Robitaille, hired as the Kings' alternate governor, will focus primarily on the Kings business operations and community relations. "The game of hockey has been extremely good to me and my family, and I have always considered the Kings to be my second family," Robitaille said in a statement. "Even though I'm not on the ice anymore, my goal remains the same - to bring the cup to Los Angeles."
Robitaille is the highest scoring left-wing in NHL history with 668 career goals and 1,394 points. He played 14 of his 19 seasons with the Kings (1986-87 to 1993-94, 1997-98 to 2000-01 and 2003-04 to 2005-06). He also played for Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers and Detroit.
The Kings will retire Robitaille's No. 20 jersey in January 20.
Craig Cunningham’s recovery is progressing but “there's a lot more progression and healing to be done,” according to friend and former teammate Milan Lucic, who visited Cunningham recently.
Tucson captain Craig Cunningham has remained in the thoughts of the hockey community since the moment he collapsed on the ice ahead of an AHL contest between the Roadrunners and Manitoba Moose on Nov. 19, but information regarding the health of the 26-year-old has been sparse.
The Arizona Coyotes, the parent club of the Roadrunners, have updated Cunningham’s status from time to time, often saying only that there has been little or no change, which is to say that Cunningham remains in critical but stable condition.
However, a promising update has come along regarding Cunningham from his friend and former teammate, Milan Lucic. The Oilers winger, who played with Cunningham with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants and again as a member of the Boston Bruins, said he couldn’t get into too much detail, but offered some positive news.
"The good news is he's progressed a lot from the state he was in last weekend," Lucic said, according to NHL.com’s Jerry Brown. "He's heading in the right direction, but obviously there's a lot more progression and healing to be done.”
Cunningham was a fourth-round pick, 97th overall, of the Bruins in 2010, and has played 63 NHL games over the past several seasons. He was acquired by the Coyotes via waivers in 2014-15, finishing the season by playing 19 games with the Coyotes and recording one goal and four points. He skated in 10 games with the Coyotes in 2015-16, picking up an assist.
Cunningham was named the captain of the Springfield Falcons, then the Coyotes affiliate, in 2015-16 and had arguably the best AHL season of his career, posting 22 goals and 46 points in 61 games. He held on to the captaincy with the newly minted Roadrunners this season and had four goals and 13 points in 11 games.
The Roadrunners postponed two additional games following Cunningham’s hospitalization, but returned to action this past Saturday.
Marek Svatos had traces of codeine, morphine and an anti-anxiety medication in his blood when he died in November. The 34-year-old played 344 games in the NHL, almost all of which came with the Avalanche.
According to the Douglas County Coroner’s Office in Colorado, former Avalanche winger Marek Svatos died of a drug overdose.
Svatos, 34, shockingly passed away on Nov. 5, and in a coroner’s report released Monday, it was said that traces of codeine, morphine and Xanax, a prescription anti-anxiety medication, were found in his blood. The Denver Post, which first reported the coroner’s report, added that Svatos had a history of heroin use and had previously been in rehab.
Svatos was a member of the Colorado Avalanche for several seasons and a key contributor to the club during the early part of his time in the NHL, but his career was derailed by a number of injuries, forcing him to retire from the game by the end of the 2013-14 campaign. All but 28 of his 344 NHL games came as a member of the Avalanche, and he scored 96 goals and 164 points in his six seasons in Colorado.
The best season of Svatos’ career came during his rookie campaign in 2005-06. The then-freshman Svatos netted 32 goals and 50 points and was a frontrunner for the Calder Trophy, and, were it not for injury limiting him to 61 games, he may have finished the season ahead of Sidney Crosby for second in rookie goals. Crosby finished with 39, and Alex Ovechkin, the Calder winner, led all rookies with 52 goals and 106 points.
Svatos’ career eventually took him to the KHL in 2010-11, and he attempted an NHL comeback with the St. Louis Blues, which led to a waiver claim by the Nashville Predators and, later, a stint with the Ottawa Senators. He couldn’t find a fit, however. He did not play the following year, and finished his career with one nine-game season in the KHL and another 26-game campaign in the top Slovakian league with his hometown club, HC Kosice.
Following his death, Avalanche GM Joe Sakic, a teammate of Svatos’ for four full seasons at the start of his career, said Svatos was a great teammate and lamented his death at such a young age.
A Michigan high school player scored an absolutely jaw-dropping goal, spinning backhanded against the grain before scoring a Marek Malik-style goal.
Connor McDavid has scored some beauties this year, Sidney Crosby has been his normal self and the hockey world has been enamoured with the blistering shot of Patrik Laine. When it comes to goal of the year, though, the honor may very well have to go to a high school player in Michigan.
It’s nearly impossible to explain how on earth Gibraltar Carlson Marauders sophomore Jake Rhoades thought to pull off this move, but it’s must-see material.
Coming down the left wing, Rhoades was one-on-one with a defender while cutting towards the middle of the ice. Instead of trying to power around the defender, Rhoades threw down a backhanded 360 spin move, controlling the puck with the heel of his stick. That alone would have been enough to make this highlight-reel worthy.
However, after the spin move allowed Rhoades to slip by the lone defender, he flipped the puck back between his legs and popped it over the blocker of the netminder:
Philip Larsen got knocked unconscious, the Canucks retailiated without knowing what happened, and they could have hurt their teammate even worse in the process.
The incident was horrific. We can all agree on that.
Tuesday night in New Jersey, Vancouver Canucks blueliner Philip Larsen skated behind his net to retrieve a puck. He had no idea Devils left winger Taylor Hall was pursuing the same puck. They collided heavily. Larsen bashed his head on the ice and was knocked out cold.
It was a scary scene, undoubtedly, one that understandably evoked a ton of emotion from Larsen's teammates. It was hardly a surprise to see a flurry of Vancouver players swarm Hall and make him fight.
It was a shame, however, for multiple reasons. First off, the hit wasn't dirty. It wasn't even a deliberate bodycheck. Hall leaned back on his skates to slow his momentum and held out his arms as if protecting himself from imminent impact. It was more of a crash than a bonecrushing hit. We can debate whether Larsen's head was the principal point of contact – I don't believe it was at all – but it's irrelevant when assessing Hall's guilt. There was no intent there. He won't be disciplined by the NHL for an accident.
And yet, thanks to the sport's culture of immediate and forceful vengeance, Hall had to fight anyway. In the spur of the moment, in the heat of elite competition, players are simply too jacked up to take a breath and assess the situation. They see a comrade fall and, in mere milliseconds, seek and destroy whoever caused the harm.
“You always have a problem with a hit when one of your guys gets hit hard," Canucks coach Willie Desjardins told the Vancouver Province's Jason Botchford after the the game. "It doesn’t matter if it’s a clean hit. You have a problem when a guy gets hit that hard. I think all coaches would.”
The ironic thing about this tough-guy mentality is that it could end up pushing one of the toughest things about hockey out of the game: good, clean hits. If the swarm mentality goes on much longer, the only guys willing to lay opponents out with big hits will be those ready and willing to drop the gloves right afterward. Sooner or later players might decide it's not worth sitting five minutes and/or risking injury just to put a lick on a guy. And, in Hall's case, he wasn't even trying to drill Larsen.
Will we ever stop seeing players attacked after clean hits? I doubt it. The revenge assault is a crime of passion, a snap decision. But maybe, just maybe, the Canucks and players all over the world can learn a bit from what happened right after Larsen got hit. Watch:
The first instinct, sadly, is not to help Larsen, but to destroy Hall. Center Michael Chaput immediately starts a fight. That causes a pileup of players from both teams – all around the unconscious Larsen. It's downright disturbing to see him getting kicked in the head by his own teammates’ skates. Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom tries to box out Larsen and keep him safe. Markus Granlund tries as well but has to step over and onto Larsen in the process. It’s a miracle Larsen wasn’t cut. None of that would've happened had Chaput thought of Larsen first.
The ugly scene is a reminder that, right after a teammate takes a massive hit, the first priority should be to protect him. The best way to do that isn't to attack his attacker. It's to attend to the teammate first. There's plenty of time to review what happened and take down the perpetrator's number for later in the game. That's what jumbo-tron replays are for. And, in cases like Hall's, the violence would be averted altogether if players watched the replay and realized it was an accident.
Sadly, the idea is a pipe dream, and I don’t expect players to learn from Larsen's fate anytime soon. But we can always hope.