I’ll have a story up on LAKings.com later this week about the Kings’ aversion to trading from its core and the team’s thrust heading into the post-deadline portion of the season, but prior to then, I’ll share a few of the quotes I received from players I spoke with about how they feel about the trade deadline.
“I don’t even know one trade that happened today,” Drew Doughty said after the Kings’ practice at Rexall Place. “So, no, I didn’t follow the trade deadline, but I know that no one on our team got traded, so I’m happy about that.”
Doughty’s response was the embodiment of a concept shared by Darryl Sutter.
“…The expectations [on the trade deadline] are usually what’s created on the outside because of the social media and all that stuff,” the Kings’ coach said after practice. “I think the players, they just roll with it now. It’s part of the business.”
But the team has had an aversion to subtracting from its core – or, as Dean Lombardi has said before, “pulling guys out of that room.” The continuity has been an asset in establishing a winning and sustainable culture within an organization that was prone to trading first round draft picks throughout much of its adolescence. The Kings do actively trade first round picks at this stage in their competitive progression – they did so in 2011, 2012 and 2015 – though they have no interest in trading core players that have won Stanley Cups. The 13 roster players traded by Dean Lombardi since the beginning of the 2009-10 season – Teddy Purcell, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn*, Ryan Smyth, Jack Johnson, Kevin Westgarth, Andrei Loktionov, Simon Gagne, Davis Drewiske, Jonathan Bernier, Daniel Carcillo, Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin – combined to play 49 playoff games for the Kings, and only five took place after the first round: four games played by Gagne in the 2012 Stanley Cup Final and a 30-minute back-up spell by Jonathan Bernier in the 2013 Western Conference Final.
If you’re a part of the Kings core, it’s virtually given that you’re not getting “pulled out of the room.”
“I think when you win, that helps. If you’re not successful as a team, then there are going to be changes,” Jarret Stoll said. “We see that with every team, especially in this league, that it’s a short memory. You’ve got to win and you’ve got to win now. We’ve been fortunate enough and played well enough to keep this core group together and management has done a great job of letting that happen. In this era, it can be tough to do sometimes.”
The story that expands on this subject will go live on LAKings.com on Wednesday.
*It’s debatable whether Schenn was a “roster player” at the time of the trade. He was ticketed for a spot on the roster in 2011-12 had he not been traded and had already played nine games with the Kings, so he’s included.
Drew Doughty, on not wanting to see teammates get traded:
You never want to see anyone go. You make such good relationships with so many guys on your team. We don’t want to see anyone leave, ever. Even though that’s the business and it happens, we have to go with it, but I know we’re all happy in here that nothing has changed.
Doughty, on whether this year’s playoff push feels similar to last year’s:
I don’t know. I don’t really remember what it felt like last year. But we’re not comfortable in the position we’re still [in]. We’ve been here before and we know we can battle hard and if we win enough games we’ll make it into playoffs and the guys are ready to do that. This is the most fun part of the year, besides playoffs is battling to get into playoffs and we’re all ready to do it and we’re excited and we’re going to do everything it takes.
Doughty, on how long it takes a new defenseman to acclimate to the group:
Well, I think Andrej fit right in. He’s an awesome guy, all the guys love him. Guys have gone to dinner with him and stuff, kind of got to know him a little better, which is good. He’s great in the room. But when you come from a different team, it’s definitely hard to adjust to new systems and the way we play. I’ve kind of talked to him about some of those things. Where he played before, they played completely different really on their forechecks and stuff like that. It’s going to take a little bit for him to adjust, but from what I’ve seen from he’s a phenomenal player. We’re happy to have him here.