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Guardian Angel

by Deborah Lew / Los Angeles Kings

On Christmas morning Anne Marie Pearson was brushing her teeth when the phone rang with an unfamiliar number on the screen.

“Hold on,” she answered, before rinsing her mouth.

When she came back to the call a short time later, the caller had hung up.

“I thought, gee that’s funny, at 9 a.m. on Christmas morning, who is making a sales call now?” admits Anne Marie.

She was further annoyed when the phone rang again, but the caller had hung up before she had the chance to answer. Finally, the phone rang a third time and she answered with an irritated tone.

The male voice on the other end of the phone identified himself as Luc Robitaille of the LA Kings. He wished Anne Marie a Merry Christmas, and informed her that she had won the Kings Care Foundation raffle for the 2014 championship ring.

Standing in her bedroom, Anne Marie remembers wondering who was playing a joke on her. Since the passing of her husband, Norman, six years ago, Anne Marie’s friends knew how difficult Christmas became. 

“Tell me who paid you to do this,” challenged, Anne Marie, who was unaware that the actual winner would be notified by Robitaille himself.

After a bit of polite insisting on Robitaille’s part, Anne Marie, in a state of shock, finally accepted that she had really won the ring, and would be receiving it at a dinner with Robitaille at a Kings game at the end of January.

When Anne Marie hung up the phone, she looked skyward and whispered: “thanks, babe.”

Norman and Anne Marie Pearson became Kings fans during the late 1970s when Anne Marie’s employer purchased season seats for Kings and Lakers games at the Forum. Since most of the other employees at the time preferred basketball tickets, the Pearsons pretty much had four tickets for every game, just behind the Kings bench.

It wasn’t long before the Pearsons became enamored with the game of hockey. Their lives began to revolve around the Kings, their game schedule, which opponents they were playing; Anne Marie was put in charge of the company tickets and would always ensure that she and Norman had the tickets for the best games, which came in handy when hockey popularity in Los Angeles increased upon Wayne Gretzky’s arrival.

During one game, as Gretzky left the bench after warm-ups, Anne Marie yelled to him, asking if she could have one of his broken sticks sometime. Gretzky gave no acknowledgement or indication that he heard her, but Norman was convinced that he had.

A couple months later, at a game on Christmas Eve, the Kings had just won the game, and as the Forum was clearing out, Pete Demers, the Kings trainer at the time, came up and handed Anne Marie a hockey stick.

“Merry Christmas from Wayne,” Demers told her.

To this day, Anne Marie still has the shiny silver and black Easton stick – unbroken and straight from Gretzky himself.

When Norman passed away six years ago, he and Anne Marie had been married for 45 years and together for almost 50. Following his passing Anne Marie dedicated a bench to her late husband near their home in Manhattan Beach, and is currently working on her third photo album containing photos of people with the bench. Anne Marie commissioned the artist to match the color of the bench to the water in Tahiti – a place that Norman loved.

The idea that she had won a Kings championship ring with their last name on it is what thrills Anne Marie most. As she was getting ready to head to the Kings game – her first in 10 years – and dinner with Robitaille to receive her ring, Anne Marie picked out a special jacket to wear for the evening.

The jacket was one she’d had since the early 80s – a man’s leather jacket that she had altered, the jacket featured the old black and white Kings logo on the back, which Anne Marie had adorned with rhinestones.

“I hadn’t worn it in a while, but I wanted to wear it to dinner with Luc,” said Anne Marie.

She reached in to empty out the jacket pockets, and one of the pockets contained an old tissue. In the other pocket, Anne Marie found an old ticket stub from a playoff game during the 1992-1993 season, and the photo on the ticket stub was that of Robitaille.

As anyone would have been, Anne Marie was shocked at the coincidence. Certain that Robitaille had already seen the ticket stub or would have one in a scrapbook somewhere, she wanted to take it to dinner to show him anyway.



“Why I had this ticket it my pocket after 23 years, I have no idea,” exclaimed Anne Marie.

As it turns out, Robitaille had never seen the photo or the ticket before, and Anne Marie was intrigued by the expression on Robitaille’s face upon seeing it. His reaction prompted Anne Marie to donate the ticket to a Kings 50th Anniversary project that Robitaille is working on.

That night at dinner, Anne Marie had Robitaille autograph her jacket, and received her personalized Kings Stanley Cup ring.

“I didn’t think in my wildest dreams that I would win the raffle. My thought was, we were such good fans that I owe it to the Kings for their Care Foundation, to buy some tickets. It’s a write off, it’s a donation, I need to do this,” explained Anne Marie, who bought 200 tickets for the raffle.

“You may think I’m off my rocker, but I’m convinced that my husband’s hand was in that raffle box to pick my name,” Anne Marie continued. “Everybody that knows us knows what fanatical fans we were of the Kings, and for me to win the ring, it wasn’t even a dream come true, because I would never in my wildest dreams have dreamt that.”

It’s been almost three weeks since Anne Marie collected her ring, and it has become something she wears proudly.

“I’m still on cloud nine. I wore the ring to a dinner party I went to recently, and on my finger it looks huge,” said Anne Marie, who stands tall at 4-feet, 9-inches. “Everybody could not believe that I was so fortunate to have won it.”

Good things happen when you have a guardian angel watching over you.

 

Follow on Twitter: @by_DeborahLew

Email story ideas: dlew@lakings.com
The Kings Communications Department on Twitter: @LAKingsPR

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