It is fitting that when I logged onto the Kings official website last night and clicked on the lead story of “Rob Blake Retires”, I received the error message – “Oops! A system error has occurred. Sorry for the inconvenience. Click here to continue. If problem persists…”
The Internet Gods got this one right. A problem does exist, or should I say did exist and it was quite inconvenient. I realize some of you may have been too young to really remember or appreciate the fiasco that was the final season of Rob Blake’s career with the Kings…that is until the problem returned, or should I write persisted from 2006 through 2008, and then appropriately left again.
It was 2001. Surly was in his teens. I was…well, I was older than in my teens and the often injured, sometimes dynamic, three years removed from winning the Norris, captain of our Kings took the C off his chest. Why? Because he wanted more money. How much more? Ultimately, a few hundred thousand dollars more than the last offer if you believe what Bob Miller hinted during a game broadcast.
Now, there is talk among some Kings fans about retiring his number. The proponents of this advocate that he was a great King and through his accomplishments has earned this singularly most significant symbol of respect. Proponents proclaim that those against this honor are reacting through bitterness and emotion.
It is a road that must travel both ways. It cannot be afforded to those who have shown through their actions a willful lack thereof.
The Kings drafted Blake from near obscurity (70th overall in 1988), gave him the Forum within which to excel, surrounded him with talent and nearly won the entire prize in 1993. The team did struggle thereafter but Rob Blake owed to the Kings just as much as the Kings owed to him. Yet, the franchise that handed him the highest privilege an active player could receive, captaincy, was disrespected when the same was handed back due to nothing more than a dispute over money. What’s more, he drove his value down by making it clear through the media that he would not be a King after the season.
Let me be clear. I do not begrudge any player for leaving any team, my own included. If Blake wished to depart, he could have done so with honor, placing the team that paid him millions as his first priority so long as he wore our crest and then allowing the Kings to trade him at the deadline to maximize the return. Blake did no such thing. He spat at our feet and parted as the disingenuous shrew.
Let no jersey rise within Staples with his name for to do otherwise would declare the team for which he showed a lack of respect holds itself in ill repute.