The beams at the Staples Center will become way more crowded this coming 2014-2015 National Hockey League season with the addition of Rob Blake’s No. 4 jersey. The Los Angeles Kings announced their plans to retire the former defenseman’s jersey on January 17, 2015 in recognition of his Hall of Fame career.
On Monday, August 11, Blake the all-time leader in games played, goals, assists and points by a Los Angeles Kings defenseman, learned that he will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Blake, currently serving as Assistant General Manager for the 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Kings, joins players Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek and Mike Modano as part of the 2014 selection class, with induction ceremonies set for November 17 in Toronto, Canada. Similarly selected as new members of the Hall of Fame on Monday were Pat Burns in the Builder Category; and Bill McCreary in the Referee and Linesman Category.
“It’s a great honor to be included in the group selected today and to join all the great players that reside in the Hockey Hall of Fame,” said Blake. “I feel fortunate and thankful as the game of hockey has been very good to me and my family over the past 25 years. I have always felt L.A. was a special place to play and it was and is a tremendous privilege to put on an L.A. Kings jersey.”
Blake will be honored before a home game against division rival the Anaheim Ducks, where his jersey will be the sixth retired by the club. Joining the company of Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99, Luc Robitaille’s 20, Dave Taylor’s 18, Marcel Dionne’s 16 and Rogie Vachon’s 30. Blake’s jersey banner will be from the silver-and-black era, the team announced.
The 44-year-old, who now serves as the Kings’ assistant general manager, had an amazing 20-year playing career that included winning the Norris Trophy and seven appearances in the NHL All-Star Game. Blake was originally drafted by the Kings in the fourth round (70th overall) of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. A resident of Simcoe, Ontario, Blake played college hockey at Bowling Green State University. He made his NHL debut with the Kings during the 1989-90 season.
Blake, served as the Kings captain from 1996-01, and again from 2007-08 (six total seasons). He helped lead the Kings to the Stanley Cup Final in 1993, where they were defeated in five games by the Montreal Canadians; won the franchise’s first Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman in 1998; captured a gold medal at the 2002 Olympics for Canada; and made six trips to the NHL All-Star Game, including four representing the Kings. Blake is one of only 24 players in hockey history to join the “Triple Gold Club”, winning a World Championship, Olympic Gold Medal, and the Stanley Cup.
Blake’s relationship with the Kings organization became chaotic starting in 2000, when the two sides failed to negotiate on a contract extension. Blake temporarily resigned his captaincy and was ultimately traded months later to the Colorado Avalanche, with whom he won his first and only, Stanley Cup and played four more seasons. Blake eventually returned to the Kings in 2006 and played just two seasons, then played two more as a San Jose Shark and retired in 2010. He is the Kings’ all-team leader among defenseman in games played, goals, assists and points. With his aggressive and in your face defense style, Blake recorded 161 goals and 333 assists in 805 games with the Kings.
Blake currently serves as an assistant general manager for the Kings, he assists Kings president/general manager Dean Lombardi in all aspects of the Kings Hockey Operations department, including contract negotiations, player personnel and overseeing the organization’s top prospects. In addition, Blake oversees the Manchester Monarchs Hockey Operations department while serving as general manager of the Monarchs – the Kings primary affiliate in the American Hockey League.
“There’s a lot of administrative aspects that you have to deal with,” Blake said. “I probably didn’t understand that as much from being a player, but as far as the reading of players and charting and graphing players, it’s not much different from what I did for twenty years as a player.” But the paperwork and other administrative duties can be rather daunting for the former player.
“The administrative part has been a learning experience—understanding all that,” said Blake. “But the staff Dean has put together has made it pretty easy. I can go to the scouts, I can go to the amateur guys, and I can go to the development guys, when I have issues or questions about what they do. They’re very open that way.” Prior to returning to the Kings organization on July 18, 2013, Blake worked in the NHL’s Player Safety department for three seasons.
For years, after Blake left the Kings, he was loudly booed and heckled by a huge portion of the Kings Fans whenever he returned to the Staples Center as an Avalanche or a Shark. But now, as a successful Stanley Cup winning Assistant GM for the Kings franchise, Blake is welcomed with enthusiastic applause from the Kings Fan base. And on January 17th Blake will no doubt receive thunderous standing ovation from every member in the audience, as the greatest number 4 jersey in L.A. Kings, and probably NHL, history is forever immortalized on the rafters of the Staples Center.