When the Los Angeles Kings fired coach Terry Murray in December, did you think you would be asking yourself, "Is this the best Kings team of all time?"
When they were in 11th place in January, were you asking yourself, "Is this the best Kings team of all time?"
How about when they wound up in the eighth and final playoff spot?
This team has come a long way this year. A long way. And as we approach the Western Conference Semifinals, a place the team hasn't been since 1993, I think an argument can be made.
I think, right now, the Kings have the most talented team in their history.
Stacking it up against the 1993 team is tough, but, in all honesty, I think the 2012 Kings have the edge.
Of course Gretzky, Granato, Kurri, Robitaille, Taylor, Hrudey, Blake, Sandstrom and Zhitnik compile a long list of great players. The current Kings arguably have seven or eight players who are top ten in the league at their respective positions: Brown, Kopitar, Richards, Carter, Doughty, Mitchell and Quick.
And once you get passed them, the Kings have some fantastic role players and rookies including guys like Penner, Williams, Voynov and Scuderi.
Talent wise, this team could go toe-to-toe with any Kings team in history.
When the 1993 team made the playoffs, they were doing it on the backs of the experienced playoff vets Gretzky, Kurri, McSorely and Taylor.
Melrose was a rookie coach, and guys like Robitaille, Blake, and Zhitnik had seen limited time in the playoffs.
The present Kings have Darryl Sutter as head coach. He is no stranger to the playoffs as a player or a coach. Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Matt Greene, Jarret Stoll and Willie Mitchell have tons of playoff experience. Fraser, Scuderi, Penner and Williams already have rings.
If the Kings face Phoenix, they will have to beat the number one-seed, two-seed and three-seed in one playoff run. If Nashville wins, replace the three-seed with the four-. It's still pretty impressive.
In fact, no eight-seed has ever defeated both the one- and two-seeds in the same playoff series. No President's trophy winning team has ever been beaten more quickly either.
En route to taking out the two best teams in the conference, the Kings have yet to drop a road game and they have lost just once overall.
Darryl Sutter and Dean Lombardi have gotten this team to buy into a very effective system. The Kings have one of the stingiest defenses and goaltenders in the league, and when their offense plays to their potential, it's very intimidating.
Obviously, when teams played the Kings teams of the past, the idea was to shut down the one line that they had, be it the Triple Crown Line or the Gretzky line, and win. Or they could have taken the approach of many teams from that era—just score score and score some more.
It wasn't the prettiest thing, to see games finish 8-7 or 6-4, but it got the job done.
In this new era of hockey, the Kings might play the perfect style to earn themselves a shot at the Cup. In the days of old, it felt like a coin flip or a war of attrition. The Kings of the present can make you pay in more ways then one.