Kings Run Not a Cinderella

When the 8th seed upsets the 1 and 2 seed, the general consensus is to check if that glass slipper is going to fit. Usually, it will.

However, for the Los Angeles Kings, the glass slipper is way too small and delicate.

The Kings are much different than your average, everyday, run of the mill Cinderella story. Sure, the Los Angeles Kings barely squeezed into the playoffs. Sure, they knocked off the back-to-back Presidents Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks in 5 games. Sure, the 2nd seeded St. Louis Blues fell to the Kings without taking a single game from them. That doesn’t make a Cinderella though.

The Kings deserve better than to be cast as Cinderella’s.

Los Angeles underachieved during the year and it didn’t appear likely that they would be able to reach their potential. If things started to click, it would be too little, too late. That notion, obviously, was dead wrong.

The Kings do not qualify to be true Cinderella’s because they are a team overflowing with talent. They were the Stanley Cup choices of more than a few people in the pre-season but ended up disappointing greatly with their regular season performance. The only big change made to their roster actually improved their product on paper as they swapped underperforming players with the Columbus Blue Jackets, receiving Jeff Carter for Jack Johnson.

Their roster, on paper, is one to be feared. Captain Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty and shut down defenseman Willie Mitchell, along with the aforementioned Jeff Carter are as strong a core roster as any team in the NHL. For some reason though, their season was executed similarly to a Heath Bell 9th inning with the Miami Marlins. Considering their roster, the LA Kings should never have been a number 8 seed.

The coaching change closer to the end of the season seemed to be the turning point. Although the results didn’t show in the regular season, the hard-nosed style of a Daryl Sutter coached team showed up against the Vancouver Canucks as the energy and aggressiveness of the Kings combined with their skill made for a very difficult matchup.

Darryl Sutter has been able to take his Kings to the Western Conference Final and he hasn’t even had to rely solely on Vezina nominated goaltender Jonathan Quick to do so. Don’t get me wrong, Quick has been outstanding, but he is not the sole reason for the success of the Kings.

The Kings are not a reincarnation of the 2010 Montreal Canadians, who, despite a severe lack of talent, were able to ride goalie Jaroslav Halak to game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final where they were eventually defeated. They are not a roster absent of depth parallel to the 2006 Edmonton Oiler team that made the Stanley Cup Finals on the backs of Dwayne Roloson who was able to transform from solid to other worldly in the playoffs.

To qualify as a Cinderella story in sports, teams generally have unexpected heroes emerging to immortalize themselves in playoff history. In the NHL, that role is predominantly reserved for the goaltender. After playing a mere 6 regular season games following a late season call-up, virtual unknown rookie Ken Dryden earned the starting job in 1971 for the Montreal Canadians before the start of the playoffs. The Canadians ended up winning the Stanley Cup.

For the Kings these series of events are just the result of an underachieving team putting things together at the right time. The Kings are not a one-hit wonder. This is not simply a matter of getting hot like Steve Blake in the 4th quarter kind of deal. They are built to succeed for a number of years to come. The 2010 Canadians, 2006 Oilers and 2003 Mighty Ducks, predictably, were unable to repeat the success of their fluky runs. Los Angeles does not fall into that category.

The Kings have won largely due to the fact that they are the better team. The 8th spot was a scary position for them to be for higher seeds because it was very possible that they could put it together at any time. The scattered puzzle pieces finally began to make some sense in LA and it was the Vancouver Canucks and St. Louis Blues who got stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The slipper won’t be fitting for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 playoffs but that is by no means an omen for their imminent exit.

The slipper won’t fit because the Kings are too good to be a glass shoe type of team.

You can follow me on Twitter @paintstheblack and subscribe to Painting the Black to get the latest posts.

Agree? Disagree? You can also E-mail Chris at cross_can15@hotmail.com or reply in the comments section below.

Advertisements

Behind the 8 Ball

The non-hockey market of Columbus, Ohio will have to continue waiting for a contender. No biggie, right? It has only been 12 years.

I doubt that very many people really care but the Columbus Blue Jackets are once again left to rebuild. An expansion franchise that has never really found its way in the National Hockey League, the Blue Jackets will likely be clawing its way up from the bottom of the barrel for another couple of years at least.

Unfortunately, this rebuild happened 1 year too late.

The trade for Jeff Carter in the off-season predictably did not have the desired results for GM Scott Howson. They gave up a 1st and 3rd round pick along with Jakub Voracek for a guy who ended up playing 39 unmotivated games. I have cottage cheese in my fridge that has lasted longer than that. Luckily for the Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi threw Scott Howson a bone. Howson got a 1st round pick back as well as underachieving defenseman Jack Johnson.

Nevertheless, Scott Howson messed up worse than Vince Young on the wonderlic test.

He wasted a year for the Blue Jackets that they can never get back. A year that he could have spent in full rebuild mode. Instead, Howson has had to scramble before the trade deadline to get something of value for his expendable pieces.

He traded Jakub Voracek, Samuel Pahlsson and, of course, Jeff Carter for a bunch of drafts picks. A 1st (2013 conditional), 2nd (2012), 4th (2012), 4th (2012), and a 5th (2013 conditional) to be exact.

The silver lining to this less than perfect scenario is that the Blue Jackets sit dead last in the NHL by a gigantic margin despite their best attempts to contend for a Stanley Cup this year. As sad as that is in itself, the fact that they are guaranteed a top 3 pick in the 2012 draft can be of some comfort to Scott Howson on those very lonely nights.

However, with that being said, the Blue Jackets have yet to trade their most coveted piece in all-star winger Rick Nash. His $7.8 million cap hit through the 2014-15 season, no-movement clause and all. According to Howson today, Rick Nash approached the team about a possible trade but nothing got done. Rick Nash is still stuck in the purgatory that is Columbus for the time being.

Rick Nash will be dealt eventually, probably around the time of 2012 draft. It will mark the end of a very miserable era in Columbus.

After Nash is gone, the best thing Scott Howson can do for his franchise is be patient. He thought last offseason, like the kid who spoils his appetite with the cookie before dinner, that being patient wouldn’t be worth it. He knew that getting Jeff Carter back then sounded good and didn’t think it would affect his whole team negatively. Like the kid eating his cookie before dinner, Scott Howson upset the natural order of things. He had his dessert before dinner was ready. When it is dinnertime, Howson is the one at the table who won’t be able to enjoy it.

That cookie doesn’t taste so good now does it Scotty?

They say that patience is a virtue. Not enough General Manger’s have it apparently.

The last week has shown that Scott Howson is willing to change his tune but for how long? Those Brian Burke, Jay Feester get Stanley Cup quick schemes simply don’t work like they’re supposed to. The Leafs and Flames sit at 10th and 11th in their respective conferences. Scott Howson is just going to have to suck it up for the long haul this time. It’s the only way.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have already put themselves behind the 8 ball. They can’t afford to waste anymore years.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

Subscribe to my blog too and you can get the latest posts such as It’s Peyton’s Choice

Flyer Shocker Reeks of “Same Old, Same Old”

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter

And just when it seemed like someone was finally getting it.

Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren looked as though he was going to be a pioneer. The GM who decided enough is enough and it’s time to end these ridiculously lengthy contracts.

I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

After trading the two cornerstone players of the Flyers franchise in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter for young prospects and draft picks, Holmgren went out and messed it all up. He signed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to a 9 year, $51 million contract. He got rid of two bad contracts in order to make room for one really bad contract.

Richards who had 9 years left on a 12 year contract and Carter who has his new 11 year contract extension kick in next season both were shocked by a deal that came completely out of left field.

Apparently NHL GM’s enjoy torturing themselves. These contracts are like a bad marriage. The one’s that last only because there’s a kid involve. It’s great until you realize the person that you married isn’t the same person anymore. However, by the time you realize it you’re tied down.

Signing long contracts to avoid a cap hit is no different.

According to sources, the Flyers weren’t happy with their franchise cornerstones. The work ethic that garnered them their lengthy extensions was falling. They were partying too hard. Rumours have been floating around for a while. Richards and Carter had changed. The marriage was failing.

It was amazing that Holmgren found a way to get out. He got a good return on his unwanted investment while the value was still high. Holmgren received ultra-prospect Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek, the 8th overall pick, Wayne Simmonds and a 3rd rounder. Brilliant.

For some reason Holmgren reeled himself back in.

The Flyers have desperately needed goaltending though. Of course that’s what Holmgren is thinking. But the amount of foolishness involved in committing 9 years to a 31-year-old goalie is almost unimaginable. History is repeating itself again in the National Hockey League.

Did he not witness the Vancouver Canucks suffer at the hands of their $64 million man? Does Holmgren not even comprehend the lost motivation and deteriorating play of his former stars upon receiving their long contracts?

Obviously this old dog doesn’t get it.

Neither does anyone else in the NHL.

Related: Note to NHL GM’s – This is Getting Out of Hand

In an attempt to set his team up well for the future, Holmgren unknowingly has devastated it. The cap space opened up by the departure of Carter and Richards was necessary to free up room for Bryzgalov. Consequently, the signing of Bryzgalov will hurt their chances of locking up their future stars like Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux and James Van Riemsdyk.

Good thing the Flyers don’t have to worry about that right at this moment. Phew.

These GM’s keep going back to the same bad girlfriend. The guys that will always find a way to get with the same type of girl no matter how bad it has been. The guys just never seem to recognize it.

Is Columbus GM Scott Howson brain-dead for not noticing that Jeff Carter’s scoring totals have dropped significantly in the last two years? Is he brain-dead for not noticing that the Blue Jackets don’t have the team to contend despite now having a first-line center to play with star winger Rick Nash?

You would have thought that the disastrous contracts of past years would make these GM’s a little more shy.

For all we know, maybe the names Wade Redden, Scott Gomez, Brian Campbell, Vincent Lecavalier and Rick DiPietro don’t ring a bell to them.

Clearly, a disaster of Vesuvius proportions will have to occur to make NHL GM’s realize the error of their ways.

The Tim Thomas fountain of youth isn’t experienced by many. I wonder if Bryzgalov has access to it.

A large part of a players motivation stems from the fact that he has a contract looming in the future. The Flyers put the trust in Carter and Richards that they had enough character not to lose that motivation. It didn’t work out.

Why should we believe it will work in a different city?

The Flyers themselves are once again trying to build from within but this go around they are stuck with an aging goaltender. It won’t be an overnight maturation for their young guns to get the Flyers to the point where they are true contenders. By that time, they’ll see that Ilya is not the same goalie. He won’t be the man they thought they had.

He’ll be older and not nearly as sexy. It is what is to become of all these nonsensical contracts.

They should think like Hugh Heffner instead. Trade ’em in when they’re older and breaking down. Well, at least don’t pay them as much.

Someone will eventually come in and change the landscape of the NHL. A new dog will show everybody new tricks. All the old dogs will wonder why they never bothered to learn.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

Subscribe to my blog too and you can get the latest posts such as Take a Chance on Me

%d bloggers like this: