Los Angeles Kings: As If Year-Round Sunshine and Lots of Awesome Celebrities Weren’t Enough
Los Angeles is the land of sunshine, celebrities and…well, hockey. True, they may be better known for their summer blockbusters than their winter sports, but the LA Kings were once home to Wayne Gretzky. And anywhere the Great One once hung his skates deserves to be called a hockey town. Formed in 1967 during the NHL’s expansion, the Kings have had 24 playoff seasons and have made a run at one Stanley Cup, which they lost to the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. They’ve made the playoffs the last two years, albeit in short campaigns that ended in first round losses to the Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks, respectively, both in six games. But this new incarnation represents a departure from seasons that passed for these west-coasters in a yawn. The first of their recent playoff berths came after signing forward Ryan Smith and cherry-picking former Pittsburgh Penguin defenseman Rob Scuderi. They also got solid seasons out of forward Anze Kopitar, one of the NHL’s scoring leaders that year, and defenseman Drew Doughty, a finalist for the James Norris Trophy. After losing in the playoffs to the Canucks, LA nabbed Willie Mitchell from the team and signed forward Alexi Ponikarovsky, continuing to build a threatening offense and a brick wall of a defense for the squad. Stealing Mitchell from the Canucks is not the first time the Kings have robbed a Canadian team of a valuable player. In 1988, Los Angeles dealt for Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers and who was, you know, only the best player to ever strap on a pair of skates. It was with LA, in 1989, that the Great One became the Greatest One, becoming the league’s all-time leading scorer. He led the team to their one and only division title in 1990-91. Other prominent players to have worn a Kings jersey: Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr and Luc Robitaille. But yeah…Gretzky.
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