Rob Blake's #4 will now forever hang in the rafters next to Luc Robitaille's #20, in addition to some other guys you may have heard of named Dave Taylor (#18), Rogie Vachon (#30), Marcel Dionne (#16) and Wayne Gretzky (#99).
Rob's jersey retirement ceremony included 30-ish of Rob's ex-teammates standing by to honor him, with Luc, Kings GM/Rob's current boss Dean Lombardi, current Kings Captain Dustin Brown, and Rob's defensive partner Mattias Norstrom (who flew in from Sweden) speaking about him and his accomplishments both on and off the ice.
People mentioned his records as a defensemen (that Drew Doughty will probably break). They noted he's the only King's defensemen to win the Norris Trophy (Drew will do that eventually too). And they spoke of his Hall of Fame induction last November. But that's all public knowledge.
Dustin Brown, who was beginning his career as Rob's was ending, spoke of how Rob set an example for the younger players like him and Anze Kopitar of how to carry oneself as an NHL player and how to be a leader.
And Luc spoke of how Rob, even when he no longer played for the Kings, paid for Kings season tickets for a family who's three children had muscular dystrophy. The family had attended one game as guests of the Kings, and afterwards while visiting the team in the locker room, the dad told Rob that the game that night was the happiest he'd ever seen his kids. Rob called up the front office the next morning and bought them season tickets that year, and continued to do so every year until, sadly, the kids had all passed away. But that dad -- Luc noted -- was in the crowd Saturday night to see Rob's number go up in the rafters.
That story, my friends, is why I love hockey and hockey players. They are just good guys. And in Rob's case, a good farm boy from Simcoe, Ontario, who made it to the big time, worked hard, developed a booming hipcheck when a shoulder injury made it too painful for him to check the normal way, broke a lot of records, won a Stanley Cup (with the Avs), and stayed humble.
Here's Rob's speech that demonstrates a little of that, and how he feels about his teammates:
The view from Section 205:
#4 rises to the rafters
Close-up of #4 before being moved over next to #20