In what has been a whirlwind summer for the Los Angeles Kings, they have made headlines with the trade for star Mike Richards, signed high-profile defenseman Drew Doughty to a reported eight-year $56-million dollar contract and look ready to be part of the NHL elite.
But as any good coach might tell you, for every Kopitar, Richards and Doughty on the team, you need a wealth of other players who will do their job night-in and night-out and give 110-percent every shift.
The Kings don't just have a shot at being a premier team because of the all-star caliber talents on the roster. They have a shot at being a premier team because they have a supporting cast of non-household names making a difference.
Every team has their unsung heroes, and in Los Angeles, the time for the Kings blue-collar players to hit center stage is now.
Jonathan Quick is a huge reason why the Kings have had success over the last two seasons. He may be a known name around NHL circles as a quality tender, but Quick has certainly gone above and beyond the call of duty for a franchise that has struggled to keep a true No. 1 since the Kelly Hrudey era.
Since Quick emerged in the 2008-09 season, he has broken the Kings single season win record with 39 victories in 2009-10 and in the following season posted a 35-win season which tied him for second in franchise history with Mario Lessard.
He was a selection to the silver medal-winning U.S. Men's Olympic Team, and he also earned the Kings record for most saves in a single playoff game last season with a 51-save outing in a 3-1, Game 3 victory against the San Jose Sharks.
Quick is a huge cog to the Kings' defense-first system, which has finished in the top 10 in goals against per game the last two seasons. And at a cap hit of $1.8 million over the next two seasons, how could you not like it?
I know what you are thinking, "Come on man, everyone knows Dustin Brown." And that's pretty close to correct. Brown is maybe the most well known player on this list, but what he brings to the table for the Los Angeles Kings both on and off the ice is supremely underrated.
First of all, Brown is the youngest captain in Kings history, earning the post in 2008 at age 23. He was also an alternate captain for the silver medal-winning 2010 U.S. Men's Olympic Hockey team in Vancouver.
Aside from the leadership Brown has brought to the Kings at a young age, he has consistently posted 55-60 point seasons over the last 4 seasons. He has also been among the league leader in hits, a part of his game he is most notable for.
Off the ice, Dustin Brown is very active in community service and charity; a quality he was recognized for last season by winning the NHL Foundation Award.
With an incredibly workable cap hit of $3.175 million a season through the 2013-14 season, Dustin Brown brings more than enough to the table for his Kings.
If you were to sit an L.A. Kings fan down for a word association game and say, "Warrior." The answer would undoubtedly come back, Matt Greene.
Since joining the Kings in 2008 from the Edmonton Oilers, he as endeared himself to Kings fans all over. Maybe it's his physical stay-at-home style or blocking shots with his face or just creeping Drew Doughty out in a post game interview.
Matt Greene has taken the simple task of wearing an A and playing responsible hockey for 16 minutes a night and has delivered for the Kings. He has been a night-in and night-out feature on the third-line defensive pairing and a solid penalty killer.
And whether he is keeping it loose in the locker room or standing up for his teammates in a scrap, Matt Greene has been a true unsung hero for the team.
Over the last few seasons for the Kings, one of the goals has been to improve the offense. To achieve that goal, they set out to provide Anze Kopitar with quality wings that could take the team to the next level.
Williams got off to a rough start in L.A., having to recover from injuries upon coming over at the trade deadline of 2008-09. He quickly made people forget about that, though, as next season he was part of the hottest line in hockey for a time with Ryan Smyth and Anze Kopitar. However, his season was cut short again at 49 games with a freak knee injury.
Williams again stormed back and played a fantastic 2010-11 campaign with 57 points in 73 games.
The biggest concern with Williams is obviously his health, but when he is healthy, he skates hard, makes plays in all areas of the ice and is an essential part of the Kings offense.
There are many little contributions in hockey that go unnoticed throughout the course of a game. One of those types of stats is one that Jarret Stoll absolutely excels in—faceoffs.
Stoll normally hovers around the 57-percent mark in winning faceoffs. A stat that usually puts him in the top 10 of the league on a consistent basis.
Without a doubt, Jarret Stoll is the Kings ace in the dot. He is normally out to take every big defensive zone faceoff and special teams faceoff for coach Terry Murray.
Another important stat in the new NHL is tied to the shootout. This is another area of the game in which Stoll was money in the bank for the Kings last season. He went 9-for-10 and was essentially the league's best percentage shootout player.
Stoll may be a second/third line tweener who goes 20/20 in a season, but he excels at the small aspects of the game. And that makes a big difference.
Brad Richardson is one of those players you just love to watch. He isn't the most gifted goal scorer, nor is he the biggest guy. But, man, can he skate, and he leaves everything on the ice.
Richardson has been a staple of the Kings bottom six for the last three seasons, and while he sometimes isn't an every day player, he always plays as if this game is the last one he'll ever play.
The one thing that has made Richardson a sustainable player for the Kings is his adaptability. He could regularly find himself lining up at all three forward positions at any given moment, both even strength and on the penalty kill. A forward jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none if you will.
He has made his mark on the Kings not by playing just 12 minutes a night. But by playing 12 minutes a night with his head buried into his chest, chasing every loose puck and fighting every board battle that his 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame can handle.
A true cognitive player, Rob Scuderi is smart, simple and responsible. He has been to two Stanley Cup Finals with the Pittsburgh Penguins and has a ring to show for one of those finals.
Scuderi plays the defensive game that coaches try to teach players. You will rarely find him out of position, even though he isn't the fastest skater. And his fantastic gap control, both with body and stick, make him an excellent penalty killer.
You will maybe hear Rob Scuderi's name called two or three times during a game telecast. And to me, that is a sign of a defensive defenseman doing their job incredibly well.
The Kings are currently paying Scuderi $3.4 million a season. And if you didn't know who he was, you might think that is a steep price. But what you get from the 32-year-old New York native is 20-plus minutes a night of veteran experience, shot blocking and arguably one of the best positional defenseman in the NHL.
You could easily make the case that Scuderi has been the Kings' best defenseman over the last two seasons.