With the trade of captain Rob Blake on Wednesday night, CNNSI.com empathized with Kings fans. But we also could not resist twisting the knife a little by recalling a few more Kings heartbreakers, like the 1987 trade of legend Marcel Dionne; the strange tale of expelled coach Pat Quinn; the lost chance to draft Ray Bourque; and, of course, the fall from grace of owner Bruce McNall.
It's always tough to trade your captain. Even tougher when he was your very own draft choice (70th overall in '88), an Olympian, a four-time All-Star and only three seasons removed from a Norris Trophy.
But that's life in modern times. And even though Blake, an unrestricted free agent after this season, wavered on his desire to be traded over the past few months, that's what happened.
Blake turned down a five-year, $40 million offer last summer and an even richer offer a week before the trade. Blake wants numbers close to the $29.5 million, three-year deal St. Louis recently gave Chris Pronger, a defenseman who was both the Norris Trophy winner and the league MVP last season. Pronger is 26; Blake is 31.
"It was evident to us from very early on Rob was intent on free agency," Los Angeles GM Dave Taylor said. "Last week, we added to our proposals in an attempt to bridge the gap, but we were unsuccessful." Taylor said he the Kings' best bet was to acquire a number of players who could help the team immediately.
Long before Wayne Gretzky was packing 'em into the Fabulous Forum, there was Marcel Dionne. Over 11 seasons, "Little Beaver" became the Kings' all-time leader in goals (550), assists (757) and points (1,307) before finally requesting a trade to a contender ... which GM Rogie Vachon somehow considered to be the Rangers, who had only four more points than the Kings and would not get out of the first round of the playoffs.
That was nothing new for Dionne, who played in all four winning seasons and 43 playoff games with L.A.. The years of losing added up and Dionne was hoping his trade request would light a fire under Vachon. Instead, Vachon really traded him.
"I've never been a good gambler. I go to Vegas and I don't win anything," a despondent Dionne said two weeks later. "I rolled the dice again . . . and I lost. I'm still a Kings fan and I always will be. My heart is still with the Kings, but now my body's with the Rangers."
Dionne led the team in scoring in nine of 11 seasons, topping 50 goals six times, and was named the club's most valuable player eight times.
Ron Grahame really tore up the World Hockey Association in 1974-75, leading the league in wins, shutouts and goals-against average as his Houston Aeroes won the title. He would lead the league in shutouts and GAA again in 1976-77, making him something of a hot commodity.
The Boston Bruins signed Grahame as a free agent, and he went 26-6-7 with a 2.67 GAA as an NHL rookie in 1977-78 ... making him even more of a hot commodity. So hot, that the lowly L.A. Kings thought to make him their goalie of the future at the price of a No. 1 pick.
That pick turned out to be the eighth overall, landing the Bruins defenseman Ray Bourque, who would, of course, go on to become, well, Ray Bourque. Grahame went 24-37-8 and never had a GAA under 4.19 in four seasons with L.A. and Quebec.
More cruel irony? Bourque is now a teammate of one-time Kings star Rob Blake in Colorado ... and Boston has Grahame's son, goalie John Grahame, in their system.
Quinn said the Kings had missed a deadline on an option on his contract, which had a clause allowing him to negotiate with other teams.
NHL commissioner John Ziegler banned Quinn from coaching the Kings for the remainder of the season and from coaching the Canucks until the start of the 1990-91 season. He set the Kings back in many ways, including the fallout with Marcel Dionne (above). The team missed the '87 playoffs and new coach Mike Murphy was fired 27 games into the next season, which the Kings finished 30-42-8.
And somehow, Quinn's contract wasn't on file with the NHL, and the Kings were unable to press tampering charges against the Canucks.
The silver lining? With Barry Melrose behind the bench and Wayne Gretzky on the ice, the Kings beat Quinn's Canucks in the 1993 division finals en route to their only Stanley Cup finals appearance.
Ten years to the day after the Quinn decision, another front-office fiasco for the Kings.
The man who brought Wayne Gretzky to L.A. also brought shame upon his team and the league.
McNall was sentenced to time in prison and ordered to repay $5 million two years after after pleading guilty for his scheme to swindle banks, a securities firm and the Kings of more than $236 million.
He bought the Kings from Jerry Buss in 1988, then in Buss-like fashion lured Wayne Gretzky to Tinseltown. Just over a year after Gretzky took the Kings to the NHL finals, McNall was forced into bankruptcy after selling 72 percent of the team for $60 million. A year after that, in 1995, the team was sold to Denver billionaire Philip F. Anschutz and local developer Edward P. Roski.