Luc Robitaille remembers the summer of 2001 with a clear, fond reflection.
He was a free agent and ultimately became the last puzzle piece to the Red Wings big offseason.
"For us, it was kind of a no-brainer. When we talked to (Ken Holland) and saw there was interest, my wife said at the time, 'Who do you think has the best shot at the Cup?' I said, 'The Red Wings.' She said, 'Well let's go there,'" he said to WXYZ at Little Caesars Arena on Tuesday afternoon.
The lessons Robitaille learned in Detroit have carved out his path in his new job as team president for the Los Angeles Kings.
"A lot of the way we run the organization, I learned it from the way things were done in Detroit. It's a first-class organization, so when we came back to LA, that's what we tried to do: emulate some of the best organizations in sports, and to me it was the Red Wings," Robitaille said.
He is running the Kings, Steve Yzerman has put together a solid Tampa Bay Lightning team, and Brendan Shanhanan has guided the Toronto Maple Leafs into a resurgence.
Robitaille isn't surprised to see his Hall of Fame teammates in such powerful roles.
"I'm not sure it's strange. We all had a passion for the game and we were students of the game. Stevie, as great a talent as he was, he studied a lot and is a hard-working guy. Same as Shanny, and same for me," he said.
WATCH THE INTERVIEW WITH ROBITAILLE HERE
Someone in the Kings organization told us today if Robitaille ran for mayor of Los Angeles, he'd win. The Hall of Famer laughed off that notion, and said he's simply "doing the right thing" by returning to the team where he built his name.
Robitaille said the potential of hurting his reputation with the Kings fanbase never popped into his head when he took the job. He's back home and confident he can lead LA to another Stanley Cup parade.
For hockey fans in Detroit, Yzerman's name is one that is held in the highest regard. And for so many of those fans, they crave his return to the Red Wings front office.
Robitaille laughed when the idea of Yzerman someday returning to that capacity in Detroit was brought up.
"He's doing so good, I don't think (the Lightning) are gonna let him go! That's the thing. Stevie's doing such a great job. He's put together some of the best talent pool in the league, so I don't think he's going anywhere for a long, long time," he said.
The 51-year-old said he learned a lot from Ken Holland, and is building the Kings in the model of the franchise he called home for two seasons.
"You guys have the best guy here. We all look up to Ken Holland. That's the guy that taught us all how to do it right. You guys are gonna be fine here. You know, you go through ups and downs in organizations but you have to stick to a certain goal," Robitaille said.