The 10 greatest L.A. Kings of all time, No. 1: Wayne Gretzky
Ending our series of the 10 greatest L.A. Kings of all time, as chosen by our readers.
No. 1: Wayne Gretzky (624 first-place votes, 13,849 points)
It was interesting counting up the ballots. Some people had Gretzky way down on the ballot, many had him first. You could also usually tell when a person became a Kings fan. If they did during the Stanley Cup Finals season, then their list was mainly populated by players from that team, and some of those voters left a guy like Marcel Dionne off their list entirely.
On Aug. 9, 1988, in one of the biggest trades in sports history, the Kings acquired Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski from the Edmonton Oilers for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million in cash, and the Kings' first-round draft picks in 1989 (later traded to the New Jersey Devils—New Jersey selected Jason Miller), 1991 (Martin Rucinsky), and 1993 (Nick Stajduhar).
Gretzky was already considered by most to be the greatest hockey player of all time, and people in L.A. who had never given hockey a second though suddenly began to take notice.
With the Kings, Gretzky got things rolling by scoring on his first shot on goal in the first regular-season game and won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in his first season with the team. He led the team to their first, and so far only, Stanley Cup Finals appearance, and remained the best player on the team until he was traded to the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 27, 1996 for Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, Patrice Tardif and two draft choices.
On the Kings' all-time leaders list, Gretzky is sixth in goals (246), second in assists (672) and fourth in points (918).
-- Houston Mitchell
No. 10: Charlie Simmer
No. 9: Bernie Nicholls
No. 8: Rob Blake
No. 7: Bob Miller
No. 6: Butch Goring
No. 5: Dave Taylor
No. 4: Rogie Vachon
No. 3: Luc Robitaille
No. 2: Marcel Dionne
Photo: Wayne Gretzky with the Kings. Credit: Reuters.