Former Kings and Avs forward Warren Rychel recalls time in NHL


When you think of players who have played for both the Kings and Avalanche, names like Rob Blake and Adam Deadmarsh are usually the first two that come to mind.  Of course, they were part of a big trade between the clubs that resulted in one team winning a Stanley Cup and the other side’s General Manager being named hockey’s Executive of the Year.

There have been others though, including Ryan Smyth and Ian Laperriere. But, one of the earliest players was forward Warren Rychel. After going to the Stanley Cup Final as a rookie with the Kings in 1993, he found himself winning the NHL’s cherished trophy three years later as a member of the Avalanche.

Here are some thoughts he shared with MayorsManor about his time in the NHL during the late 1990s…

- On what he took away from having Barry Melrose as a coach: “Well the thing with Barry is he always had a part for everyone on the team.  He didn’t treat anybody differently, but he really appreciated a guy like myself - who was maybe a third or fourth line guy, who really worked hard and stood up for his team. He put those guys on a pedestal…the guys who kill penalties, block shots, stick up for their team. You can’t win without those guys at any level, whether it’s Pee-Wee to the NHL, and a lot of kids have a hard time realizing that when they come out of minor hockey…But Barry was good, he was positive. He gave me my start and I owe a lot to him. Just a great guy.”

- On the hardest part about playing on a team with a superstar of Wayne Gretzky’s caliber: “I think you’re always trying to get him the puck. Sometimes he’s not available and you try and force the puck to him, but I don’t think that was the case in the time I was in LA at all. I mean we had a pretty good supporting cast along with him and we had that great run in ’93.  So, superstars, as long as they work hard -for true NHL fans, they know the best players are the hardest working players. Look at Taylor Hall, a kid that just works his ass off.  And his work ethic is high.  Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg in Colorado, they were the hardest working guys. You know Yzerman and Fedorov, those guys were the hardest workers in Detroit. So it’s always the best players that 90% of the time are the guys that are the hardest workers. And you know if one guy on the team sees that, then everyone will follow suit just by default.”

- On his first fight as a member of the Kings: “Keith Tkachuk I think [ed. note - it was in fact Tkachuk, in October 1992, video here].  I think I fought him twice that game.  I had five years in the minors behind me  and I think he was just coming out of the NCAA.  I think that was his first NHL fight too so I knew what I had to do. I never wanted to see the minor leagues again and Barry gave me that chance. So those first few years I fought a lot. It was different obviously, a little more on the edge or wilder back then. Everyone knew their role and did it well.  It was also nice to get to play in the playoffs during that ’93 run with Wayne and Tomas Sandstrom too.  So, it was good. I knew what got me there, and I wanted to stay there so I did it.  I wasn’t the biggest guy, like a Marty (McSorley) or a Stu Grimson. But, I worked hard at it. I wouldn’t back down from anyone and there were a lot of good fights out there that I remember. But it’s a great way to make a living doing the thing you love and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

- On his favorite memory from the Kings playoff run in ’93: “I think Game 7 in Toronto was great because it was kind of my home province, in Maple Leaf Gardens and it was exciting.  But, I was kind of injured in the end with my knee during the last game of the Vancouver series. I just remember the fans coming out in droves in LA, everyone was out there supporting us in the first two series.  It was nice for me to really contribute offensively on those lines. But, Game 7 in Toronto was pretty epic.  Flying to Montreal the next day, and one day off only and winning Game One (of the Stanley Cup Final) was huge too in the Montreal Forum.”

- On the best prank one of his LA teammates pulled on him: “Our security guy and Blakey pulled a couple on me that were hilarious. But there was this one time I remember I checked into my hotel room and went in the washroom. One of the guys, I think it was Mike Donnelly, jumped out at me. He was already in my room. I put my bags down and I was taking a leak and he jumped out at me. Right out of the shower curtain and scared the shit out of me.  That was probably one of the best pranks. Day-to-day with those guys was a lot of fun. A couple times guys went out, and their cars were on blocks.  Somebody was playing a joke, your tires were in the trunk, and your car was on blocks.  It was funny.”

- On the three highs and three lows of his career: “I think three highs would be – number one, the Stanley Cup in Colorado in 1996.  Two would be Game 7 in Toronto, winning that as a team. And three would be making the NHL as a full-time player. Now, three lows? Number one, getting injured. I thought I would have a couple of years left, but getting injured and breaking my hand in 1998 - retiring before I thought I had to.  Second, losing to Montreal in the Stanley Cup Final in 1993.  And third, overall at the end, I thought I had enough skill to play a little more, and cut down on the fighting. But, I never got a chance to show that.”

- On his middle name being Stanley: “Yeah that’s my dad’s name. That’s kind of funny too. Maybe it was destiny. Always good to have something like that on your side. Losing in ’93 was tough with LA, but as a young kid you’re full of spunk and vinegar and you think you’re going to get back there next year. Sometimes you don’t get that chance. Fortunately for me I was able to get that chance in Colorado in ’96.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Luc Robitaille talks 1993 NHL playoffs and more - from being drafted to retiring

Word Association with Luc Robitaille – talking teammates and opponents

Interview with Rob Blake - the most polarizing former King

Interview with Kelly Hrudey - why the Kings almost never made it out of round one

Interview with Robb Stauber - what it was really like to back up Hrudey

Interview with Tony Granato - talking 1993 playoffs, favorite teammates and coaching

Interview with Gary Shuchuk – the unlikely playoff hero

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Comments

  1. Great interview Mayor. Rychel was always fun to watch

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  1. [...] – Former Kings and Avs forward Warren Rychel shares some of his favorite NHL memories [...]

  2. [...] stats over three seasons with his junior club, the Warren Rychel-run Windsor Spitfires in the OHL, have remained pretty consistent. He’s been good for about [...]