|Luc Robitaille and Wayne Gretzky were teammates with the Kings from 1988-94.
Before the arrival of Wayne Gretzky in 1988, a lot was made of the color of the Kings uniforms, especially as it relates to the yellow aspect of them. I didn’t mind them because I just wanted to play in the NHL.
I do remember Bruce McNall showing me a dark blue-and-silver-jersey that was going to be for the next year when he took over the team. This was the year before Gretzky arrived, and I said to him, ‘When I played juniors my last year we used to wear black-and-silver and Gretzky owned that team. You should look at those.’
At the All-Star Game that year, they did a story on me that Bruce saw. He noticed the jersey from my junior team and said, ‘Those are pretty nice.’ At the time I didn’t know he was trying to acquire Gretzky.
When he was talking to Wayne the following summer, he told Wayne he was going to change the team colors to those of the junior team Wayne owned. Wayne had changed the colors of that junior team too the prior year. It is kind of funny because that is how our color change took place. I was excited about getting new colors but I never minded the old colors because I was just happy to be in the NHL.
When Bruce had called me and told me a week earlier that he was really close to getting Gretzky, I was waiting for it and talked to a few people in the office. At the time of the trade, I was in Montreal with my parents. When the trade did happen, I sat there with a notepad and wrote down all the names of the people who were calling because I had to call them back. There must have been at least 75 different people, including reporters and L.A. people. That is all I did that day other than watch the press conference.
I was ecstatic as a player because Wayne was my idol. I was probably the most excited beside Bruce because there was my idol, sitting in a Kings uniform. I watched every one of his games as a kid and I would collect all his cards and I had pictures of him in my room. Everything he did, I tried to copy as a kid. For me to have a chance to play with my hero, I could not believe it. I was really nervous but I couldn’t believe my luck.
Being on the ice with Wayne made me very nervous. I was playing with my idol and I didn’t want to disappoint him. I put myself in a strange position because in my mind I could not afford to make a mistake. It was really hard for me to play with him at first because I idolized him so much. I wanted to score every time to not disappoint my idol. It took at least a year or two to get that out of my mind.
I noticed before he came that the minute you start winning in L.A. people would get excited. What happened was once we started winning, we drew the average, non-hockey sports fan to the Forum. Suddenly we were selling out every night. The year before we were selling out almost every night but only after Christmas. More importantly, people were really watching us on TV. People were actually flipping the station and going to Prime Ticket to watch the game because of Gretzky.
The next thing that happened is that Hollywood got behind us. Everybody in Hollywood wanted to come see our team because they wanted to see Gretzky. They got to know our team and that really brought even more interest from around the country.
With Wayne on our team in the post-season, the first year was especially memorable because we played against Edmonton, his old team. What helps make that series even more amazing is that we were down three-games-to-one. We started to play different, more physical, and anytime you have a chance to come back and win from a three-to-one deficit in a series is a super feeling. It was an absolutely incredible feeling and a lot of fun to be playing in that series.
Because all of Canada was watching, it was tough for Wayne and for those guys on the Oilers. Those guys grew up together. When that series was over Wayne was almost crying. It was a real difficult series for everyone involved.