Los Angeles Kings:
The Los Angeles Kings were founded in 1967 when Canadian born millionaire Jack Kent Cooke bought the rights to the NHL expansion francise. The Kings split their first season between Long Beach and Los Angeles before settling for the Inglewood Forum during the winter of 1967. The first two decades saw the team provide consistent performances, including making the NHL playoffs in their second and third years. With stars like Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, and Butch Goring, the Kings continued to build on their hockey success by making nine straight NHL playoff appearances from 1974 through 1982.
The mid-1980s saw the Kings fall into a lull as they missed the playoffs for a better part of the decade. But the Kings franchise took a dramatic turn in 1987 when Bruce McNall became a part owner of the team. His boldest move was the 1988 trade with the Edmonton Oilers which saw the superstar Wayne Gretzky come to the Kings along with Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski for Jimmy Carter, Martin Gelinas, three first round picks and $15 million in cash. Gretzky had an immediate impact on the team as they finished second in the Smythe division. They defeated the Edmonton Oilers in the first round of the 1989 playoffs but lost in the division finals. The Kings had their most successful season in 1992-93 as they blazed their way into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Gretzky still had a lot of offense in him and with a solid supporting cast, the Kings went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals - their first ever appearence in team history. They won the first game against the Montreal Canadiens, but the Habs went on to win the Stanley Cup.
This loss was not only hard on the fans, but started to take its toll on the team and in many ways it ended up being Gretzky's last hurrah. The Kings Hollywood image and charm slowly started to wear off, as details about Bruce McNall's business 'problems' became apparent. Not too long after, McNall was out of hockey and serving hard time for his fraudulent dealings. The Kings missed the NHL playoffs for four straight years and Gretzky moved on to the St Louis Blues. As the Kings looked to settle back into the form they had been in for the most part of their history.
The big change for the Kings came in 1995 as they hired former defenseman and hockey great Larry Robinson to bring them back on track. By the 1997-98 the Kings were back in playoff contention, led by all-star defenseman Rob Blake. Blake would go on to win the prestigious Norris trophy as the NHL's best defenseman for the 1997-98 season. The resurgence was also fueled by a bevy of trades made by the new general manager, Dave Taylor. Glen Murray, Josef Stumpel, and Luc Robitaille led the team to a successful season.
In 1996-97 the Kings unveiled plans for a state of the art arena, to be built in downtown Los Angeles. This plan soon became a reality when the Staples Center was unveiled. Along with the facility, the Kings continued to make changes on and off the ice. Team ownership of Philip F. Anschutz and Edward P. Roski, Jr. provided stability, as Dave Taylor continued to put together a competitive team with Andy Murray as his head coach. Up front, the continued to add firepower with the likes of Zigmund (Ziggy) Palffy and Jason Allison. The departure of Rob Blake meant a chance for young Kings defensemen to take over the reign, though with huge shoes to fill. The Kings had a superb 2001-02 regular season with a 40-27-11-4 record which was only good for seventh place in the tough western conference. The Kings faced off against the Colorado Avalanche and after a slow start, roared back behind stellar goaltending by Felix Potvin to tie the series at three games a piece. The Avalanche would win game seven and bounce the Kings out of Stanley Cup contention. The 2002-03 season saw them lose two of their key players, Adam Deadmarsh and Jason Allison, to significant injuries and ended up below .500 and out of the playoffs.
Los Angeles Kings Overview:
Arena: Staples Center
Stanley Cups won: 0