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Los Angeles Kings Franchise Story

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The Los Angeles Kings are a professional ice hockey team based in Los Angeles, California, USA. They play in the National Hockey League (NHL).

Franchise history

The "Forum Blue and Gold" years (1967-68 to 1987-88)
Both the Pacific Coast Hockey League and the Western Hockey League had several teams in California, and minor pro hockey found success there in the early 1960s. There was also a sizeable colony of Canadian expatriates. However, the lack of a suitable arena in the area was one of the primary factors in the National Hockey League's decision before the Sixties to not expand to Los Angeles, even though it was the third-largest city in the United States at the time.

LA Kings primary logo from 1967-82.When the NHL decided to expand for 1967-68 amid rumblings that the Pacific Coast Hockey League was proposing to turn itself into a major league and compete for the Stanley Cup, Canadian entrepreneur Jack Kent Cooke paid the NHL $2 million to form a new team in Los Angeles as one of the expansion teams to be added for the 1967-68 NHL season.

Black and Silver Era (1988-89 to 1996-97)

LA Kings logo from 1988-98.In 1987, Bruce McNall purchased 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.[6]

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 Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player. He led the Kings to a second-place finish in the Smythe Division with 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 Calgary Flames. Over the next two seasons, Gretzky would lead the way, only to see his team bounced out of the playoffs in the second round by his former team, the Oilers, who won the Stanley Cup in 1990. Despite their eventual second-round loss to Edmonton, Gretzky spearheaded the Kings to their first 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), but that would not be the pinnacle of his career in Los Angeles.

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,[7] with left-winger Luc Robitaille, who won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the 1986-87's NHL Rookie of the Year, filling in as captain for the ailing Gretzky. Robitaille led the team until Gretzky returned after missing the first 39 games.[8] Robitaille would go on to retire at the end of the 2005-06 season as the highest-scoring left winger in National Hockey League history.[9]

Staples Center Era (1996-97 - present)

The Kings' alternate logo. (Was the team's primary logo from 1998-2002.)Now under the ownership of the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the Kings 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.

On February 27, 1996, The Great One 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).[14] None became stars for the Kings, although Gretzky himself was an unrestricted free agent by season's end, and only played 18 regular season games for the Blues. Like Marcel Dionne before him, Gretzky ended up with the New York Rangers.

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.[16]

But Taylor was not finished dealing that summer. Shortly after hiring Murray, Taylor acquired star right-wing Zigmund Palffy and veteran center Bryan Smolinski on June 20, 1999, in exchange for center prospect Olli Jokinen, winger prospect Josh Green, defenseman prospect Mathieu Biron and the Kings' first-round pick in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.

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 Wings in a four-game sweep. Clearly, the Kings were still not one of the NHL's elite teams, capable of contending for the Stanley Cup.

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 Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman in 1998.[17]

In that deal, the Kings sent Blake and center Steven Reinprecht, to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for right wing Adam Deadmarsh, defenseman Aaron Miller, center prospect Jared Aulin and 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.[18]

The heavily-favored Red Wings — many predicted another four-game sweep — made easy work of the Kings in Games 1 and 2 at the Joe Louis Arena, but the Kings got back in the series with a 2-1 win in Game 3 at Staples Center.[11]

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 3 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 Stumpel would follow with another power play goal at 17:33. Finally, Bryan Smolinski tied the game at the 19:07 mark.

In the overtime, Deadmarsh stole the puck from Red Wings' star defenseman Chris Chelios in 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."[17][19]

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.[11]. 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 Allison who was involved in a contract dispute along with Mikko Eloranta from the Boston Bruins in return for Jozef Stumpel and Glen Murray. At mid-season they held the 2002 NHL All-Star Game[20] 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.

But 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.

The Kings' 2004-05 NHL season was lost due to labor strife between the NHL and the NHL Players' Association.

League play resumed for the 2005-06 and saw the Kings acquire Valeri Bure, Jeremy Roenick and Pavol Demitra. Los Angeles began the new season strongly challenging for the Western Conference title. However, 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.

At the trade deadline, the Kings added another goal scorer in the New York Islanders' Mark Parrish, along with defenseman Brent Sopel, and they fired head coach Andy Murray on March 21, 2006, replacing him with interim head coach John Torchetti, but the moves failed to jumpstart the team, as they continued their losing ways. 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.[9]

Just one day after the end of the Kings' 2005-06 regular season, AEG decided to clean house on April 18, 2006, and they relieved President/Hockey Operations and General Manager Dave Taylor of his duties, along with Director of Player Personnel Bill O'Flaherty. Interim head coach John Torchetti and assistant coaches Mark Hardy and Ray Bennett, along with goaltending consultant Andy Nowicki, were also fired, and Vice President and Assistant General Manager Kevin Gilmore was re-assigned to other duties within AEG. Kings CEO Tim Leiweke also announced that he will no longer be the team's Chief Executive Officer.

On April 21, 2006, the Kings signed Philadelphia Flyers scout and former San Jose Sharks general manager Dean Lombardi as their new 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, he hired Marc Crawford to be the Kings' 21st head coach on May 22, 2006.

On January 13, 2007, hockey history was made when the Kings put Yutaka Fukufuji in goal for the 3rd period of their 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. The Kings lost the game and Fukufuji was assessed the loss.

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.

The Kings and the NHL announced on February 28, 2007 that the Los Angeles Kings will open the 2007-08 National Hockey League regular season at the new O2 Arena in London, England, with two games against the Anaheim Ducks on September 29 and 30, 2007. The special “NHL Premiere 2007” series will be the Kings’ first games ever outside of North America and the first NHL regular season games to be played in Europe.

Team captains
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, 1992-93; 2006 (interim)
Rob Blake, 1996-2001
Mattias Norstrom, 2001-07

Hall of Famers

Marcel Dionne, C, 1975-87, inducted 1992
Dick Duff, C, 1970, inducted 2006 [23]
Grant Fuhr, G, 1995, inducted 2003 [24]
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[25]
Steve Shutt, LW, 1984-85, inducted 1993[26]
Billy Smith, G, 1971-72, inducted 1993[27]

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

Retired numbers
16 Marcel Dionne, C, 1975-87, number retired November 8, 1990
18 Dave Taylor, LW/RW, 1977-94, number retired April 3, 1995
20 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
99 Wayne Gretzky, C, 1988-96, number retired by the league on February 6, 2000 and 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:

Goalies: 1st team - Rogatien "Rogie" Vachon, 2nd team - Kelly Hrudey
Defensemen: 1st team - Rob Blake and Steve Duchesne, 2nd team - Larry Murphy and Bob Murdoch
Centers: 1st team - Wayne Gretzky, 2nd team - Marcel Dionne
Forwards: 1st team - Dave Taylor and Luc Robitaille, 2nd team, Charlie Simmer and Mike Murphy
Coach: 1st team - Bob Pulford, 2nd team - Barry Melrose

First-round draft picks
1967: Rick Pagnutti (1st overall)
1968: Jim McInally (7th overall)
1969: None
1970: None
1971: None
1972: None
1973: None
1974: None
1975: Tim Young (16th overall)
1976: None
1977: None
1978: None
1979: Jay Wells (16th overall)
1980: Larry Murphy (4th overall) & Jim Fox (10th overall)
1981: Doug Smith (2nd overall)
1982: None
1983: None
1984: Craig Redmond (6th overall)
1985: Craig Duncanson (9th overall) & Dan Gratton (10th overall)
1986: Jimmy Carson (2nd overall)
1987: Wayne McBean (4th overall)
1988: Martin Gelinas (7th overall)
1989: None
1990: Darryl Sydor (7th overall)
1991: None
1992: None
1993: None
1994: Jamie Storr (7th overall)
1995: Aki Berg (3rd overall)
1996: None
1997: Olli Jokinen (3rd overall) & Matt Zultek (15th overall)
1998: Mathieu Biron (21st overall)
1999: None
2000: Alexander Frolov (20th overall)
2001: Jens Karlsson (18th overall) & Dave Steckel (30th overall)
2002: Denis Grebeshkov (20th overall)
2003: Dustin Brown (13th overall), Brian Boyle (26th overall), & Jeff Tambellini (27th overall)
2004: Lauri Tukonen (11th overall)
2005: Anze Kopitar (11th overall)
2006: Jonathan Bernier (11th overall) & Trevor Lewis (17th 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

Player Pos GP G A Pts P/G
Marcel Dionne C 921 550 757 1307 1.42
Luc Robitaille LW 1079 557 597 1154 1.07
Dave Taylor RW 1111 431 638 1069 .96
Wayne Gretzky C 539 246 672 918 1.70
Bernie Nicholls C 602 327 431 758 1.26
Butch Goring C 736 275 384 659 .90
Jim Fox RW 578 186 293 479 .83
Charlie Simmer LW 384 222 244 466 1.21
Mike Murphy RW 673 194 263 457 .68
*Rob Blake D 662 138 291 429 .65

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
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 Fleury of 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 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)

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