The Los Angeles Kings were a part of the NHL’s original expansion (1967-68). Numerous fabled players have donned the Kings’ sweater since their inception. When thinking of legendary Kings of the past, names such as: “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky; Luc Robitaille; Dave Taylor; Marcel Dionne, who is sixth in all-time points; and Rob Blake come to mind.
Not every legend who has come to LA is a Kings legend. A plethora of legendary players have played for LA but cemented their legacies elsewhere. The criteria to be considered a legend for this list is being in the Hockey Hall of Fame. However, a list of honourable mentions (composed of non-Hall of Famers) will also be provided.
Terry Sawchuk is one of the best goalies of all-time. Upon entering the NHL, he was immediately successful, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy in the 1950-51 season. A four-time Vezina Trophy winner and an 11-time all-star, his outstanding play in the crease helped propel the Detroit Red Wings to winning the Stanley Cup in 1952, 1954 and 1955. His fourth Stanley Cup came in 1967 with Toronto, where he backstopped the Maple Leafs to the franchise’s most recent Stanley Cup.
Sawchuk retired in the 1969-70 season and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame the year afterwards, making him one of 10 players for whom the traditional three-year waiting period was waived.
Sawchuk’s lone season with LA during the twilight of his career is easy to forget. Selected by the Kings in the 1967 expansion draft, he played in 36 games with the Kings during their inaugural season, posting an .891 save percentage (his second-worst season by save percentage). Subsequently, he was traded to Detroit prior to the 1968-69 season.
Blink, and you would’ve missed legendary blue-liner Paul Coffey’s stint with the Kings. A trade deadline acquisition in 1992, he skated for the Kings in 10 regular-season games that season and six games of the 1992 playoffs. He returned to the LA the following season (1992-93), where he laced up for the Kings in 50 games before being traded to Detroit.
A three-time Norris Trophy winner and a Hockey Hall of Famer, Coffey is best remembered for being a member of the Edmonton Oilers’ dynasty of the 1980s. He nabbed two of his Norris Trophies with the Oilers and earned an additional Norris with Detroit. He won three Stanley Cups with Edmonton and a fourth with Pittsburgh.
Known for his speed and scoring prowess, Coffey ranks second all-time among NHL defensemen in goals (396), assists (1,135), and points (1,531). During his career, Coffey played for nine teams and achieved greatness with teams such as Detroit, Edmonton, and Pittsburgh. Overall, his 69 points in 66 games played with LA (regular & postseason) are not remembered in the grand scheme of his career.
Steve Shutt was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993, but this was due to his tenure with the Montreal Canadiens. He played for the Canadiens dynasty of the 1970s, helping them win Stanley Cups in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979. In 871 games played with Montreal, he scored 408 goals and added 368 assists, for a total of 776 points. One of his biggest claims to fame is scoring 60 goals in a season, a feat only 19 other players have accomplished.
Shutt’s lone season in Hollywood pales in comparison to his tenure in Montreal. Traded from Montreal to LA in 1984-85, he played in 56 games where he produced 41 points. Not too shabby, but not a highlight of his storied career. Afterwards, he retired upon the season’s conclusion.
Jarome Iginla’s time with LA is the most well-remembered out of these legends. as it happened just a few years back. On March 4, 2017, he was traded to LA at the trade deadline for a fourth-round pick. Despite this injection of talent into the lineup, the Kings missed the post-season. Overall, his time in LA was unremarkable except for it being the team he retired with, as he produced nine points in 19 games with the team.
A fan favourite everywhere he played, Iginla is best remembered for his tenure with the Calgary Flames. His subsequent stints with Boston and Colorado are more widely remembered than his few games with LA and Pittsburgh. With the Flames, he polished off his hardware case, winning: two Rocket Richard Trophies; one Art Ross; one Lester B.Pearson Trophy (now the Ted Lindsay Award); one Mark Messier leadership award; and a King Clancy award.
In 1,300 career NHL games played, Iginla scored 625 goals and dished out 675 assists, for a total of 1,300 points. Internationally, he helped Canada win gold medals in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and in two Olympics, where he famously got the assist on Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Furthermore, Iginla was the first Black player to lead the NHL in goals and points and was the first Black male athlete in any sport to win a gold medal in the Winter Olympics. His remarkable career resulted in him being the headlining name to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020, his first year of eligibility.
Best remembered for his class, kindness and skill, Iginla’s time with the Kings is largely overshadowed by these traits and his more successful tenures with other teams.
The longest-tenured King on this list “Big Bird” Larry Robinson. Standing at 6-foot-4 inches and weighing 220 pounds, he imposed his will onto opponents. While patrolling the Canadiens’ blueline, he took home two Norris Trophies (he is one of 13 defencemen to win the award twice), a Conn Smythe and six Stanley Cups.
Not satisfied with just six Stanley Cup victories, Robinson went onto win three as a coach with New Jersey (twice as an assistant and once as an interim head coach). Most recently, his name was etched onto the Cup for the tenth time, as he was a consultant and assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues in 2019.
Due to Robinson’s success as a player and a coach, his time with LA is not often remembered. He spent his final three seasons as a player with the Kings, where he played in 182 games and racked up 75 points, which is unremarkable compared to his 1,202 games with Montreal and 883 points. He spent four seasons as the Kings coach from 1995-96 to 1998-99, but they only made the playoffs once in this span.
During Robinson’s three-season stint with LA as a skater, Gretzky won two Art Ross Trophies, Rob Blake debuted as a rookie and immediately got a larger role with the team than Robinson, and Steve Duchesne was one of the NHL’s most potent offensive defencemen at the time. Due to all of these factors, along with his playing success coming with Montreal and with New Jersey/St. Louis (coaching), his time with LA is largely overshadowed.
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2006, Dick Duff is known for being one of the best small players of his generation. Standing at 5-feet-10 inches, he had a playing career that spanned from 1954-55 to 1971-72, which was unheard of at the time for a player of his stature. Duff notched 572 points in 1,030 games played and was a key piece in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup victories in 1962 and 1963.
Afterwards, he won four Stanley Cups with Montreal, winning them in 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1969. He closed off the 1960s as one of the most successful players of the decade. His tenure in LA was less noteworthy, as he played in 39 games with the Kings and produced just 14 points.
The aforementioned players are all in the Hockey Hall of Fame. None of these honourable mentions have this distinction, and some are not considered “legends” by every hockey fan. These honourable mentions will be listed by career games played (GP) and career points (PTS). Additionally, their games and point totals as a King will be bolded.
Jeremy Roenick: 1363 GP, 1216 PTS | 58 GP, 22 PTS
Rick Tocchet: 1144 GP, 952 PTS | 80 GP, 71 PTS
Vincent Lecavalier: 1212 GP, 949 PTS | 42 GP, 17 PTS
Cliff Ronning: 1137 GP, 869 PTS | 14 GP, 5 PTS
Ed Olczyk: 1,031 GP, 794 PTS | 67 GP, 44 PTS
Pavol Demitra: 847 GP, 768 PTS | 58 GP, 62 PTS
Kevin Stevens: 874 GP, 726 PTS | 89 GP, 47 PTS
Peter Klima: 786 GP, 573 PTS | 8 GP, 4 PTS
Eddie Shack: 1047 GP, 465 PTS | 84 GP, 38 PTS
Overall, numerous Hockey Hall of Famers and other debated legends have played for the Kings. However, many of their stints with LA have been lost to time, owing to said legends carving out their legacies with other teams.
I am a lifelong hockey fan who will be covering the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks here at The Hockey Writers. Before joining The Hockey Writers I spent two years blogging about hockey.
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