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.”
Aug 28, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT
Will one be named this season?
Aug 28, 2014, 9:33 PM EDT
The new coach wants the Penguins to ‘lessen the load.’
Aug 28, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
It wasn’t even close.
Aug 28, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT
They have a lot of players on their roster with something to prove.
Aug 28, 2014, 5:59 PM EDT
There’s no timetable for his return.
Aug 28, 2014, 4:47 PM EDT
The former first round pick is entering the last season of his entry-level contract.
Aug 28, 2014, 3:35 PM EDT
Chris Stewart seems to think so.
Aug 28, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT
Arizona or Carolina could relocate according to the host.
Aug 28, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT
Milano clears the air on deal with Columbus.
Aug 28, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT
To be implemented for 2014-15 season.
Aug 28, 2014, 12:09 PM EDT
Calls out former coaches Marc Crawford, Alain Vigneault and John Tortorella
Aug 28, 2014, 11:12 AM EDT
After a solid junior career, hopes to make the Sabres as an 18-year-old.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
Last appeared in 10 games with the Montreal Canadiens during the 2012-13 season.
Aug 28, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 9.
Aug 28, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They’re in the middle of a rebuilding process.
Aug 27, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT
Of course, neither will be wearing a Sabres’ uniform – not yet at least.
Aug 27, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT
They’ve also appointed Don Sweeney as the AHL team’s new general manager.
Aug 27, 2014, 8:28 PM EDT
It matters given that they will start next season with a largely unchanged roster.
Aug 27, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
Ken Holland hasn’t been in contact with him lately, but that will change soon.
Aug 27, 2014, 6:10 PM EDT
He hasn’t played for them since 2007.
- Fanspeak: Dominik Hasek voted greatest Sabre in franchise history 20
- Is Colorado’s rise a fair example of what might happen in Buffalo? 5
- It’s Buffalo Sabres day on PHT 19
- Gomez goes full circle by rejoining Devils on tryout basis 12
- Under Pressure: Jimmy Howard 6
- Looking to make the leap: Anthony Mantha 21
- It’s Detroit Red Wings day on PHT 24
- Under Pressure: Nathan Horton 8
- Will Johansen be the latest Overhardt holdout? 25
- It’s Columbus Blue Jackets day on PHT 17