Q&A: Robitaille and Dionne

After some considerable technical difficulty, I’m finally ready and able to start posting some of the great Q&A stuff with Luc Robitaille. I tried to keep the questions in chronological order as much as possible, so here’s the first part. The question, as posed by a reader, was about the genesis of the relationship between Luc and Marcel Dionne, who invited Luc to live with him and his family when Luc was a rookie with the Kings…

ROBITAILLE: “When I got drafted, and before I got drafted, I knew of Marcel. I obviously didn’t know him, but I knew his name. Really, I’m not sure if I had seen him play, with him being in L.A. and me being in Montreal. But I remember my first training camp in L.A. He was walking out and he saw a couple of us speaking French. It was Steve Duchene and myself. He stopped by and bought us our cab ride, and we thought it was the greatest thing in the world. The first two camps, I didn’t make the team. The third camp, they made me his roommate.

“After I had that success in junior, they made me his roommate. He was picking my brain all the time, trying to learn more and more about me and what were my interests. I think he was interested in how much passion I had for the game. That was his biggest thing, he told me later. So the first couple years, I maybe talked to him once or twice, but the third year we were roommates, and that’s when I really got to know him and we got closer.”

Question: And that was the year he invited you to stay with him?

ROBITAILLE: “Yeah. The way that happened was, he didn’t know me. I knew I had a good shot at the team, because I had won awards in Canada and so forth. Being insecure the way that I am, I was working hard, and I remember Marcel asking me at one point, `If you make the team, what do you want to do? Have you thought about where you want to live?’ And I thought, `Well, no. I never thought about that. I just want to make the team.’ Then my answer was, `Well, if I make the team, I want to live in a boarding house. I want to live with people so I can just focus on hockey.’ He told me later that that shocked him, because I was the first kid… I didn’t know, but he had asked all the kids who he thought would make the team, for years, what they would do. Marcel was the kind of guy who would try to help people like that. They always said, `I want to be in an apartment. This is going to be great. I want to be in Hollywood or somewhere cool.’

“Jimmy Carson and I were basically the first players to tell him something else. He asked (Carson) later too, but he asked me first. We both said we wanted to live in a boarding house because we wanted to think about hockey. He was so happy to finally see kids who had the right thinking, that it was about hockey for us. He told me later that he called his wife and said, `This kid can help our kids speak French, and this is good.’ She thought it was great. She didn’t know, at the time, that it would turn out that his kids would teach me English. I didn’t teach them much French, but they taught me how to speak English so it was great.”

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