On a busy day, Luc Robitaille was gracious enough to take a couple minutes and talk about his Hall of Fame induction today. Robitaille got the congratulatory call this morning from Pat Quinn, who is co-chair of the 18-person selection committee.
“Mostly it was just relief,” Robitaille said. “When I got the call, I was relieved. I saw the 416 (Toronto area code) come up and I just felt relieved. I figured that if they were calling me, it wasn’t going to be bad news. … I have always thought of myself as a King. This is where I started and this is where I always wanted to end. The fans of L.A., it feels like I grew up with them. For everyone who was there with me in 1986, until the end, they know how much this means to me and to the Kings.”
I asked Robitaille, who obviously had been anticipating this day for a while, when it first truly occurred to him that he might become a Hall of Famer.
“I remember the year after I retired I thought, `Is it three years or five years that you have to wait?”’ Robitaille said with a laugh. “People always said, `Oh, your numbers are good enough,’ but I didn’t think about it a lot. Last year, someone said to me, `Next year’s class is going to be great, with Stevie (Yzerman), Brett (Hull), yourself and Brian Leetch. I guess that’s when it really started to hit me, but I didn’t know if it would happen.”
Also, I asked Robitaille to re-tell one of my favorite hockey stories, which is about the day he got drafted in 1984 at the Montreal Forum, in the ninth round, after he sat in the stands all day waiting for his name to be called.
“I had one hot dog every hour,” Robitaille said with a laugh. “I think I ended up eating six hot dogs. That was the year, if you remember, that Mario (Lemieux) said he wasn’t signing with the Penguins. We got to draft day, a Saturday, and it was a big deal because they called Mario’s name and he didn’t go to the draft table or anything. There was a delay, and it was like Pittsburgh didn’t know what to do and the league didn’t know what to do. So I sat and waited. It was 7 o’clock at night and I was still waiting in the Forum, up in the white seats. When I heard my name, I ran downstairs. The security guy, he didn’t want to let me on the floor, but I told him that I just got drafted.
“I got to the Kings’ table and there were just a couple guys left there. Rogie (Vachon) was there and (former assistant GM) John Wolf was there and a couple scouts. They had me write down my name and address on a card. When we got to August, and I hadn’t heard anything from them, I was afraid that I wrote down the wrong address. So anyway, I met those guys at the table, and I met John Wolf and he said, `We don’t really have anything to give you, but here,’ and he gave me the Kings pin off his jacket. I took the subway home and I was just so excited.”
A bit later, I’ll post a couple videos, courtesy of the Kings. Here are a couple more comments from Robitaille, as released by the Kings, plus one from Tim Leiweke:
“What I am feeling right now is very difficult to explain,” said Robitaille. “I never set out to accomplish anything like this. When I was a kid, I dreamed of playing in the National Hockey League, and to now be alongside greats like Rocket Richard, Guy Lafleur and Wayne Gretzky is not only indescribable, it is beyond anything I ever dreamed of.
“I also want to congratulate Steve, Brett and Brian, three players I was fortunate to have played with during my career.”
“This is a tremendous achievement for Luc, his family and the entire Kings organization,” said Kings Governor Tim Leiweke. “We have always been honored to have the greatest left winger represent our franchise and our fans, and we are thrilled to now share Luc with the Hockey Hall of Fame.”