Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
It sounds like Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi made several interesting comments on Wednesday's conference call following his acquisition of premier defensive trade target Andrej Sekera, but one stood out in particular. According to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times, Lombardi indicated that the team's strong play recently prompted the move, saying "what they've accomplished and what they've fought through, it's almost like you owe it to them." I like this. It's Lombardi's way of acknowledging that, however sluggish their start and inconsistent their season has been, the team is all-in now, and he is, too.
Making the trade to upgrade the Kings' defense with Sekera is a strong statement that he believes in this team and what they are capable of, despite what their current record or spot in the standings suggest. Lombardi has won two Stanley Cup Championships since 2012 and he prides himself on an organization that he has tried to make feel like family. This sort of brazen confidence and steadfast faith he has shown in his club has paid off in the past. Can't blame him for going all-in again.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
As I had written hours earlier in Rumblings, Lombardi and his management staff had agonized for weeks about the Slava Voynov situation as it pertains to their salary cap and potential trade deadline plans, but ultimately decided the risk involved in adding a player was smaller than the risk of not helping the team. If Voynov should be acquitted of domestic violence charges in his trial next month and somehow return as an active player, the Kings will just have to deal with a complicated salary cap situation when it arises.
For now, it's full-steam ahead and the Kings just acquired the top rental blue-liner on the trade market. They paid a hefty price -- a first-round pick in a deep draft this year (if Kings make playoffs it's a 2015 pick, if not it's 2016) -- but the Kings' window to win won't be open forever.
Interestingly, I spoke with a Hurricanes source who figured the team hopes the Kings make the playoffs so the pick is theirs this June, not only because it's a deeper draft, but also because the Kings aren't that high in the standings right now and should be better next season, which would drive a potential 2016 pick further down in the first round.
more topics include Patrick Kane/Blackhawks...
added 6:47pm, LA Kings release is below...
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have signed forward Kyle Clifford to a five-year contract extension, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today.
The 24-year-old Clifford (born on Jan. 13, 1991) is a 6-2, 208-pound native of Ayr, Ontario, has appeared in 333 career NHL regular season games, all with the Kings, totaling 58 points (25-33=58) and 462 penalty minutes.
This season, Clifford has tallied 10 points (3-7=10) a plus-1 rating and a team-leading 66 penalty minutes. Clifford appeared in his 300th NHL game, Dec. 2 vs. BOS.
A second round (35th overall) selection of the Kings at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Clifford has been a part of both Stanley Cup runs with Los Angeles in 2012 and 2014. He has played in 47 career postseason games, registering 14 points (4-10=14) and 56 penalty minutes, including assisting on the Stanley Cup clinching goal scored by Alec Martinez in Game 5 against the New York Rangers.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have signed forward Jordan Nolan to a three-year contract extension, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today.
The 25-year-old Nolan (born on June 23, 1989) is a 6-3, 226-pound native of Garden River, First Nation, Ontario, who has appeared in 170 career NHL regular season games, all with the Kings, totaling 24 points (14-10=24) and 155 penalty minutes.
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
For the Kings, it is back to scoreboard watching and heavy lifting. They've won a season-high seven consecutive games to regain a measure of control over their fate with 24 games remaining in the regular season. Their winning streak is their most-successful run since they won eight games in a row last season, from Feb. 6 to March 10.
“We have 14 road games and 12 division games, so I wouldn't put too much emphasis on where we are right now,” Coach Darryl Sutter said. “In fact, I'm going to put money on it that we have more points this year at this time than we did last year after this.”
Sutter knows his numbers.
After 58 games last season, the Kings had 66 points. They have 68 through 58 games this season and are three points behind second-place Vancouver in the Pacific Division.
from Rory Boylen of Sportsnet,
The NHL’s Stadium Series swung through California for the second time, with the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks facing off in what was the most important outdoor game yet. This one had very real playoff implications, with both teams hanging on the playoff bubble.
And just like the first outdoor California game, the second one was a huge success. The 70,205 in attendance made up the third-largest crowd for an NHL outdoor game. Here are some of the best photos from the 2-1 Los Angeles victory.
continue for some great pictures from the outdoor game
Here are the game highlights...
from David Pollak of the Mercury News,
An NHL idea that may have seemed like a gimmick when it was launched in 2003 has turned into a special event. Nearly three-fourths of a million people have turned out for 14 similar games in the United States and Canada.
"I can't say we would have predicted it," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said, "but we were confident it would be well-received by our fans."
Daly thinks of it as an opportunity for fans to celebrate hockey on a grander scale, "in an environment that is really, in some respects, endemic to the sport."
Yet it goes beyond a chance to see the game in an updated, high-tech version of where it all began.
There's something about outdoor hockey that gets to the romanticized character of the relationship between the game and the frigid climate of Canada where it became popular before spreading south into the U.S.
NEW YORK (February 18, 2015) – On Saturday, Feb. 21, the 2015 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series™ outdoor matchup between the host San Jose Sharks® against the Los Angeles Kings® at Levi’s® Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. will feature a pre-game celebration of the growth of hockey in the Bay Area and throughout California and a salute to Sharks alumni. The outdoor game also will feature performances by rock legend and Bay Area native John Fogerty, Grammy Award-winning artist Melissa Etheridge, singer-songwriter Kris Allen, and Symphony Silicon Valley. The game and performances will be broadcast live nationally on NBCSN in the U.S., and on CBC and TVA2 in Canada at 7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET, with pre-game coverage set for 6:30 p.m. PT. SiriusXM Satellite Radio will provide radio coverage.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Just like we all thought would happen, right? For all the hand-wringing in Los Angeles this season -- especially by Kings management themselves -- it looks like the band is ready to take the stage at the normal hour.
The Kings edged a very good Tampa Bay Lightning team 3-2 on Tuesday night for their fifth consecutive win, and if you're the Vancouver Canucks (67 points), Calgary Flames (67 points) or San Jose Sharks (66 points), you'd better check your rearview mirror and take notice of the muscle car speeding toward you with a pair of Stanley Cup rings attached to the front bumper. The Kings are charging late in the season just like everyone has waited all season for them to do, and it's downright exciting to watch.
read on for more topics from the ESPN crew...
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Every year, the Los Angeles Kings hit the road for close to two weeks around the time when the Grammy Awards take over the Staples Centre. And every year, their task is essentially the same: Tread enough water to stay competitive, because all the Kings ever really have to do is make the playoffs, and then good things usually follow....
But this season is starting to look different – and maybe even a little desperate. The Kings, who went into Monday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets five points back of the final playoff spot (LA did win), look as if they are the ones who are wearing down – as if the cumulative effect of all that playoff hockey is finally catching up to them.
The road has been especially unkind. Last year, the Kings had the sixth-best road record in the league (23-14-4), which was identical to their home record. This year, they are 16-6-6 at home but 6-12-6 on the road. So they need to put together a winning streak in order to gain ground on the Calgary Flames, who are currently holding on to the second wild-card playoff spot in the West.
Reasons for the Kings’ struggles are varied.
No. 1 centre Anze Kopitar is not playing to the level he was a year ago, and his right-hand man from the 2014 playoffs, Marian Gaborik, has been injured and inconsistent, patterns that have followed him throughout his career. For the first month of the season, the Kings were carried by their That ’70s Line – Jeff Carter flanked by Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, all of whom had sweater numbers in the 70s. But they have cooled off since October; Pearson is out, likely for the rest of the regular season, and Toffoli is just back after recovering from mononucleosis.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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