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IT'S A LUCKY DAY FOR THE KINGS TEAM REACHES INTO ITS RECENT PAST IN BRINGING BACK ROBITAILLE.

Byline: Matt McHale Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO - Luc Robitaille knows he already has lived a charmed life. He joins the Kings for the third time with a chance to end his Hall of Fame career in Los Angeles.

Robitaille, who signed a one-year contract with the Kings on Thursday, was a member of the 2002 Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.

But it was with the Kings that he scored 520 of his 631 career goals, the most by a left-winger in NHL history. He played 12 of his 17 seasons here and became arguably the most popular player in franchise history.

``My family and I are very excited to be returning to the Kings,'' Robitaille said from his offseason home in Park City, Utah. ``The Kings is where it all started for me, and the fans have always treated me and my family so well. I look forward to playing for them once again.''

Robitaille, 37, was hoping to get the deal done this month but contract talks stalled over performance bonuses. He finally agreed to a $1.1 million guarantee with incentives based on team and individual success.

If Robitaille scores 30 goals and the Kings win the Stanley Cup, he will make more than $2 million. He also will receive $1 million this season from a buyout with Detroit, which did not exercise its $4 million option for 2003-04.

This marks his third tour with the Kings, first appearing 1986-94. After three seasons with Pittsburgh and the New York Rangers, he returned to the Kings in 1997 and played until 2001.

``He has had great success in a Kings uniform and has proven to be one of the great scorers in league history,'' Kings general manager Dave Taylor said. ``His experience and leadership abilities will be a great influence on our younger players as well.''

With Robitaille now under contract, questions remain whether he can regain the form that made him one of the league's elite goal scorers.

He scored just 11 goals last season, a dramatic decline from 30 goals in 2001-02 when the Red Wings won the Cup. The year before, Robitaille had 38 for the Kings and helped the club get within a game of the Western Conference finals.

As an unrestricted free agent, Robitaille turned down a one-year, $2.5 million offer from the Kings that summer for a two-year guaranteed contract with Detroit that could have paid him $12 million over three seasons if the Red Wings picked up the option.

The other issue facing the Kings is where Robitaille will play on the team's top two lines.

He could wind up with the top unit of Adam Deadmarsh and Jason Allison. Deadmarsh plays the left side but has experience at right wing.

Ziggy Palffy, the club's top scorer last season, is expected to be paired with center Jozef Stumpel, who returned to the club in June after 1 1/2 seasons in Boston. Alexander Frolov, who is expected to benefit from Robitaille's tutoring, will play left wing.

Kings coach Andy Murray has other options. Vancouver right winger Trent Klatt was signed as an unrestricted free agent this month, and Mike Cammalleri and Jared Aulin, second-year players who saw limited playing time last season due to injuries, also are in the mix.

``Any time you can add a good player to your lineup you do it,'' said Murray, whose club missed the playoffs last year for the first time in his four seasons. ``We didn't have enough good players last season.''

ROBITAILLE FILE

Luc Robitaille, coming off a career-low 31-point season (11 goals, 20 assists) with Detroit, will be doing his third tour of duty with the Kings next season. Here are his vital stats over his 17-year career:

CAREER

Goals: 631 (No. 10 all-time; most ever by left wing)

Assists: 688

Points: 1,319

SEASON

Most goals: 63 (Kings, '92-'93)

Most assists: 63 (Kings, '91-'92)

Most points: 125 ('92-'93)

HONORS

--Won Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year) in '86-'87

--NHL First Team All-Star: '88, '89, '90, '91, '93

--NHL Second Team All-Star: '87, '92, '01

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo:

(color) ``My family and I are very excited to be returning to the Kings. The Kings is where it all started for me, and the fans have always treated me and my family so well. I look forward to playing for them once again.''

- Luc Robitaille

on returning to the Kings

Box:

ROBITAILLE FILE (see text)
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Jul 25, 2003
Words:745
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