10 greatest Boston-L.A. hockey connections
Wednesday was not only Game 2 of the Red Sox-Dodgers World Series, but also the anniversary of a noteworthy trade in Boston-Los Angeles hockey history. And there have been quite a few of those.
On Oct. 24, 2001, the Bruins and Kings flipped two players apiece. Three of those four players made a prompt, noteworthy impact on their new teams.
For one of those four, it was his second trade between L.A. and Boston. The previous deal went down in the summer of 1997, and also had four established players involved. As with the 2001 trade, this swap yielded can’t-miss impacts from three of those four parties.
For Boston, the two ex-Kings in that trade variously stabilized the goaltending and became a repeat second-leading scorer. The only point-getter to surpass the latter would become L.A.’s greater gain in the October 2001 trade.
In all, the 1997 and 2001 deals combine to feature half of the top 10 Bruins-Kings connections of all time. Others include a one-time award-winning defensive forward, a one-time NHL goal-scoring leader and a two-time Hart Trophy finalist.
The following ranking exclusively takes a given player’s performances in Boston and L.A. into consideration. (Sorry Bobby Carpenter, Paul Coffey, Bryan Smolinki and Rick Tocchet.) All statistics and award information are according to Hockey Reference.
10. Milan Lucic
In a rookie class boasting Patrick Kane, Nicklas Backstom, Jonathan Toews and Carey Price, Lucic tied Marc Staal and Erik Johnson for No. 12 in the 2007-08 Calder Trophy vote.
The power forward subsequently rose to Boston’s first line, where he posted 62 regular-season and 12 playoff points in the 2010-11 Stanley Cup champonship campaign. He broke the 60-point plateau again the next year and logged 19 points in the 2013 playoffs.
After his eighth season, the Bruins dealt Lucic to Los Angeles, where he stuck for one year. But he posted a solid 55 points in 81 games for the Kings, matching his two-time career high of 35 assists. Only Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli exceeded his production in that 2015-16 campaign.
9. Gilles Marotte
Arriving on Boston’s blue line one year before Bobby Orr, Marotte finished third in the 1965-66 Calder vote, one spot ahead of Bruins goaltender Bernie Parent.
His time in Boston did not last, as he transferred to Chicago in the 1967 offseason. But after being traded to L.A. in 1970, Marotte rose to his peak. In his first full season there, he finished fourth among all Kings skaters with 27 assists.
He tied for the same slot on the team’s playmaking leaderboard the next year, then placed third with a career-high 39 in 1972-73.
8. Steve Kasper
In a March 2013 retrospective, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal called Kasper “Wayne Gretzky’s not-so-friendly ghost.”
Despite playing in different conferences for eight seasons, Kasper indeed stood out as a defensive forward against Gretzky. That ceiling kept him on the Selke Trophy ballot for all but one of those years. He would win the prize as an NHL sophomore in 1982, one year after finishing seventh in the Calder vote.
Ironically, Boston traded Kasper to the Kings on Jan. 23, 1989, nearly six months after L.A. acquired Gretzky from Edmonton. This was on the heels of a second-place Selke finish and a career-high 70 points, third-best among the 1987-88 Bruins.
As it happened, each of Kasper’s three years as Gretzky’s teammate yielded Selke votes. But after leaving L.A. in 1991 and finishing his career in Philadelphia and Tampa, he never reappeared on the ballot.
7. Dmitri Khristich
In 1995-96, Gretzky’s final year as a King, Khristich led L.A. with 27 goals and finished second with 64 points. While the team continued to wallow the next year, he stood out with 56 points.
That offseason, he was part of a scoring-leader swap, and got his delayed team gratification in Boston. While the Bruins returned to the playoffs in 1997-98, Khristich posted a career-high 37 assists for the third consecutive season. He was second only to Jason Allison across Boston’s board that year.
For his encore, Khristich led the Bruins with 29 goals and finished second in points with 71, having upped his assists ante to 42. He would move to Toronto in the 1999 offseason, and never reached the same production plateau again.
6. Jozef Stumpel
When the Bruins plummeted to the NHL’s basement in 1996-97, Stumpel was one of the bright spots. Nonetheless, after his team-leading, career-high 55 assists and 76 points, Boston sent him to L.A. that August.
Over the next six seasons, Stumpel logged 267 points in 334 games as a King. In his first year, he matched his 1996-97 total of 21 goals and raised his playmaking bar with 58 helpers. More critically, he led his new team in point production and got them back into the playoffs after a five-year absence.
His L.A. tenure, however, was interrupted by a brief return to Boston. Packaged with Glen Murray in the Oct. 24, 2001 deal, he finished the season with a Bruins-leading 47 assists. The next year, he placed fifth on the team with 51 points.
Back with the Kings for all of 2003-04, Stumpel missed 18 games, but still finished fifth with 37 points.
5. Charlie Simmer
Part of L.A.’s legendary Triple Crown Line, Simmer thrived during one of the NHL’s peak scoring periods. While he never led the Kings in points, he broke triple digits in back-to-back years (1979-80, 1980-81).
More notably, Simmer led the league with 56 goals in 1979-80. He matched his total the next year, and led the NHL with 10 game-winning tallies.
Simmer would average a point per night or better twice more before L.A. sent him to the Bruins early in 1984-85. With Boston, he broke the 60-point plateau in each of three seasons. Generally, he was overshadowed by other forwards, although he did finish second only to Ray Bourque with 40 assists in 1986-87.
4. Glen Murray
The Pittsburgh Penguins dealt Murray to L.A. in 1996-97, the last of four straight non-playoff years for the Kings. With the help of his team-leading 29 goals, the team finished second in the Pacific Division in 1997-98.
Murray matched that goal total in 1999-00, and finished third to Ziggy Palffy and Luc Robitaille for the team lead with 61 points. Two seasons later, the Kings shipped him to the Bruins, his original organization. In that split 2001-02 campaign, he logged 11 points in nine Kings games and 60 points in 73 outings for Boston.
Like the 1997-98 Kings before them, the 2001-02 Bruins broke up a multi-year playoff hiatus. With no shortage of help from Murray, they returned to the postseason in each of the next two seasons. Forming a one-two punch with Joe Thornton, he led the 2002-03 edition with 44 goals and the 2003-04 team with 32.
In all, Murray amassed 211 points in 304 games through six seasons as a King. Over his two stints with Boston, he posted 309 points in 570 outings.
3. Byron Dafoe
After logging 10 games over three seasons as a Washington Capital, Dafoe found his big break in Hollywood. Despite posting unremarkable numbers in 47 games, he finished 14th on the 1995-96 Calder ballot.
After splitting the duties with Stephane Fiset in another non-playoff campaign, Dafoe went to Boston, opposite Khristich, in exchange for Stumpel and Sandy Moger. The Bruins were likewise coming off a postseason no-go, but he was one of many new pieces that brought them right back in 1998.
A year later, in a career campaign, he led the league with 10 shutouts and finished third in the Vezina vote. He also appeared on the Hart Trophy ballot for the second straight season. By the end of 2001-02, his fifth and final year in Boston, Dafoe was a third-time top-10 Vezina candidate.
2. Rogie Vachon
While he never added to his personal trophy case after winning the 1968 Vezina with Montreal, Vachon was consistently solid in L.A. and Boston. He had a winning record in each of six full seasons as a King and two as a Bruin.
Dealt from the Kings to the Canadiens in 1971-72, Vachon floundered with the rest of the team that year. But he helped L.A. start reversing its fortunes afterward. By 1974, the Kings were back in the playoffs, which they made in each of Vachon’s last five seasons with them.
In 1975, Vachon led the NHL with a .927 save percentage and finished second in the Hart Trophy vote. He lost that race to Philadelphia’s Bobby Clarke, but finished ahead of Orr. Two years later, he was an MVP finalist again, placing third behind Clarke and old friend Guy Lafleur.
After a two-year stint in Detroit, Vachon moved to the Bruins in 1980. He would go 25-19-6 and 19-11-6 over the next two seasons before retiring.
1. Jason Allison
Coming to Boston from Washington in March 1997, Allison had his best years, when healthy, with the Bruins and Kings.
At age 22, he broke out to the tune of a team-high 33 goals and 50 assists in 1997-98. Those totals were enough to put him in the top 10 on the Hart ballot. In addition, his defensive play earned him Selke consideration that year.
Though not quite as prolific the next year, Allison led the 1998-99 Bruins with 53 helpers and 76 points. After an injury-shortened follow-up, he resurged to 95 points in 2000-01, despite being on a non-playoff team. Those totals would again earn him a few Hart votes, and justified his selection as Bourque’s successor as captain.
Allison was subsequently dealt to L.A. in order to bring Murray and Stumpel back to Boston. The trade paid short-term dividends for the Kings, whom Allison led with 55 assists and 74 points in 2001-02. More injuries cut his next season short, but he managed 28 points in 26 appearances.