Lucky Luc moves to the top
The fact that's it's been a trying year for Luc Robitaille is anything but a secret.
With only seven goals and 14 points in his first 34 games, and a handful more for which he's been a healthy scratch, I speculated earlier in the year that Robitaille was headed the way of Brett Hull and would retire before the year's end.
It was fantastic, then, to see him score his 551st goal as a member of the LA Kings on Thursday night, moving him ahead of Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne as the franchise's all-time leading goal scorer.
Luc's goal celebration was as touching a hockey moment as I've seen this year, and I'm glad that in my channel surfing from the night's other games I managed to catch the play. Kings' rookie Mike Weaver fed Robitaille a breakaway pass, and despite being known for not being fleet of foot, he beat the Thrashers defender and tucked the puck between Mike Dunham's legs for his second of the night. 6-5, Kings.
The best part was what followed, as the crowd in Los Angeles gave Lucky Luc, the highest scoring left winger in NHL history, a standing ovation. Robitaille was visibly moved on the bench, appearing almost moved to tears, as Dionne was one of his idols.
Robitaille played his rookie season with Dionne in 1986-87, the 35-year-old veteran's last in LA. It was to be one of the all-time great rookie seasons in NHL history, as the timid 18-year-old francophone from Montreal scored 45 goals to finish ninth in league scoring. Robitaille credits much of his success to the guidance fellow Quebecer Dionne gave him that initial year.
Great story, great hockey moment. It's nice to see a classy player like Robitaille get things on track, at least for one night. (He later added an empty-net goal to record a hat trick in a zany 8-6 win for the Kings.)
As an aside — my there was some good hockey tonight. This is the first year I've ever had the Centre Ice package (coincidentally, it's also the first year I could afford cable TV), and since I was able to subscribe for half price as a first-time buyer, it's been worth it and then some. How else, for instance, would I have seen Neil Young sitting in the stands at the San Jose-Edmonton game tonight?