When individuals are inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, they are legends. Their iconic status has begun long before they receive their appointment call, and their professionalism has long since been respected and admired.
But they aren’t just professionals.
For Brandy Blake and her kids, Jack, Brooke, and Max, Rob Blake, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday, is first and foremost a doting husband and father.
After a 20-year NHL career which saw him play 1, 270 games with the LA Kings, Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks, the Stanley Cup Champion, Norris Trophy winner and seven-time All-Star retired in 2010 and eventually became the Hockey Operations Manager for the NHL. Rob is currently the Assistant General Manager for the Kings, where his NHL career began in 1989.
“I just know him as a loving father here at the house, and he’s great to us here at home,” says Brandy, a Southern California native.
When Brandy was in high school, her mom was working at a Bank of America branch when Rob came in to open a checking account.
“My mom thought I should meet him,” Brandy recalls, laughing. “I didn’t think my mom knew what she was talking about.”
Brandy never took her mom up on the offer, but years later Brandy worked as a server at a restaurant in Hermosa Beach where Rob and his friends would often dine. The rest, as they say, is history.
Interestingly enough, one of the things Brandy enjoyed the most from Rob’s playing days was his hipcheck, which most of Rob’s colleagues and fans can easily relate to. Brandy though, would empathize with Rob’s victims.
“I would feel bad for him, but usually they would get back up,” Brandy joked.
One of the biggest challenges for Brandy was moving her family from the place she grew up each time Rob switched teams. When he was traded by the Kings to Colorado during the 2000-2001 season, Brandy was pregnant with Jack.
“He was at the end of a two-week long road trip and he called and said he was traded and had to go straight there,” remembers Brandy. “It’s hard for any hockey wife when their husband gets traded.”
When Rob began his work with the NHL following his retirement, moves were no longer necessary, and he was able to live in LA and commute to work in Toronto, Ontario, which is about 90 minutes from his hometown of Simcoe, where he owns a cottage.
“He loved working for the NHL, but I don’t think he felt part of a team,” Brandy admits. “I think when you’ve always played a team sport you love being with a team.”
Coming back to Los Angeles to take the Assistant GM job in the summer of 2013, it wasn’t just a homecoming for Brandy. After playing in a Kings uniform for 14 seasons, it’s obvious that Rob too, calls SoCal home.
“He’s always wanted to win a Cup here, so I think it was a dream come true for him to actually win it,” says Brandy of the Kings 2014 Stanley Cup Championship. Rob’s Cup win as a player came in 2001, his first season with the Avalanche.
With what little free time Rob has, he and Brandy enjoy going out for dinner, sometimes with Kings colleagues Nelson Emerson and Glen Murray and their wives, they take bike rides together, and they are also very involved with their kids.
Jack, 13, plays on the Bantam AAA team for the Junior Kings, and up until this season was coached by Rob. Rob still attends as many of Jack’s games as he can, while Jack loves attending Kings games with his buddies. After games Dad and Son spend time critiquing plays and breaking down games.
“I love that they have that bond together, but they also talk about Jack’s baseball, and they both go surfing together, so they do other things outside hockey,” shares Brandy. “But Jack’s favorite is hockey, like his dad.”
Brooke, 11, plays soccer, dances ballet, and is also in a rock band with schoolmates, and Rob and Brandy can often be found at her soccer games, recitals and concerts. Then of course, there’s all the action associated with running after two-year-old Max.
While Rob’s public persona can sometimes be described as ‘quiet,’ Brandy is quick to point out that this is not how it is at home. According to Brandy, they even have dance parties with the kids, in which Rob is an active participant.
“He’s really sweet and he’s really a good family man at home,” confirms Brandy. “He’s a cool dad, but strict too.”
That necessary balance is undoubtedly part of what has made Rob Blake successful – a two-time Stanley Cup Champ, an Olympic Gold Medalist, a World Champion, and after Monday, a Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee. But he is also a biking partner, a surfing buddy, a ballet enthusiast, and probably pretty proficient at toddler-proofing a home.
And he has dance parties.