TORONTO — A Stanley Cup final between the Kings and Montreal Canadiens might inspire mixed emotions in Larry Robinson, who played for both teams.
Robinson twice won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman while with Montreal and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the Canadiens' 1978 Stanley Cup victory. But he ended his 20-year career with the Kings, retiring after last season.
For Robinson, the rooting choice is clear.
"I hope L.A. does it," he said in the tumult of the Kings' locker room after their seventh-game victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday gave them the Campbell Conference championship. "I played with these guys not long ago. There's only three, four guys with Montreal that I played with.
"I'm happy for both teams, but my heart is with these guys."
The Kings will need all of Robinson's backing--and more--if they are to beat the Canadiens.
"They're playing awfully well," said Robinson, who has watched most of Montreal's playoff games. "Plus, they have going for them the fact that they're well rested and healthy, and (goaltender Patrick) Roy is at the top of his game right now. But Kelly (Hrudey) is playing at the top of his game, as well.
"But they're going to be playing against a hungry team in the Kings--a team that's going to be in a situation it's never been in before. It should be a good series."
The Kings are looking forward to the Forum-Forum series.
"It's a good building for us because it's a great ice surface, and it's great for our skating," King center Corey Millen said. "We stack up well against Montreal."
Although they credited the Kings' skill and tenacity, the Maple Leafs said they would have matched up better in this series with a full complement of players.
Defenseman Jamie Macoun cited as an example the absence of John Cullen, who sat out the last six games because of a neck injury.
"It would have been nice to have him in there as our second or third center and on our power play," Macoun said of Cullen, who had 18 goals and 50 points during the regular season. "On a team like ours, that survives on hard work, it would have been nice to have had him in there."