Turns out, that cute Luc Robitaille was also a pretty good hockey player. Like the top-scoring-left-wing-in-NHL-history kind of good.
And over the years -- after I learned about hockey from listening to Bob Miller call games on TV, and eventually became a season ticket holder -- I watched him score his 500th goal on January 7, 1999 at the Great Western Forum. I watched him leave the team (for the second time) to win the Stanley Cup (for the first time) with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. And once he returned home to LA, I was there for his final home game on April 15, 2006, chanting "Luuuuuuuuuuc" as he skated a final lap around Staples Center ice before he retired from the NHL.
In January 2007, I sat through quite possibly the longest jersey retirement ceremony ever as his #20 was raised to the rafters of Staples Center. And on June 11, 2012, I cried as I watched him raise the Stanley Cup over his head as a King when the Kings won it for the first time, with Luc serving as President of Business Operations for the team.
So I was, of course, standing outside Staples Center in Star Plaza on March 7, 2015, when Luuuuuuc was immortalized in bronze, as only the second LA hockey player to be honored with a statue outside the arena. His statue is in the front of the plaza, and unlike most of the others (Wayne Gretzky, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Chick Hearn, Oscar de La Hoya) his statue is in color, with him wearing a white classic Kings jersey, his stick raised over his head and a smile on his face in a celebratory goal-scoring pose.
Wayne Gretzky showed up to speak in his honor. Mario Lemieux, his Pittsburgh Penguin teammate, also came to the ceremony. Quite possibly the two greatest hockey players ever, were there to honor Luc. That's how respected he his. His Kings teammate and current front-office co-worker Rob Blake spoke. So did Lakers great Jerry West. And Kings fans showed up an hour before game time to watch it all happen.
Here are some photos :)
|Stacia and Luc Robitaille walk the red carpet to the ceremony|
|The Great One|
|Bob Miller's back, Luc's side and the statue under wraps|
|Rob Blake and Wayne Gretzky in the front row|
|The statue is unveiled|
|View from the front, with (l-r) Mario Lemieux, Luc, Rob Blake, Jerry West, AEG President |
Dan Beckerman, Jesse Robitaille, Wayne Gretzky