a new line with two young, mostly unknown players: second-year right winger Dave Taylor, and left winger Charlie Simmer, who had been a career minor-leaguer. But this line combination, known as the "Triple Crown Line," would go on to become one of the highest-scoring line combinations in NHL history.cite book | author=Miller, Bob | title = Bob Miller's Tales From The Los Angeles Kings | pages = 105–109]
After that first season that the Triple Crown Line played together, Dr.
Jerry Busspurchased the Kings, the Lakers, and the Forum for $67.5 million, but the Simmer-Dionne-Taylor combination remained intact. The next season, the Triple Crown Line dominated the NHL, scoring 146 goals and 182 assists, good for 328 points. The entire line, along with goalie Mario Lessard, was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game that season, which was played at the Forum. In that 1979–80 season, Dionne won the Art Ross Memorial Trophyfor winning an NHL scoring title that season with 137 points on 53 goals and 84 assists. But even with the Triple Crown Line's ability to dominate, the Kings still could not get out of the first round of the playoffs until 1982.
That year, the Kings opened the playoffs against the
Edmonton Oilers, who were led by a young, but fast-rising star by the name of Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky was only in his third year in the league, but he dominated the NHL like no other had before, from the moment he stepped onto NHL ice in his rookie season. And by the 1981–82 NHL season, he was already the most dominant player in the league, and had made the Oilers one of the elite teams in the NHL, on their way to winning four Stanley Cupchampionships in the 1980s.cite book | author = Diamond, Dan (ed.) | title = Total Stanley Cup | publisher = Total Sports Publishing, Inc. | year = 2000 | pages = 7] The Oilers finished with 111 points, the second-best record in the league, while the Kings barely made the playoffs with only 63 points.cite book | author = McCarthy, Dave (ed.) | title = National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2008 | publisher = Triumph Books | year = 2007 | pages = 152 | id = ISBN 978-1-60078-037-0] The Kings won Game 1 in Edmonton on April 7, 1982, 10–8, in the highest scoring Stanley Cup Playoff game ever.cite book | author = McCarthy, Dave (ed.) | title = National Hockey League Official Guide & Record Book 2008 | pages = 251] The Oilers recovered to win in overtime in Game 2, and the teams headed to Los Angeles for Games 3 and 4.
Game 3 would be one of the most amazing in hockey history and was later dubbed the "
Miracle on Manchester" (the Kings arena, the Forum, was on Manchester Boulevard). In that game, played on April 10, 1982, Gretzky led the Oilers to a commanding 5-0 lead after two periods and it seemed like the Kings were headed for a blowout loss. But the Kings began an unbelievable comeback in the third period, tying the game on a goal by left wing Steve Bozekat 19:55 of the third period, sending the game into overtime.cite book |author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 5]
Bozek's goal set the stage for what was to come. At 2:35 of the overtime period, Kings left wing
Daryl Evansfired a slap shot off a face-off in the right circle of the Edmonton zone, beating Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhrover his right shoulder to give the Kings an incredible come-from-behind, overtime victory, 6-5.cite book | author=Miller, Bob | title = Bob Miller's Tales From The Los Angeles Kings | pages = 139–147] The Miracle on Manchester, the greatest comeback in NHL playoff history,cite book | author = Miller, Bob | title = Bob Miller's Tales From The Los Angeles Kings | pages = 144] is also the greatest moment in Kings franchise history as of 2007. Not only did the Kings complete a miraculous comeback against the vaunted Oilers, but they also went on to eliminate them from the playoffs in five games.
Despite Dionne's leadership, the Kings missed the playoffs in the next two seasons, and were quickly swept out of the playoffs by the Oilers in the 1985, when the Oilers won their second straight Stanley Cup championship. Dionne's time with the Kings ended on
March 10, 1987, when he was traded to the New York Rangers.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 180] But by this time, the Kings had new skaters to help lead them into the next decade, including star forwards Bernie Nicholls, Jimmy Carson, Luc Robitaille, and defenseman Steve Duchesne.
Even before the Dionne trade the Kings were sent reeling when coach
Pat Quinnsigned a contract to become coach and general manager of the Vancouver Canuckswith just months left on his Kings contract. NHL President John Ziegler suspended Quinn for the rest of the season and barred him from taking over Vancouver's hockey operations until June. Ziegler also barred him from coaching anywhere in the NHL until the 1990-91 season. In Ziegler's view, Quinn's actions created a serious conflict of interest that could only be resolved by having Quinn removed as coach.cite news | title = SPORTS PEOPLE; 'Intolerable Position' | publisher = New York Times | url = http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9B0DE1D71039F933A25753C1A961948260 | date = 1987-10-07| accessdate = 2008-03-20]
Despite these shocks the Kings made the playoffs in the next two seasons, but they were unable to get out of the first round. Part of the problem was that the way the playoffs were structured made it very likely that they would have to get past either the powerful Oilers or
Calgary Flames(or both) to make it to the conference finals. In fact, the Kings faced either the Oilers or Flames in the playoffs four times during the 1980s.
ilver and Black Era (1988–89 to 1997–98)
In 1987, coin collector
Bruce McNallpurchased the Kings from Buss, and he turned the team into a Stanley Cup contender almost overnight on August 9, 1988, when he acquired the league's best player, Gretzky himself, in a blockbuster trade with the Oilers that rocked the hockey world, especially north of the border, where Canadians mourned the loss of a player they considered a national treasure.cite book | author=Miller, Bob | title=Bob Miller's Tales From The Los Angeles Kings | pages=123–127] McNall also changed the team colors to silver and black (which was a take on the era's sports logo sales and the Los Angeles Raiderswho played up the road at the Los Angeles Coliseum).
In Gretzky's first season with the Kings, he led the team in scoring with 168 points on 54 goals and 114 assists, and won his ninth
Hart Memorial Trophyas the league's Most Valuable Player. He led the Kings to a second-place finish in the Smythe Divisionwith a 42-31-7 record (91 points), and they ranked fourth in the NHL overall.
The Kings faced Gretzky's old team, the Oilers, in the first round of the 1989 playoffs. They fell behind 3 games to 1, but rallied to take the series in seven games, helped in no small part by nine goals from
Chris Kontos, a little-known player who had just recently been called up from the minor leagues. However, the Kings were quickly swept out of the playoffs in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Flames.
The next season saw the Kings face the defending champion Flames in the first round, this time defeating them in six games, two of which had dramatic overtimes — game 3 with a shorthanded goal by
Tony Granato, and game 6 with a strange goal scored by Mike Krushelnyskiwhile he was flat on his back. However the Kings were swept in the second round by the eventual champion Oilers, who were seeking revenge for their previous loss.
Gretzky spearheaded the Kings to their first (and at present, only) regular-season division title in franchise history in the 1990–91 season with a 46-24-10 record (102 points, the second best point total in franchise history). Notably, it was the first time in 10 years that a team from
Albertahad not finished first in the Smythe. However, the heavily favored Kings struggled in the playoffs, winning the first round against Vancouver in six games, and losing a close series against Edmonton that saw four games go into overtime. The Kings 25th season as a franchise, the 1991–92 NHL seasonsaw 8 Kings players score over 20 goals; Gretzky himself had a then-career low in scoring yet still finished third behind Mario Lemieux and Kevin Stevens. Despite this, the Kings still could not get past their Edmonton rivals in the first round, marking the third straight year the Gretzky-led Kings be eliminated by Gretzky's former teammates.
The Kings would reach new heights in the 1992–93 season, but the campaign started badly when it was learned that Gretzky had suffered a career-threatening herniated thoracic disk before the season began. The concern was not mainly whether Gretzky would be able to play that season, but if he would ever be able to play again. But even without their captain and leading scorer, the Kings got off to a blistering 20-8-3 start,cite book | author=Los Angeles Kings Communications Department. | title=2006–07 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 204] with left-winger
Luc Robitaille, who won the Calder Memorial Trophyas the 1986–87's NHL Rookieof the Year, filling in as captain for the ailing Gretzky. Robitaille led the team until Gretzky returned after missing the first 39 games.cite book | author=Sadowski, Rick | title=Los Angeles Kings: Hockeywood | publisher=Sagamore Publishing | year=1993 | pages=29 | id=ISBN 0-915611-87-2] Robitaille would go on to retire at the end of the 2005–06 season as the highest-scoring left winger in National Hockey Leaguehistory.cite press release | publisher=Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | date= 2006-04-10| title=Kings All-Time Great Left Wing Luc Robitaille Announces His Retirement | publisher=Los Angeles Kings | url= http://kings.nhl.com/team/app?articleid=301198&page=NewsPage&service=page | accessdate=2007-05-07]
Robitaille and Gretzky, along with former Oilers' winger
Jari Kurri, forwards Tony Granatoand Tomas Sandstrom, defensemen Rob Blake, Marty McSorley, and Alexei Zhitnik, and goalie Kelly Hrudey, guided the Kings through a rough middle portion of the season until they found their game once again in the last three months of the campaign to qualify for post-season action. Although Gretzky came back to score 16 goals and 49 assists (65 points) in just 45 games, it was Robitaille who was the Kings' impact player that season, leading the team in scoring with 63 goals and 62 assists (125 points) in 84 regular season games, setting new NHL all-time records for goals and points scored by a left winger in a single season. The Kings finished with a 39-35-10 record (88 points), clinching third place in the Smythe Division.
First-year head coach
Barry Melrosehad his team's offense running on all cylinders when the 1993 playoffs began, and they scored an amazing 33 goals in their first-round series against the Calgary Flames.cite book | author=Sadowski, Rick. | title=Los Angeles Kings: Hockeywood | pages=145] In the second round, the Kings faced the heavily-favored Vancouver Canucks, a team that had beaten the Kings rather handily five times in seven games during the regular season, and had not lost to the Kings in their four meetings in Vancouver. But the Kings would go on to eliminate the Canucks in six games, with the pivotal victory coming in Game 5 at Vancouver, which was tied 3-3 at the end of regulation play. The teams were still tied after the first overtime period, but winger Gary Shuchukscored at 6:31 of the second overtime period, giving the Kings a 3-2 series lead, and dealing the Canucks an emotional and, as it turned out, fatal blow.
In the Campbell Conference Finals, the Kings were even more of an underdog against the
Doug Gilmour-led Toronto Maple Leafs. But with Gretzky at the helm, the Kings eliminated the Leafs in a hard-fought seven-game series that included two overtime games and a Game 6 win for the Kings, who were facing elimination after losing Game 5 in overtime—they trailed the Leafs in the series, 3-2.cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title=2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 203] In Game 6, Toronto scored two third period goals and tied the game at 4-4 at the end of regulation play. But in overtime, Luc Robitaille fed Gretzky a perfect pass and Gretzky scored to give his team a dramatic 5-4 victory and send the teams back to Toronto for a Game 7. In the final contest, Gretzky scored a hat trick(three goals) and had an assist to lead the Kings to a 5-4 win and a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history.cite book | author=Miller, Bob | title=Bob Miller's Tales From The Los Angeles Kings | pages=155–160]
In the Stanley Cup Finals, the Kings faced the
Montreal Canadiens, who had breezed through the playoffs and were well-rested. The Kings defeated the Canadiens in Game 1, 4-1. Game 2, however, proved to be the turning point in the series. Late in the contest, with the Kings leading by a score of 2-1, Canadiens coach Jacques Demersrequested a measurement of Kings defenseman Marty McSorley's stick blade. His suspicions proved to be correct, as the curve of blade was too great, and McSorley was penalized. The Canadiens pulled their goalie, Patrick Roy, giving them a two-man advantage, and Eric Desjardins scored on the resulting power play to tie the game. Montreal went on to win the game in overtime on another goal by Desjardins, and the Kings never recovered. They dropped the next two games in overtime, and were shelled 4-1 in Game 5 as the Canadiens won their 24th Stanley Cup in franchise history.cite book | author=Miller, Bob | title=Bob Miller's Tales From The Los Angeles Kings | pages=160–167]
Despite the stinging defeat at the hands of the Canadiens in the finals, Gretzky and the Kings had generated excitement about hockey and the NHL that had never been seen before in Southern California. As soon as Gretzky donned a Kings jersey, the Forum was sold out for every game — virtually overnight, a Kings game became the hottest ticket in town. The popularity of Gretzky and the Kings also led to the NHL awarding an expansion team to
Anaheim, California; in 1993 the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (who became the Anaheim Duckson June 22, 2006) would become the Kings nearest rival, just 35 miles to the south. Gretzky's popularity in Southern California also led to the NHL expanding or moving into other Sun Beltcities such as Phoenix, Dallas, Tampa, Miami, and Nashville.
McNall's profile also rose during this time. In 1992, he was elected chairman of the NHL's Board of Governors, the second-most powerful post in the league. His support of
Gary Bettmantipped the scales in favor of Bettman's election as the league's first Commissioner. However, only two years later, McNall was forced to sell the team to IDB Communications founder Jeffrey Sudikoff and former Madison Square Gardenpresident Joseph Cohen in the wake of a federal investigation into his financial practices. He ultimately pled guilty to five counts of conspiracy and fraud, and admitted to obtaining $236 million in fraudulent loans from six banks over 10 years.cite book |title=Cracked Ice: An Insider's Look at the NHL |last=Fischler |first=Stan |authorlink=Stan Fischler |coauthors= |year=1999 |publisher=Masters Press |location= Lincolnwood, Illinois|isbn=1570282196]
It later emerged that McNall had grossly mismanaged the Kings' business affairs. At one point, Cohen and Sudikoff were even unable to meet player payroll, and were ultimately forced into bankruptcy in 1995.cite book | author=Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title=Los Angeles Kings 2002–03 Media Guide | publisher= Los Angeles Kings | year=2002 | pages = 8 ] They were forced to trade many of their stronger players, resulting in a roster comprised of Gretzky, Blake and little else. The Kings missed the playoffs for four seasons, from 1993–94 to 1996–97.
taples Center era (1998–present)
Phillip Anschutzand Edward Roski bought the Kings out of bankruptcy court in October 1995 and began a rebuilding phase. Meanwhile, Gretzky, who was by this time on the downside of his career, stated publicly that he wanted the team to acquire a forward capable of scoring fifty goals per season and an offensive defenseman. If they failed to do that, he wanted to be traded to a team that was a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
After all he had done for the game by that time, Gretzky wanted another chance to win an elusive fifth Stanley Cup before retirement. But his public statements forced the Kings' hand, since no team would now give them equal value in a trade because of his demands — the Kings would be at a huge disadvantage in any trade, and this would badly hurt their rebuilding program.
On February 27, 1996, Gretzky was traded, this time to the St. Louis Blues, for forwards Craig Johnson,
Patrice Tardif, Roman Vopat, a first-round pick in the 1997 draft ( Matt Zultek) and a fifth-round choice in the 1996 draft (Peter Hogan).cite book | author=Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title=2006–07 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 5] But the rebuilding phase for Taylor was a tough one, as the Kings continued to flounder—they failed to make the playoffs until the 1997–98 season. After another disappointing season in 1998-99, then-head coach Larry Robinson, who also played three seasons for the Kings from 1989-92 and had been an assistant coach on the New Jersey Devils' 1995 Cup team, was fired.
Taylor turned to Andy Murray, who became the Kings' 19th head coach on June 14, 1999. Taylor's hiring of Murray was immediately criticized by media across North America because of Murray's perceived lack of experience — up to that point, his only head coaching experience had been at the international level with the Canadian National Team and at the US high school level. Indeed, Taylor took a gamble on Murray, hoping it would pay off.center
Bryan Smolinskion June 20, 1999, in exchange for center prospect Olli Jokinen, winger prospect Josh Green, defenseman prospect Mathieu Bironand the Kings' first-round pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
The Kings also made an even bigger move in 1999, as they left the
Great Western Forumand moved to Staples Centerin downtown Los Angeles, which was built by Anschutz and Roski. Staples Center was a state-of-the-art arena, complete with luxury suites and all the modern amenities that fans and athletes would want in a brand-new facility.
With a new home, a new coach, a potential 50-goal scorer in the fold and players such as
Rob Blake, Luc Robitaille, Glen Murray, Jozef Stumpel, Donald Audette, Ian Laperriere, and Mattias Norstrom, the Kings improved dramatically, finishing the season the 1999–2000 season with a 39-31-12-4 record (94 points), good for second place in the Pacific Division. But in the 2000 playoffs, the Kings were once again eliminated in the first round, this time by the mighty Detroit Red Wingsin a four-game sweep.
The 2000–01 season was a controversial one, as fans began to question AEG's commitment to the success of the Kings because they failed to significantly improve the team during the off-season. Adding fuel to the fire was the February 21, 2001 trade of star defenseman
Rob Blake, who had won the James Norris Memorial Trophyas the NHL's best defenseman in 1998.cite book | author=Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title=2005–06 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 8]
In that deal, the Kings sent Blake and center
Steven Reinprecht, to the Colorado Avalanchein exchange for right wing Adam Deadmarsh, defenseman Aaron Miller, center prospect Jared Aulinand a first-round pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft( Dave Steckel). Deadmarsh and Miller became impact players for the Kings, who finished the 2000–01 season with a 38-28-13-3 record (92 points), good for a third place finish in the Pacific Division and another first-round playoff date with the still-mighty Detroit Red Wings.
In Game 4, the Red Wings took a commanding 3-0 lead after two periods, seemingly restoring order to a series they were supposed to win easily. And in the third period, it looked like nothing would change. But all that set the stage for yet another unbelievable playoff comeback for the Kings, highly reminiscent of the "Miracle on Manchester," back in 1982. Seldom-used forward Scott Thomas, a career minor-leaguer, scored a power play goal at 13:53, to give the Kings a bit of life. The Red Wings were called for a penalty with just under three minutes to play and Kings' coach Andy Murray gambled and pulled his goalie to give his team a man advantage. The gamble paid off as
Jozef Stumpelwould follow with another power play goal at 17:33. Finally, Bryan Smolinskitied the game at the 19:07 mark. In the overtime, Deadmarsh stole the puck from Red Wings' star defenseman Chris Cheliosin the right corner behind the Detroit net, and threw a centering pass to center Eric Belanger, who scored the game-winning goal at 2:36 to lift the Kings to a miraculous come-from-behind win, now known as the "Frenzy on Figueroa," or the "Stunner at Staples."cite book | author=Miller, Bob | title=Bob Miller's Tales From The Los Angeles Kings | pages=169–172] That amazing win took all the wind out of the Red Wings' sails, and the Kings eliminated them in Game 6 in Los Angeles, having won four straight games after going down 2-0 in the series. It was the Kings' first playoff series win since 1993.
In the second round, the Kings went up against another elite team, the
Colorado Avalanche, led by superstars like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy, Ray Bourque, and of course, Rob Blake. The Kings took the eventual champions to seven games but lost the series, 4-3.. The most memorable game of that series was game 6. After the Kings fell behind 3 games to 1, they defeated the Avalanche in Colorado in game 5 to stave off elimination. Back in L.A. for game 6, goalies Patrick Roy of Colorado and Felix Potvin of the Kings were brilliant as the teams battled to a 0-0 tie. Through one overtime they played but still nobody could score. Finally the Kings got one past hall of famer Roy in the second overtime for a 1-0 win.
The 2001–02 started off with tragedy as team scouts Garnet "Ace" Bailey and Mark Bavis were both casualties of the
September 11th attack. The team honored the two by wearing "AM" patches on their jerseys. Earlier in the season, the team acquired Jason Allisonwho was involved in a contract dispute along with Mikko Elorantafrom the Boston Bruinsin return for Jozef Stumpeland Glen Murray. At mid-season they held the 2002 NHL All-Star Gamecite book | author=Diamond, Dan. | title=Total NHL: The Ultimate Source On The National Hockey League | publisher=Triumph Books: Printing Press | year=2003 | pages = 420 | id=ISBN 1-57243-604-2] while still fighting for a playoff spot in which they clinched seventh place in the Western Conference where they were matched with the heavily-favored Avalanche. After being bounced out of the playoffs in the first round by the Avalanche, the next two seasons would be major disappointments, as the team failed to make the playoffs in both seasons.
Even though the Kings refused to use it as an excuse, injuries were the primary reason for the team's failures. In 2002–03, the Kings just missed breaking the unofficial NHL record for the most man-games lost to injury in a season with 536. But they would easily surpass the record in 2003–04 with 629 man-games lost.
Following the resume of play after the
2004-05 NHL lockout, the Kings acquired Valeri Bure, Jeremy Roenickand Pavol Demitrafor the 2005–06 season. Los Angeles began the new season strong, but the second half of the season saw the Kings once again stumble badly, freefalling from second in the Western Conference in early January to tenth place. On March 21, 2006, the team fired head coach Andy Murray, replacing him with interim head coach John Torchetti. With three games left in the season, Luc Robitaille, the team's all-time leading scorer and the NHL's all-time highest-scoring left winger, announced that, at the end of the year, he would be retiring from pro hockey.
Just one day after the end of the Kings' 2005-06 regular season, AEG decided to clean house. On April 18, 2006, President/Hockey Operations and General Manager Dave Taylor and Director of Player Personnel Bill O'Flaherty were relieved of their duties, and Vice President and Assistant General Manager Kevin Gilmore was re-assigned to other duties within AEG. Torchetti and assistant coaches Mark Hardy and Ray Bennett, along with goaltending consultant Andy Nowicki, were also fired. Kings CEO Tim Leiweke also announced that he would no longer be the team's Chief Executive Officer.
April 21, 2006, the Kings signed Philadelphia Flyersscout and former San Jose Sharksgeneral manager Dean Lombardi as President and General Manager. He was signed to a five-year contract, signaling big changes in the near future for the franchise. Soon after he was hired, Lombardi quickly began to revamp the Kings' hockey operations and just barely over one month into his tenure as President and General Manager, on May 22, 2006, he hired Marc Crawfordto be the Kings' 21st head coach.
There were few highlights during the 2006-2007 season. On
January 13, 2007, the Kings made hockey history by putting Yutaka Fukufujiin goal for the 3rd period of the game with the St. Louis Blues. This marked the first time in hockey history that a Japanese-born player played in an NHL regular season game. On January 20, 2007, the Kings retired Luc Robitaille's jersey in an hour-long ceremony prior to the game with the Phoenix Coyotes. It was the fifth Kings jersey to be retired by the team.
In the 2007–2008 off-season, the Kings signed six unrestricted free agents, including center
Michal Handzus, left wings Ladislav Nagyand Kyle Calder, and defensemen Tom Preissing, Brad Stuartand Jon Klemm. However, despite opening the season with a win against the defending Stanley Cupchampion Anaheim Ducksin the first NHL regular season game in Europe at the new O2 Arena (also owned by AEG) in London, England,cite press release | publisher=Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title=Kings To Open 2007-08 NHL Regular Season In London | publisher=Los Angeles Kings | url= http://kings.nhl.com/team/app?articleid=301747&page=NewsPage&service=page | date= 2007-03-01| accessdate=2007-05-07] the new acquisitions did little to change the Kings' fortunes as the team finished with the second worst record in the league. On June 10, 2008, the team announced the firing of head coach Marc Crawford.cite press release | title = Kings Announce Coaching Change | url = http://kings.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=365607 | publisher = Los Angeles Kings | date = 2008-06-10| accessdate = 2008-06-29]
2008 NHL Entry Draft, the Kings had a busy day, starting with a 3-way trade with the Calgary Flamesand the Anaheim Ducks. The Kings traded Mike Cammallerito the Flames, and the 28th overall pick to the Ducks. The Kings received the 12th overall pick (which eventually was traded to the Buffalo Sabresfor the 13th overall pick). The Kings used the 2nd overall pick to select defenseman Drew Doughty, and the 13th overall pick to select Colten Teubert.
July 17, 2008, the Kings hired Terry Murray, who became the 22nd head coach in franchise history.cite press release | publisher = Los Angeles Kings | title = Kings Name Murray Head Coach | url = http://kings.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=368648 | date = 2008-07-17| accessdate = 2008-07-17] on October 8, 2008, right wing Dustin Brown was named as the Kings’ fifteenth captain in franchise history.cite press release | publisher = Los Angeles Kings | title = Kings Announce Team Captains For 2008-09 | url = http://kings.nhl.com/team/app/?service=page&page=NewsPage&articleid=385461 | date = 2008-10-08| accessdate = 2008-10-08] Brown, 23, is also the youngest captain and the first American-born captain in Kings’ history.
"This is a partial list of the last five seasons completed by the Kings. For the full season-by-season history, see
Los Angeles Kings seasons"cite book | author = Los Angeles Kings Communications Department | title = 2007–08 Los Angeles Kings Media Guide | pages = 140–144]
"Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OTL = Overtime losses/Shootout losses, Pts = Points, GF = Goals for, GA = Goals against, PIM = Penalties in minutes"
:1 As of the
2005-06 NHL season, all games will have a winner; the OTL column includes SOL (Shootout losses).
* Bob Wall, 1967-69
Larry Cahan, 1969-71
Bob Pulford, 1971-73
Terry Harper, 1973-75
* Mike Murphy, 1975-81
* Dave Lewis, 1981-83
Terry Ruskowski, 1983-85
* Dave Taylor, 1985-89
Wayne Gretzky, 1989-96
Luc Robitaille, 1992-93Robitaille served as captain to start the 1992-93 season, while Gretzky was injured. Gretzky was named captain again when he returned to the lineup]
Rob Blake, 1996-2001
Mattias Norstrom, 2001-07
Rob Blake, 2007-08
Dustin Brown, 2008- "present"
Paul Coffey, D, 1991–93, inducted 2004 [Played in 60 games for the Kings, 1991–92 to 1992–93.]
Marcel Dionne, C, 1975–87, inducted 1992
Dick Duff, C, 1970, inducted 2006 [Played in 39 games for the Kings, 1969–70 to 1970–71.]
Grant Fuhr, G, 1995, inducted 2003 [Played in 14 games for the Kings, 1994–95.]
*Harry Howell, D, 1971–73, inducted 1979
Wayne Gretzky, C, 1988–96, inducted 1999
Jari Kurri, RW, 1991–96, inducted 2001
Larry Murphy, D, 1980–84, inducted 2004
Bob Pulford, LW, 1970–72, inducted 1991
Larry Robinson, D, 1989–92, inducted 1995
Terry Sawchuk, G, 1967–68, inducted 1971 [Played in 36 games for the Kings, 1967–68.]
Steve Shutt, LW, 1984–85, inducted 1993 [Played in 59 games for the Kings, 1984–85.]
*Billy Smith, G, 1971–72, inducted 1993 [Played in five games for the Kings, 1971–72.]
Roger Neilson, Head coach, 1984, inducted 2002
Jake Milford, GM, 1973–77, inducted 1984
;Broadcasters (Foster Hewitt Memorial Award Recipients)
Jiggs McDonald, 1967–73, inducted 1990
*Bob Miller, 1973–"present", inducted 2000
Marcel Dionne, C, 1975-87, number retired November 8, 1990
*18 Dave Taylor, LW/RW, 1977-94, number retired
April 3, 1995
Luc Robitaille, LW, 1986-94, 1997-2001, & 2003-06, number retired January 20, 2007
*30 Rogatien "Rogie" Vachon, G, 1972-78, number retired
February 14, 1985
Wayne Gretzky, C, 1988-96, number retired by the league on February 6, 2000and by the team on October 9, 2002
All time Kings team
As voted by the media and fans, an all time Kings team was selected to celebrate the club's 40th anniversary in the NHL The first and second teams were as follows:fact|date=January 2008
Goalies: 1st team - Rogatien "Rogie" Vachon, 2nd team -
Defensemen: 1st team -
Rob Blakeand Steve Duchesne, 2nd team - Larry Murphyand Bob Murdoch
Centers: 1st team -
Wayne Gretzky, 2nd team - Marcel Dionne
Forwards: 1st team - Dave Taylor and
Luc Robitaille, 2nd team, Charlie Simmerand Mike Murphy
Coach: 1st team -
Bob Pulford, 2nd team - Barry Melrose
First-round draft picks
Rick Pagnutti(1st overall)
*1968: Jim McInally (7th overall)
*1975: Tim Young (16th overall)
Jay Wells(16th overall)
Larry Murphy(4th overall) & Jim Fox (10th overall)
*1981: Doug Smith (2nd overall)
Craig Redmond(6th overall)
Craig Duncanson(9th overall) & Dan Gratton(10th overall)
Jimmy Carson(2nd overall)
Wayne McBean(4th overall)
*1988: Martin Gelinas (7th overall)
Darryl Sydor(7th overall)
Jamie Storr(7th overall)
Aki Berg(3rd overall)
Olli Jokinen(3rd overall) & Matt Zultek(15th overall)
Mathieu Biron(21st overall)
Alexander Frolov(20th overall)
Jens Karlsson(18th overall) & Dave Steckel(30th overall)
Denis Grebeshkov(20th overall)
Dustin Brown(13th overall), Brian Boyle (26th overall), & Jeff Tambellini(27th overall)
Lauri Tukonen(11th overall)
Anze Kopitar(11th overall)
Jonathan Bernier(11th overall) & Trevor Lewis(17th overall)
*2007: Thomas Hickey (4th overall)
Drew Doughty(2nd overall) & Colten Teubert(13th overall)
Franchise scoring leaders
These are the top-ten point-scorers in franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.
"Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; * = current Kings player"
NHL awards and trophies
Clarence S. Campbell Bowl
Art Ross Trophy
Marcel Dionne: 1979–80
Wayne Gretzky: 1989–90, 1990–91, 1993–94 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
Butch Goring: 1977–78
Bob Bourne: 1987–88
*Dave Taylor: 1990–91
Calder Memorial Trophy
Luc Robitaille: 1986–87 Hart Memorial Trophy
Wayne Gretzky: 1988–89 James Norris Memorial Trophy
Rob Blake: 1997–98 King Clancy Memorial Trophy
*Dave Taylor: 1990–91
Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
Marcel Dionne: 1976–77
Butch Goring: 1977–78
Wayne Gretzky: 1990–91, 1991–92, 1993–94 Lester B. Pearson Award
Marcel Dionne: 1978–79, 1979–80 Lester Patrick Trophy
Terry Sawchuk: 1970–71
Bruce McNall: 1992–93
Wayne Gretzky: 1993–94 NHL Plus/Minus Award
Marty McSorley: 1990–91 (shared with Theoren Fleuryof the Calgary Flames)
Franchise individual records
*Most Goals in a season:
Bernie Nicholls, 70 (1988–89)
*Most Assists in a season:
Wayne Gretzky, 122 (1990–91)
*Most Points in a season:
Wayne Gretzky, 168 (1988–89)
*Most Points in a game:
Bernie Nicholls, 8 (1988–89)
*Most Penalty Minutes in a season:
Marty McSorley, 399 (1992–93)
*Most Points in a season, defenseman:
Larry Murphy, 76 (1980–81)
*Most Points in a season, rookie:
Luc Robitaille, 84 (1986–87)
*Most Wins in a season:
Mario Lessard, 35 (1980–81)
*Most Shutouts in a season:
Rogie Vachon, 8 (1976–77)
Larry Regan: 1968–1973
Jake Milford: 1973–1977
*George Maguire: 1977-83
*Rogatien "Rogie" Vachon: 1983–92
Nick Beverley: 1992–94
Sam McMaster: 1994–97
*Dave Taylor: 1997–2006
Dean Lombardi: 2006–"present"
1967 NHL Expansion
List of NHL players
List of NHL seasons
References and footnotes
* [http://kings.nhl.com Official website of the Los Angeles Kings]
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