Are the Los Angeles Kings bound for the Stanley Cup?
I can remember when Wayne Gretzky was a part of the Los Angeles Kings and demanded that the management pick up a 50 goal scorer, and a solid defenseman. When Gretzky's request wasn't made, the spiral downwards had begun.
Wayne Gretzky wanted no other ties with the Los Angeles Kings and was traded to St. Louis Blues on February 27, 1996. The Kings received Craig Johnson, Patrice Tardif, Roman Vorpat, and a first round draft choice in 1997.
None of these players resulted in any success with the Los Angeles Kings and the future of the franchise seemed extremely gloomy.
Fellow owners Phillip Anshutz and Edward P. Roski were stuck with a tough decision. The fact that they saved the team from bankruptcy was one thing. The next decision would be even tougher.
The decision that the owners had to make was to revamp the whole team. GM Sam McMaster was fired and former winger Dave Taylor was brought on board as the new general manager.
Dave Taylor announced at a press conference that it would take some time and patience before the Los Angeles area would see a successful team.
In 1999, a lot of things transpired in the Los Angeles Kings organization. The firing of head coach Larry Robinson and the hiring of Andy Murray occurred. A lot of criticism was made over the decision that Dave Taylor had made in regards to the firing of coach Robinson.
Nonetheless, Dave Taylor moved forward and started his carving and moulding of the new Los Angeles Kings.
Moreover, in moving towards the future, Dave Taylor acquired Zigmund Palffy and Brian Smolinski in June 1999.
The team started to look a little more up to par with these new acquisitions but the biggest move and growth was yet to come!
In 1999, Anshutz and Roski moved the Los Angeles Kings from the Great Western Forum to the newly built Staples Center. A buzz started to vibrate through the city and new ideas of a hopeful and successful NHL team was coming together.
Although the team saw new improvement in player trades and draft choices, the team still struggled right to the end of 2005. Andy Murray and Dave Taylor were both relieved of their positions and Dean Lombardi was hired as the new General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings.
New things started to shape up. Getting Lombardi was an extreme asset. Everybody knows the success that Lombardi had with San Jose.
Lombardi went ahead and hired Marc Crawford. Marc Crawford became the 21st coach of the Los Angeles franchise. Marc brought a little success to the team and in 2008 was dismissed as the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
Now, you might say, where's the light? In 2008, the Los Angeles Kings hired Terry Murray. Murray and the front office wasted no time in the draft taking defenseman Drew Doughty second overall. Complimented by some nice acquisitions in Michael Handzus, Brad Stuart, and John Klemm the Kings looked like a contender.
In 2009, the Los Angeles Kings finished 6th in their conference with 101 points. They fell short again in the playoffs but looked extremely sharp.
The Los Angeles Kings for the first time look like a team of the future, with a lot of prosperity and hope. I predict the Los Angeles Kings will make a run for the cup in the near future. The city of Los Angeles has a lot to be proud of. They have seen their team through the ups and downs.
This time around it looks very promising. With strong ownership and great leadership, the Kings look like a team of the future. My bold prediction: the Los Angeles Kings will top the Western Conference in 2010-11 and create havoc in the Stanley Cup playoffs next year.