A division title is something that has alluded the Los Angeles Kings all but once in the franchise's 45-year history.
They have never really ruled a division. They've always been met with stiff competition and a slew of genuinely powerful teams who instead take the title. The last time the Kings were able to call themselves rulers of a division was way back in 1990 when a young man from Brantford, Ontario carried the team with a 163-point season, and the division was called the Smythe Division.
They've always filled the role of a bridesmaid when it comes to division dominance. As it currently stands, however, the team might have the best opportunity in a long time to be a perennial division winner and top seed.
Since the creation of the Pacific Division back in 1994, there has always been one team that truly dominates. One team that has had cup favorite written all over them from the start.
In the mid 90s it was the Colorado Avalanche (before the Northwest was created) who dominated year after year. In the late 90s and the early 2000s, when the Pacific Division became what it is now, it was the Dallas Stars who consistently claimed No. 1.
Over the last eight years, the Kings have had to battle in a division that has seen the San Jose Sharks win five titles.
But that is all changing now.
It's no longer the San Jose Sharks of old. Their time is passing as the team has grown much older. The Anaheim Ducks are in for, what looks to be, a very long rebuild. The Dallas Stars are a middle-of-the-road, very old team. Finally, the Phoenix Coyotes, who surprise people year after year, will likely be the only team to really challenge the Kings.
Los Angeles is young, with several players hitting their prime, and they have the swagger of a Stanley Cup ring placed firmly around their fingers.
One positive to finishing so poorly throughout the mid-2000s is that the Kings have a stocked pipeline of great players.
Maybe the best in the division.
So they are successful now, and they still have a lot of guys waiting in the wings. It's a really fun and promising thing to think about.
Many of these players we have already gotten a taste of, with Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Kyle Clifford and Slava Voynov playing huge roles last season.
But there are a lot of names you probably haven't heard yet but will know in the future. Names like Tyler Toffoli, Kevin Gravel, Derek Forbort, Tanner Pearson, Tomas Hyka and Nicolas Deslauriers are among a talented group of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds who have yet to touch NHL ice.
Quite simply, the Kings are poised to dominate now and have the best pipeline in the division to dominate later.
Oh yea, and Kopitar is still just 25, Quick 26 and Doughty 22.
The Kings weren't even the best team in the Pacific Division last year. The Coyotes and the Sharks had better records.
However, when you look at the Kings' performance against their divisional opponents it's pretty impressive. Last season they had a division-best 13-4-7 record against divisional opponents. They are also a ridiculously good road team as we saw in the playoffs.
The real bread-and-butter games for the Kings are close to home; where they will need to score points is outside the division, and there is big room for improvement there.
As far as dominating the teams within, the Kings have that handled. Granted, you only play 24 of 82 games against divisional opponents, but they are all four-point games, and having a good record against them is a great start to getting ahead.