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Luc Hall of Fame Interview

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Luc Robitaille will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday.

DAVID KEON: I'm David Keon of the National Hockey League's public relations department. I'd like to welcome you to today's call. This is our third of four calls this week leading into next Monday's Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony here in Toronto.

With us we have 2009 inductee Luc Robitaille. Thanks to Luc for taking the time to join us and answer your questions, and thanks to Mike Altieri of the Los Angeles Kings' public relations department for helping to arrange this call.

Luc was the Kings' ninth choice, 171st overall in the 1984 NHL entry draft. He went on to play 19 seasons with the Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins, the New York Rangers and Detroit.

His 1,431 regular-season games played are 20th all-time, and his 668 regular-season goals are tenth all-time. He recorded 726 career assists, 44th all-time, and his point total of 1,394, 20th all-time.

He was the Rookie of the Year in 1987, won the Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2002, and appeared in eight NHL All-Star games.

Thanks again to Luc for taking the time to join us and answer your questions.

Questions.

Q. Luc, first of all, thanks for doing this, and congratulations. I want your thoughts. You're going into a Hall of Fame class with a few former teammates. When you look back at the '02 season with Detroit, the Stanley Cup season, what's your fondest memories and what's it like to go on with those teammates?

LUC ROBITAILLE: I think my best memory of that team was I was - at the time I never played on a team with that much talent, you know. And I remember the first words at the beginning of training camp coming from Scotty Bowman and Ken Holland were: We're here to win the Stanley Cup so we're going to start preparing for it now.

So they actually had strategized about training camp and where we weren't going to we were going to have a certain times of practices and making sure already that we were thinking of not getting any injuries and so forth.

And that kind of blew me away thinking when you showed up at camp the first talk was about, okay, we want to play all the way to June so we're going to manage what we're doing now because it's going to be a long ride.

So right away that was in your mind that, okay, this is serious, we really are here. There's nothing else but the Cup here. So I was really impressed by that.

Q. At the time, did you ever take a moment to say, boy, this team is loaded; this is potentially one of the great teams, to have everybody assembled?

LUC ROBITAILLE: Yeah, I remember talking to a few people saying, if you really look at it - and there were - I think we figured there was 11 possible future Hall of Famers on the organization, which it's a lot. I don't think that could ever be put together ever again, you know.

Q. I want to take you back to '93, the final of Game 2, third period, Marty McSorley called for the illegal stick. I was just wondering if you are satisfied that there was no shenanigans that went on and that the halves didn't have prior knowledge of the stick before that event occurred. Do you think they were flying blind or did you think they had inside knowledge?

LUC ROBITAILLE: I don't think they were flying blind, but I don't think anyone will ever admit to it. Actually, there are a couple of people that told me, you know, throughout time, that it wasn't blind. But there's been a lot of water under the bridge, and I actually know for a fact that it wasn't blind, but that's the way it goes. It's the game, and at the end of the day, like we had to make sure everyone on our team had the right stick, especially when you get in the third period. And sometimes those are the situations that happen. Looking back at it, I still think that, you know, we played two games in LA after that. We lost them both in double - I mean one in overtime and the other in double overtime and it still could have been our series. It was just some kind of situation that happened. But as far as I'm concerned, I don't think they were ever blind.

Q. Do you have a sense how they knew to choose that stick?

LUC ROBITAILLE: I know, but I won't get into it.

Q. I know you wouldn't (laughing). What gives you the idea that they weren't flying blind?

LUC ROBITAILLE: Well, someone told me (chuckling). Bad memories there.

Q. (Speaking in French).

LUC ROBITAILLE: The gentleman asked me if I had to bet where is the NHL going to be, the next team, and I said the Bahamas.

Q. Luc, just wondering if you had a chance to look at John Tavares. And I'm wondering, he reminds me much of you in that he's not a brilliant skater but has this phenomenal eye-to-hand coordination. Have you had a chance to look at him and do you think he could be another Luc Robitaille?

LUC ROBITAILLE: First pick, he better -

Q. He was not exactly where you were drafted.

LUC ROBITAILLE: I think he's a very special player. He's got a knack around the net that's very special. I've seen him play probably five games this year. And I'm always impressed. You watch him and you're not sure about the game, and the next thing you know he gets the puck and something amazing seems to happen. He definitely has a knack, too, in the big moment and the bigger the game is to shine. I think he's going to be a very, very special player in our league.

Q. (Question and answer in French).

Q. Luc, I'm wondering of all the things that you were able to accomplish during your NHL career, what you look back on with the most pride?

LUC ROBITAILLE: That's what I just told the gentleman in French. I think my proudest moment is making the NHL. Because I'll never forget getting my first game to get on the ice and looking up at the rafter of the - at the time it was the Fabulous Forum in LA and thinking, man, this is it, you're in the NHL now, you better work hard every day to stay here. But that was my proudest moment. Then after that, you know, once you're in, you start thinking, man, I've got to win a Cup, I've got to do things, I've got to stay here every day and do what's right to be part of a team. But to be in the NHL is very special in itself. And to play that first game was certainly something, and then after that obviously winning the Stanley Cup was an amazing feeling. Never forget in '91 sitting in a locker room with Wayne and Mark Messier and we had a great team playing for Team Canada for the Canada Cup. Growing up Canada Cup was such a huge tournament, and to be part of that, it's just - it seemed surreal for me at the time.

Q. How does a guy go from being taken in the ninth round in 1984 and two years later he's in the NHL? How did you work your way through the system so quickly?

LUC ROBITAILLE: You know, I always looked at it - I'm kind of a guy that looks at everything with the glass half full. And I remember thinking, when I got drafted, I'm on the list, now it's up to me to make a difference. And I was on the list. And I gave them no choice but to look at me. My first two training camps they were sending me home early, but when I would go back in junior, I didn't take anything for granted. I would try to get better every year. And I got better in junior. I gave the Kings no choice but to look at me, to tell you the truth. It was putting up numbers, and I was doing the right thing. My teams were winning in Junior, and I think that's what it is. And there's no secret to it. I just worked really hard. I was practicing after every practices. But it was never work. It was always just the love of the game for me.

Q. Now, a real serious question for you: Have you seen your bobblehead yet?

LUC ROBITAILLE: (Chuckling) I saw it the other day.

Q. And?

LUC ROBITAILLE: I got a good kick out of it, I've got to be honest with you. It was fun.

Q. You must be looking forward to that night; that's going to be kind of fun for you?

LUC ROBITAILLE: Yeah, you know, I mean, it's very special. The Kings have been treating me real good throughout the years. And it's going to be special. And next Monday to get in there, I mean, I don't even know how I'm going to feel yet because it's one of those I'm trying not to think about it too much, because you suddenly get nervous about it, you know?

Q. Right. Who is accompanying you to Toronto for the ceremony?

LUC ROBITAILLE: You know, most of my close friends are coming. Obviously my parents and my wife and kids. And what I like about it, it's a very tight group. There's something very special about it. I was there last year with Igor Larionov. So it's not like you can bring a bunch of people. And I kind of like that because I'm going to be able to enjoy it with the people that are closest to me.

Q. Steve Yzerman yesterday was saying that one of the great moments for him, and it helped him get prepared, was when he went last year with Larionov getting in. Are you taking any former teammates? Obviously the guys you played with in Detroit. But anybody else?

LUC ROBITAILLE: There's a few guys that are coming. They've been - in a funny way my wife and even the Kings have been keeping a few things secret. They're doing a night here in LA. They're keeping that secret. They're doing a few things in Toronto that they've kept a little bit of a secret for me just to make it fun. So I don't know all the guys that are coming. I know there's a couple of guys that are coming. But seats are tight. And I know Marcel is coming and Mattias Norstrom is coming in. I know there's a couple of surprises I don't know so far.

Q. The other thing that Steve talked about yesterday is that even back to the Detroit days, when you had that stacked roster, is that nobody sits around the room and goes, wow, we're all going to be in the Hall of Fame one day. When did you start realizing that this was a possibility, or did you even think of it?

LUC ROBITAILLE: I never thought of it until - I think I thought of it once in my career and it lasted about five seconds because I was so scared the next day I was going to play a bad game and the next thing you know I would be back home. So that was always the fear for me.

But I do remember scoring my 500th goal and someone said, you know, if you score 500 goals it gives you a real good shot of getting into the Hall of Fame. I remember thinking: That's pretty cool. I never thought of it that way. You just keep on playing and try to be the best you could be every day. But I remember it was the reporter that told me that, and I was like, wow, that certainly would be special.

But, like I said, I had to focus on the game that we were going to play the very next game. That didn't last very long.

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