For Blake, accepting the job made a lot of sense. After retiring following the 2009-10 campaign, Blake worked for the NHL Department of Player Safety. He enjoyed his time there, but he missed the competitive drive that came from working with a team.
Still, it wasn’t just a desire to compete for a Stanley Cup again that facilitated the move. It was also that it was the Los Angeles Kings making the offer, which would allow him to return to the franchise that originally drafted him in 1988.
“I’ve always wanted to do that since I can remember,” Blake told LA Kings Insider.
That wasn’t always made clear to Kings fans. Back in 2001, the team traded him to the Colorado Avalanche after their efforts to ink him to an extension had failed and they were in danger of watching him walk away as an unrestricted free agent.
Blake returned to the Kings for a second stint starting with the 2006-07 campaign, but his return only lasted for two seasons before he headed to the division rival San Jose Sharks.
“I understand it, and I know that there are some – and even if I sat with them and explained my side, from 15 years ago to today, they might not side with me,” Blake admitted. “So I’m not so worried about that…This is my third time coming back here. But it’s like, I want to be back. And they’ve wanted me to be back.”
Blake added that he’s gain some perspective on how the business and management side of hockey works since his retirement.
“Throughout your career you see players move or yourself, or other players that you played with, and you question why they’re moving,” Blake said. “A lot of it has to do with the way teams have to be structured. And it’s a business. It doesn’t matter.
“It’s not a personal agenda, and that takes a player – I think he can never understand that until he’s done in his career – that it wasn’t personal. When you’re playing, it’s personal. It always has been. But when you step back and you watch – I watched it from the league’s side, and now I’m watching it from the team’s side – it’s rarely personal. It’s business.
“That’s their job, to win and to give the best possible things they can.”
Now that’s his job too.