However, the 29-year-old played a significant part in a successful Kings playoff run and played himself back into the good graces of Kings fans.
Maybe it was the playoff performance, maybe it's his lovable sense of humor, but he did eventually win over the fans.
If the price is right, the Kings should opt to re-sign Dustin Penner. Here's why:
Dustin Penner was a microcosm of the Kings' season.
You can be down, but you can never be out. There is always a way to get yourself back in it.
Penner suffered a lot of on- and off-ice issues in the last year-and-a-half, including injuries, a trade, a remarkably bad season and a divorce from former wife Jessica Welch.
But he picked himself up—in a big way. He did what the coaching staff asked and re-invented his game. He was a big contributor in the playoffs.
Rewarding people in the organization for good play is key to sending the right message. Although Penner had one of the worst seasons ever, it'd be big for his confidence, and the team, if he we're re-upped.
Probably the weakest part of the Kings organization is left wing.
To be honest, they don't have a lot of depth in the minors, or on the big club.
Currently, the team has Dustin Brown, a natural right winger, the oft-injured Simon Gagne, rookie Dwight King and utility man Brad Richardson serving as the left wing corps.
In terms of available prospects, the only natural left wingers they have are journeyman David Meckler, and struggling third/fourth-line grinder Kyle Clifford.
Penner slides nicely into a second/thrid-line left wing spot. He's also a big insurance policy on Simon Gagne. If Penner were to not re-sign, and Gagne were to go down injured, the Kings would be looking at a very raw and offensively stunted group of left wingers.
There are limited options on the free-agent market this offseason. Yes, it would be super nice if the Kings signed a big-name player like Zach Parise, but let's get real for a second.
The only other players available that compare to Penner are Ryan Smyth, Ray Whitney and Kristian Huselius.
All of those players are older, and more expensive than Penner.
If Penner signed for less and continued his inspired play, it could end up being a bargain for the team.