NHL: KINGS vs. PITTSBURGH
Details/TV: At Staples Center, Saturday at 7 p.m., Fox Sports West:
We’ve never really thought of Luc Jean-Marie Robitaille as a statuesque figure in Los Angeles sports history. But even with our artistic eye, maybe we missed something. They’ve already got a half-dozen bronze beauties scattered about in Star Plaza outside of Staples Center, and some of them actually performed inside that arena that opened in 1999.
There’s the likenesses of former Lakers stars Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West. And the Kings’ great one, Wayne Gretzky. None of them created Staples Center memories, though. Boxer Oscar De La Hoya actually fought inside the place. Once. And lost. The late Chick Hearn called plenty of games for the Lakers there, so, sure, give him his due. But the lucky recipient of statue No. 7 – or “Luuuuuuuuuuc” as the fans will chant – may finally be the most worthy. In 14 years with the Kings, spread out over three entry points in his 19-year career, he became the franchise leader for goals with 577, and the NHL record-holder for a left-winger with 668 goals and 1,394 points. The Hockey Hall of Famer was just a ninth-round draft pick in 1984 – more than 100 spots after the Kings thought that eventual Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Tom Glavine was a better prospect. But Robitaille ended doubts about his skating ability when he won the Calder Trophy (as the top rookie) in 1986, scoring 45 goals in 79 games. His career-best 63 goals came in the Kings’ Stanley Cup Final run of 1992-93, when he acted as the team captain.
Just last month, Robitaille turned 49 – you’d never guess by looking at that baby face – and since he has taken over as the franchise president of business operations, the team has won its first two Stanley Cups. Maybe it’s his mom who is really behind all this.
So now, here’s someone who played at least a few seasons at the end of his career in the facility. Julie Rotblatt Amrany, Omri Amrany and Itamar Amrany, the sculptors who had a hand in the prior six statues, will unveil their 19-foot, 2,500-pound piece they did on Robitaille in a ceremony that starts at 6 p.m. prior to the Kings-Penguins game.
This has also got us to thinking – why aren’t there any L.A. female athletes honored yet? Remember Lisa Leslie?
The Kings’ road trip continues at Edmonton (Monday, 6:30 p.m., FSW) before they are back home against Robitaille’s boyhood favorite team, Montreal (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., FSW)
HORSE RACING: 78th SANTA ANITA HANDICAP
Details/TV: Saturday at 4 p.m.
It’s been 75 years since Seabiscuit won the 1940 Big Cap, and ever since then, this $1 million 10-furlong event for horses four years old and up has stayed true to Hollywood endings ever since. Three of the last four event were claimed by Game On Dude, who set the record a year ago by running it in 1:58.17. But now that he’s retired, who’ll step up? It’s our belief that Shared Belief shouldn’t have any trouble winning this one. Mike Smith rode the 4-year-old past rival California Chrome in the Feb. 7 San Antonio Handicap at Santa Anita in a rematch of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic. Chrome was on the entry list for this event as of last week, but most believe he is prepping for a run in the $10 million Dubai World Cup on March 28 instead.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
USC and UCLA have two meetings set up — in basketball (at Pauley Pavilion, Wednesday, 6 p.m., ESPN2) and in baseball (at Dodger Stadium, Sunday at 3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network) … The defending MLS champion Galaxy open the 33-game regular season already — Friday at StubHub Center against Chicago — unless a players’ strike delays everything, as has been reported … The Dodgers (Wednesday, 12:05 p.m., SportsNet L.A. vs. Chicago White Sox) and Angels (Thursday, 12:05 p.m., Fox Sports West vs. Milwaukee) start the MLB exhibition season in Arizona … The Clippers’ trip to Golden State (Sunday, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7) ,ay not look much like their previous Christmas Day encounter (a 100-86 win over the Warriors at Staples Center) .. the rest of the week at this link.