Mark Devore The Hockey Writers
Los Angeles Kings with 100-Point Seasons
Seven men have reached the 100-point plateau a combined 23 times in Los Angeles Kings history. One is the only player in franchise history to score 70 or more goals in a single season. Two joined the team together as rookies. Three played together on one of the top-producing lines in NHL history. Four have their sweaters hanging on the Staples Center wall, and five is how many times the Great One broke 100 points while playing for the Kings.
The Triple Crown Line – Dionne, Taylor, and Simmer
When Kings head coach Bob Berry inserted AHL-call up Charlie Simmer alongside Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor midway through the 1978-79 season he could not have possibly imagined the trio would not only soon be collectively known as the Triple Crown Line, but that 40 years later it would still be recognized as one the most explosive lines in NHL history. In 1980-81 all three linemates reached the 100-point mark, the first time in NHL history that three players from the same team had done so in the same season. Moreover, not only did Dionne (58) and Simmer (56) both pass the 50-goal plateau that season, it’s likely Taylor (47) would have done so also had he not missed the last 15 games of the season with a broken leg.
Dionne passed the 100-point mark seven times in his Kings career, including a three-year span during which he tallied at least 130 points each season. Taylor, a Kings lifer, was taken in the 15th round (210th overall) in the 1975 draft. He played 17 years with the club, and upon retirement held the franchise record for most games played (since broken by Dustin Brown). Taylor passed the 100-point mark twice, in 1980-81 (47 goals/65 assists/112 points) and in 1981-82 (39/67/106.)
Simmer, the only member of the Triple Crown line whose sweater is not retired had a remarkably consistent two-season stretch in 1979-80 and 1980-81. In 1979-80 he went 56/45/101 in 64 games. The following season he posted 56/39/105 in 65 games, setting the still-standing single-season NHL shooting percentage record of 32.75%. Had it not been for missing 15 games each of those two seasons, it is likely Simmer would have scored 60 or even possibly 70 goals.
The Forgotten One – Bernie Nicholls
If you polled the 18,340 fans that fill Staples Center to capacity 41 times a year, I’d bet my piggy bank full of loonies and toonies that a large majority believe Wayne Gretzky holds the team’s single-season record for most goals scored. You might get some Robitaille’s or Kopitar’s, or perhaps even a few Marcel’s, but only real diehards would correctly answer Bernie Nicholls.
Nicholls is the only player in club history to light the lamp 70 times in a single season. In 1988-89, he posted a stat line of 70/80/150, which places him third in the team record book for most points in a season, behind only Gretzky, who holds the first two spots. Nicholls is one of only eight players in NHL history to have scored 70 goals in a single season. He is also one of only five players to have scored over 150 points in a single season.
Nicholls also set Kings records that season for most shorthanded goals in one season (8) and for scoring the most points in a single game when he tallied two goals and six assists for eight points in a Dec. 1988 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. While his points explosion in 1988-89 was no doubt influenced by Gretzky on and off the ice, it must be noted that both players were centers and thus played on separate lines. So, it’s not like Nicholls just rode the Great One’s coattails. In fact, in the three seasons beginning with 1983-84, Nicholls scored at least 95 points, including 100 points in 1984-85.
The Great One – Wayne Gretzky
I’m known in my neighborhood for two things. One, telling the kids playing roller hockey that Alex Ovechkin couldn’t carry the Great One’s equipment bag, and two, “get off my lawn!” What can you say about No. 99 that has not already been said? Well, hopefully, a lot because I just got this job writing about the Kings for a living. (Shameless plug, follow me @MarkDevoreNHL.)
While playing for Los Angeles, the Great One broke the 100-point mark five times, the most by any player in franchise history. His best year statistically was 1988-89, his first in Inglewood, when he went 54/114/168, setting single-season team records for points and assists. His 168 points that season still stands as a franchise record. His 114 assists, which broke the previous team mark of 80 assists set by Dionne in 1984-85, would still be a team record but for Gretzky breaking it the following season when he went 41/122/163.
Ironically, during the conference championship season of 1992-93 the Great One failed to reach the 100-point mark due to injuries that limited him to only 45 regular-season games. However, during the playoffs that season he led the league in goals, assists, and points registering a line of 15/25/40 in 24 games, a pace which easily translates to over 100 points had he played anything close to a full season.
Tale of Two Rookies – Luc Robitaille and Jimmy Carson
The “Trade that Changed the Game” clearly affected the career trajectory of Jimmy Carson, whom the Kings sent to Edmonton along with $15 million, three first-round draft choices, and Martin Gelinas (whom the Kings had selected earlier that summer with the seventh-overall pick in the draft) in exchange for Gretzky, Mike Krushelnyski, and Marty Mcsorley.
The Kings drafted Carson with the number-two pick overall in the 1986 draft. He is both the youngest player and the only U.S.-born player to have reached the 100-point mark in a single season for the Kings. Jumping directly from the QMJHL (Verdun) to the NHL at age 18, Carson had a rookie stat line of 37/42/79, coming in second in Calder Trophy balloting behind only linemate Luc Robitaille. He followed that season with an outstanding sophomore campaign posting a stat line of 57/52/107.
After a successful first year in Edmonton where he tallied a stat line of 49/51/100, the pressure of not being Gretzky proved too much for Carson and he was traded to his hometown Red Wings midway through the 1989-1990 season. At the point, the trajectory of his career quickly sloped downhill. He never again matched the success he achieved upon initially arriving in Los Angeles. In Jan. 1993, the Red Wings traded Carson back to the Kings in a six-player swap that included Paul Coffey. He was traded a year later to Vancouver for Dixon Ward.
Although he broke in as a rookie the same season as Carson, Robitaille had a much different pedigree. Unlike Carson, Robitaille was not a high draft pick. Luc (or “Luuuuuuuuc” as he is still affectionately cheered by Kings fans) was taken by the Kings in the ninth round (171st overall) of the 1984 draft, spending two additional years in the QMJHL (Hull) before making the big club at age 20. He won the Calder Trophy his rookie year, posting a stat line of 45/39/84. His 84 points is still a franchise record for rookies.
Luc broke the 100-point plateau four times while playing for the Kings. The first time was during his sophomore season of 1987-88 when he posted a line of 53/58/111. Over the course of that season plus the next five, he averaged 105 points a season. In the conference championship season of 1992-93, he set career marks in goals and points when he went 63/62/125. He was a first or second-team NHL All-Star his first seven years in the league. He finished his career as the NHL’s all-time leader in both goals (668) and assists by a left wing (813).
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