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NHL Centennial

Luc Robitaille got interesting reward for goal record

Scored 611th goal 15 years ago today, passing Bobby Hull for most by NHL left wing

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

What do you give someone who passes one of your records?

The legendary Bobby Hull's knack for flamboyance didn't just vanish Jan. 18, 2002, in Detroit, the night 15 years ago that Luc Robitaille passed him for career goals by a left wing when he scored his 611th.

Robitaille, who was in the first of his two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, remembered the postgame scene at Joe Louis Arena. Hull had been on hand as the Red Wings defeated the Washington Capitals 3-1.

"Bobby Hull was there and he came down in the locker room and he goes, 'It's about time. I've been carrying this cigar forever!'" Robitaille said in an interview with

"He gave me this cigar that was all kind of chewed up. It was funny. He's a character and a half."

Robitaille's record goal came at 1:50 of the first period, when he deflected Kirk Maltby's shot past Capitals goaltender Olaf Kolzig. It was his only shot on goal in the game.

The standing ovation from the crowd, the record and Hull's presence in the arena combined to make it an exceptional night for Robitaille, who also assisted on a third-period goal.

"That makes it pretty special," Robitaille told the Detroit Free Press that night. "It's going to be meaningful once I retire, but I don't want to stop here. I want to keep going and win a Cup."

A few months later the Red Wings did just that, and Robitaille's long-awaited dream of a Stanley Cup was realized in his 16th NHL season.

The 2001-02 Red Wings were hockey's definition of a dream team. Nine players from that team would wind up in the Hockey Hall of Fame: Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, Brett Hull, Nicklas Lidstrom, Robitaille, Steve Yzerman, Igor Larionov, Chris Chelios and Dominik Hasek.

Pavel Datsyuk was a 23-year-old rookie and Steve Duchesne, 36, who had been a teammate of Robitaille's with the Los Angeles Kings, was playing in his final NHL season.

Robitaille had tied Hull with No. 610 against the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 9, in Detroit, scoring after a long stretch of sustained Red Wings pressure. One of the broadcasters noted of the goals, "Luc Robitaille has about 350 of this type."

There were nine days and three goal-less games before Robitaille scored the record-breaker.

Robitaille went on to finish his NHL career in Los Angeles, where it started. He retired with 668 goals and 1,394 points in 1,431 games during 19 seasons.

"I didn't start for this. It wasn't about scoring goals," Robitaille said when the Kings retired his No. 20 on Jan. 20, 2007. "It wasn't about money. It wasn't about fame. I just wanted to play hockey. I wanted to play in the NHL."

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