Today is Thanksgiving so I thought it would be fun to make a list of a few Kings related points that LA fans should be thankful for.
1. THE 2005 NHL DRAFT
As a Kings fan I am thankful that ten teams passed the chance to draft Anze Kopitar in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. You could make
an argument that nobody picked before Kopitar has developed into a more well-rounded hockey player who excels in both the offensive and defensive zones. The fact that he was from the small unknown European country of Slovenia was definitely a contributing factor to why so many teams passed up on him. When Kopitar was selected 11th overall by the Kings he became the first Slovenian-born player to enter the NHL.
2005 was a good drafting year for the Kings. In addition to drafting Kopitar that year, they also got their hands on an American goaltender from the Avon Old Farms named Jonathan Quick. After years of mediocre goaltending which at times involved a comical carousel of net minders, Quick eventually assumed the role of reliable backstop between the pipes for the Kings. Kings fans suffered long enough with the likes of Roman Cechmanek and Dan Cloutier, who at times seemed like he couldn’t stop a beach ball.
The 2005 draft would be the last one for Dave Taylor as the Kings GM, and although he wouldn’t know it for a couple of years, he made a lasting contribution to the organization by drafting two future stars.
2. GENERAL MANAGER DEAN LOMBARDI
It was with heavy hearts that the Kings let go of GM Dave Taylor in 2006, but with that came the signing of Dean Lombardi who had a vision for how he would build a championship caliber team. He often spoke of building a team from the back end out, in other words defense wins titles. Jonathan Quick solidified the back end with composure and confidence while Lombardi would make moves to create one of the league’s best defensive corps headlined by Drew Doughty, Matt Greene, Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi. Young gun defensive prospects also came into the mix when Slava Voynov and Alec Martinez were very impressive and showed that they belonged with the big club.
Lombardi built up a pool of prospects through trades and the draft early on in the rebuilding process. This would pay dividends in the future because an excess of young assets could be used to make trades to fill whatever remaining holes were left on the Kings [See Richards and Carter]. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter were the final pieces to the puzzle for Mr. Lombardi’s vision of bringing the Stanley Cup to Los Angeles.
In Dean Lombardi we trust. I am thankful for his unwavering adherence to his winning formula, even during times when he may have been under scrutiny for it.
3. DARRYL SUTTER
The Kings were in the midst of a losing streak in December because their offense went completely
dormant. Maybe you blame the coach, but I think Murray was the victim of a slump at the wrong time. Regardless of where blame is due, Sutter came aboard after spending the past years in Canada on a family farm.
BELIEVE. This was the key word describing what Sutter brought to the table for the Kings. He made a young group of underachieving hockey players believe in themselves and in each other thus tapping into the soul of the team.
Thank you Darryl for your interesting sense of humor and Sutterisms.
A Happy Thanksgiving to all!