This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.
Los Angeles Kings
1. Wayne Gretzky – 1,321 Votes
2. Luc Robitaille – 767 Votes
3. Jonathan Quick – 238 Votes
4. Other – 161 Votes
Even though he sits just 16th all-time in games played for the Kings — heck, Sean O’Donnell played more — it’s hard to deny Gretzky’s place atop this list, or the impact he had on hockey in Los Angeles. No. 99 brought the Kings the type of Hollywood limelight normally reserved for the Lakers, and paced the team to its first-ever Stanley Cup Final appearance in 1993.
In short, he put hockey in the map in L.A.
Here’s what the No. 2 guy on this list, Robitaille, said about Gretzky’s impact (per The Hockey News):
Here in L.A., Wayne is The Guy. He made us a respectable franchise. People became believers because of him. You talk to Drew Doughty, he’ll tell you he wanted to play for the Kings because he’d seen and heard about Gretzky.
We have a history and obviously there was Marcel Dionne, but Gretzky and that trade changed the NHL.
(Oddly enough, Dionne failed to crack the top three on the list.)
Gretzky’s time with L.A. also produced a number of numbers and awards. He won his last Hart Trophy as league MVP in a Kings uniform (in 1989), and captured three Art Ross trophies as the regular season scoring champ.
All told, he finished his L.A. career with 918 points in 539 games — a 1.7 points-per-game average — and, during the ’93 Cup run, scored a staggering 40 points in 24 games.
So yeah, no real surprise No. 99 is the No. 1 King of all time.