Deadmarsh grew up in Canada, where he was a fan of the Edmonton Oilers and his favorite player, Wayne Gretzky. When Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles in 1988, Deadmarsh’s allegiance followed him.
“Growing up I was a Gretzky fan, and when he went to the Kings, that became my new team because of him,” says Deadmarsh, who was 13 at the time of The Trade. “When Gretzky went to LA I think that really helped the game in general, and it definitely opened up a lot of eyes to the game when he went there.”
Just 13 years after the trade that brought Gretzky to LA, Deadmarsh himself was traded to the Kings from the Colorado Avalanche with Aaron Miller, a player to be named later, and a first round pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft for Rob Blake and Steven Reinprecht. Deadmarsh had been drafted by the Avalanche organization and had won a Stanley Cup in Colorado in 1996. A couple months prior to his trade, Deadmarsh and his wife, Christa, welcomed their first children to the world, twin girls.
“It was a little bit of a shock and I really didn’t know what to expect, but when I got to LA the guys were great, the fans were awesome, and looking back, I was truly honored to be part of that team, it was a lot of fun,” recalls Deadmarsh, who didn’t really know any of the Kings players at the time. “It was really easy to fit into the locker room, and it was a quick transition as far as feeling comfortable around those guys.”
Continues Deadmarsh: “Hockey in general, I think a lot of guys feel that way. Everyone’s kind of on the same even keel, and it’s one sport that I think guys really get along well in.”
Later on that same season, Deadmarsh became a playoff hero of sorts, when he helped propel the Kings past the heavily favored Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. At one point during that series, the Kings were down by three goals in Game 4, while trailing the series 2-1. Not only did the Kings come back to win that game to tie the series, but they won the next two, including Game 6 in overtime, in which Deadmarsh scored both the game-tying and game-winning goals.
“My greatest memory [in LA] is our playoff games we played there,” Deadmarsh remembers. “I had played in Colorado, and it was a lot of fun there as well, when we were doing well in the playoffs, and there’s no question that LA rivaled that atmosphere as far as the excitement in the stands, especially when we beat Detroit, the atmosphere in the building was truly incredible, and it really sticks out in my mind how loud it was in there and how exciting a time it was for everyone involved.”
The fandom in Los Angeles did not come as a surprise to Deadmarsh.
“When we had played in LA in the past, I knew that they had great fans there and it was an exciting atmosphere to play in. But there’s something about playoffs that just raises that excitement level. It was amazing how loud it was in the building, and I guess that did surprise me a little, how loud it really did get in there.”
After being forced to retire in 2005 as the result of concussions, Deadmarsh was honored in March of 2006 at a game at STAPLES Center between the Kings and the Avalanche for his dedication to both teams. Playoffs included, Deadmarsh racked up 131 games in a Kings jersey, with 50 goals and 95 points to his credit.
One of the things he is most grateful for from his time in Los Angeles, is the friends he made here.
“I know that if I got in a room with guys that I played with there, it’d be like it was yesterday,” Deadmarsh says. “I’m very fortunate to have been associated with guys like Luc Robitaille, Bryan Smolinski, Glen Murray, and Mattias Norstrom.”
Since he left LA, he did return while part of the Avalanche coaching staff, but recently has been keeping tabs on his former team from afar.
“I was happy to see them win [the Stanley Cup], it was definitely great for the city, they deserve it. There have been a lot of loyal fans for a lot of years, and I’m always excited to see people get rewarded who have stuck with a team for a long time,” says Deadmarsh about the Kings recent achievements. “I played a little bit with Dustin Brown, so it was great to see him have the success that he had. He was always a nice kid, so I was glad to see him win.”
Beyond that, Deadmarsh has noticed the strides that have been made in the state of California as a whole, as far as hockey growth in the last 20 years.
“If you look at kids that are getting drafted, the hockey systems that they have in place there, the support that the people have for their NHL teams, I think it’s great. I’m a big believer that hockey is a great bonding sport for kids to play, I think they make great friends and they have great experiences playing it for the most part,” Deadmarsh explains. “I’m glad that California has latched on like they have, and I think it’s great.”
Deadmarsh, his wife, and their two daughters currently reside in the state of Washington, and raising two teenage daughters currently occupies most of their time. Being in the Pacific Northwest for the last 10 years, Deadmarsh has really come to miss being able to put shorts on every day, as he could while living in LA.
“It’s pretty easy to get used to 70-degrees all winter long. And I miss the ocean, just kind of hanging out down there by the waves – I love the water, and to be able to walk down to the beach and spend time down there with friends and family is pretty neat.”
He may be a little ways from the sun and sand of Manhattan Beach now, but Deadmarsh gets to help raise his family after retiring from a sport he loves from the team he cheered for as a kid.
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