Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
"No one expected them to miss the playoffs," one Western Conference player said.
If it were just a matter of the two points by which the Kings missed the playoffs, Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi would lose less sleep. But there is so much more to digest -- and not just on the ice.
Defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested in October and charged with felony domestic assault against his wife, prompting the NHL to suspend him indefinitely. He is currently awaiting trial. In April, veteran leader Jarret Stoll was arrested on a drug charge, accused of possessing cocaine and MDMA, during an unofficial end-of-season trip to Las Vegas with several teammates.
They were unrelated incidents, likened only by the fact that Lombardi wishes, desperately, he could've done more to prevent them. And for a team that has always emphasized the concept of family, they were significant blows among many that sidetracked the defending Stanley Cup champions.
As the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning battle for hockey supremacy in this year's Stanley Cup finals, Lombardi repeatedly asks himself: Were there warning signs? Should we have seen this coming? What could we have done to prevent this from happening?
And he has been tormented by these thoughts.
"This is my fault," he said.
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
Weeks after Jarret Stoll was arrested on suspicion of possession of cocaine and Ecstasy, he met with his boss, Kings President and General Manager Dean Lombardi.
Lombardi was the man who traded for Stoll in 2008 and watched as the center became a team leader and helped spark the organization to its first Stanley Cup championship in 2012 and another in 2014.
"Probably one of the most gut-wrenching meetings I've had in my entire career, and I've had meetings with lots of players," Lombardi said of their talk last month.
These were Lombardi's first public comments on the matter since Stoll was arrested in mid-April in Las Vegas, shortly after the Kings' season ended. The defending Stanley Cup champions did not qualify for the playoffs and Stoll is due to become a free agent.
Lombardi conducted a conference call with reporters Tuesday and discussed the Stoll arrest and the Slava Voynov incident, issuing several mea culpas. Voynov's trial on a felony domestic violence charge is scheduled to start in July.
from Rick Westhead of TSN,
Los Angeles Kings forward Jarret Stoll will probably be able to negotiate a "slap on the wrist" after being arrested and charged in Las Vegas on Friday for possession of cocaine and another illegal recreational drug, says a former state prosecutor.
Michael Pariente, who has been a criminal defence lawyer in Las Vegas since 2006, said he's represented dozen of people accused of drug possession - many of them Canadian - and in every case, the prosecutor has offered first time offenders a plea deal.
Pariente said prosecutors in Clark County, Nevada, would probably allow Stoll to plead guilty to misdemeanour possession of a dangerous drug not to be introduced into inner state commerce. If he does plead guilty to that misdemeanour, Stoll, who was released Friday night on $5,000 bail, according to court records, would probably pay a fine of up to $1,000. He's also be required to take online drug awareness court, a computer course that requires about four hours of time but can be completed anywhere.
"It's pretty much a slap on the wrist," Pariente said in an interview. "Even if he was going to represent himself they'd make him an offer like this."
from Rich Hammond of the OC Register,
(on the possibility of re-signing Jarret Stoll and/or Justin Williams…)
LOMBARDI: ''I think those type of things, you talk to the players individually and tell them exactly what we’re going to be able to do. We’ve got two issues here. The reality is, we didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish, and we’ve got cap issues. What we’re going to be able to do here is probably more difficult than in the past. Then we also have this issue of, we don’t know what the cap (ceiling) is, and that’s really frustrating. … You hear a lot of speculation on where that thing is. So there’s a dramatic difference, in terms of what you’re talking about with the (salary-cap ceiling) spread. A million dollars might not sound like a lot, but for teams that have had success, that’s a lot. And we don’t know what that is, and we’re not going to know until whenever. … It puts us in a position where we’re not going to know, and we’re not going to know for another month. So you see what we tried to do here, in the meantime. (Jeff Solomon) did a fantastic job and got most of the young guys done. We pecked away at that during the year, and we’ve got two more of those kids out there. But we’ve cut that number down dramatically, with Martinez and Muzzin and Clifford and Nolan and Pearson....
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
So fatigue was certainly one of the issues the Kings could not overcome in becoming the first defending Cup champion to fail to qualify for the playoffs since the 2006-07 Hurricanes. But there was a fatigue of a different kind at work as well in L.A., for the fact is the players had become tired of Coach Daryl Sutter.
Slap Shots has been told by two sources that the Kings locked the door to their locker room following a defeat on the road within the last two weeks so that Sutter could not get in and deliver what the players apparently expected to be another in a series of lectures/tirades.
As the tale was told, after Sutter finally tracked down an arena operative to unlock the door, he was greeted by three heavy waste receptacles lined up as barricade to what had become an empty room.
Thus, it would be no stretch to suggest tension between the team and the coach, who led the Kings to those two Cups, was a significant issue as L.A. went down the stretch before their elimination Thursday night in Calgary following a shocking defeat two nights earlier in Edmonton, of all places.
more plus other hockey topics...
... there’s nothing systematically wrong with the franchise. What’s the opposite of that? An entrenched foundation systematically inclined to keep Los Angeles in contention year after year? The Kings play with terrific structure, perhaps the best structure in the entire league. They have maybe the league’s best development team. The culture and identity that the team has engineered has not been dulled. There is an elite core of Anze Kopitar (27 years old), Drew Doughty (25 years old) and Jonathan Quick (29 years old). The oldest player on the team was 34. On the other hand there is also Mike Richards’ deeply concerning contract, and in an environment in which the salary cap will tighten the club’s flexibility to trim fat and surround its core with experienced pieces, there will be challenges in continuing to add to the depth that had served the team so well....
-Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider where you can read more on the Kings...
The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets are going to the postseason. What happened to the Kings? Hudler, Pavelec, Hammond, Habs defence and more in Scott Cullen’s Statistically Speaking.
After losing 3-1 in Calgary Thursday, the Kings are the first Stanley Cup champion to miss the next year’s playoffs since 2006-2007 Carolina Hurricanes.
The thing is, it’s not like the Kings collapsed. They were the league’s top possession club (getting 54.9% of score-adjusted shot attempts) and still have the 13th-best goal differential (+0.22 per game), which is better than three playoff teams (Anaheim, Detroit and Vancouver).
How does a team with those underlying numbers still end up on the outside looking in at the playoffs?
For starters, the Kings were 2-8 in shootouts and 1-7 in overtime games. Given the randomness involved in shootout results, that’s basically coming out on the wrong end of coin flips. 3-15 in overtime and shootout games, after going 12-8 the year before, is enough in tightly-contested standings, to come up short. Records in one-goal games tend to be unsustainable, but there's enough of them in hockey that they make a huge difference in the standings.
continue plus more topics from the games last night at TSN...
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
The Kings' last failed title defense ended achingly close to their final goal, falling short in Chicago in a double-overtime rush of blood and sweat.
This quest did not end in the playoffs but in a regular-season defeat in Western Canada, with the coup de grace coming against the Calgary Flames. The Kings became the first reigning Stanley Cup champion to fail to reach the playoffs in the following season since the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007.
In fact, 2009 was the last time the Kings failed to reach the playoffs. They lost in the first round the next two years and then won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, losing to the Blackhawks in the Western Conference final in 2013.
“It obviously stinks right now,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “It's definitely tough to swallow. When we came together in September, this is not the way we envisioned it
“It's hard. It's hard to put stuff in words right now.”
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
During the Kings' remarkable run of two Cup titles in three years — two more than their fans ever expected to see — and a run to the West final in between, they played 64 playoff games and sent a sizable delegation to the Sochi Olympics.
"A ton of hockey really," said defenseman Drew Doughty, who's averaging a Herculean 29 minutes and one second's ice time, two seconds off the league lead.
Doughty said the workload isn't a valid excuse for their downfall but it is a reality. So was their lack of scoring: they rank 20th with 216 goals and none of the teams behind them currently holds a playoff spot. No player had a career year; Jeff Carter was their most consistent forward but Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams endured long slumps. Tyler Toffoli hasn't scored an even-strength goal in 24 games.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Will the real Los Angeles Kings please stand up? Are they the team running on fumes we saw Tuesday night in Edmonton, or are they the side with a championship heart that has one last flurry of swings in them?
The beauty of this time of year is that the answers will become crystal clear. The Kings are in Calgary tonight and must register a regulation victory to tie the Flames on points at 95, and then hope they can finish a point ahead of Calgary after the Flames head to Winnipeg and the defending champs host the San Jose Sharks.
Tonight's contest in Calgary will be revealing in many ways, with the champ on the ropes and the upstart Flames having a chance to book their ticket to the postseason, easily the most surprising development of the year if it comes true for Bob Hartley's men. And don't forget, they've been doing it without team MVP Mark Giordano since Feb. 26, going 11-5-3 without their capatin. Unreal.
Does the clock strike midnight tonight? We shall see.
read on for notes on the Bruins, Capitals, Jamie Benn/Sidney Crosby and the Canadiens from the ESPN hockey crew...
from George Johnson of the Calgary Herald,
There is no remaining wiggle room for the reigning Stanley Cup titans. No more mulligans. No more Get Out of Jail Free cards.
There is nothing beyond this game. No White House visits. No parades. No champagne.
Just 60 minutes against a foe that is neither in fear nor awe.
One loss, either here or against the San Jose Sharks come Saturday, or two Flames’ points over Calgary’s final pair of games, and the Kings go from hockey aristocrats to afterthoughts.
They are, in reverse, a storyline every bit as compelling as the Flames.
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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