Watching the 8-seed LA Kings go through the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs by eliminating the 1-seed, the 2-seed, and the 3-seed in the Western Conference in succession before beating the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals was amazing enough. But one of the most enjoyable moments for me came after NBC signed off the coverage of the Stanley Cup celebration.
I switched to NBC Sports Channel in time to see former Komet player and coach, Rob Laird, standing on the ice in the background step forward to take his turn hoisting the Stanley Cup overhead. Rob is now in his 18th year with the Kings organization, his 16th as Pro Scout where he played a significant role in the assembly of the team that won the Stanley Cup. Blake Sebring of the News-Sentinel wrote about his interview with Laird about his experience hoisting the Stanley Cup following the LA Kings' cup-clinching victory.
Laird delighted with Kings' Stanley Cup title - News-Sentinel.com
I was thrilled for Rob because he was always one of my favorite players during his two tours of duty as a player for the Komets. Back then we knew him as Robbie Laird. His page at hockeyDB.com shows how successful he was as a player and a coach in Fort Wayne. Robbie never let his relative lack of size or anything else get in the way of giving his best whenever he was on the ice.
He combined with Terry McDougall and Al Dumba to form the "Western Union" line that achieved its greatest success statistically in the 1978-79 season when Laird scored 45 goals and 62 assists for 107 points, Dumba scored 46 goals and 65 assists for 111 points, and McDougall scored 57 goals and 82 assists for 139 points. It was a phenomenal season for the McDougall-Laird-Dumba line.
When his days as a player ended Laird became Coach Laird of the Komets for four seasons during which he led teams which won from 46 to 52 games each season despite some lack of fan support and some difficult ownership transitions. But he never let any of those off-ice distractions get in the way of putting together very competitive teams that achieved a lot each season he was coach. And he is still putting to good use many of the lessons that he learned in Fort Wayne about how to build successful hockey teams.