LUC ROBITAILLE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT
On Tuesday, April 11th, Luc Robitaille announced his retirement as a player, effective at the end of this season, at a press conference at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo.
LOS ANGELES – Luc Robitaille -- the highest scoring left wing in NHL history, the all-time Kings leader in goals scored and a future member of the Hockey Hall of Fame -- today announced his retirement as a player, effective at the end of this season, at a press conference at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo.
Robitaille's final three games will be: this Thursday at Phoenix at 7 p.m.; on Saturday versus Calgary at STAPLES Center at 7:30 p.m.; and on Monday, April 17, at San Jose at 7:30 p.m. All fans at Saturday's Kings-Calgary game at STAPLES Center will receive a special Luc Robitaille commemorative T-shirt as part of the Kings celebrating his final home contest.
"I have had an incredible journey playing the game I love and my decision to retire has been a very difficult one for me, my wife Stacia and my entire family to make," said Robitaille. "The game of hockey has given me so much and it is very difficult to leave. Los Angeles is where I started my career and it is where I have always wanted to end my career. The Kings have been like family to me. This is truly my home and I am very thankful for the great support I have received from the organization, my many teammates – I have been blessed to have played with so many great players and friends throughout the years – and our great and loyal fans. Our fans have treated me like a King since Day One and I am extremely grateful."
Robitaille, 40, has played 19 seasons in the NHL – including 14 with the Kings – after the club selected him in the ninth-round (171st overall) in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft. In 1,428 career regular season games with the Kings, Detroit Red Wings (where he won a Stanley Cup in 2002), New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins, Robitaille has 1,394 points (668-726=1,394) and 1,175 penalty minutes. In 159 playoff games, he has 127 points (58-69=127) and 174 penalty minutes.
Robitaille has been honored with several awards and he has set numerous records throughout his long and distinguished career. In addition to being the highest scoring left wing in NHL history, a mark he set in a Kings uniform with an assist on March 22, 2004, with his 1,370th point to pass Hall of Famer John Bucyk, Robitaille holds the NHL record for left wingers for goals (668). He is also 10th in overall NHL goal scoring with 668 goals (second among active players to former Red Wings teammate Steve Yzerman), 19th in overall NHL scoring with 1,394 points (fourth among active players – Yzerman, Joe Sakic and former Penguin teammate Jaromir Jagr) and he is the only left wing in NHL history to record eight consecutive 40-goal seasons (all with the Kings).
With the Kings, Robitaille ranks second all-time in games played (1,074), second in points (1,154) and fourth in assists (597). Earlier this season, on January 19 at STAPLES Center, he set the Kings all-time record for goals when his 551st goal as a King surpassed former teammate, long-time friend and Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne. In 1,074 total regular season games as a King, Robitaille has 1,154 points (557-597=1,154) and 922 penalty minutes.
"The Kings are honored to have Luc as part of our family, and to be associated so closely with a player that is the greatest left wing in NHL history, is a privilege for our fans to be able to witness and for us to have Luc wear the sweater of this team," said Kings CEO/Governor Tim Leiweke. "We are excited to have been a part of his history and accomplishments and we look forward to being a part of the next chapter in his life."
Robitaille, a 6-1, 215-pound native of Montreal, played his first eight NHL seasons with the Kings from 1986-94, and in that rookie 1986-87 campaign he scored his first career NHL goal on his first shot (assisted by Dionne – Dionne's 1,600th NHL point) on October 9, 1986. He won the Calder Cup trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year (the only King to win the award in franchise history) and he was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team with Kings teammates Jimmy Carson and Steve Duchesne after leading all NHL rookies in points (84) and goals (45).
Joined by the legendary Wayne Gretzky prior to the 1988-89 season, Robitaille and Gretzky helped lead a potent Kings offense which reached its pinnacle in 1993 with the franchise's first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. That season, Robitaille was named the team's captain while Gretzky began the season injured, and Robitaille responded by setting NHL records for the most goals (63) and points (125) in one season by a left winger (both marks still stand). That season also saw Robitaille become the first player in NHL history to score against 22 different teams in one season.
Robitaille would go on to reach several other milestones while with the Kings. He became the 27th player in NHL history to score 500 goals (he scored his 500th goal on January 17, 1999) and he was the 12th fastest to reach that mark, accomplishing the feat in just 928 games. While in a Kings uniform he also scored his 650th career goal on March 9, 2004, and he played in his 1,000th game as a King on March 13, 2004.
During that 2003-04 season, Robitaille led the Kings in points (51), goals (22), game-winning goals (four), power play goals (12) and shots (221). He was also the Kings nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is given annually to the NHL player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
Robitaille also ranks first in the franchise for power play goals (210), power play goals in one season (26 in 1991-92), most career goals in overtime (five), and he has led the Kings in scoring six times and in goal scoring eight times. He was also the first player to score 10 -or-more power play goals in one season (13 times in his career) and he is also the leader in numerous offensive Kings franchise playoff categories, including games played (94), goals (41), game-winning goals (nine) and power play goals (13).
This season, Robitaille, an assistant captain, has 24 points (15-9=24) and 50 penalty minutes in 62 games. He entered the season eight goals shy of tying Dionne for most goals in Kings history and 99 games behind Dave Taylor in games played. Of his 15 goals this season, 14 have been scored at STAPLES Center. His most recent goal came on March 14 against the Gretzky-coached Phoenix Coyotes. He recorded his 15th career hat trick on January 19 (the night he surpassed Dionne) and he led the team in January with seven goals. Robitaille has also been named the Kings nominee for this year's Masterton Trophy.
"We have always hoped that Luc Robitaille eventually retired in a Kings uniform," said Taylor, the Kings President, Hockey Operations/General Manager. "He certainly had an incredible career all the while remaining one of the most popular players ever to wear a Kings jersey. He has always represented the Kings in a first-class manner. He is truly and will always be a King at heart."
Robitaille's NHL career also included stops with the Penguins, Rangers (where he again teamed with Gretzky) and the Red Wings.
Traded by the Kings to Pittsburgh prior to the start of the 1994-95 season, Robitaille played one season with the Penguins before being dealt to the Rangers, where he played two seasons (1995-97). He returned to the Kings via trade in 1997.
Upon his return to the Kings, Robitaille helped lead the team to the post-season for the first time in five years – since Robitaille and the Kings reached the Stanley Cup Finals in 1993 – and he scored at least 36 goals for the Kings in three seasons from 1998-01.
After a two-year stint with Detroit from 2001-03, which was highlighted by a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 2002, Robitaille again returned to the Kings in 2003 when he was signed as an unrestricted free agent. He has played with the Kings since, and during his time in the NHL he has been a teammate of five of the top seven scorers in NHL history (Gretzky, Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Dionne and Yzerman), and six of the top seven including Mario Lemieux (who did not play while Robitaille was in Pittsburgh due to health reasons).
An eight-time NHL All Star, Robitaille has been named an NHL First Team All-Star five times and an NHL Second Team All-Star three times, including being named to one of those teams in each of his first seven seasons (all with the Kings). Robitaille has also garnered numerous Kings team awards, including: Most Valuable Player (four times); Most Popular Player (three times); Most Inspirational Player; Leading Scorer (six times – he has also led the Kings in goals eight times); and Community Service (three times).
Off the ice, Robitaille has immersed himself in the Southern California community. Most recently, he and his wife Stacia created Shelter for Serenity, a disaster relief project that benefits victims of Hurricane Katrina (more information at www.shelterforserenity.org).
"Luc is an even better person than a hockey player and that, I believe, says a lot about him," said Kings captain/defenseman Mattias Norstrom. "On the ice, we all know what kind of player he is. But he also sets a perfect example for his teammates and he taught me that if you are not having fun with what you are doing, it isn't worth doing."
Internationally, Robitaille represented his native Canada at three international tournaments, including the 1994 World Championships in Italy where his game-winning shootout goal helped Canada capture its first World Championship gold medal in 33 years.
The following is a look at Robitaille's year-by-year NHL mark:
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