It’s a little sad to think that Los Angeles may have already seen the greatest player to grace the ice in their sweater. However, it’s highly unlikely the Kings will own a talent like Gretzky ever again. His legacy as a Los Angeles King and a NHL player are the high-water marks that every player from here till eternity will strive for and unlikely reach. Yet, nostalgia isn’t the only place for Kings fans to find solace because the future in L.A. is bright.
Gretzky came to Los Angeles and sparked enthusiasm that was usually reserved for football, baseball, and basketball. Suddenly the Kings were relevant among the other sports giants of Los Angeles.
However, Gretzky and the Kings were unable to bring a Stanley Cup back to Los Angeles. Many outsiders might look back at Gretzky’s legacy in Los Angeles as a failure, just as those outside Toronto may see Sundin as a failure, or Naslund in Vancouver, or Igninla (so far) in Calgary. For those within L.A.’s borders, it’s a different story.
Kings fans don’t look at Gretzky as the “captain who couldn’t.” He’s The Great One. A one man show. The man to see in the hockey world, right here in sunny L.A.
While it may seem depressing that even the greatest player to strap skates on couldn’t bring eternal glory to the Kings, I don’t look at it that way. Without Gretzky, this team wouldn’t be where it is today. Just as the Kings new 3rd sweaters pay homage to the Black & Silver days of the L.A. Kings, this team is suddenly surrounded with a new enthusiasm, reminiscent of those days.
Gretzky’s time in Los Angeles was just the beginning, paving the way for a Kings team that could compete year after year. While no single player might be able to reach such lofty heights as the Great One, this team and this town are poised to reach out for that brass ring. Hopefully, this organization can do that bronze statue in front of Staples Center justice and raise another banner into the rafters to sit next to Wayne Gretzky’s #99. Someday…
Happy Birthday, Great One. Go Kings!
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney