Jan 18, 2013, 1:38 PM EDT
Every day until the season starts we’ll explore an intriguing storyline for the upcoming year.
It’s been 15 years since a team repeated as Stanley Cup champions.
Will that streak be snapped?
That’s the big question in Los Angeles as the Kings prepare for their title defense. After one of the most dominant playoff runs in recent memory — 16-4 over four rounds, 11 wins in the first 12 games — there are expectations for a Hollywood-style sequel.
And so there should be.
On paper, there’s plenty to like. The Kings return all the stars from last year’s team — Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter — and nearly the entire roster.
(The lone notable subtraction being Kevin Westgarth, an enforcer that didn’t dress in the postseason.)
The Kings also figure to be a more gelled group this year.
For all the success LA had in the postseason, its regular season was pretty disjointed. Head coach Terry Murray was replaced by Darryl Sutter midway through the year, giving Sutter just 49 regular season games at the helm. Doughty missed time to injury, as did Richards. Carter, acquired at the trade deadline, only played 16 games before the playoffs began.
Which is why talk of the Kings repeating is so intriguing.
One could say Los Angeles is in great shape to be the first repeat champion since Detroit in 1997-98.
– The lockout afforded LA three extra months of rest, nullifying the Cup hangover.
– The Kings will get a full season with Carter and Dwight King, who accounted for 23 percent of LA’s playoff goals. (Important, considering LA finished 29th in goalscoring a year ago.)
– LA gets a healthy Simon Gagne, who only played 34 regular season and four playoff games.
Of course, there are counterarguments to be raised.
Some will point to Los Angeles catching a lot of breaks — and lightning in a bottle — en route to the Cup.
The Kings beat a Vancouver team missing former Hart Trophy nominee, Daniel Sedin, for the first part of the series. Then they dispatched of a Blues team without its No. 1 goalie, Jaroslav Halak, and a banged-up No. 1 defenseman in Alex Pietrangelo.
In the Western Conference final, they drew the upstart Phoenix Coyotes, a team that had never advanced past the opening round.
In the Stanley Cup final, they drew the East’s No. 6 seed — New Jersey — a team nobody expected to be there.
There’s also the history of Cup winners stumbling to defend the crown.
Both the 2011 champs (Bruins) and 2010 champs (Blackhawks) were dumped in the opening playoff round the year after winning it all.
And in the last lockout-shortened season (1995), the defending Cup champion Rangers squeaked in as the No. 8 seed before being swept by Philly in the second round.
The belief within the Kings organization, though, is that what this group did last spring was the start of something special.
Just ask general manager Dean Lombardi.
“There’s no doubt in my mind about these players after what they did in the playoffs,” Lombardi said. “It made me have a newfound appreciation for all of these guys. There’s no doubt they’re going to build on it. So much of this season is mental, and they’ve got the mental toughness to do it.
“It’s not about recapturing that feeling from last season. It’s about writing a new story.”
Jul 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Tell us how you really feel, Brad.
Jul 30, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Kings captain meets Rangers fan. Hi-jinx ensue.
Jul 29, 2014, 10:02 PM EDT
From 64 (mercurial) to 10 (gritty!)
Jul 29, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT
Now battling Bon Jovi and Donald Trump!
Jul 29, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
“This has been a difficult decision for Kevin.”
Jul 29, 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
After a year away from the game.
Jul 29, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT
Pretty nice pay bump for the 24-year-old rearguard.
Jul 29, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
6-foot-8, 250-pounder was a first-round pick in 2005.
Jul 29, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT
Hall of Famer will work as an assistant under Ted Nolan.
Jul 29, 2014, 3:28 PM EDT
Fare thee well, Sammi.
Jul 29, 2014, 2:17 PM EDT
Low-risk signing, with good potential upside.
Jul 29, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
“When you do have a little more responsibility, you want to take your lunch pail and get ready to work.”
Jul 29, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT
Had 13 goals and eight assists in 2013-14, his rookie season in the NHL.
Jul 29, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT
IIHF Disciplinary Board levies punishment for “very forceful check.”
Jul 29, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Was traded from Toronto on July 1.
Jul 29, 2014, 11:04 AM EDT
New Caps coach wants “people who are really good at distributing the puck and making things happen from the middle of the ice.”
Jul 29, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT
Had 11 goals and seven assists in 53 games last season.
Jul 29, 2014, 9:47 AM EDT
Expected to be healthy for training camp.
Jul 29, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT
Can become an unrestricted free agent next summer now.
Jul 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
They won the Stanley Cup together in Tampa Bay.
- Gettin’ paid: Gardiner inks five-year, $20.25M extension with Leafs 14
- Report: Trottier to join Sabres’ coaching staff 15
- Blues sign former eighth overall pick Mueller 29
- Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center 43
- Eric Staal has surgery to repair ‘core muscle injury’ 6
- After not seeing ‘eye-to-eye’ with Carlyle, Reimer will compete for No. 1 gig 16
- Two down, one to go: Wings ink Tatar to three-year, $8.25M deal 12
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal 63
- Subban not eager to discuss contract talks 34
- Leafs re-sign Reimer — two years, $4.6 million 22
- Cashing in: Rangers sign Brassard to five-year, $25 million deal (63)
- Avs and O’Reilly agree on two-year deal, but questions remain (45)
- Trotz plans to let Johansson, Kuznetsov, and Burakovsky compete for time at center (43)
- New Caps regime plans to keep Ovechkin at RW (for now) (42)
- Rangers and Kreider avoid arbitration, agree on two-year deal (39)