Los Angeles Kings: 5 Things a Kings Fan Can Be Thankful For
As you sit down to munch on your turkey, turducken or tofurkey this Thanksgiving, be sure to give thanks for those things that are most important and dearest to you.
But also, be sure to give thanks to your team and organization for what they have brought you.
Hey, c'mon now, Thanksgiving lies right in the midst of hockey season, so I am sure many a Chicago fan will give thanks for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews prior to their meal.
This year, the Los Angeles Kings have plenty to give thanks for, so be sure to toss these things into your Thanksgiving pre-meal speeches and thoughts.
How could a Kings fan not be thankful for Mike Richards?
He is finally giving Anze Kopitar a second center to take pressure off of him; he is killing penalties, scoring shorties and is second on the team in points.
Richards has changed the view on L.A. What suddenly was a mid-level hockey market, with few marquee players (to the non-observant fan), is now a team that has some breakout stars, and will challenge among the NHL's best.
Richie, the Philly media may have hated you, but we in L.A. love you.
Quick has been one of the major factors in the Kings' successful seasons the last two years. He's easily a player that the Kings and any Kings fan can be thankful for.
A third-round pick, Quick has turned into maybe one of the top goalies in the NHL and is a perennial No. 1 starter for a franchise that has had little success in the way of goaltenders since the days of Felix Potvin.
This year, he is again in the Top 10 in stats among NHL starters, with a .931 save percentage, a 2.08 GAA and three shutouts.
First of all, it's tough being a GM. And the very thought of being thankful for this guy will probably make some people scoff.
But Dean Lombardi has made a huge difference in this team and its quality.
Lombardi has made some poor choices during his tenure—most GMs do—but he has made a TON of great moves that have helped the team. To name a few:
The Richards trade, the Williams trade, late-round drafting success (ex: Martinez, Simmonds, Loktionov, Voynov, Campbell, Deslauriers, Nolan, Kozun, Vey, Toffoli, Kitsyn, Weal), the Rob Scuderi and Willie Mitchell signings...
In roughly five years, Lombardi has taken the Kings from basement dweller with little youth to a successful franchise with arguably one of the deepest youth pipelines in the NHL.
Some people may blame you for things out of your control (the Gary Bettman effect), but I tip my glass to you and give thanks.
Our team is having success, and they are also very very young. The Kings are just about in the bottom 10 in age again this year.
And what's great for the fans is that most of our star players are no older then 26, and signed for a very, very long time.
Kopitar, Doughty, Johnson, Richards, Quick...
Then you have the young guns—Loktionov, Voynov, Clifford, Martinez and Bernier—just starting to make their ways in the NHL. As mentioned in the last slide, there are a slew of talented and eager youngsters behind them yet to make their impacts.
The Kings look strong for years to come.
Anze Freaking Kopitar
Is there any question that Kopitar is the most valuable player on the Kings? Is there any question that he is a superstar? Is there any question that, at the age of 24, he is one of the premier young centers in the game?
I don't think so.
Kopitar's shoulders are wide, and he is carrying the team through thick and thin.
He is the team's leading scorer and is sixth in the league overall in points. He's off to a rip-roaring start this season, and considering he has taken just ONE minor penalty so far, he is a definite candidate for the Lady Byng Trophy. Maybe more.
I'll definitely give thanks to No. 11 when it comes time to sit down and enjoy my turkey this year.