Editor’s Note: In homage to “Who Wore it Best?” the NHL-produced series featured on both NHL.com and the league’s broadcast partners, JFTC continues its regular feature highlighting the top players to wear each sweater number in Kings’ franchise history. Check back to our first edition for a discussion of the selection process.
In our previous installment, we learned that all 27 players to have worn No. 2 for the Kings were defenseman. This synergy continues with No. 3, as all 22 players who have donned that sweater for Los Angeles have also patrolled the blueline. Long-time fans might think Dave “Hoss” Amadio was the first King to don No. 3 when he switched from his original No. 5 before a February 8, 1968 home win against Pittsburgh. However, the No. 3 Kings sweater was actually worn two weeks earlier by Paul Popeil for a January 24, 1968 tilt against the Oakland Seals.
(Fun fact No. 1: Danish-born Popeil was the first European-born player to play for the Kings. Additionally, because he became a naturalized citizen before his NHL debut, he is also the first American to “foil up” for the club.)
Matt Roy currently wears No. 3 for the Kings, having switched from the No. 81 he wore as a rookie during the 2018-19 season. Of the 22 players to wear No. 3 for the Kings, 15 were born in Canada, three in the United States and one each in the Czech Republic (Jan Vopat), Russia (Denis Tsygurov) Sweden (Peter Helander) and Denmark (the aforementioned Popeil). Beginning with Marc Chorney in 1983, seven of the the last 11 players to have donned the Kings’ No. 3 sweater played NCAA hockey.
Larry Brown played the most games for the Kings wearing the No. 3 with 364. He is followed closely by Garry Galley, who played 361 total games for the Kings over his two separate three-year stints with the club. Galley is tops among those who have worn No. 3 for in the Kings in goals (44), assists (115), points (159) and penalty minutes (330). Brayden McNabb leads LA No. 3s with 491 hits and Jack Johnson leads the group with 217 block shots. Finally, Tom Laidlaw is the team’s all-time plus/minus leader among No. 3s with a career +38. Additionally, Laidlaw’s +30 in 1988-89 is the best single-season plus/minus rating among all Kings to have worn the No. 3 sweater.
Who wore #3 best?
Garry Galley (1984 -1987; 1997-2000)
Originally drafted by the Kings in the fifth round (100th overall) of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, Galley’s two separate three-year tours in Los Angeles encompassed vastly different eras in franchise history. When he arrived as a rookie in 1984 after leading Bowling Green to the NCAA championship, the Triple Crown Line was still regularly lighting the lamp at the Fabulous Forum.
(Fun fact No. 2: Check out this video I found of the boys singing their “hit” song, “Forgive My Misconduct.”)
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound defender returned to Los Angeles in 1997 after an 11-season odyssey which saw him skate for Washington, Boston, Philadelphia and Buffalo — not only had the Gretzky-era passed him by, but the team was now playing its home games at Staples Center.
Galley’s first stint with the Kings was injury-plagued. Jumping from college directly to the NHL, he played 78 games for the Kings his rookie season. However, a knee injury suffered in December, 1985 limited his sophomore campaign to 49 games. The following year, he was traded mid-season to Washington for goaltender Al Jensen (Fun fact No. 3: Jenson played five career NHL games after being traded to the Kings. Galley went on to play an additional 992).
After subsequent stops in Boston, Philadelphia and Buffalo, the well-traveled Galley returned to Los Angeles as a free agent before the 1997-98 season. A well-respected veteran at that point, Galley wore the “A” for the Kings, serving as an alternate captain his first two years back in the Southland.
Here’s how Greatest Hockey Legends describes Galley:
“[A] mobile puck mover who worked well on the power play. He was not a true number one defenseman, but often was shoe-horned in that role because of his imaginative puck movement. Defensively Galley was not overly big and did not intimidate too many players. He was adept at keeping his opponent to the outside and neutralizing him against the boards. He played his own brand of tough hockey, but kept it clean and rarely got involved in the after-the-whistle non-sense.”
As noted above, he leads all Kings No. 3s in games played, goals, assists, points and penalty minutes.
Galley played 74 games for the Kings during his return season in Los Angeles, but Father Time caught up to the Montreal-born defenseman late the following season. Galley sat out the last 10 games of the 1998-99 season with an abdominal injury. A series of nagging injuries limited him to 60 games the next year.
For his perseverance, his teammates awarded Galley the Ace Baily Memorial Award as the team’s Most inspirational Player following the 1999-00 season. Galley signed that summer as a free agent with the Islanders. However, lagging injuries continued to hamper, and he appeared in only 56 games, retiring at the end of the season.
Post-retirement Galley became a sports radio host in Ottawa and an analyst for Hockey Night in Canada. He now does color commentary for Sportsnet. He was named to the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Next up in our series is sweater No. 4. Our honoree should come as no surprise to any Kings fan. One hint (an amuse-bouche, if you will): he matriculated at the same midwestern university as Gary Galley.
Do you agree or disagree with the selection of Garry Galley as the Kings’ “No. 1 of No. 3s?” Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below or hit up Mark on Twitter at @DevoreOnSports. Stay safe, and as always, Go Kings Go!