After Luc Robitaille won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002, he knew he wanted to bring the trophy back to Los Angeles. It was, after all, where he started his NHL career and where he and his family made their home, so it was only fitting he bring hockey's holy grail back to where it all began for him.
When it was time for Robitaille's day with the Cup later that summer, he brought it to some of the city's most popular tourist attractions.
Not only did he pose for pictures and autographs with it at the Chinese Theater, but he also brought it to Universal Studios. Much to the delight of the patrons on the Jaws ride, he reportedly placed Lord Stanley's mug into the mouth of the mechanical shark. And of course, the trip wouldn't be complete if he and his wife, Stacia, didn't stop in front of the iconic Hollywood Sign.
But to cap off the celebrations, Robitaille brought the Cup to Dodger Stadium. Wearing a Red Wings hat and a Dodgers jersey, for good measure, Robitaille hoisted the trophy at home plate before the Dodgers took on the Atlanta Braves.
During his time with the Kings, Dodger Stadium had always been a special place for Robitaille, but there was another reason he wanted to bring the Cup there that day.
"It happened to be the same time that Tom Glavine was going to be there and he was drafted in the same year as me by the Kings, so I thought that would be really cool," Robitaille said.
Glavine, who won the National League Cy Young twice with the Braves and went on to a Hall of Fame career, was actually drafted higher than Robitaille at the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, going 69th overall, 102 spots higher than Robitaille.
Although Glavine scored 47 goals and 94 points in 23 games of high school hockey, he decided to pursue baseball because he felt being a left-handed pitcher gave him a distinct advantage on the mound rather than on the ice.
While the two never ended up being teammates, Robitaille spent plenty of time at the ballpark during his tenure with the Kings. In his playing days he was often invited to participate in celebratory softball games with the Dodgers, but Robitaille is quick to point out it wasn't softball in the early '90s.
"It wasn't softball, it was baseball," he said. "The first few years, Tommy Lasorda used to be the pitcher. He would pitch it right down the middle."
Although the Dodgers manager hadn't pitched for nearly four decades by that point, Robitaille was in awe of how Lasorda controlled the ball. "Tommy used to like to do batting practice, so he would throw it a little bit softer in batting practice, but during the game it was probably 70 to 75 miles per hour and it was right down the middle every time. It was amazing," Robitaille said.
Lasorda gave Robitaille some great opportunities, but he was never able to connect for a home run. "One year with Tommy, I hit one and it was going to be out it just went foul at the end," he said. "I was so disappointed."
After Robitaille joined the Kings' front office in 2007, he and the club had the opportunity to bring the Stanley Cup back to Dodger Stadium after winning the championship in 2012.
"That was the coolest thing we have ever done as an organization with the Dodgers," he said.
In 2014, after playing the Stadium Series game against the Ducks at Dodger Stadium, the first outdoor NHL game in California, the club returned to the ballpark at the end of the season to celebrate yet another championship on the field.
"We brought the Cup both times to Dodger Stadium, but in 2014, our entire team was with them on the field with them. That was pretty cool," Robitaille said.
As the Kings get ready to host another Dodgers Night, Robitaille recognizes, perhaps now more than ever, how important it is for the pro teams in Los Angeles to celebrate each other and their shared place in the city's sporting landscape.
"I think it's really important," he said. "We should partner with each other. Communities gather around teams, so why not have the teams work together and help support the good stuff we do around this great city."
The Kings host the Calgary Flames for Dodgers Night on February 12th. The first 16,000 fans in attendance will receive an LA Kings + Dodgers Anze Kopitar Bobblehead presented by San Manuel Casino.