The Los Angeles Kings have toiled in relative obscurity since that fateful 1967 season. They hit the big lights when they pulled off the biggest trade in NHL history by acquiring Wayne Gretzky from the Oilers.
But even Gretzky and Barry Melrose’s mullet weren’t enough to beat Montreal for the 1993 Stanley Cup and the Kings haven’t been close since.
Until now perhaps.
The Kings have been a team on the rise the past two seasons. They have a young superstar-to-be in Anze Kopitar, who could be in line for a monster season. Dustin Brown will continue to be a scoring threat this season on Kopitar’s wing.
Los Angeles showed the hockey world that they were going for gold, or at least a big silver mug, this season by bringing in Mike Richards and Simon Gagne from the Flyers to give them some much needed scoring depth.
The Kings now feature four top scorers in their top six forwards that puts them among the Western Conference elite.
Los Angeles is led on the blue line by young phenom Drew Doughty. That is, if they can sign him. Doughty of course is locked in a contract stalemate that is taking longer than perhaps it should.
With training camp opening this weekend his absence will become more and more troublesome. The Kings can make the playoffs without Doughty, but it is hard to see them overcoming the big boys in the West without one of their top weapons.
In net Jonathan Quick is an excellent goal tender.
At least he looks that way.
Quick has posted some great regular season numbers but he will need to show that he can bring it in the postseason. In 12 career playoff games Quick’s goals against is 3.32 and his save percentage is a worrisome .900.
That isn’t going to cut it.
A lot of that has to do with some of the youth and inconsistent play in front of him, but Quick will have to show that he can put the Kings on his back.
Of the three Cup-starved teams the Kings are the closest to ending the drought.