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March 16, 2011 1:50 pm

Bob Pulford `Legends Night’ feature

The Kings’ third “Legends Night” will take place Saturday night, with former player and coach Bob Pulford honored in a pregame ceremony. Pulford won four Stanley Cups with Toronto, then ended his Hall of Fame playing career by playing two seasons (1970-72) with the Kings. After retiring, Pulford immediately took over as coach of the Kings and guided them to the playoffs in four of his five seasons. Pulford’s 1974-75 team totaled 105 points, a single-season franchise record that still stands today. My feature this week takes a look at Pulford’s career Also, Pulford had a anecdote about the famously colorful former Kings owner, Jack Kent Cooke, that I wasn’t able to fit in the story, but one that I thought I would share here. Thanks for reading…

Before Lombardi, Bob Pulford was the original Kings architect

PULFORD: “I admired Cooke a great deal. His command of the English language, his intelligence, I admired him a great deal, about everything but hockey. He was Canadian-bred, and he thought that gave him the intelligence into hockey. He thought he knew hockey because he was Canadian. But we would spend time together and talk about a lot of things. As long as we didn’t talk about hockey, I enjoyed it. He treated me well, though. I disagreed with a lot of things he did, and I told him. He knew that, and that’s probably the reason I left Los Angeles at the end of the contract.

“I had played hockey with a Hall of Famer, Davey Keon. I went to Toronto and they gave me permission to talk to him. Davey said that he was willing to come to Los Angeles and play for us. He was a great player, and if he had come to that team, we would have become legitimate Stanley Cup contenders. I was really excited about this, and I went in to see Mr. Cooke. He said, `I’m sorry Bob, but we’re going in another direction. We’re going to get Marcel Dionne.’ I was really disappointed. I liked Dionne a great deal, so this was nothing against Marcel Dionne. I said, `It’s your team, Mr. Cooke, but I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t trade four players,’ and I gave him the names of those four players. He said, `Bob, I will not trade those four players for Dionne.’ I said, `OK, it’s your team, go ahead.’

“So then I’m driving home, up the San Diego freeway, and right at Sunset I hit the breaks, tore off the freeway and went back down to the Forum. I went right into his office, stormed into his office, and said, `Mr. Cooke, don’t play with words with me. I told you that you cannot trade any one of those four players for Dionne.’ And he said, `You never said that, and I never agreed to it.’ He traded one of the four players. I said, `That’s it, I’m resigning.’ He said, `That’s fine, but you have years left on your contract and you’ll sit in the office until your contract is finished.’ So I went home that night. That night, four or five players came to the house. They sat down and said, `We sweated blood and tears for you. You owe us something.’ They were right. After sitting down and thinking about it, they were right. I went back and we did very well (the following season).”

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