You can’t spell “Stanley” without L.A.
As I said after game 4, a great run! I had the Kings going to the final but I didn’t know they could win, and sure as hell didn’t know they could go on the run they did. But they were great down the middle, great on defense and great in net. That is a pretty great combo and near impossible to beat when everyone is on their game.
This team built it the right way too. After the 2006 season Dean Lombardi was brought in and tore down what they had and sold ownership on rebuilding it. They took their time, which must have been insanely tough to do in a non traditional market like L.A.
I recall the 08 draft and them with the 2nd pick (which ended up of course being Doughty, their highest pick during the rebuild). There were A LOT of rumors that they were shopping that pick. And once again Lombardi stayed the course.
Then came the next hard part which was when to pull the trigger on the moves that would put them over the top. Lombardi put the BIG offer out to Ilya Kovalchuk in the summer of 2010, but he refused to go beyond what he offered (which I don’t know that anyone knows for certain what the max offer was but ballpark 10 years/80 mil).
Sure, having Kovalchuk wouldn’t have been a bad thing but who knows how much higher he may have had to go to get him? He again was patient, waiting for the right move and it finally came along a few days before the draft last year. Mike Richards pretty much out of nowhere was made available and Lombardi didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. It was steep, but it was the move he had to make. I always harp on teams being great down the middle and Richards made the Kings one of the best in the league at centre.
And while they didn’t have to go through very much adversity during the playoffs, they faced more than their share during the regular season. The coaching change of course being the big one and I fully admit I was one of the guys saying how Darryl Sutter was the wrong hire (see…sometimes I admit when I’m wrong!) Sutter is an AWFUL GM, but he can run a freaking bench!
This wasn’t a true 8th seed. They were in the toughest division in hockey, and were perhaps more than any team in the league built for the playoffs. Sure it’s easy to say that now but on April 7th that is why I truly believed they could go deep. And I sure as hell wasn’t the only one. Bob Stauffer had them doing the same thing. There were more than a few people that had them knocking off Vancouver. But while they weren’t a true 8th seed, they were still an 8th seed…the first 8th seed to win the Stanley Cup.
Looking at them moving forward, they won’t go away. This wasn’t a grueling run by any means, and with the possibility that the NHL may not start on time next season it could work big in the Kings favour. The big thing in the offseason is to get Jarret Stoll locked up as he is a UFAon July 1st. Tricky, because A) you don’t want to overpay and if he makes it to July 1st someone will. B) They don’t have a ton of cap space and the expectation is that the cap will go down with the new CBA. But a 3rd line centre can be found and they have a great trade chip to play in backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier.
So congrats to the Kings! They did it the right way, it had to be tough for their fans to stick with it in 07, 08, and 09 when it looked like they may not ever develop, but they did and now the biggest star in Hollywood is the Cup.