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The 10 greatest L.A. Kings of all time, No. 1: Wayne Gretzky

June 14, 2012|By Houston Mitchell
  • Wayne Gretzky with the Kings in 1994.
Wayne Gretzky with the Kings in 1994. (Associated Press )

Ending our countdown of the 10 greatest L.A. Kings of all time, as chosen by Times readers.

No. 1: Wayne Gretzky (619 first-place votes, 13,147 points)

It was interesting counting up the ballots. Some people had Gretzky way down on the ballot; many had him first. You could also usually tell when a person became a Kings fan. If he or she did so during the Stanley Cup Finals season, then the list was mainly populated by players from that team, and some of those voters left guys such as Marcel Dionne off their list entirely.

On Aug. 9, 1988, in one of the biggest trades in sports history, the Kings acquired Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski from the Edmonton Oilers for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million in cash, and the Kings' first-round draft picks in 1989 (later traded to the New Jersey Devils -- New Jersey selected Jason Miller), 1991 (Martin Rucinsky) and 1993 (Nick Stajduhar).

Gretzky was already considered by most to be the greatest hockey player of all time, and people in L.A. who had never given the sport a second thought suddenly began to take notice.

With the Kings, Gretzky got things rolling by scoring on his first shot on goal in the first regular-season game and won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in his first season with the team.

He led the team to their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance and remained the best player on the team until he was traded to the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 27, 1996, for Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, Patrice Tardif and two draft choices.

On the Kings' all-time leaders list, Gretzky is sixth in goals (246), second in assists (672) and fourth in points (918).

So that concludes our list. If you want to compare it with the top 10 our readers selected in May 2010, here is that list: 1. Gretzky; 2. Marcel Dionne; 3. Luc Robitaille; 4. Rogie Vachon; 5. Dave Taylor; 6. Butch Goring; 7. Bob Miller; 8. Rob Blake; 9. Bernie Nicholls; 10. Charlie Simmer. So, Goring and Simmer drop off the list (Goring finished 11th, Simmer 13th, with Drew Doughty in between them) and Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar join the list. Let's do it again in two years!

RELATED:

10 greatest Kings, No. 1: Wayne Gretzky

10 greatest Kings, No. 2: Marcel Dionne

10 greatest Kings, No. 3: Luc Robitaille

10 greatest Kings, No. 4: Dave Taylor

10 greatest Kings, No. 5: Rogie Vachon

10 greatest Kings, No. 6: Bob Miller

10 greatest Kings, No. 7: Jonathan Quick

10 greatest Kings, No. 8: Rob Blake

10 greatest Kings, No. 9: Bernie Nicholls

10 greatest Kings, No. 10: Anze Kopitar

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