As Kings fans have learned in recent years, the only team measuring stick that really matters is Stanley Cups. When it comes to individual NHL honors, the ultimate yardsticks are having your jersey retired and election to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Well, let's just say that Rob Blake is having one helluva year.
On November 17 in Toronto, the former Kings captain/defenseman and current club executive will join hockey's elite (only 263 players since it was established in 1943) as part of the 2014 Hall of Fame selection class.
Upon receiving the news, Blake said: “It is a great honor. I think when you receive that call, you're speechless because you're replaying everything throughout your career. I am fortunate and thankful as the game of hockey has been very good to me and my family over the past 25 years."
Blake was one of the most reliable and consistent defensemen of his era. A seven-time All Star. The Kings first Norris Trophy winner in 1998 as the NHL's best blueliner. Two stints as Kings captain (1996-01 and 2007-08). Gold medal winner at 2002 Olympics. In fact, Blake is simply the all-time leader in games, goals, assists and points by a Kings defenseman.
Known for his booming slapshot and devastating hip checks, Blake may not have won a Cup as a player in LA (he did in Colorado), and he may have stirred controversy when he was traded to the Avalanche before he was about to become an unrestricted free agent in the 2001 offseason, but there's no question that the deadline deal to the Avs was a huge factor in Colorado's Cup win. Blake made an immediate impact for Colorado, leading all defensemen in playoff scoring.
Speaking of those highlight reel hip checks, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who someday may have a plaque in Toronto alongside Blake, told Jon Rosen of the LA Kings Insider: "That hip check he (Blake) threw when he was playing, I've learned to do that over the years. I definitely saw him do it first when I was a kid. He was a great influence on my career and was my favorite defenseman growing up."
On the heels of the Hall of Fame selection, the Kings announced that as part of a special pregame ceremony at STAPLES Center on January 17, Blake will have his No. 4 jersey retired. He will become only the sixth Kings player to be so honored by the organization, joining Luc Robitaille (#20 / 2007), Wayne Gretzky (#99 / 2002), Dave Taylor (#18 / 1995), Marcel Dionne (#16 / 1990) and Rogie Vachon (#30 / 1985).
“It is an honor to be included with the former great LA King players who have their jerseys retired. I have always felt LA was a special place to play and it was and is a tremendous privilege to put on an LA Kings jersey," said Blake.
Blake's white jersey from the "silver and black era" will hang from the STAPLES rafters.
In his 20 NHL seasons, Rob Blake had just one hat trick. But when you add a Stanley Cup as the Kings Vice President/Assistant General Manager to the Kings Jersey Retirement and the Hockey Hall of Fame honors, Blake scored a once in a lifetime hat trick that cements his position as one of the Kings and the NHL's best ever.Las Vegas-based Mike Tenay is on twitter @RealMikeTenay. His full-time job has him serving as the Impact Wrestling announcer on Spike TV