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'Lucky Luc' spreads around his good fortune

Wednesday, 01.16.2008 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Luc Robitaille will host a Celebrity Shootout to benefit his Echoes of Hope charity.
Luc Robitaille, an eight-time NHL All-Star, lived the dream every aspiring youth hockey player around the world imagines every minute of the day. Now, “Lucky’’ Luc is determined to give back by giving those in need an opportunity to live out their dreams.

Robitaille, whose career spanned 19 seasons with four different teams, will host the first Luc Robitaille Celebrity Shootout, presented by D.I.S.C. Sports and Spine Center, on Jan. 20 at the Park City Ice Arena in Utah at 3 p.m. .

The event, in partnership with Tom Bernard of Sony Pictures Classics, the National Hockey League, and the Los Angeles Kings, will benefit Robitaille’s charity, Echoes of Hope.

Echoes of Hope was formed to help nurture the lives of at-risk and emancipated foster youth by providing the necessary resources, skills and support they need to reach their potential.

”Following Hurricane Katrina (in 2005), my wife and I started our own foundation (Shelter for Serenity) and actually went to New Orleans, picked up a bunch of families and brought them back to live in our house in Utah,’’ Robitaille told NHL.com. “We wanted to provide them a chance to restart their lives. But during this process, we realized that the people most affected and in need of help were the children. The kids were the ones at risk since they came mostly from poor families.’’

The League of Women Voters of California Education Fund, Juvenile Justice Study Committee has reported that within 18 months of emancipation, 40 to 50 percent of foster youth becomes homeless. Additionally, in a 2002 report on the Survey of the Needs of Emancipated Foster/Probation Youth, 65 percent of youth leaving foster care needed immediate housing upon release.

Robitaille and his wife, Stacia, hope their efforts can reverse this alarming trend.

”We wanted to host this event in order to raise money for these kids to give them proper care. It’s an opportunity to play the game of hockey and, at the same time, help a worthy cause to benefit the children who need it most,’’ Robitaille said.

This year’s participants in the Celebrity Shootout include former NHL favorites and Hollywood’s elite celebrity players. Scheduled to appear are Jason Reitman (Director of Juno), Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Radio), Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters), Scott Wolf (Party of Five), Ryne Sanborn (High School Musical), Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights), Rachel Blanchard (Clueless, Snakes On A Plane), Michael Rosenbaum (Smallville), Jason Thompson (General Hospital) and comedian Tom Arnold, who will serve as game announcer.

Luc Robitaille, Tony Amonte, Marc Bergevin, Marcel Dionne, Nelson Emerson, Marty McSorley and Larry Murphy head the list of former NHL stars suiting up.

The Los Angeles Kings honored Robitaille’s playing career by retiring his jersey, No. 20, during a pre-game ceremony at the Staples Center on Jan. 20, 2007. His number hangs in the rafters alongside other Los Angeles greats Wayne Gretzky (99), Dionne (16), Dave Taylor (18) and Rogie Vachon (30).

”It wasn’t about scoring goals, it wasn’t about money, it wasn’t about fame,’’ Robitaille said. “I just wanted to play hockey. It was like a dream to me. My first game (against St. Louis) is the one I’ll never forget. I watched the game so much growing up and to be playing was simply incredible.’’

Robitaille scored over 40 goals in each of his first eight seasons.

Playing on a line with Dionne and Bryan Erickson in his NHL debut on Oct. 9, 1986, Robitaille scored the first of his career against St. Louis Blues goalie Rick Wamsley on the first shot of his first shift 16 minutes into the opening period of a 4-3 loss at The Forum. He would conclude his legendary career as No. 10 in League history with 668 goals.

Selected in the ninth round (171st overall) of the 1984 Entry Draft, the Montreal native had an immediate impact, collecting 45 goals and 39 assists in 1986-87 on the way to earning the Calder Trophy as the League’s top rookie. He remains the only rookie to lead the Kings in scoring through an entire season. He eclipsed the 40-goal mark in each of his first eight NHL seasons and fired home at least 20 goals in his initial 11 seasons.

”I’ve had a very good life, but if I could make a difference in the life of someone else who really needs it, that would be even more rewarding for me and my wife,’’ Robitaille said.

Robitaille, who spent three separate stints with the Kings during his illustrious career, retired as the all-time leading scorer among left wings with 1,394 points in 1,431 games. He established career highs of 63 goals and 125 points with Los Angeles in 1992-93, when the Kings lost in five games to the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final.

He still enjoys watching the game, which he admits has certainly progressed since his early playing days.

”I have noticed two major changes from when I began in the late 80’s,’’ Robitaille said. “First, I think it’s great that players from all over the world are now routinely picked by NHL teams at the draft. It has created a fast and exciting game to watch. Also, I feel the goaltending has improved tremendously. When Patrick Roy first came into the League and exhibited that butterfly style, that literally changed the game. But, back then, when you had a two-on-one with a pass across, it used to be a slam-dunk score. Now, you have to put it top corner or else you’ll be stopped.’’

Robitaille, 41, who is now the Kings president of business operations, also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings. He won a Stanley Cup with Detroit during the 2001-02 season after registering 50 points (30 goals) in 81 regular-season games and nine points (four goals) in 23 playoff contests.

Winning the Cup required much work and dedication – two traits Robitaille still possesses today in his fight to support those children in need.

For tickets to Luc Robitaille’s Celebrity Shootout or to make a donation, go to www.echoesofhope.org.

Contact Mike G. Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com.

Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season