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Moments in history: Luc Robitaille silences a drunk Earl Sleek

Well, in BoC news, the L.A. Kings have decided to retire good ol’ #20 for fan favorite Luc Robitaille on January 20th, in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. This probably paves the way for Rob Blake to get his #4 up in the rafters in a few years also, in a little section they’ll call "Guys who we sent to cup-winning teams".

Any way, flash back with me to November 9, 2001, back when Robitaille was a cupless wonder just getting started on his Red Wings career. I secured 2nd row seats to the Detroit-Anaheim game, invited some of my buddies (including one huge Detroit fan and one huge L.A. fan), and we proceeded to do our usual custom of pre-game drinking until we felt properly obnoxious. And boy, were we ready by game time.

Now the 2nd row can be a real treat for a fan who’s done his prerequisite drinking, because you have the ability to yell directly at a player skating by with the confidence that he can hear you. Don’t get me wrong; just because I heckle doesn’t mean that I don’t respect. Luc is a fantastic sniper who fashioned an incredible career and is probably in my top-50 favorite NHLers of all time; he just happened to be in the wrong building that day.

For this particular game, I was fixated on the fact that Lucky Luc’s next goal would be his 600th career goal. Every time he would skate nearby, I would stand up and yell, "Hey Luc! Five-ninety-nine!" Even my section got into it, to the point we would get looks from passing Red Wings, always a nice treat.

Well, before long, Luc had quite enough of me and my antics. He shoved a puck past J.S. Giguere on a 1st period power play and just like that, I was out of yelling ammunition. Luc, of course, got his proper ovation, and it even turned out to be the only goal of a 1-0 game, with the Ducks managing a paltry 19 shots at Hasek*.

So that’s how I saw a historical moment for Lucky Luc, and hey, I even tell myself that I was a part of making it happen. Congratulations, Mr. Robitaille, on one hell of a career. Glad I could be there for one of the big moments.

* A good source for hockey boxscores (since Sept. 1997) is here.