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Rangers trade Robitaille for Kings’ Stevens

August 28, 1997 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ In a deal involving two recently disappointing left wings, Luc Robitaille was traded Thursday from the New York Rangers to the Los Angeles Kings for Kevin Stevens.

Robitaille, a five-time first-team all-star and the 1987 NHL rookie of the year for the Kings, never was able to recapture his scoring touch in New York. He averaged 49 goals a season, with a high of 63 in 1992-93, for the Kings. But after being dealt to Pittsburgh in 1994 and the Rangers in ’95, he scored a total of 70 goals in three seasons.

The 31-year-old Robitaille had 24 goals and 48 points in 69 games for the Rangers last season.

``It can’t be classified as anything but disappointing, because Luc didn’t end up producing what we expected,″ Rangers general manager Neil Smith said of Robitaille’s stint in New York. ``I thought at times he showed he was going to go back to the form he showed in nine seasons in LA, but he never regained that over any longer period of time.

``You bring in a Luc Robitaille to put numbers on the board and he was not able to do that.″

Robitaille was one of the most popular Kings in his first stay in Los Angeles. His return gives the rebuilding Kings a star and focal point.

``This is a great trade for the Kings and for our fans,″ Kings coach Larry Robinson said. ``Luc will give us a new dimension of scoring which we need this year. Our power play needed firepower last season and he’ll certainly help in that area.″

Stevens, 32, was the first NHL player to get at least 50 goals, 100 points and 200 penalty minutes in a season, which he did in 1991-92 in Pittsburgh. He also holds the record for points in a season by an American, 123.

Stevens, a first-team all-star in ’92, has played for the Penguins, Kings and Bruins. Last season, he had 14 goals and 34 points in 69 games for the Kings.

``The last couple years have been tough,″ Stevens said. ``I have a lot of questions why. I got traded to Boston, thought things would be great, but they were bad from the start, from the first meeting with the coaches. I lost a lot of confidence in myself.

``In LA I played well in spurts and bad in other spurts. The last years have been tough and I want to forget them.″

Stevens sustained a severe facial injury during the 1993 playoffs. He scored 41 goals the next season, but has struggled since.

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The Rangers want him as much for his toughness as his scoring.

``I would hope he could be somebody who could score 30 goals playing on one of our top two lines,″ Smith said, ``because he brings to the game a physical presence. He is someone who can clear the way for other players.″