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SALT LAKE CITY — Luc Robitaille, a renowned figure in the world of hockey, brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the game. As a former NHL player with a 19-year career and currently serving as team president of the Los Angeles Kings, Robitaille understands the sport inside and out.
Hailing from Montreal, Robitaille had the privilege of playing alongside iconic names like Wayne Gretzky and even won the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. His contributions to the sport were officially recognized when he was named one of the 100 greatest players in NHL history in 2017, as reported on NHL.com.
Robitaille’s connection to Utah began in 2002 when he and his wife made it their temporary home. Over the years, his admiration for the state led to multiple appearances by the Kings for charity games during the Sundance Film Festival and outdoor games in Midway. This love for Utah eventually sparked the creation of “Frozen Fury,” a preseason event in Salt Lake City that brings the Kings to Vivint Arena for thrilling matchups against rival teams like the San Jose Sharks.
In his own words, Robitaille expresses his delight in visiting Utah: “We’ve been coming down for five years and it’s been great. We really enjoy it. Our players enjoy it. And hopefully by the end of it, maybe there’s another team here.” As a part-time resident, NHL legend, and executive, Robitaille advocates for Salt Lake City to secure its own NHL franchise.
The possibility of professional hockey in Salt Lake City gained significant traction when Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in March. Robitaille acknowledges Smith’s interest, stating, “When he says he’s interested in hockey, I think everyone’s listening.” With Smith’s potential influence and resources, the dream of an NHL team in Salt Lake City becomes more tangible.
Trevor Lewis, a current player for the Kings and a native of Salt Lake City, expresses his support for an NHL team in his hometown: “I think the city would be behind the NHL team for sure. I think one thing about hockey is that once people experience it live, it’s a whole different animal, and they find out how much fun it is to watch.”
The ongoing tradition of events like Frozen Fury aims to generate enthusiasm for NHL games among Utah residents. Both Lewis and Robitaille hope that this exposure will lead to the establishment of a permanent NHL franchise in Salt Lake City. Robitaille even contemplates extended stays in the city, stating, “We’re really interested to keep coming back and then hopefully we have a little bit of help if they ever end up getting an NHL franchise.”
While the NHL has only added four teams in the current century, recent expansions, such as the Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken, demonstrate the potential for growth within the sport. Robitaille believes Salt Lake City presents a promising opportunity for the future: “Our sport is in really good shape. There’s been real growth in the world of hockey, and we know there’s a lot of room for growth also. That’s why it’s exciting when you come into a new market like Salt Lake City. I think there’s a real opportunity for the future.”
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