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Lucky Luc Gets the Call to the Hall of Fame

LA Kings President Luc Robitaille recalls being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame a decade ago

by Mike Commito @mikecommito / LAKings.com

Ten years ago, while sitting in his office in El Segundo, Luc Robitaille's phone rang. As he looked down at the screen, he recognized it as a Toronto-based number.

It wasn't unusual. By that point, Robitaille had been the LA Kings' President of Business Operations for a couple years, so he regularly fielded calls from all sorts of different areas codes.

What made this particular call unique was that it happened to be induction day for the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

After determining who would be entering hockey's pantheon each year, the induction committee personally calls each of the inductees to deliver the good news.

Robitaille had been unaware of the significance of that day until he was reminded by a colleague, but he just shrugged it off. So when the Toronto number flashed across his phone, Robitaille assumed it was just business as usual.

But when he picked it up, he recognized the voice immediately. It was Pat Quinn, his first NHL coach.

Quinn wanted to make sure he was the one to tell Robitaille, the highest-scoring left winger in NHL history, that he was headed to the Hall.  

When Robitaille heard the news, he couldn't believe it.

"It was humbling. You don't play for that. So just to hear I was inducted was truly a humbling moment," he acknowledged. "I wasn't sure if they were making a mistake," he added with a laugh. 

Once reality set in, Robitaille spent the rest of the summer looking forward to the induction. When the festivities finally arrived, he described it as a feeling of pure excitement.

"Someone told me to make sure I enjoyed every moment, and I did," he recalled.

Joining him that weekend were Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull, and Brian Leetch, teammates of Robitaille's throughout his career. For Robitaille to enter the Hall of Fame with that class of players was just incredible.

"I have so much respect for those guys," he stated. "It was a total honor to be there with Steve, Brett, and Brian. It's kind of hard to describe how much respect I have for those guys. It was just an incredible feeling."

While Robitaille was familiar with his fellow players, having had the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup with Yzerman and Hull in Detroit, the ceremonies also gave him the opportunity to better get to know Lou Lamoriello, who was inducted in the builder category.

As Robitaille later joked around in his acceptance speech, he made sure he was on time for all the activities that weekend because he knew Lamoriello was in tow. 

"I didn't know Lou but he had a great sense of humor and he really had fun and enjoyed the weekend," Robitaille recollected. "I was expecting Lou to be really serious the whole weekend and be in hockey mode, but he really enjoyed it with his entire family. It was a lot of fun to be around him and see another side of him."

Although rubbing shoulders with his former teammates and getting his Hall of Fame ring alongside them is something that he'll cherish forever, Robitaille's fondest memories from the induction was the time spent with his family.

"It was really about my family being with me. That's what made it really special," he recalled fondly. 

As part of the celebrations with his family, Robitaille wanted to give them a dining experience they wouldn't forget. Enlisting the help of another former teammate, Wayne Gretzky, Robitaille rented out Gretzky's eponymous restaurant in Toronto and arranged a meal with the Stanley Cup.

"I hosted my family there the night before and the Hall of Fame brought the Stanley Cup," he explained. "Dinner with the Cup. It was pretty cool."

Although it's been a decade since Robitaille was inducted, Hall of Fame weekend is still exciting for him, especially as President of the Kings.

Tweet from @HockeyHallFame: On November 18th, join the who's who of hockey and be a part of the reverence and prestige of the Hockey Hall of Fame's biggest night of the year, the Induction Celebration!Get your tickets https://t.co/ecl497gH3ASee the Class of 2019 https://t.co/XfWICNYN2W pic.twitter.com/6QhrQr1F5I

Among the inductees this year he's keeping an eye on are Jim Rutherford, who spent some time in LA as a goaltender before going on to have an incredible career as an executive, and trailblazer Vaclav Nedomasky, who scouted with the Kings after finishing his playing career, which included becoming the first player to defect and play professionally in North America. 

Robitaille is delighted that both are being honored.

"Jimmy was here and some of our fans, long-time season ticket holders still remember him," he noted. 

While Robitaille joined the Kings a few years after Rutherford's stint, he remembers Nedomansky's time in the organization.

"Ned was such a big part of scouting here when I was a player," he said. "He was such a good man and I'm glad that the Hall is recognizing him because he was a very impactful player."

The 2019 Hockey Hall of Fame celebrations begin on November 15th and culminate with the induction ceremony on November 18th.

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