LA Kings: Does the LA Kings core have a championship encore?

LA Kings (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images) /
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LA Kings Slava Voynov
LA Kings (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) /

Storm clouds began to gather in October of 2014.

A little over five months after winning the Stanley Cup, The Kings players and their wives/girlfriends had gathered for a party. Later that night, defenseman Slava Voynov committed a horrible act of domestic violence against his wife, which would result in him moving back to Russia and never returning to the Kings. A key piece of the 2014 championship team was gone, but more trouble was on the way.

Lombardi acquired Mike Richards from the Philadelphia Flyers in a massive deal on June 23rd, 2011. Referring to Richards as his “Derek Jeter,” Lombardi appeared to strike gold, as Richards was a huge part of the 2012 title and contributed to the 2014 championship as well. It went downhill fast from there, however, as the Kings terminated his contract on June 29th, 2015.

His contract termination was brought on by his arrest at the US/Canada for possession of an unprescribed controlled substance. The aftermath of the legal battle over the termination has the Kings paying on it until 2032.

Jarret Stoll was a “heart and soul” type of player for the Kings since he came to the team (along with Matt Greene) via trade from the Edmonton Oilers in 2008. The hard-working center anchored the bottom-six group of forwards that was so instrumental in helping the Kings to their Stanley Cup wins.

Then, in 2015, the unthinkable happened. At a team party in Las Vegas, Stoll was arrested for possession of cocaine (which was later reduced). Already a pending free agent, the Kings would not re-sign him and his playing days in LA were over.

The Stanley Cup era in Los Angeles came to an in April 2017, when both Lombardi and Head Coach Daryl Sutter were fired. For all the good these two men did for the franchise, a change in direction was needed. At this point, the Kings were in salary cap trouble, and too much young talent and draft capital had been traded away to immediately replenish the team.

Although they became champions under him, the players had grown weary of Sutter’s hard-nosed ways. Rob Blake took over as General Manager, and John Stevens became the new Head Coach. Even though they made the playoffs the following season (suffering a first-round sweep by Vegas), the dark days of a re-build lay ahead.