It seemed fitting that, after the week the Kings’ fathers got to spend with the players, that I got a chance to talk to Luc Robitaille’s father, Claude, about his son going into the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s easy to see that Luc gets his grace from his parents. After initially expressing some mild concern about being interviewed in English, Mr. Robitaille gave an insightful, fun interview about his son, in better English than most other North Americans. Luc’s parents, Madeleine and Claude, along with a sister and niece and likely others, will be in attendance tonight…
Question: What are your emotions today?
MR. ROBITAILLE: “We’re proud. We never thought he would make it here to the Hall of Fame, so it’s a bonus really. I can’t explain it. We’re really proud of everything he accomplished to get here.”
Question: Does it give you extra pride to hear people talk about what a quality person Luc is, and not just a quality hockey player?
MR. ROBITAILLE: “People always say such nice things about Luc, and that’s nice. He didn’t change. He’s always stayed the same guy.”
Question: What type of values did you try to raise him with?
MR. ROBITAILLE: “Honesty. Be true to yourself and give 100 percent toward whatever you want to accomplish. Now he’s working with the Kings, and sometimes he calls me at 9 o’clock in the morning and I say, `It’s 6 in L.A., what are you doing?’ And he says, `I’m going to work.’ I say, `What do you mean, going to work at 6 o’clock in the morning?’ `Aw, I pick up my coffee and bagel and go to work.’ So I know he’s serious about everything he does. That’s why we’re so proud of him.”
Question: Luc likes to say that you came out for his first training camp to make sure he would be OK. Were you worried?
MR. ROBITAILLE: “Oh, I knew he would survive. For sure he would get bumped here or there, because it’s the NHL, but I was proud of his performance.”
Question: Going through that draft in 1984 couldn’t have been easy, with Luc not being picked until the ninth round. What do you remember?
MR. ROBITAILLE: “I knew a lot of the players that were drafted. He played with them in junior, and I would say he was as good as them, but he wasn’t getting drafted. I said, `What’s going on?’ Well, they thought he wasn’t skating fast enough, but it’s not about that. It’s about coming out of the corner with the puck, you know? He would have been drafted earlier the next year, because he was proclaimed the junior player of the year. He was drafted a year too early, because nobody saw him except the L.A. Kings scout, Mr. (Alex) Smart. He wanted to draft him earlier, but he couldn’t convince them. But he was convinced. I remember him saying, `If he doesn’t get drafted, I’ll make sure they invite him.’ I said, `That’s all he wants, to be invited. Then he will prove himself afterward.”’