While being honored during Saturday’s Heritage Night, Steve Duchesne joined a small group of Kings media in the Chick Hearn Press Room to discuss aspects of his playing career, and most importantly, obviously, the play in which he banked a hard shot/pass off Bernie Nicholls’ back for a shorthanded assist against Calgary.
“I was aiming for the far post and somehow I wanted to just sauce, do a nice sauce to Bernie and he fell down and the sauce just took off so hard, so yeah, it was great,” he said with a smile.
Duchesne, one of the most skilled and adept up-tempo puckmovers to ever play on Los Angeles’ blue line, was a highly productive rookie, along with Luc Robitaille and Jimmy Carson, in 1986-87, but was ultimately dealt to Philadelphia after five very good seasons as part of the trade that brought Jari Kurri to the Kings in May, 1991. And though his offensive exploits were appreciated, the second stint in his Kings career was much more complicated as he signed a lucrative contract with the team during the 1998 off-season before the team expensively reached a contract settlement with the defenseman and traded him to Philadelphia in March, 1999, an episode he describes below as “the biggest regret of my life.”
The Sept-Iles, Quebec native ranks second all time amongst club defensemen with 99 goals as a King, fourth with 216 assists, third with 315 points, third with 33 power play goals, second with five shorthanded goals, fifth with a +49 rating and third with 13 game-winning goals. His 25 goals in 1988-89 are the most by a defenseman in club history, as are his five shorthanded goals from that season. In all, he ranks 18th among all skaters in club history with 315 points, which came in 442 games.
The 51-year-old Duchesne, who lives in Dallas, spoke with LA Kings Insider about his Kings career:
Steve Duchesne, on channeling his skating ability into his greatest asset:
I wasn’t drafted, so the Kings were grateful enough to offer me to come to camp. When I started skating I realized, man, I think I can make it and I really built my confidence that way. And I had some great guys in those days obviously Rogie Vachon and Phil Myre was here and those guys would say listen, go up, go up, use your skill but don’t screw up defensively. Especially that first year. So that really kind of built my confidence. And the guy, the guy, and I’m glad I saw him a few years ago, is Pat Quinn. Pat Quinn, I didn’t play the first game in LA and we lost 10-something and then Pat said, ‘listen, be ready for the next game,’ and he played the heck out of me and he really built my confidence. At the Detroit alumni game a few years ago I saw him and I told him listen, it’s because of you that I played and had such a good career and I thanked him. The coach in those days were so important, you know he probably could have just not played me, I was a rookie and it maybe would’ve changed my career. But he played me a lot and I’m grateful for it.
Duchesne, on the difficulty of being a young guy in LA that still needed to learn English:
It was hard, especially in the American Hockey League. I was the only French guy there so that was hard. When I came to LA it was good because Luc was here so, Luc the goof that he is, we hung out together all the time and then it was easy. Even if we made a mistake, the guys still accepted us and those days I had Tiger Williams as my roommate, so I couldn’t believe it. You know Tiger Williams, and everybody is saying he hates the French guys in those days, and he was great. One thing I’ll never forget about Tiger Williams, he said, ‘If you get hit on the ice by a puck or something, I don’t want you to fall down. If you fall down I want you to get up and get your butt to the bench.’ So I learned a lot with these guys, and Luc obviously has been so great to have as a friend so it was great.
Duchesne, on watching the Kings win Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014:
I tell you, for me to watch them win the Cup was great. My second stint when I came back with the Kings I wanted to do so well, they gave me this big contract and then it all got screwed up. The more I tried to do well on the ice the worse I got. So this is the biggest regret of my life, coming back to the Kings and not performing, not doing well, not having the chance to show them I was worth the money they were paying me. So it was hard to leave, but I guess there’s a reason for everything. I ended up in Detroit winning the Cup, but to see them win the Cup, it was so great. I had goosebumps and it felt like I was there but it would have been great to win the Cup with them.