May 24, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT
The Los Angeles Kings are just four wins away from their first-ever Stanley Cup victory, but perhaps it makes sense that they’ll need to face a player who was believed to be the “missing piece” to their puzzle to accomplish that task.
The Kings finished second (or worst) in the big free agent sweepstakes the last two summers. Depending upon whom you ask, Los Angeles went equally hard after New Jersey Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk in 2010 and New York Rangers center Brad Richards in 2011 but came up “empty” each time.
In the process, the Kings developed a deeper, less top-heavy team that perhaps wasn’t built for regular season domination (yet?), but rather postseason glory. Some might even argue that – despite Richards’ and Kovalchuk’s talents – the Kings were “protected from themselves” by missing out on the best of their respective free agent crops.
Either way, there’s some poetic justice to the fact that whether the Rangers or Devils advance, the Kings will face a player who supposedly would have been the “missing piece” to their championship puzzle.
Which mercenary talent should they fear more going forward, then?
- DeBoer predicts ‘big bounce-back’ in San Jose 8
- Sabres name Bylsma head coach 31
- Lundqvist on Game 7: ‘You’re definitely nervous, but it comes down to teamwork’ 16
- Report: Bylsma to Sabres being held up by compensation issue 56
- Stanley Cup Final to begin June 3 5
- Caps’ Backstrom undergoes arthroscopic hip surgery 5
- Report: Sens’ Murray to retire after next season 0
- Of course: ‘Hawks, Ducks’ back-and-forth series is going to Game 7 49
- WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Blackhawks, Western Conference Final Game 6 1
- As Bolts deal with illness, extra day of rest could prove beneficial 11
- Kesler on wearing down Chicago: ‘No human can withstand that many hits’ (75)
- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks (66)
- Report: Bylsma to Sabres being held up by compensation issue (56)
- On Kreider, and trying ‘to turn the other cheek’ (54)
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL (53)