Robitaille Reunites With Kings

Times Staff Writer

Luc Robitaille, one of the most recognizable names in King history, will play again for the team that drafted him in 1984 and later rode his scoring touch on the way to the franchise’s only appearance in the Stanley Cup finals.

The popular left wing signed a one-year contract for $1.1 million and will reunite with the Kings for a third time after spending the last two seasons with Detroit.

Robitaille, 37, played 12 seasons with the Kings and became a crowd pleaser with a scoring flair that ultimately earned him several team records.


Robitaille, who made $4 million last year with Detroit, took a significant pay cut to return to Los Angeles. With personal and team incentives, he could earn about $2.5 million this season, sources said.

Negotiations between the Kings and Robitaille initially stalled because of disagreements over contract incentives, but the Kings are now reunited with the highest-scoring left wing in NHL history.

“The Kings is where it all started for me, and the fans of Los Angeles have always treated me and my family well,” Robitaille said in a statement. “I look forward to playing for them once again.”

Robitaille was in Park City, Utah, where his off-season home is, to see his wife perform in a concert and was unavailable for interviews.

Robitaille has 631 goals in 17 seasons, but he struggled last season with 11 goals and 20 assists, his lowest point total since his career began with the Kings in 1986-87.

The Kings are hoping to squeeze at least one solid season out of him.

“The best part of his game is what he does offensively,” King Coach Andy Murray said. “Luc’s a guy that when given the opportunity, he scores. He has an ability to finish.”

Perhaps the most popular King not named Gretzky, Dionne or Taylor, Robitaille had 63 goals and 62 assists in a memorable 1992-1993 season that ended with the Kings’ five-game loss to Montreal in the Stanley Cup finals.

Robitaille left the Kings after the 1993-94 season and played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers before returning to Los Angeles four years later. He scored 128 goals in four seasons with the Kings but left again after the 2000-01 season, this time for Detroit.

Robitaille had 30 goals and 20 assists in his first season with the Red Wings and helped Detroit win the Stanley Cup. But he had one goal in last season’s playoffs, which ended quickly for Detroit after a first-round sweep by the Mighty Ducks.

Almost immediately after the season, Red Wing officials told Robitaille they would be exercising a $1-million buyout of his contract.

Robitaille’s agent, Santa Monica-based Pat Brisson, brought another former Red Wing to the Southland last week when Sergei Fedorov agreed to a five-year, $40-million contract with the Mighty Ducks.

“Ever since we got started talking to other teams, L.A. was his first choice,” Brisson said. “Coming back here was very important for him because the fans were great to him throughout his career.”

Robitaille could still score at least 20 goals, Brisson said.

Robitaille is the Kings’ fourth off-season acquisition of note.

The Kings traded for goaltender Roman Cechmanek and center Jozef Stumpel. They also signed free-agent forward Trent Klatt.

With Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh returning from post-concussive syndrome symptoms that limited them to 46 combined games, Robitaille will add to the Kings’ scoring potential up front.

“You can never have enough good players,” Murray said. “Last year with all of our injuries we didn’t have enough players. Luc’s a real positive.”


The Kings bought out the final year on the contract of forward Steve Heinze, who had five goals and seven assists in 27 games last season. Heinze missed the final 18 games last season with a concussion and was largely a disappointment with the Kings, scoring 20 goals in 100 games after being signed as a free agent.


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Lighting the Lamp

A look at Luc Robitaille in and out of a King sweater during his 17-year career. Statistics are averages:

*--* WITH DETROIT, NEW YORK RANGERS, PITTSBURGH Seasons Goals Assists Points 5 22.2 25.8 48 WITH KINGS Seasons Goals Assists Points 12 43.3 46.6 89.9 Note -- Robitaille was a member of the Stanley Cup champion Red Wings in the 2001-02 season