5 Reasons the Los Angeles Kings Are Better Than People Think
Champs For A Reason
Despite alarmist reports saying the Los Angeles Kings' offseason activity has been sub-par, many fail to realize how far off conjecture made by the media and fans alike can be. Here are some examples of items of note in the media which have neglected to give the full explanation. You will see that most of the issues facing the Kings presently, and that have occurred in the past, are manageable and incorporated already into their system. They've got depth of talent in all positions, except for one, left wing. That is less of a concern than it is being hyped, as will be explained.
The team's goaltending hasn't been an issue since the day of Stephan Fiset and Dan "Two Fists" Cloutier left with Marc Crawford. The depth in that position forced the Kings to stash away stellar players, and keep them benched rather than allow another team to use them against us. We let free agents walk, and will again. We are not lacking the heart to chase them down, but better players that can step into their spots, exemplified perfectly in past years, and hopefully next year.
General Manager Dean Lombardi is not only a strong negotiator and tactician, but he is also a master at using his resources wisely. The coaching staff has the same, "We can always do better," attitude that won them a Stanley Cup. Work ethic is critical, and this team shows no lack of it. Expect great things to come from L.A. for the next few years. Do not expect it because they have the best Twitter feed, mascot or PR campaigns, but how they are systematically capable of breaking down every team in the league, even the Chicago Blackhawks. With that said, here are the half-truths, now explained about the Kings players and staff.
The Kings Need Defensemen... to be healthy
We need healthy defensemen, most of whom are already in the organization. Just look at the impact of Matt Greene in the playoffs, when he probably should have been sitting out still. You hear stories about Patrice Bergeron and his suffering. Every Stanley Cup winner knows all about it, you just don't hear about it as much. If Willie Mitchell can return at full strength, and Robyn Regher plays to his abilities. Our blueline is great... We've got Drew Doughty... 'nuf said.
The Kings do not Need a scoring LW
Luc Robitaille was the highest scoring left wing of all time. He won he rookie of the year, and various other prestigious looking awards in his career. He never won the Stanley Cup with L.A. He went to Detroit and won it, but the point remains, we haven't seen a winger like him again, and it doesn't take one to win The Cup. Just goal scorers.
The best two-way players (definitely not Luc) don't even seem to have a position. Scoring is about touch, intelligence and timing. It doesn't matter where you line up for the draw.
Just looking at the system the current team uses, it is impossible for any player but center to have an overcomplicated position that can only score on one side or the other. Let’s remember Jeff Carter on the right wing circling around and around, "like a record, baby," capping of the game-winner to finish off the blues? Carter will score goals anywhere. Put him on the left of Richie, or to the right... don’t matter at all... heck, he even takes faceoffs. It is the same with Brown, or any other great RW in the league. Look at Alexander Ovechkin's switch.
The Kings Never Had A Stanley Cup Hangover
Last season started with nonsense about revenue sharing and contract loopholes. Players were more focused on golf tournaments than NHL hockey. The battle was being waged. Kings players weren't heavily involved, which is understandable as they were going to be one of the teams that suffered with a new cap, but are not allowed to denounce the other teams' owners for that reason alone.
Almost ironically, as the negotiations finally took flight and we saw progress, there was an injury to Anze Kopitar in Europe. This happened only weeks before being back in black and silver at Staples Center. Now that we’re dealing with roster problems and not payroll problems, I think we all could agree that the Kings team entering last season kept a similar roster because the owners didn’t give management any time to assess the players upon return, and very little leeway by means of trades or free agent pick-ups. This rings especially true for a team like the Kings who plans ahead and knew that this was a probable consequence of signing the CBA.
Dustin Penner Can Leave
At the end of last season, there weren’t many players unwilling to re-sign, heck, there weren’t all too many players with expiring contracts at all. Dustin Penner signed a deal, got another year last season, but we had just watched him bulldoze himself into a solid top-six forward throughout the playoffs. I would have offered my first born for the cup again.
An accurate way to describe that situation would be to say that new players would need to fill the gaps left by players not performing up to capacity, just like they had when they won the cup. King stepped up when Brown took a series off. Voynov stepped up, so we could trade Jack Johnson.
We Clash With Everyone, Even the Refs
While I'm sure GMs were sitting around wondering if Jonathan Bernier would be their savior, Lombardi would never have a team in the West like Vancouver get a hold of him. Truth is that last season was probably a better time to move Bernier, might have gotten less in terms of players, but money would have been a much larger factor, including contract lengths. We likely found out about Quick needing offseason surgery and by then Bernier was trapped.
Brown somehow went from destroying people like Henrik Sedin at full speed to breaking orbital bones while standing still, and eventually getting suspended for two games. What a great way to build confidence going into the playoffs? Think of a better one, not really.
Everyone in the league has accused the Kings players of diving, embellishing, dirty shots and the like. They've called out Captain Dustin Brown as a major contributor. He's an American, most Refs are not. The Kings play near the beach. Some referees, the closest they get to the beach at home is a neighbor with "Beachford" as a surname.
Jonathan Quick brokehis back and needed surgery, still stopped about 95/100 shots while being molested, and he seems to be back to shape. This year, there were less penalties called for interfering with Quick as I can ever remember, including his rookie season, or in college. The guy likes to challenge the shooter. That doesn't mean you can push him out of the way. The league doesn't seem to care. King Henry won the Vezina last year, and Sergei Bobrovski this time. No love for an innovator.
Another note on the other Jonathan: Bernier is no longer a King, but the Kings believe he could go out and win a Vezina, but not beat Quick. Odds are in Toronto, Bernier is already on the short list for next season.
Most positive thing: This shows the teams perseverance and dedication to hard work to obtain perfection, and then better. Plus, we know how to take a hit.