38 ago, the Los Angeles Kings made a famous pickup in the free agency market.
Marcel Dionne is a legend to all those who know the Kings. He was acquired in a deal that allowed the Detroit Red Wings to take Dan Maloney and Terry Harper to their club along with a second round draft pick.
Dionne was offered the outstanding sum of $300,000 dollars a season to leave the Wings by crazy owner Jack Kent Cooke. Though “the little beaver”, as he was called in French and English, he would eventually prove Cooke to be less of a loon than suspected.
He was put on the famous “Triple Crown” line with Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer. In Los Angeles, he totaled 921 games played, scoring 550 goals and providing 757 assists with the club. He eventually mentored rookie of the year and Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille, who is currently the President of non-hockey operations at the club.
Almost 20 years after the arrival of Dionne in 1991, The Kings drafted Oleksiy Mykolaiovych “Alexei” Zhitnik, or “Alex” Zhitnik for brevity with the 81st overall pick. The Soviet born defenseman was a major key to the outstanding seasons in the early 90s and the team’s Stanley Cup run of 92-93.
Despite his accomplishments on the rink for the Kings fans, his fame in the regard of free agency is a sad one. In 2008, Alex became one of the biggest contract buyouts in NHL history. He was paid $2.3 million to relinquish his two-year deal and become a free agent.
He eventually went to Russia and was a star again as the captain of the Moscow Dynamo. It was there he played enough games to get him over the 1,000 milestone marker.