Bob Pulford night in L.A.
It’s always great to meet any player that you admired as a kid, but to do so as an adult gives you a feeling that’s hard to describe to someone who’s not into sports. Well tonight was one of those nights for me as before their big rivalry game against the Anaheim Ducks, the L.A. Kings honored one of their first players to reach the Hockey Hall of Fame Bob Pulford.
Bob Miller salutes Pulford as Kings HOF legends collide at center ice
One of the strange things for me personally is that I’m the last of the current press corps to have actually seen Pulford play in the old colors at the ‘Fabulous Forum’. And I also remember when he was traded by his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs (who he’d won 4 Stanley Cups with) to the Kings in 1970 as an aging veteran who still had something left to give besides just leadership. His retirement came only 2 years later but let’s not forget that ‘Pully’ (as he’s known) then immediately took over behind the L.A. bench and is still to this day, the only Kings coach to have ever been named the NHL’s coach of the year (1975) for his franchise record 105 point season (which also still stands). And now at a mere 75 years of age (turns 76 at the end of the month) Bob was really glowing tonight when wearing his old #20 on that original Kings’ Forum Blue (actually purple) and gold sweater when being introduced by another Kings legend and Hall of Famer broadcaster Bob Miller.
'Pully' speaks Kings hockey with me
Of course the guy who’s #20 is remembered most and retired inside Staples Center is another HOF left winger named Luc Robitaille, and it’s funny to think that he was only 3 years old when Pulford first wore his number so it was passed on quite nicely don’t you think? FYI, did you know that Kings GM Dean Lombardi is married to one of Pulford’s daughters? You talk about keeping things in the family…now I know who’s really been making all their deals the past few years! 🙂 Back to Mr. Pulford, who did make his way down to the media room after the 2nd period and was kind enough to do a little sit down interview with me as we went down L.A. Kings memory lane together…
Another guy who wore the same #20 on his ‘Forum gold’ (actually yellow) sweater before Luc was longtime NHL defenseman Mark Hardy who’s nickname is Harpo for wearing the old Marx Brother’s hairstyle when he began his pro career as the 30th overall draft pick by the Kings in 1979.
Mark Hardy proudly wore his #20 for the Kings
And as timing would have it, Mark was also in the pressbox tonight so how fitting to talk about his days wearing the purple and gold, what it means to him and reminiscing about the franchise’s greatest game in that uniform, the ‘Miracle on Manchester’ (in which he scored a very important goal)…
The night ended with the Ducks beating the Kings 2-1 in overtime but seeing the L.A. skaters in their old purple and golds was worth the price of admission in itself! You see my personal preference would be to wear them most games and use the black and whites as the alternate sweaters…but maybe I’m like Pully and just too old fashioned?
About Ted Sobel
Award winning sportscaster/journalist covering major events around the world since 1973. Please check out my new book 'Touching Greatness' and deep audio vault---and follow me on Twitter and Instagram (@tedsobelsports).