Butch Goring Was The LA Kings’ First Star, Fan Favorite

LOS ANGELES — Long before Anze Kopitar’s skates hit the ice at Staples Center, years before superstar Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Marcel Dionne lit up opponents on the ice at the Forum in Inglewood, California, and even before superstar and should-be Hall Of Fame goaltender Rogie Vachon often won games single-handedly at the Forum, center Robert Thomas “Butch” Goring thrilled fans with his speed, scoring ability and hard work for eleven seasons after being selected by the Kings in the fifth round (51st overall) of the 1969 National Hockey League Amateur Draft.

In the 1969-70 season, his first with the Kings, Goring scored thirteen goals and added 23 assists for 36 points in 59 games. But he wound up splitting time between the Kings’ primary minor league affiliate, the Springfield Kings of the American Hockey League and the big club the following season, playing in just nineteen games at the NHL level.

It was not until the 1971-72 season that Kings fans became enamored with the speed and scoring ability of the St. Boniface, Manitoba native, but Goring quickly became the Kings’ first fan favorite.

“We had probably 10,000-12,000 people who showed up on a fairly regular basis and they were great,” Goring said during a recent interview.

Although the Kings rarely played in front of capacity crowds back in those days, Kings fans were devoted and could get as raucous and rowdy as anyone.

“It’s obviously a lot more fun to be in front of a bigger audience because the more they get into it, the more you can get into it,” said Goring. “In spite of what people say, yeah, you may not hear some of the hootin’ and hollerin’ that’s going on because you’re concentrating on the game. But when you have 10,000, 12,000, 16,000 people that are really into the game, it does make a difference. There are times when you can hear them.”

In his NHL career, Goring scored 375 goals and...

About the Author