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50 KINGS - Lorne Stamler

by Jeff Moeller / Los Angeles Kings

Dave Taylor played in 1,111 regular season games with the Kings. Luc Robitaille played in 1,077 contests for the club.

Meanwhile 22 men have played in just one game with the team (Peter Budaj joined that list during the season), and 110 played in nine games or less.

Lorne Stamler was one of those gentlemen.

Stamler, a left wing, saw limited action with the Kings during the 1970s. He is one of six Kings to play in only nine games joining he likes of Steve Richmond, Brayden Schenn and Donald Dufresne.

The Kings – celebrating our 50th Anniversary – have a long, unique and storied past. Stamler is one of the 622 to lace up the skates for the franchise and he recently answered these questions as part of our 50 KINGS series on What are your memories of being an LA King?

Stamler: Living in LA, the one big thing I remember with Butchy Goring was that he always wore the spats helmets, which we wore in college. I happened to bring two of them with me and I gave them to him that year. He wore those all the way right through, I think until he went to the Islanders. They probably had so much paint on them it was crazy. Talk a little more about your background. You were born in Winnipeg but you went to college in the U.S., right?

Stamler: I was born in Winnipeg but I was only there for two years, until I was two and then I moved to Northern Quebec and actually I was drafted by the Toronto Marlies. I played in Toronto for two years with the Marlies in junior hockey and then there were three or four of us from the Marlies who went to Michigan Tech: Gary Crosby, Graham Wise and Mike Usitalo, who I went in with and he was drafted by the Kings too. I played with him and knew he played one or two games up there. I was born and raised in Canada in a small mining town up in Northern Quebec. My brother, my dad and I built the rink up there. The mine gave us the boards and everything else so I went from there. When I got drafted by the Kings while I was in college my first year, I stayed in college because back then they had to offer you a contract, but the contract was saying, ‘Hey kid, stay in college.’ Was it unusual considering your career and where you’re from to go play college hockey in the U.S.?

Stamler: Most of the kids stayed in juniors because that was the way to go at that time. They weren’t picking a whole lot of college hockey players. When I went to college I figured I would get a degree and work. Personally I really did not plan on playing in the National Hockey League. It was always a dream of mine but I never planned on it when I went to college. In my junior career I wasn’t a super star or that type of thing but I could skate. I was a good skater so college was a place to go because obviously they paid for it and I got a degree. When I got drafted I said I’ll stay in college and get my degree, and I’ll go to camp four years later. When I came out of college they were looking at the college ranks more and more then and it started to go from there. You saw more college hockey players making the NHL. What was it like for you to be out of college and suddenly in the minors playing hockey in Fort Worth, Texas?

Stamler: Well we were split there with the Kings and the Islanders. I know I played with Abby DeMarco with the Kings. Bob Berry came down and eventually wound up coaching in Springfield. Bobby Bourne who played for the Islanders was in Fort Worth. Also Bobby Lorimer, who I went to college with, went to the Islanders and of course they won those four Cups in a row. Mario Lessard, the goaltender, I’m still friends with him and see him on Facebook. Juha Widing, who is not alive anymore from what I heard, and guys like Pete Demers and Johnny Holmes, the trainers, I’m still friends with them on Facebook. Ian Turnbull, who I played with in Toronto, lives in LA still. I talk to him every once in a while. Russ Walker, who actually was traded for from Toronto to LA, I believe played a few games in LA. Rogie Vachon took me under his wing when I got there, because I was in the hotel for three months, so he would bring me up to the house for dinner. Mike Murphy, who I played with in juniors and with the Marlies, he was there. Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer; Charlie I played with in Springfield and Dave I played against in college. During the two seasons that you played at the NHL level with the Kings, the team was about .500. You mentioned a lot of great names like Butch Goring, Dave Taylor, Rogie Vachon and Mike Murphy, and yet the team did not have the success then, that it has had in more recent years. What kind of team were you trying to break in and stay with? Was there a style of play that suited your strengths?

Stamler: My strengths were skating and penalty killing. I was a specialty team player and that’s one reason why I stuck in Toronto. Roger Neilson was a specialist as far as power play and penalty killing are concerned. When I went there I fit in because I was a good skater. When I was in LA I killed penalties with Butch Goring, and then of course Marcel Dionne came and I played with him there. I thought I fit in to LA’s plan but it’s also a political game too. The other thing was that coming out of college, I was 23 or 24. I’m not 18 or 19 coming out of junior. When I was with the Kings I was 26 or 27. I think age played a factor as far as where I would go and who I would be with. Pully was a heck of a coach and was very demanding. The team we had, we went in to Atlanta and beat them in the playoffs, which was not supposed to happen. The parody of the teams was pretty close. I thought I fit in to their style fairly well but again, everything is a numbers game, and I do believe that age played a factor. How did you enjoy living in Redondo Beach?

Stamler: I was coming from a small town of 2,000 people and going to a college that has 4,000 people and it was still a small town up in Michigan. Going to LA, I adjusted to number one the traffic and also the different diversities of people. I used to spend a lot of time in Huntington Beach and Manhattan Beach because that was what I liked. There was the Hollywood scene, the beach people, you’ve got three or four different cultures out there. Rogie (Vachon) used to go to the race track which was right by the Forum, all the time. I used to go with him because I was at the hotel and I would meet him over there. I’m not a big race fan but he was big on that. There was definitely a culture shock. Coming from a population of 2,000 to LA, and of course the travel of two weeks in length, you were totally exhausted. I did get to see Chuck Barris do the Gong Show because he used to put it on at the Forum every once and a while. A lot of the guys who were hockey players that were movie stars are from Hollywood.

LAKings: Finally you played with the Kings, the Jets, and the Maple Leafs -- almost 120 NHL games in total. Is there a specific team that you identify with when you look back at your NHL playing career, more so than the others?

Stamler: I look back as LA being my start, but I really look at Toronto as being one of the major teams. In Winnipeg I played the whole year until I got hurt, but Toronto because I played junior hockey there and I kind of grew up there, I look at the Leafs as being one of the major portions of my career. Winnipeg went out the first year in expansion and I think I was 28 or 29, so I knew I was not going to be around for much longer. What have you been doing since you hung up the skates?

Stamler: When I got out of hockey, when I was with the Checkers with the Islanders organization, we moved to the Tampa Bay, Florida area and started a little chemical manufacturing company. I’ve been doing that ever since I got out of hockey. I’m retired now and do some consulting with the company but that’s about it. It was a cleaning chemical company. I love living in Florida. And that’s where you make your home now?

Stamler: Yeah I’m in Clearwater and I’ve been here for 25 years. When I came down here there were retired guys who had a league down here. I played in I think 10 games but the young kids were too serious about it and they weren’t paying me anymore so I really haven’t put the skates on. I skate with my grandkids every once and while but that’s about it.

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