Rob Blake #4 of the Los Angeles Kings watches the puck after taking a shot against the New York Islanders during their game at the Nassau Coliseum on January 31, 2008 in Uninodale, New York.
(January 31, 2008 - Source: Andy Marlin/Getty Images North America)

Kings to retire Blake’s number Jan. 17


The accolades continue to roll in for former defenseman Rob Blake.

The 44-year-old, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November, will have his No. 4 jersey retired by the Los Angeles Kings in a pre-game ceremony in mid-January when the Anaheim Ducks visit the Staples Center.

Blake joins Wayne Gretzky, Rogie Vachon, Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor and Luc Robitaille as the only Kings’ to have their number retired.

“It is an honor to be included with the former great LA King players who have their Jersey’s retired,” said Blake in a statement. “I have always felt LA was a special place to play and it was and is a tremendous privilege to put on an LA Kings jersey.”

Blake is the Kings’ franchise leader in games played (805), goals (161) assists (333) and points (494) by a defenseman.

Blake, who served as LA’s captain from 1996-01 and 2007-08, played 14 of his 20 seasons with the Kings. The fourth-round, 1988, selection of the Kings also had stops in Colorado (2001-06) and San Jose (2008-10).

In all, the Simcoe, Ontario native tallied 240 goals and 777 points in 1270 games.

Blake, currently serving as the Kings’ Vice President and Assistant General Manager, won a Stanley Cup as a member of the Avalanche in 2001, the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman in 1998 and Olympic gold in 2002 for Team Canada.

On the same day his jersey is retired, Blake will also join the Kings Hall of Fame.

Related: Ducks to retire Selanne’s number Jan. 11 vs. Winnipeg

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.