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Austin Murphy
April 24, 1989
In a week marked by tragedy and triumph, Wayne Gretzky's heroics in the Stanley Cup playoffs stood out as Los Angeles beat Edmonton
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April 24, 1989

Dynasty Undone

In a week marked by tragedy and triumph, Wayne Gretzky's heroics in the Stanley Cup playoffs stood out as Los Angeles beat Edmonton

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So was Jim Wiemer's wrist shot from a tough angle at 4:14 of the third period, which proved to be the game-winner. Wiemer had spent most of his season with the Cape Breton (Nova Scotia) Oilers in Edmonton's minor league system. In March, Sather traded Wiemer to L.A. and then told the Los Angeles Times he had no qualms about the deal because Wiemer was old and slow. Nothing wrong with his wrist shot though, eh, Slats?

Finally there was the curious case of Chris Kontos, who was a first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers in 1982. A left wing who earned a rep for having an "attitude problem," he spent time in the minors in each of the six previous seasons and admits, "I made some mistakes. I'd rather not discuss them now." He ended up playing in Switzerland this season.

In six games with the Kings last year, Kontos had a dozen points, yet Kings general manager Rogie Vachon wouldn't promise him employment for the new season. This March, when the season ended for his Swiss team, Kontos offered his services, and Vachon decided to sign him. Easier said than done. The Kings faxed a copy of the contract to the only place they could find with a fax machine in Kontos's hometown of Midland, Ont.—Beaver Lumber. Kontos signed it, and the lumberyard faxed a copy to the league office minutes before the free-agent signing deadline.

It was worth the trouble. When Bernie Nicholls's slap shot ricocheted off Kontos's arm and into the net, giving the Kings a 2-1 lead on Saturday, it was Kontos's eighth goal of the playoffs, tops in the league. Not too shabby for a guy who spent most of the regular season playing in Europe.

Angelenos thrilled to the comeback. Before Game 5, Ftorek read a letter from that renowned rightwinger, Ronald Reagan, who exhorted the Kings to—what else—"Win one for the Gipper!" They did, by a score of 4-2.

When the Kings returned from Edmonton for Saturday's seventh game, their dressing room was adorned with bouquets of balloons sent by Magic Johnson. Once the game began, Kathleen Turner, Jack Nicholson, Sly Stallone and various other indigenous luminaries offered vocal support.

But when Stallone's name was flashed on the Forum's message board, it received only a fraction of the applause accorded an employee of L.A. radio station KLOS, a gentleman known only as Robert "the Lucky Butt."

Hours before Game 5, with the Forum still empty, the Lucky Butt was escorted to center ice, where he dropped his trousers and pressed his bare buns to the face-off circle.

The Kings won, so KLOS flew Robert to Edmonton, where he repeated his strange rite. "Kind of gives you goose bumps just thinking about it," said Kings captain Dave Taylor.

The Lucky Butt made a third appearance Saturday, but seemed to have exhausted its powers late in the second period. With the game tied 3-3 and the Kings on the power play, John Tonelli scored cleanly on a blistering slap shot from the point. Alas, the puck hit a pipe that runs down the back of the goal and bounced out. Though this was evident on TV replays, it happened too fast for the goal judge, and the Kings were robbed of a goal.

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