The final games of the regular season are creeping up upon us. And as it currently stands the Los Angeles Kings have yet to decide their fate.
With each passing day of games, or inactivity, the Kings find themselves in or out of the playoffs by a very thin thread.
It was a season promised by many in both media and management to be THE season. The season where the Kings rise to the top and compete with the likes of Detroit and Vancouver. But here we are in early March and fans are asking themselves, "Are we even going to make the playoffs?"
With a season filled with so much promise standing on a knife's edge, here are just a few people who really should be concerned about their future with the L.A. Kings organization.
Dean Lombardi would likely be the first of many dominoes to fall if the Kings fail to make the postseason.
It's very easy for a fan to blame a general manager. In fact it's too easy, and you'll hear countless fans blather on about how the team sucks because of a general manager.
Dean Lombardi has made some great moves. We have a deep pipeline of players, quality stars in Carter, Richards, Doughty, Kopitar and Quick, and a dedicated fan base which sells out 99 percent of home games.
You can talk about his poor choices in first-round draft picks, the trade for Penner (which at the time was highly praised) or the signing of injury prone Simon Gagne, but those are all beside a greater point to be made.
It's year six for Lombardi and the Kings, and I fear that the owner and the fans will want a new direction after a painful rebuild that has garnered nothing more then first-round exits and seventh or eighth place finishes.
Personally I think Lombardi has done an admirable job, but a shake up would be needed if this team fails to make the postseason.
Here is the mastermind of the Kings consistent bottom five power play and offense.
It was honestly surprising to me that he wasn't let go when Terry Murray was fired back in December but Dean Lombardi insisted on keeping Kompon and John Stevens around until at least the offseason.
With offense being the missing link the last couple seasons you'd have to think he is on the chopping block. Also, it's important to note that for the last three months or so the Kings have unofficially had former Kings player and 100-plus point scorer Bernie Nicholls around at practice and games as an "offensive consultant."
Maybe we are looking at our new offensive coach next year?
When the Kings hired Darryl Sutter I was intrigued. Dean Lombardi later said that Darryl was essentially the same coach as Terry Murray, just with a different attitude.
So the system and approach was very similar.
Well if it doesn't work with one coach, and the same thing doesn't work with another, maybe it's time to completely change directions.
I personally have nothing against Darryl Sutter and I like the way he handles the players on the bench, the media and so far the in-game approach.
If the team fails to make the postseason, however, with the personnel they have it may serve the greater good to recruit a fresh new mind and approach to the rink for these players.
Okay this one is just fun for me.
I realize that there is no way the marketing department could have known this season would be so arduous; however, don't you think they jumped the gun with signs like the one shown?
There are quite a few of those throughout the Inland Empire and the L.A. Basin. Also, the commercials during broadcasts (normally during a 2-0 losing effort where the Kings have 40 shots but no goals) are of similar fashion. "The time is now." "This is the team."
Also, they couldn't predict last year when they gave away Wayne Simmonds and Ryan Smyth bobble heads, that the pair would be traded that offseason. Just chock that up to bad luck?
But really, those headlines of the time being now and this being the team we have waited for are going to be a little embarrassing if the Kings are golfing in April.
The Kings' two major unrestricted free agents this coming offseason have had contract years to forget.
Stoll is on pace to have a career low six goals and 22 points. Penner will have a similar career low of six goals and 16 points.
Considering these guys currently make $3.6 million (Stoll) and $4.25 Million (Penner), you'd have to think the Kings would be hard pressed to draw ink with either of them on a similar number for just over 20 points of production and a handful of goals.
Stoll does have some valuable intangibles but nonetheless he will have to take a significant pay cut considering how little he has helped the team this season.
There is also the fact that Penner now has no place in the top six with the emergence of Dwight King, the acquisition of Jeff Carter and the young Tyler Toffoli lighting up the OHL with the Ottawa 67's eligible for the NHL next year (48 G, 44 A, 92 P).
Stoll has to compete with the 21-year-old Andrei Loktionov who is still trying to find his feet in the NHL and the 24-year-old AHL veteran Marc-Andre Cliche who has looked very solid with Manchester again this year, and is a similar style player to Stoll.
You want a culture changer? There it is. Get rid of one or both of the head honchos.
Dustin Brown was challenged at the deadline with trade rumors, and has promptly responded with arguably his best set of games in a Kings uniform. (6gp 6g 4a 10p)
Brown has the benefit of an incredibly reasonable contract for what he brings ($3.1 mil per) but Kopitar's inconsistencies carry the weight of a $6.8 million dollar cap hit.
Ironically, we've seen this kind of move before with the Flyers. This offseason they moved both Carter and Richards after several seasons of disappointing postseason results. It would be something of a similar nature.
You want to change the game? Get rid of one or both of your poster boys.