The new Kings regime won't make the same mistake the old one did. They will retire Luc Robitaille's number at Staples Center on January 20, halfway into his first season of retirement from the NHL. After Wayne Gretzky retired, it took the Kings more than three seasons to throw him a party and hang his sweater on the wall. When I wrote about the Big Chill for Los Angeles Magazine in 2001, some insiders blamed strains between Gretzky and the Kings' second-most-popular ex-player, general manager Dave Taylor. Since then, I've come to give more credence to the argument that Gretzky didn't want to have a party in L.A. — which included placing a statue outside Staples — until his old pal and paycheck signer Bruce McNall was released from federal prison.
In any case, Taylor is gone from the Kings front office and the fete for Robitaille has been set. He's the team's all-time leader in goals scored and the league's most prolific left wing ever.