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THE NHL / HELENE ELLIOTT

500 Goals Later, He's a Treasure Fit for the Kings

He's not the flashiest or the fastest player, but Robitaille, even more than Gretzky in his day, is the franchise's crown jewel.

January 09, 1999|HELENE ELLIOTT

If Robitaille isn't the marquee player they need, he can still be the foundation of their offense and be to newcomers what Marcel Dionne was to him: a voice of experience and guidance. With 22 goals, he ranks among the NHL leaders and is on a pace to score 47, which would be his most productive season since he scored 63 in 1992-93, when the Kings went to the Stanley Cup finals. Robitaille was their big gun for much of that season too, after Gretzky was slowed by back problems.

"He's been a great player for us," Taylor said. "People like guys with speed and flash and that's not Luc's game. But Luc has always been a very productive player and as a 500-goal scorer he belongs in the Hall of Fame."

Since Thursday night, Robitaille has been showered with congratulatory messages from friends and rivals, with flowers from current owner Philip Anschutz and a phone call from former owner Bruce McNall (collect?), still serving time in Lompoc. Tonight, Dionne will give Robitaille a milestone award on behalf of the NHL, and Robitaille's parents, Claude and Madeleine, will join past and present Kings in honoring him.

Robitaille will accept the accolades with his usual grace, but he won't be satisfied. "Until I get my hand on the Stanley Cup, nothing will be accomplished," he said.

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The Race to 500

Only 11 players have scored 500 goals in fewer games than Luc Robitaille:

No. PlayerGames

1. Wayne Gretzky: 575

2. Mario Lemieux: 605

3. Mike Bossy: 647

4. Brett Hull: 693

5. Phil Esposito: 803

6. Jari Kurri: 833

7. Bobby Hull: 861

8. Maurice Richard: 863

9. Marcel Dionne: 887

10. Steve Yzerman: 906

11. Guy Lafleur: 918

12. Luc Robitaille: 928

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