Pretty interesting story in the Globe and Mail today about Luc Robitaille’s executive role and the success of the Los Angeles Kings.
Fresh off their first playoff series win in 11 years, the Kings will take on the St. Louis Blues this Saturday in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal.
On Thursday, the series will switch to Los Angeles where, after years of hard work, the Kings are being embraced by the city — something Robitaille set to achieve upon taking the business operations gig in 2007.
When Robitaille came, one idea important idea he had was to reengage the glitz – “our neighbours in Hollywood” he said at the time. Examples of the effort include what’s called the “ice box,” 11 very VIP seats (total price tag: $4,000) used during the season between the two teams’ players benches. The Kings have staff that cater specifically to celebrities, with a Ritz-Carlton inspired “never say no” attitude.
Attendance has jumped, as 18,000 or so cram in for each game, the Kings selling out nearly every game this season. As the Kings rolled over the Canucks in five games, bold-print names such as Kobe Bryant, David Beckham and Will Ferrell were among the crowd. Games 3 and 4 of the second round against St. Louis, without doubt, will be hot tickets. L.A., more than most towns, loves a winner.
“For us, we’re not about making the playoffs any more,” Robitaille said. “We’re about trying to win the whole thing.
“You have to win in this town. Because there’s always something to do. You can go see a movie premier, you can go see the Grammy’s, next thing UCLA, or the Dodgers, or the Angels, the Clippers, the Lakers. There’s always something.”
While Robitaille and GM Dean Lombardi are being praised for their work with the club, The Globe notes ownership (Anschutz Entertainment Group) deserves a lot of credit for opening up the checkbook.
AEG paid almost as much to retain/obtain Drew Doughty and Mike Richards last summer ($108 million) as it did to buy the franchise ($113 million) and, at the trade deadline, picked up another huge salary in Jeff Carter ($58 million.)
Robitaille says that attitude and willingness to spend is what it takes to be a winner.
“At first it was really hard,” said Robitaille. “But as the team started performing, and suddenly the expectations are a lot grander, it’s a lot easier to explain, even to my staff, what we stand for, because you’re seeing results.”