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.”
May 24, 2015, 2:05 AM EDT
“Finally got a bounce.”
May 24, 2015, 12:52 AM EDT
Chicago wins another long overtime game.
May 24, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT
This series heads back to California, all even.
May 24, 2015, 12:08 AM EDT
Double overtime? Sure, why not?
May 23, 2015, 10:54 PM EDT
Chicago had the lead. Gave it up. Tied it up again.
May 23, 2015, 9:41 PM EDT
Trying to get under the opposition’s skin.
May 23, 2015, 9:18 PM EDT
Blackhawks and Ducks going at it.
May 23, 2015, 8:49 PM EDT
But emphasized the need to remain “professional.”
May 23, 2015, 8:04 PM EDT
The reaction to the big news continues to pour in.
May 23, 2015, 7:05 PM EDT
Anaheim can put Chicago on the brink of elimination.
May 23, 2015, 6:17 PM EDT
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Claude.”
May 23, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
He suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 3.
May 23, 2015, 4:44 PM EDT
Oilers’ prospects Leon Draisaitl and Marc-Olivier Roy were among those who received 10-minute misconducts on Friday night.
May 23, 2015, 3:43 PM EDT
His teammate Vladimir Sobotka is likely staying in Russia.
May 23, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT
The Bolts’ starter has allowed five goals in each of his last two starts.
May 23, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT
They’ll play alongside Patrick Sharp.
May 23, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
He thought the commissioner was misquoted.
May 23, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT
A formal announcement could come as early as next week.
May 23, 2015, 10:40 AM EDT
He’ll serve as an assistant to GM Don Maloney.
May 23, 2015, 9:43 AM EDT
He would be eligible for this year’s draft, if he doesn’t come to terms by June 1.
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- From healthy scratch to hero: Vermette scores OT winner for Blackhawks 16
- Video: Ducks score three goals in 37 seconds to take third-period lead 7
- WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Blackhawks, Western Conference Final Game 4 0
- Cooper on replacing Bishop: ‘That is asinine to me’ 23
- Vermette, Teravainen return for Blackhawks in Game 4 14
- Comeback fit for a King: Lundqvist, Rangers even series in Game 4 24
- Fetisov wants to restrict young Russians from playing in the NHL 51
- All eyes on Lundqvist 11
- Quenneville opted for ‘fresh legs’ by inserting Nordstrom, Versteeg into lineup 12
- Reports: Sabres thought they had a deal with Babcock, aren’t happy (173)
- Leafs land Babcock with reported 8-year deal, estimated at $50 million (130)
- Russia to be punished for ‘completely out of order’ actions after Worlds final loss to Canada (91)
- Report: Sabres negotiating with Babcock (82)
- What’s wrong with Lundqvist? (70)