Rob Blake is one of the greatest players in Los Angeles Kings history as he played 14 years over two stints with the Kings and won the 1998 Norris Trophy for the NHL’s top defenseman. The Hockey Hall of Fame voters recognized this and will be inducting Blake into hockey immortality in November alongside fellow legends of the game Peter Forsberg, Dominik Hasek, and Mike Modano. That means it is time the Kings recognize Blake’s greatness and hang his number from the rafters of the Staples Center.
Part of the reason his famous No. 4 isn’t already hanging up there is because both of his stints with the team ended on not the best terms. In 2001, as a pending free agent, Blake wouldn’t sign an extension with the Kings and was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. With hockey legends such as Joe Sakic, Ray Bourque and the aforementioned Forsberg as teammates, Blake won the Stanley Cup with the Avs in 2001. Blake remained with the Avalanche and was on a perennial contender. The Kings went into a tailspin that took them nearly a decade to get out of.
After four years in Denver, Blake returned to L.A. as a free agent in 2006 to join an atrocious Kings team. Blake played two years on non-playoff teams in his second Kings’ stint as Dean Lombardi was just starting his building process. Ironically, in 2008 with the Kings far out of playoff contention and Blake again a pending free agent, he refused a trade to the San Jose Sharks that would have netted the Kings more assets to help their rebuild.
To further the irony, that summer Blake inked a deal with the Sharks as a free agent after not joining the team at the deadline. Blake would wear teal for two seasons as he wrapped up his NHL career in NorCal before retiring and returning to the L.A. area where he still lives today.
Blake has a unique place in Kings history as he played with one of the greatest defensemen in league history in Larry Robinson as a rookie. He then starred alongside Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitalle during the 1990s before acting as a mentor to current Kings (and Stanley Cup Champions) such as Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.
While being inducted into the Hall of Fame is a sweetener, his impact on the team should be reason enough to have No. 4 hanging from the rafters. Few defensemen could provide the one of a kind hip checks that Blake did night after night and then be able to rocket a slapshot mercilessly past an opposing goalie. Fans and players need to be reminded of this.