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.”
Sep 18, 2014, 7:57 AM EDT
Thursday’s collection of links.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:48 PM EDT
Brendan Bell also gets a chance to impress.
Sep 17, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
A clothing-conscious post.
Sep 17, 2014, 8:59 PM EDT
His back issues present another headache for Columbus.
Sep 17, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT
He has 44 games of NHL experience under his belt.
Sep 17, 2014, 6:39 PM EDT
Insert your “humongous big” jokes here.
Sep 17, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT
Quite an open letter.
Sep 17, 2014, 5:26 PM EDT
Sep 17, 2014, 5:01 PM EDT
His agent says it’s best to leave town and avoiding being a distraction.
Sep 17, 2014, 3:09 PM EDT
“No matter how much my old teammates say it doesn’t bother them, it affects them. It does in that city.”
Sep 17, 2014, 2:37 PM EDT
And on the possibility of his client signing an offer sheet? “Well, we’ll have to see.”
Sep 17, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
“Justin has emerged as one of our most well-rounded and dependable defensemen.”
Sep 17, 2014, 1:34 PM EDT
“We’ve been told if we don’t give them what they want, they’ll be leaving town.”
Sep 17, 2014, 1:05 PM EDT
Veteran d-man just turned 40 years old.
Sep 17, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT
Sep 17, 2014, 12:21 PM EDT
“That is significantly good to hear.”
Sep 17, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT
“I’ve been with the team for eight years, and I don’t know if I’ve been more disappointed about anything that’s been written,” said Pierre Dorion.
Sep 17, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
Enter Radim Vrbata.
Sep 17, 2014, 11:41 AM EDT
“I actually thought I had a great year up to the Olympic break and even after.”
Sep 17, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT
“The tenor of the talks has been good, so we’ll keep going and keep working on it.”
- Panthers owners say they’re committed even though team has lost ‘tremendous amounts of money’ 7
- Update: Wild’s Harding out indefinitely with fractured foot 19
- Johansen heads home from Columbus as talks get even messier 17
- Kesler accuses Vancouver media of making up stories, ‘throwing people under the bus’ 22
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal 50
- Mike Yeo is pretty unhappy with Minnesota’s goalie situation 22
- Much to his relief, Lecavalier will start season at center 15
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands 61
- Advantage Kuemper? Harding on crutches after ankle injury 15
- Done deal, finally: Wings ink DeKeyser to two-year, $4.375M extension 11
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (61)
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman (56)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (50)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)