Hockey Royalty’s “Royal Flashback” series looking at individuals and events from the LA Kings past continues with former King Jim Thomson sharing his thoughts on his time in Los Angeles.
Jim Thomson had a nine-season NHL career from 1986 -1994, including three in Los Angeles playing for the LA Kings. Known for his rugged style of play, Thomson was also said to be a very good “locker room” guy. He is the only player to be selected in three straight NHL expansion drafts (1991, 1992, 1993), having been left unprotected by LA all three times. In a twist of fate, despite leaving him unprotected, the Kings would trade back for him twice. Thomson recently made an appearance on Martys Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast.
— Martys Illegal Stick Hockey Podcast (@MartysStick) August 15, 2021
Here are some of the highlights of what he had to say about his time with the LA Kings.
On being selected in three straight NHL expansion drafts and winding up right back in Los Angeles twice.
It’s the only record I have that’s actually a record – a known record in the NHL, that Jim Thomson went in three straight expansion drafts… This is the story out of Wayne’s [Gretzky] mouth. Bruce McNall, our owner, told me this. When I was in Ottawa (Thomson was selected by the Senators in the 1992 expansion draft) I got traded for a twenty-goal scorer Bob Kudelski. I flew from Ottawa to San Jose, the Kings were playing San Jose.
Bruce [McNall] met me in the lobby and he was like ‘I gotta tell you something, Wayne made the trade and he said he wanted you back for your dressing room culture, you know, you’re a selfless player. Obviously, I helped protect him and all of that, but he’s the guy who made this trade. He went to Barry Melrose and said get Thomson back here.’ So I actually asked Wayne and he said it’s all true, he said I wanted you back and that’s a huge, huge compliment.
On his feelings about former LA Kings owner Bruce McNall.
He [McNall] was the nicest man to us. You know I think there were only two teams in the league to have our own planes, there was us and Detroit at the time, and he spoiled us. Yes, he was spoiling us with other people’s money, he paid for that, but this guy was so kind. He was so nice, you know he just lit up a room. When him and John Candy and Wayne bought the Toronto Argonauts, John Candy was our honorary captain so we had all this excitement around us. I just can’t say enough, he made mistakes, we all do, and was a really, really, nice man. I got a lot of respect for him.
On celebrities in the locker room during the Gretzky era.
So we just played Boston and I hadn’t seen a movie star yet. I bent over to untie my skates and I sat next to Jay Miller, and when the room opened up it would fill up. Cher could be in there, you never know who was coming in. So I see these black pair of Ugg boots that normally women wear and skintight jeans, and I’m thinking it’s a female, whatever, so I’m not thinking much of it. I’m looking over here and I hear this (uses a deep gravelly voice) ‘Hey Jay, good game’ and I look up, it’s Rocky [Sylvester Stallone]! That was my first experience with a movie star. The people we met, like President Reagan and Nancy were at all of our playoff games…it was like fantasyland”.
On the 1993 Stanley Cup Final.
Game one Luc (Robitaille) in his hometown in a sense, I believe he had two goals and an assist, we won the game four to one, five to one, something like that. In game two, we were up two to one with a minute and thirty left or something like that and the illegal stick, Marty’s Illegal Stick. It was hard to believe Marty’s sticks were all illegal…
Going home up one, we should have been really happy, but the plane was so quiet it was scary. It was one of the few times I saw Wayne get angry, and he knew that was going to be bad. As we know, the next two games were won in overtime, and game five was four to one I believe it was, but we had them. And I’ll say this if we win, and Wayne said this, he said boys if we win this game, which would have been game two, he goes we’ll win four straight. Everything changed and Patrick Roy took over.
Jim Thomson had much more to say about his time in Los Angeles besides these quotes, including comments on the 1993 playoff series versus Toronto, the positive impact Marty McSorley had on the Kings, and more celebrity stories from the LA locker room. You can see the entire clip of this interview below, or you can see the whole show (Marty’s Illegal Stick episode #38) on YouTube at the “My Little Falls” channel or at http://www.martysillegalstick.com.