You have to love it when an NHL team hires its star players for front office positions. Can you imagine Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic working anywhere else but Colorado, or Kris Draper and Jiri Fischer in any place other than Detroit?That’s the case for the Kings, as a pair of former defensemen recently began their new careers within their LA-based organization. It’s not just a case of rewarding faithful service, but rather recognizing a player’s talent, work ethic and management potential, while tapping into their knowledge and experience.
On Wednesday, the kings hired Sean O’Donnell as manager of their fan development and alumni relations. Last month, they named Rob Blake as the club’s Assistant General Manager. Blake also serves as GM for the Manchester Monarchs, the Kings’ AHL affiliate.
O’Donnell had two tours of duty with the Kings – his first from 1994-95 to 1999-2000, after being traded for Doug Houda, and again during the 2008 season. He also wore sweaters for Minnesota, New Jersey, Boston, Phoenix, Philadelphia and Chicago, finishing his 17-year NHL career with the Blackhawks. He skated in 1,224 regular-season NHL games, scoring 31 goals and 229 points, while recording 1,809 penalty minutes.
Like O’Donnell, Rob Blake is serving his first season with the Kings. He’ll assist President/GM Dean Lombardi in everyday operations, such as contract negotiations and overseeing the Kings’ top prospects.Blake was originally selected from Bowling Green by the Kings in the fourth round (70th overall) of the 1988 NHL draft. He made his NHL debut with the Kings during the 1989-90 season.
Fourteen of Blake’s 20 NHL seasons were played as a King. He sported the white “C” from 1996-01 and from 2007-08 (six seasons totals). He led the Kings into the Stanley Cup finals (1993), eventually winning it with the Colorado Avalanche (2001).Should he be considered as “Mr. King?” Perhaps not. But consider all the many in-house awards he earned playing with the Kings alone – He was winner of the team’s Most Popular Player Award (1997-98), a two-time winner of the Kings MVP award, a six-time Outstanding Defenseman award winner, winner of the Most Inspirational Award (1997-98), and a three-time winner of the Kings Community Service Award. He was also the first King to receive the Norris Trophy (1998).
After recording 777 points and 240 goals in 1,270 regular season games, he hung up his skates.At least the LA Front Office was smart enough to hire O’Connell and Blake for management positions. Hopefully, their vast experience will help the Los Angeles franchise to become “Kings” of the NHL once more.