The struggling Los Angeles Kings will have Luc Robitaille on the ice Saturday, but they'd probably prefer he be in uniform as they try to avert a seven-game losing streak.
Los Angeles will honor its all-time leading goal scorer by raising his No. 20 to the rafters at Staples Center before the Kings face the Phoenix Coyotes, a club coached by Robitaille's former Los Angeles linemate Wayne Gretzky.
Robitaille finished his 19-year career 10th on the NHL all-time list with 668 goals - 557 of which came in 14 seasons with Los Angeles. His 1,394 points are 19th-most in league history.
The left wing was an eight-time All-Star and the winner of the 1987 Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie after being drafted in the ninth round by the Kings in 1984.
His development into one of the top scorers in league history was helped when the Kings traded for Gretzky before the 1988-89 season. Playing alongside perhaps the greatest passer in league history, Robitaille recorded a career-high 63 goals in 1992-93 to help Los Angeles reach its only Stanley Cup finals, where it lost in five games to Montreal.
The Kings organization arranged for Robitaille's ceremony to coincide with a visit from Gretzky and the Coyotes.
Robitaille's jersey will join Gretzky's No. 99, Marcel Dionne's No. 16, Dave Taylor's No. 18 and Rogie Vachon's No. 30 in the rafters.
The Kings (16-27-6) hope the ceremony can provide some inspiration as they try to snap a season-high six-game skid before heading into the All-Star break. They've been outscored 25-12 during the slide, and have not dropped seven in a row since Jan. 24-Feb. 8.
Los Angeles lost 3-1 to St. Louis on Thursday.
"Our guys played a great game with lots of spirit and spunk," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "We were much more deserving of a better result, but we just have to stick with it."
The slide has dropped Los Angeles into last place in the Western Conference with 38 points. The Kings have allowed a league-high 179 goals, and they've dropped three in a row at Staples Center, where they're just 11-11-6.
The Kings will try to end their slides against a Coyotes team they have beaten in 10 of the last 12 matchups at Los Angeles, with one tie. The only loss in that span was a 6-2 defeat March 14.
Los Angeles took the last meeting at Staples Center on Dec. 26, as Sean Avery tied it with 38 seconds remaining in regulation and Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar scored in the shootout to give the Kings a 4-3 win.
Since getting its season back on track with a seven-game winning streak, Phoenix (21-24-2) has dropped four of five. The losing continues Thursday as the Coyotes fell 5-2 at San Jose.
"Despite the score, it was really a pretty exciting hockey game," Gretzky said. "It was like a playoff game with the noise and excitement."
The Coyotes have managed only a shootout win in the last five games, defeating St. Louis 5-4 on Sunday.
|Apr 07 '07||PHX 2 at LAK 3||A. Kopitar|
|Apr 05 '07||LAK 2 at PHX 3||S. Doan|
|Jan 20 '07||PHX 3 at LAK 2||T. Roche|
|Dec 26 '06||PHX 3 at LAK 4 - SO||A. Kopitar|
|Nov 30 '06||LAK 4 at PHX 7||S. Doan|
|Nov 18 '06||PHX 3 at LAK 5||C. Conroy|
|Nov 04 '06||LAK 4 at PHX 6||E. Jovanovski|
|Oct 19 '06||LAK 4 at PHX 0||A. Frolov|