Rob Blake’s tenure with the Los Angeles Kings saw him play with Wayne Gretzky, win a Norris Trophy and help mentor current Kings, such Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. A few months ago I said the time has come for the Kings to raise Blake’s no. 4 to the rafters of the Staples Center and apparently the team was listening. The Kings announced that Blake’s jersey retirement ceremony will take place on January 17 before a game against the rival Anaheim Ducks.
It’ll be an eventful few months for Blake as the former star blue liner will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame alongside Mike Modano, Dominik Hasek, Peter Forsberg, and the late Pat Burns in November. Despite playing in the same eras as Ray Bourque and Nicklas Lidstrom, Blake was able to carve out his own niche in NHL history as he won the 1998 Norris Trophy for the league’s top defenseman. The Hall of Fame voters and the Kings organization rightfully recognized all he’s done for the game in both honors.
While Blake had stints with the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks — winning a Stanley Cup with the Avs — he spent his best days with the Kings. Between his patented hip checks and offensive productive, specifically his low, hard shot from the point, Blake was one of the elite defenseman of all time. And while Drew Doughty will likely knock him off eventually, he is without a doubt the best blue liner in franchise history. The numbers speak for themselves as Blake is the Kings’ leader among defensemen in games played and all major offensive categories.
Blake never won a Cup with the Kings but his impact on the franchise was immense and warranted his number being retired with or without Hall of Fame induction. Only five other Kings (Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Dave Taylor, Marcel Dionne, and Rogie Vachon) have their numbers hanging at the Staples Center, putting Blake in truly elite company. Not bad for a kid from Simcoe, Ontario who played his college hockey at Bowling Green.