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Top 10 Greatest Kings Ranked by The Hockey Writers

August 29, 2019, 12:12 PM ET [33 Comments]
Matt Ross
Los Angeles Kings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Work, summer, work, summer, work, work, work...the grind goes on and there's been no real hockey news.

Many sites are breaking down their Top 25 Under 25 players, projecting next season's standings, getting deep into numbers/analytics and so forth.

I feel bad because I'm sure a lot of you would prefer pieces like that. I've just never been an analytical guy or someone who likes to look at the numbers in great, dense detail. There's certainly a place for them, but I think the pro sports scales have been tipped in the recent years where numbers have taken over for the "old gut feeling" and in turn, removed some of the spontaneity, personalities and general fun from the game - especially prevalent in the MLB.

But that's for another blog...

In hockey news-starved times like this, I like to go back and watch old games, highlights, read about players, their time in the league and general history of the game.

As such, I came across an article from The Hockey Writers they published about that lists their top 10 greatest Kings of all time. Why not have a little "throwback Thursday" fun today?

Here is their ranking:

10. Dustin Brown
9. Butch Goring
8. Bernie Nicholls
7. Anze Kopitar
6. Rogation Vachon
5. Rob Blake
4.Dave Taylor
3. Wayne Gretzky
2. Luc Robitalille
1. Marcel Dionne

I have a feeling a couple of these may spark some debate...it must have been especially tough for them when it came to the final three spots.

I liked the short, concise breakdown of each player that they provide. As such, I thought I would give some quick thoughts, too. While there's no denying the numbers (remember what we talked about earlier in the blog, haha), I wanted to just throw out some thoughts/observations as a non-expert. While a number of these guys were before my time, I have read about them, and thanks to VHS, DVDs and YouTube, been able to watch them over the years.

10. Dustin Brown

Brown has always been an interesting player to me. Explosive and commanding at times, a ghost at other. His story always felt like a Greek tragedy of sorts. He rose up, got the "C" and then strangely fell off, was stripped of the "C" and started the climb again...

9. Butch Goring

Truth be told, I knew more about Butch from the history books and the crazy success of those Islanders teams of the '80s. I loved the story about his nickname and he always looked like the original mold for a '70s-'80s hockey player. Playing on some crummy Kings teams in a non-traditional market during a time when hockey wasn't what it is today, and managed to find a ton of success and that's most impressive.

[Photo from Hockeydb.com]

8. Bernie Nicholls

Did the majority of his damage in a Kings sweater. I remember Bernie with the Hawks and reading that he kept things really loose and was sometimes criticized for it - with people mistaking his attitude of having fun with not taking things serious. I always thought critics like that were kind of silly. I didn't realize he had played for as many teams as he did (six total), or that he had to overcome the death of a son. Here's a nice little video (starting at 6:38) of him talking about that, his career, playing style/mentality and more, that was filmed while he was with the Hawks:

Bernie's Legends Night in LA with all his accomplishments as a King:

7. Anze Kopitar

Big, strong center with hands that can pretty much do it all. I think he's a guy with high character and a perfect fit to have the "C" sewen on his sweater.

6. Rogie Vachon

Easily one of the best mustaches to ever grace the ice. I've always been impressed with goalies from Rogie's era (and prior) because the equipment was so much smaller and the "science" and training for goaltending wasn't nearly what it is today. In fact, I read an article once that talked about how most teams didn't even have goalie coaches. These guys were completely on their own, figuring things out and making it happen. Like Goring, to have the success Rogie did in the time and place he played, is very impressive. I always like when players come "home" after they trade in the skates for a tie and work in the front office and that's exactly what Rogie did when he became GM in the '80's.

5. Rob Blake

In wrestling terms, Blake was the face that turned heel when he demanded out of LA to go to the rising Avalanche. I wish more defensemen today played like him. It seems like most guys now on the backend are smallish, puck-movers who have the mindset of a forward. While Blake had scoring touch, the guy was physically punishing.

4. Dave Taylor

Member of the famed Triple Crown Line, he played his whole career with the Kings - which is always cool to me. I was impressed to find out he played the second most games in Kings history with 1,111.

3. Wayne Gretzky

It's Wayne Gretzky.

2. Luc Robitaille

When we played street hockey after school, Luc was one of the regulars we would pretend to be. Why wouldn't you want to be him? He was an awesome player and had great hair. Guy built a career on cleaning up the loose change and knowing how to to find the back of the net. It rules that he's still working with the Kings.

1. Marcel Dionne

One of my favorite Legends of Hockey segments (video below) focuses on the life/career of Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne. An undersized guy who succeeded tremendously and was the spark plug for the Triple Crown Line. An all-around nice guy and class act.


Now the big questions: What would you guys change about their list? Who are you adding or subtracting and why?

I was surprised Charlie Simmer didn't make the cut - minus the fallout he had with the Kings, he has one of the coolest stories and was a great player on the TCL. Personally, I think Vachon should have been in the top five. Maybe Doughty replaces Brown?

Looking forward to your thoughts and have a good one!

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