LEWIS RETURNS TO LA
Well, not exactly home, but the place he called home for four years as a defenseman for the Los Angeles Kings from 1979-1983.
“I am really excited and I look forward to working with Marc Crawford, Mike Johnston and Dean Lombardi and the staff,” Lewis told LAKings.com via telephone on Tuesday. “It is a great opportunity to come back to LA. I have a lot of emotional ties from a long time ago, there are a lot of great memories from playing here and my daughter was born here as well.
“I just wanted to get back into coaching and try and help an organization win, especially one like Los Angeles that I got to play for.”
After being drafted by the Islanders with New York’s second pick, 33rd overall in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft, Lewis jumped straight to the NHL starting 66 games with the Islanders during his 1973-74 rookie year.
He would play seven years in New York scoring 24-117=141 in 514 games before being traded to the Kings with right wing Billy Harris in exchange for center Butch Goring on March 10, 1980.
Ironically, New York and Los Angeles would meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Goring and the Islanders defeating the Kings, 3-1 in four games.
Despite the loss, it was an exciting time to be with the Kings as Dr. Jerry Buss had just purchased the team the previous offseason and the Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, Charlie Simmer “Triple Crown Line” was at its height, scoring like few forward lines in NHL history ever had.
“It was one of the most exciting times of my career,” Lewis admits. “There was a bunch of young players joining the team and “The Triple Crown Line” was amazing and I got to watch that line every night.
“It will be great going back and looking at the pictures and talking with some of the guys and reliving those memories.”
Lewis was also a part of one of the best seasons in franchise history, as the 1980-81 club went 43-24-13, still the second most wins in franchise history, he served as captain of the team for two years (1981-83) and helped usher in rookies such as Bernie Nichols and current Kings color analysts Jimmy Fox and Daryl Evans.
And of course, he played in the “Miracle on Manchester.”
For those of you 'youngins' unfamiliar with the story, Los Angeles was facing the heavily-favored Edmonton Oilers in the best-of-five first round of the playoffs and the Kings pulled off two huge upsets –one, in winning the series, three games to two, and two, in winning Game 3 of the series, forever remembered as the “Miracle on Manchester.”
Down 5-0 in the third period of that game on April 10, 1982, the Kings steadily chipped away at Edmonton’s commanding lead until Steve Bozek sent the game into overtime, knotting the game at 5-5 with five seconds remaining. At 2:35 of the extra period, rookie Daryl Evans ripped a shot over Grant Fuhr’s shoulder to seal an improbable end to an incredible game. After losing Game 4 at home, the Kings took the series with a 7-4 victory in Game 5 in Edmonton.
“That Oilers team was ready to win the Cup that season with a young Gretzky and a young Messier,” Lewis recalls. “Unfortunately for them, we didn’t let them do it.
“I have seen that game replayed on T.V. a number of times, it is a hockey classic.”
Just prior to the 1983-84 season, Lewis was dealt to New Jersey in a three-team trade. Lewis would play three seasons with the Devils before signing with the Detroit Red Wings in 1986.
Lewis played in his 1,000th game on April 1, 1987 and would retire in November to join the Wings coaching staff. He retired scoring 36-187=223 with 953 PIMs and a +92 rating in 1,008 games.
He has been coaching the last 20 years, primarily as an assistant coach with the Red Wings where he was a part of three Stanley Cup Championships. Lewis took over for the retired Scotty Bowman in 2002 and led the Red Wings to back-to-back 48-win seasons, two Central Division Titles and the President’s Trophy in 2003-04.
Last season, he served as the Boston Bruins head coach, posting a 35-41-6 mark, lifting his career head coaching totals to 131-82-33.
On Tuesday (Aug. 28), he joined the Kings coaching staff.
“The team has some quality people in the locker room,” he said. “This is a good opportunity for me and I hope to help this team win.”
Perhaps someone with ties to so much Kings history can help make it.