Each group of players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame has a uniqueness about it. Occasionally, guys that were rivals during their playing days are enshrined during the same year. However, rarely does a player going in share the stage exclusively with guys he called teammates during his career. Luc Robitaille is once again Lucky, as he has played with all three of the other members that make up the class of 2009.
Before heading to Toronto he shared a few thoughts with us on each of them…
Steve Yzerman – Along with Mark Messier, he was one of the best leaders I ever played with. Stevie is right up there. He had to lead a group of primadonnas when I was in Detroit. We were a bunch of superstars. But somehow, they way Stevie is, how hard he works, how humble he is…made it that we all excepted a role and played for one cause, which was winning. Certainly for me he is one of the players I have the most respect for that I ever played with. I think very, very highly of him.
Brett Hull – For me to play with him was the ultimate. I had always watched him throughout my career and wondered how he got so much of an opening on the ice. To see him day in and day out, to see how much he loved the game…how much he put into it. People don’t realize how much he put into it because he always seemed to be that relaxed guy, so loosey goosey – but he worked hard at being really good at his game.
Brian Leetch – Obviously, he was one of the best defensemen to ever play the game. But what impressed me the most was in those days we didn’t have time sheets. We didn’t know how many minutes a guy was playing. If I were to guess, when I was there (in New York) he was playing 35 minutes a game and he never missed a practice. Never took a day off. One of the hardest workers I ever played with.
The greatness of those three guys is obvious, as all three are headed into the Hall this Monday. Additionally, Luc had the chance to play with other legends, like Wayne Gretzky, Marcel Dionne and Mark Messier during his career. Yet, I wondered if there was one guy that he didn’t get to play with that when looking back over his career he really wished he could have…Luc wasted no time in answering:
Mario. When I went to Pittsburgh, Mario didn’t play that year. When the lockout happened my first year there it changed my contract situation. They wanted me to come back and they kept trying to entice me with the thought of playing with Mario. Because of the lockout though my option year wasn’t going to be a factor. My agent filed for arbitration like he was supposed to. Because of that, at the time I was the only player to have scored 40 goals eight straight seasons, so they knew we had a good case. When they figured out they weren’t going to be able to resign me, that’s when they traded me to New York. But if I had gotten to play with Mario it certainly would have been special.
Finally, for a little fun, we played word association using current and former Kings. Here were Luc’s answers:
Jim Fox – he’s quick, like a fox
Marcel Dionne – like a father figure to me
Tiger Williams – I was scared of him
Steve Duchesne – good friend
Kelly Hrudey – great goalie under pressure
Tomas Sandstrom – what a competitor
Tony Granato – great person
Robb Stauber – crazy goalie, couldn’t believe the way he would run at guys
Marty McSorley – worked hard, put everything into being a better player
Dustin Brown – a pure power forward
Ian Laperriere – one of the greatest teammates you could have
Matty Norstrom – a really great roommate
Rob Blake – one of the greatest people I know, good leader
Adam Deadmarsh – played the game the right way
Sean Avery – my little puppy (he laughs)
Jeremy Roenick – great player, amazing guy in the locker room
Anze Kopitar – great future with the Kings
Alexander Frolov – underrated, a pure goal scorer
We’ll have more on Luc leading up to the Hall of Fame ceremonies on Monday.
20 Questions with #20 – an interview with Luc Robitaille