All posts by Mateo

Gretz minds think alike

Last week, when Wayne Gretzky stepped down as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, I mused that the Kings should bring Wayne back to Los Angeles, in a public relations capacity. After all, the Wayner has the jersey on the wall and the statue in front of Staples, and is generally considered the G.O.A.T. in the NHL (You gotta include Bobby Orr in the conversation… just saying.) My point was it couldn’t hurt the organization, from a public relations standpoint, to bring him in, wave his little hat and say “Kings Rule,” much like Marcel Dionne and Rogie Vachon do now.

Well, over on fan site LetsGoKings, fans were not receptive to the suggestion

I’m on board, as long as he’s the Kings’ ambassador to somewhere remote. How about Namibia, for example? He can enjoy the local gastronomy there.

and:

They could hire him to stand where his statue is and wave after we melt it down.

and:

would he be willing to shift to LW?

Needless to say, I had moved on. The preseason was drawing to a close, and I’ve been efforting the season preview for the Kings. (Coming later this week) Today, when I went over to Jesse’s house to record the season’s first Hockeywood Insider podcast, he greeted me at the door with a smile and asked if I heard the news…

Lombardi: Kings have interest in Gretzky

Basically, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said on sports station The Fan 590 (audio here) that he had spoken to Gretzky about returning “in some capacity” now that he’s done with Phoenix. One of the titles bandied about was “Minister of Culture.” To me, it sounds like Deano and I are on the same wavelength. Bring in the Great One, have him don a purple foam finger, and perhaps try to motivate the team with his presence. Seems harmless, eh?

But that’s not all. Lombardi proceeded to say that he’s not interested in No. 99 just for “shaking hands and kissing babies.” He spoke of the great winning culture Wayne brought to Edmonton, when the Oilers were champions. And that’s when it clicked for me.

From the get-go, Lombardi has said that he wants to “instill a culture of winning,” something that has sorely lacked in the franchise for years. Lombardi has done that with the franchise, from the standpoint of the ice. He’s rebuilt the farm system, helped nuture and for the most part, brought along the Kings’ young talent with varying success. (The signings of Roenick and Cloutier will forever hang around his neck like a giant paisley tie on a striped shirt). The one thing he’s always lacked in was public relations. Enter Luc Robitaille.

Luc has done wonders since he’s been named President of Business Operations. I believe Lucky understands good business, and I think he’s on the same page as Lombardi. Bringing in Gretzky in some sort of P.R. role with the organization can’t hurt the team’s visibility. But try saying that to fans…

From LetsGoKings:

He (Gretzky) is too powerful, ambitious and egotistical to take up a post wherehe would have anything less than tangible influence on the organization.

and from HockeysFuture:

The Minister of Culture = Bailey’s (the Kings mascot) replacement.

and

I hope DL realizes he might be bringing in his own replacement.

One thing’s for sure… Kings fans are passionate. Never has so much vitrol been spread over something that is an obvious public relations ploy.

I’m not saying saying No. 99 is going to be as effective as Tony Robbins would be pumping up this young group of talent, but his reach into the non-traditional hockey market of Los Angeles would be far-reaching. And as much respect as I have for Marcel and Rogie, Wayne eclipses both of them, in terms of star wattage.

I really doubt Lombardi would place someone in a position to usurp his authority. I pretty sure Gretzky would hold a strictly ceremonial title with the franchise, and I really doubt he’b be in some dark back room in El Segundo, plotting to overthrow Lombardi. Bringing Gretzky in is just something else the Kings can do to garner interest in the club from non-fans. (Which there are many here in the City of Angels.)

Have him speak to the players, have him host roller hockey tournaments, have him help scout talent. All of these things can’t be all that bad, if it means bringing Wayne back into the fold to the Kings.

LA Times: Lombardi invites Gretzky back to the Kings…but don’t buy new 99 jerseys yet

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Luc’s in! Let’s talk statues…

So now that Luc Robitaille’s place in the Hockey Hall of Fame is secured in Toronto, it’s time to talk turkey about the important things, like where to erect The King of Kings’ statue.

STAPLES Center already has three statues outside along Chick Hearn Court, opposite of L.A. Live. In 2002, Wayne Gretzky was immortalized in bronze at STAPLES’ Star Plaza, followed by Magic Johnson in 2004. In 2008, boxer Oscar De La Hoya was honored. And while each of these athletes are certainly worthy of such an honor, their relationship to the actual building is somewhat tenuous. The building opened in 1999. Johnson retired in 1996, Gretzky never played in STAPLES, and Oscar has taken multiple beatings in fights there.

I have nothing against the statues, though. In a town where we immortalize anyone with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (come on, Jimmy Kimmel is getting one this year), there’s nothing wrong by literally putting our sports heroes up on pedestals. The Star Plaza should include other sports as well, such as legendary UCLA coach John Wooden, Fernando Valenzuela for the Dodgers, Marcus Allen for the Trojans/Raiders and Hulk Hogan for professional wrestling to honor what they meant to the culture of southern California in their respective sports.

But once you erect one from a sport, it would seem redundant to include another from the same sport out there. How weird would it look to have a Kobe Bryant next to Magic (assuming he stays a Laker for life and leads the Lakers to several more titles). Until they include more statues outside to encompass the entire world of sports, have two of the same sport out there seems… a bit much. So, getting a statue for Luc Robitaille, the greatest King of all, seems unlikely.

My cohort from the Hockeywood Insider podcast, Jesse, stumbled across a great idea over on LetsGoKings, get fans to donate money to build a statue of Luc. But instead of placing him outside next to the Great One, put him inside STAPLES, a building he actually played and retired in. Jesse points out that there’s plenty of room inside, and would be a great start for a new tradition. He started a petition, It’s Better to be Lucky Than Great, to rally the troops and raise awareness.

I am fully behind this idea. In fact, I even designed what it could eventually look like. But I don’t want to cast Luc in bronze. If the fans get a say in creating a statue, let’s go for broke and get one carved out of marble. That’s what real statues are made of. Michelangelo’s David, the Venus de Milo, and The Discobolus of Myron all come to mind. I’m sure jaded fans will think a marble doppleganger is perfect for a player who wasn’t exactly fleet of foot.

Note that I placed this statue facing out toward Figueroa, rather than facing LA Live. I always viewed this side as the real entrance to STAPLES. By placing the statue inside, it seems more appropriate of a sanctioned piece of statuary. My feeble attempts of internet research has turned up a rock-bottom price (heh) of around $50-75,000. Considering the Magic Johnson bronze statue that stands outside of Breslin Center fo Michigan State was made for $250,000 in 2003, that seems like a killer deal.

So please, help us garner up interest in building an appropriate monument to the leading goal scorer in the Kings franchise lengthy history. Sign the petition and rock the vote. Also, join the Facebook group and get the word out there. It’s better to be Lucky than Great!

The Hockeywood Insider: All Hail the King of Kings!

Jesse and I break our one-week vow of silence and record a special Hockeywood Insider, thanks to Luc Robitaille getting elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The greatest left winger of all time got the call Tuesday from Toronto, and the city of Los Angeles is rejoicing.

We talk about other sports Halls of Fame and how players decide which team they will represent, whether the nHL should update the names of their trophies, whether fans feel the Gretzky statue is cursed, and discuss why AEG should turn the Star Plaza into a celebration of all sports.

Then we delve into Jesse’s proposal of erecting a Luc statue inside STAPLES Center. Doc breaks down every possible reason why it’s a great idea (which it is). We talk about how much fans might be willing to part with to help subsidize such an undertaking ($20 for No. 20, anyone?) Basically, we just get real excited over the idea of the fans be able to call the statue their own, since Luc is such a fan favorite. By the way, have you signed the petition?

It’s the Hockeywood Insider, brought to you by the letters L, U, C and the number 20.