Drafted 80th overall by Washington in 1984, everyone knew there was only one way he was getting into the NHL - by literally fighting his way in. Yet when all was said and done he left the NHL with a reputation not as a goon but as a clean, hard hitting team player.
He was a tough guy with a big heart and a great team attitude. He was a natural leader and that, combined with his rugged play, kept him in the National Hockey League for 13 seasons. He was willing - and able - to do the grunt work along the boards and in the corners. He was absolutely relentless in his pursuit of the puck, or at least the puck carrier. He created a lot of turnovers but never had the hand skills or speed to do much with loose pucks. Still, he was a coach's delight - a reliable bottom six forward who could always be counted on for a big energy shift whenever the team needed a boost.
In addition to being a natural leader on the bench and in the dressing room, he was also a wonderful presence in every community he lived in, donating his time to many charities, especially causes involving children. In 1996 he was recognized by the National Hockey League for his charitable kindness with the King Clancy award.
As great as receiving that award was, that was a tough summer for King. His season ended after blowing out his knee. That would prove to be his last game in Winnipeg as the franchise relocated to Phoenix to become the Coyotes. Although he started out with Detroit and was a Broadway hit with the New York Rangers, he really found a home in blue collar western Canada.
King played in Phoenix for one season before moving on to Toronto and then Chicago. He retired in 2001 and quickly joined the NHL's hockey operations department. Nowadays he has risen to become the department's senior vice president.
Kris King only scored 66 goals and 151 points in 14 NHL seasons. But the key stat for him is the fact that he played in 849 career playoff games. He probably had twice as many bruises for every game played. He was one of hockey's good guys.