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"You have to have a little discipline." says Carson. "A lot of this has to do with how Luc and" I were brought up. We both come from conservative, religious families."
They were also brought up playing hockey. Robitaille naturally dreamed of a career with the Canadiens. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum. After a year in the Quebec junior league, he was drafted in the ninth round of the 1984 entry draft by the Kings, whose Forum is 2.500 miles away from the one in Montreal.
Robitaille admits he was all limbs and not much of a skater back then. "I read one time that I'm slower than the Zamboni," he recalls. "I thought that was funny." Robitaille filled out and improved his skating. Last year he had 63 goals and 123 assists for Hull and was Canada's Junior Player of the Year.
Carson grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., attending school with "the Strohs and lots of Fords." but going his own way when it came to sports. "The kids I grew up with played tennis or went to the country club." Carson says. "I played hockey or was at the Red Wing games." Carson's father, Chuck, a tax attorney, operated family-owned parking lots across the street from Olympia Stadium, the home of the Red Wings before they moved to Joe Louis Arena. His son became a rink rat. "I acted like I owned the place," Jim says. That included sometimes cajoling Carol Dionne, the wife of the team's young star, into letting him sit on her lap at games. "And now she's cooking my meals." Carson says.
Dionne more or less set Carson, then just five, off on his eventual career when the boy was given one of Dionne's old sticks. It finally broke in a Grosse Pointe Mite game, and Chuck Carson remembers his son ignoring the puck and chasing the blade down the ice. "I cried and cried and cried," Jim says of that day. "I thought the world had ended." Far from it. Ten years later. Carson was starring for the Detroit Compuware Midgets when he was contacted by the Verdun Junior Canadiens. It took some talking, but Carson left Grosse Pointe to play in the Quebec juniors. After two years with Verdun, the Kings made him the No. 2 pick in the draft last June.
Robitaille's relationship with Dionne did not begin until last year, though he is quick to say that his kindergarten teacher back in Montreal was Marcel's aunt. When he and Carson reported to training camp in Victoria, B.C., he learned his roomie would be the great man himself. "I went to sleep before Marcel got there," Robitaille says. "In the morning I looked out of the corner of my eye at the other bed. 'There he is, there he is. What am I going to say?' "
As it turned out, quite a bit. Robitaille and Carson would stay up late each night asking questions and listening to Dionne talk hockey. "We had to kick Jim out at night," Dionne says. Duchesne often joined the group, becoming the third member of what is coming to be known as the Dionne Triplets.
When camp broke, Dionne invited Robitaille to stay at his house. As for Carson, Carol Dionne says. "How could we throw him out? He can barely burn toast." Marcel called a neighbor at 10:30 one night and asked, "How would you like to have a hockey player stay with you?" Done. The rookies frequently car-pool with Dionne, and the three always have their pregame meal together—Carol's spaghetti with meat sauce—when they play at home.
They have followed his advice well. On the night before the Kings game with Vancouver last week. Robitaille took his girlfriend, Martine St. Clair, to a Huey Lewis concert. Though it was the best News he had heard all week, Robitaille left at 10 p.m. "I think that was a good move," Robitaille said later. "The next night, we won."