2012 Stanley Cup Finals: The Ex-Chicago Blackhawks Factor for L.A. Kings
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You can start right at the top, where Darryl Sutter has taken his second team to the finals.
Sutter was both coach and GM of the Flames at that point, stepping down from his coaching duties in 2005 the running the team from the top until his resignation in December of 2010. Sutter took over a struggling Kings club almost a year later, guiding Los Angeles to a 25-13-11 mark to grab the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
This set up the Kings dominant run through the playoffs, during which they knocked off the first-, second- and third-seeded teams. Los Angels went 12-2 in dispatching Vancouver, St. Louis and Phoenix to reach the finals.
Fans of the Blackhawks in the '80s and early '90s may find Sutter's visage to be quite familiar. The hair is grey, but the stare takes you back to a different era in Chicago history.
Sutter was an 11th-round pick of the Blackhawks in 1978 NHL draft and played his entire career in Chicago. In parts of eight seasons, he racked up 279 points and served as captain for five years. Sutter went on to coach the 'Hawks from 1992-93 to 1994-95.
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On the ice, a former 'Hawks skater of more recent vintage may see action in the finals.
Center Colin Fraser, a member of the 2010 Stanley Cup team in Chicago, has played in 12 of the Kings' 14 games in the playoffs. That includes Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, where he had an assist in the game that sent his team to the finals.
He's been Sutter's choice in the middle of the fourth line for most of the playoffs following a regular season in which he appeared in 67 games. He added a pair of goals and six assists to the Kings' effort this season.
Fraser spent two full seasons in Chicago. He was a plus-six in 70 games in 2009-10 with seven goals and 12 assists. He saw action in the Nashville series, but did not appear in the finals for the 'Hawks. Who would have thought when Fraser was sent to Edmonton in the summer of 2010 that it would be he who would be the first to return to the bright stage of the finals?
Ethan Moreau, a former first-round pick for the 'Hawks, started the season with the Kings, but was sent to the AHL in December. Moreau never played a game with Manchester as he began suffering from concussion symptoms.
The ex-'Hawks factor may make this year's finals a little more interesting to watch. Good luck to Sutter and Fraser as they look to complete a fantastic playoff run.
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