LA’s Greatest: No. 10 Marcel Dionne


The first of a ten-part series on the legends of Los Angeles sports lore, LA’s Greatest, revolves around the first superstar in Los Angeles Kings history, Marcel Dionne. Dionne is widely remembered as a member of the potent “Triple Crown Line” of the 1980s, and has his number 16 sweater hanging in the rafters high above Staples Center.

Dionne, born in Drummondville, Quebec in 1951, began his Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Red Wings as they selected him second overall in the 1971 NHL Draft. He spent four stellar seasons in Detroit, scoring 139 goals as a Red Wing, and tallying an incredible 121 points during the 1974-75 season. After that season, Dionne wished to leave Detroit and ended up signing the richest deal in hockey history at the time, with the Los Angeles Kings.

The Kings, fresh off the franchise’s best season to date, relished the idea of adding a star like Dionne to the fray and became instant Stanley Cup contenders. With Dionne, the Kings were a force in the Prince of Wales Conference, and swept the Flames in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, before being eliminated by Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and the rest of the Boston Bruins, four games to three. The Kings made the playoffs in each of Dionne’s first seven seasons in Los Angeles, advancing to the second round three times.

Individually, Dionne continued to carry the Kings throughout the rest of the 1970s and into the 1980s, going on a remarkable run from 1977 to 1983 in which Dionne scored 50 goals in six of seven seasons.  As a center, Dionne was paired with wingers such as Mike Murphy and Tom Williams until 1979, when then coach Bob Berry created one the most prolific scoring lines in the NHL History. Dionne centered 23-year-old Dave Taylor and 24-year-old Charlie Simmer, to form the “Triple Crown Line”.

The renowned line, as seen in the video via, revolved around the playmaking of Dionne, the puck movement of Taylor and the finishing of Simmer. By 1981 the line was so dominant that the trio was introduced during the All-Star Game as a line, and all three forwards tallied more than 100 points.  Dionne’s ability to dismantle defenses made the players around him better, which served as the key to his success throughout his career with the Kings.

Marcel Dionne was traded in 1987 to the New York Rangers for Bobby Carpenter and Tom Laidlaw, finishing his Kings career as the leader in 23 statistical categories. Dionne set records including most career goals, assists and points as a King and dominated the Kings’ single-season record list. By 1983, he had five of the top six single-season goal totals in Kings history, setting single-season records for goals (59), assists (84) and points (137).

Throughout Dionne’s career, his spotlight was never limited to Los Angeles. He led the NHL in points in 1980, and was an iron man on the ice, leading the league in games played seven times. More impressively, Dionne was the NHL’s active leader in goal scoring from 1981, until his retirement in 1989.

The 1992 Hall of Fame inductee is fourth all-time in goals with 731, ninth in assists with 1040, and fifth in points with 1771. Despite never winning the Stanley Cup, Marcel Dionne won plenty of hardware in his career, winning a couple of Lady Byng and Lester B. Pearson Awards, in addition to being the Kings’ first recipient of the Art Ross Trophy in 1980.

Despite Wayne Gretzky surpassing Dionne’s season records for assists and points multiple times, he never scored more goals in season. Luc Robitaille became the Kings all-time leading goal-scorer in 2006, but Dionne still holds the franchise records for assists and points, a mark that may never be broken.

So while many Kings fans see Wayne Gretzky as the king of the Kings during the Forum era, it was a scrawny French-Canadian in 1975 that first brought stardom to Inglewood, setting records and serving as the face of the franchise for nearly twelve years.