Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lisa Dillman of the LA Times,
"Everybody [should] be on the same page, playing the system, playing 60 minutes and play every shift like we can," Gaborik said. "We haven't done that lately. We have to do that. We have to be more consistent and just play like we can.
"We know how to do that. We just have to translate it onto the ice."
Could hitting a crisis point like the Washington game be the jolt the Kings needed?
"We can't let it happen to this point where we have a game like that, especially in the position we are in right now," Gaborik said. "We need every point. We need wins, especially on the road. We need to turn it around. Everybody in here has to produce, myself. We need to be better."
Said defenseman Matt Greene: "We're down to crunch time. There's no waiting around anymore, waiting for things to get going, waiting for guys to find their game."
Two of the Kings' better games in the second half came after short breaks. They beat the Sharks following the Christmas vacation and rallied three times from one-goal deficits to defeat the Blackhawks at Staples Center after the All-Star break.
Their championship pedigree has surfaced. But not consistently.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
The salary cap is of great concern to Lombardi, who is juggling numbers for several players who can become free agents after this season. Right wing Justin Williams, center Jarret Stoll and defenseman Robyn Regehr can become unrestricted free agents, while Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan will be restricted free agents. In addition, the Kings can sign center Anze Kopitar to an extension after July 1. His contract expires after next season....
“It’s a matter of how all these pieces fit into the puzzle,” Lombardi said Tuesday, after the Kings prepared for their game against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center. “Then we also have this whole thing with the Canadian dollar. I’ve been talking to other GMs about that. It’s a crazy way to run a cap. Do I need a stat guy or do I need a currency trader to figure this out?”
Lombardi said he and Jeff Solomon, the Kings’ cap expert, have talked to their players’ representatives about new contracts but the Kings have generally held off on going too far because they want to get a better idea of where the cap might fall the next few seasons. Lombardi also said he’s waiting to see if Mike Richards, who was waived and sent to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League last week, can get his game back because Richards has five seasons left at a cap hit of $5.75 million, a sizable chunk of any payroll.
via The White House,
The President honors the 2014 NHL Champion Los Angeles Kings and the 2014 MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy.
The event is scheduled to begin at 2:10pm ET.
WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, February 2, President Obama will welcome the 2014 NHL Champion Los Angeles Kings and the 2014 MLS Cup Champion LA Galaxy to honor the teams on winning their Championship titles. This visit will continue the tradition begun by President Obama of honoring sports teams for their efforts to give back to their communities.
WHEN: Monday, February 2, 2:00 PM EST
from Dan Arritt at ESPNChicago,
"It’s frustrating." Crawford said. "We played a good game, and [the Kings scored] two quick ones at the end. I guess everyone can pretty much tell how we feel about that one."
Crawford was clearly unhappy with some of the calls that were made -- or not made -- during the game but passed on making any comments regarding the officiating.
Patrick Kane wasn't so reserved, pointing to a slash in the final minutes that resulted in a broken stick but wasn't called. He also referred to a penalty earlier in the game on Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook for using his hand to pull the puck out from under his backside as he sat in the middle of the slot, something he claimed the Kings had done just prior to the penalty.
"There were a couple calls that could have been made," Kane said. "[The referees] were maybe playing catch-up after we had three power plays [in the first period] and evened the score a little bit."
from Curtis Zupke at NHL.com,
The Kings play 20 of the remaining 35 games on the road, where they are 5-9-6. The only teams with fewer road wins are the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres.
"It's big," Jeff Carter said of their upcoming stretch. "We're not in the position we'd like to be, and we're running out of games."
Several factors have contributed to the Kings' slide, which includes a 2-4-5 finish before the break. The most glaring is their record away from Staples Center, which contrasts their 23-14-4 road record last season.
"If it doesn't [anger you] as a player, you shouldn't be playing at this level," Brown said. "But as individuals, as teams, as coaches, you pore over video and stats and this and that. We need to figure it out. Again, it's something we're going to have to figure out very quickly here because of the situation and how many road games we have.
"But ... historically, our team, when our backs are against the wall, we dig down and find a way. It's one of those situations. It's going to be an important 30-or-so games left."
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
A Calgary Sun source confirms GM Brad Treliving has discussed the possibility of acquiring the 29-year-old centre from the team he helped to win two Stanley Cups in the last three years.
Make no mistake, it would be a long shot for the Kings to be able to peddle the fourth-liner who still has five years left in his contract at a cap hit of US$5.75 million annually.
Given Richards’ decline in speed and productivity, Kings GM Dean Lombardi will have to be plenty creative to free the club of Richards, who cleared waivers Tuesday morning and was assigned to Manchester of the AHL to save the club $925,000 in salary-cap relief.
Given how much room the Flames have in salary-cap space they are one of the few teams in the league who may have the palate to stomach the contract, but only if it makes sense on other levels.
Essentially, any team that takes on Richards would be doing the cap-strapped Kings a favour.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have assigned forward Mike Richards to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today.
The 5-11, 199-pound native of Kenora, Ontario, appeared in 46 games this season with the Kings, registering 15 points (5-10=15) and 39 penalty minutes. He played in his 700th NHL game, Jan. 12 vs. TOR and recorded his 300th career assist, Dec. 12 at MTL. He had played 224 consecutive games dating back to Dec. 22, 2011, the longest active streak on the Kings.
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
He still has positive possession numbers but, given how well the Kings fare without him on the ice, Richards is practically being dragged to respectable shot differentials. While in previous seasons he at least faced a reasonable level of competition, Richards has continued his descent this year while facing relatively-soft competition.
There may be an argument to make that a motivated Richards could still be a useful contributor, but his contract is going to make it challenging to find a new opportunity.
After this season, Richards still has five years remaining on his deal, at a cap hit of $5.75-million per season, a big ticket for an underperforming player. The easiest way for the Kings to rid themselves of that contract would have been to use a compliance buyout on Richards last summer, but it's hard to ante up $20-million for a player not to play on your team.
Difficult as it may have been, the decision not to buy out Richards then leaves the Kings in a tight spot now. They don't get much cap relief ($925,000) by putting him in the AHL, and while that has value to a team jammed against the salary cap, it doesn't clear the decks in the way that it would have under the previous collective bargaining agreement, when Wade Redden, among others, got buried in the AHL with a big NHL salary.
The hope for the Kings has to be to find a trade for Richards, but that's going to require some creativity. It may require eating up to half of Richards' salary, taking on a bad contract from another team, or both.
from Rich Hammond of the OC Register,
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi talked to reporters about the decision to put Mike Richards on waivers. Here's what he said...
(on how Richards took the news…)
LOMBARDI: ``You can ask him. The process isn’t done, obviously, because he still has to clear tomorrow, so we’ll probably talk again tomorrow. I’m sure it’s not easy on anybody, but these are the tough decisions you’ve got to make.’’
(on not buying out the contract…)
LOMBARDI: ``We expect loyalty from our players, and I think it’s a two-way street. Under the circumstances, with what he had done for us, I thought he deserved a chance to get back to where he knows he’s capable of. That’s a hard balance. Obviously I thought about that a lot, but there’s the new-wave thing about there where players are commodities, and things like passion and loyalty are values that I thought made sports special. Commodities guys will tell you that doesn’t matter. Well that’s been a big part of the success of this team, I certainly believe. That’s kind of the way I came down on it. If you’re going to expect loyalty from your players, then you, at times, have to show loyalty to them....
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