It’s summertime in Southern California, and the Stanley Cup was in Manhattan Beach, y’all:
Congratulations to Beau Bennett, the former L.A. Junior King who brought the Cup to Toyota Sports Center and the South Bay on July 1. Bennett, a former linemate and roommate of Nick Shore’s at the University of Denver, is looking to remain healthy with New Jersey this season after totaling six goals and 12 points in 33 games with Pittsburgh in 2015-16. (He got into one playoff game with the Pens.) As noted in our 2013 interview, Bennett was outside of Staples Center taking in the scope and celebration of Game 6 against the Devils in 2012.
-HEY! WHO WANTS TO RELIVE THIS YEAR’S FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF SERIES!? Anyone? Advanced stats advocates? OK, I’ll let myself out. This is a good read via Corey Sznajder of the Shutdown Line, who shared some pinpoint analysis of how the Kings lost to the Sharks in a playoff series virtually everyone here would like to forget.
A brief conclusion:
One thing I love about the playoffs is that even in a five game series, there’s plenty to dive into and there isn’t one easy answer as to what went right and what went wrong for either team. This one was no different. The Kings had the edge in possession but struggled to scoring chances while the Sharks had a slight edge in most of the categories outside of that. They marginally outchanced the Kings, outscored them on the power play by two goals, received better goaltending and seemed to have more creativity in the offensive zone. Over a full-season, who knows what would happen but in the playoffs, sometimes that’s enough to make it a short series.
It’s been shared in the comments, but if you haven’t read it, it’s a good look at the nuances present over a five-game sample size, and how a series can appear lopsided (it was), even though many of the metrics indicated it was a closer pairing than the end result.
–Dom Luszczyszyn does excellent work interpreting numbers and advanced stats, and in a feature for The Hockey News, uses polls and metrics to assign a level of confidence each fan base has in its team’s front office. The Kings finished 20th, which, yeah, appears accurate, given what I read in the LAKI comments section, on Twitter, and on other hockey sites and message boards. I’m now sure how it’s possible to assign a hyper-acute “5.79,” for example, to the way fans grade the team’s free agency activity (on a scale of 1-to-10), but as noted, the end result checks out. It’s worth noting that hope always seems to spring eternal: of the 11 teams atop the list, only Pittsburgh has won the Cup (twice) since the 2004-05 lockout.
Wrote Luszczyszyn on the Kings:
Perennially one of the league’s best teams, a team with two recent Cups, and yet people think this is bottom tier front office. It’s clear they can build a talented roster, but they also make odd trades like acquiring Rob Scuderi last season. They also pay far too much for loyalty putting them in a cap crunch. Dustin Brown is a 31-year-old third liner making $5.875 million for the next six years.
-Kings alum Mike Richards greatly enjoyed his season in Washington and is looking for a right fit with the right team as an unrestricted free agent.
“Not much right now just training, trying to get ready for the season. Not sure where it’s going to be yet, but hopefully get some traction in the next couple of weeks,” said Richards, who is an unrestricted free agent. “I plan to play hockey next year. So, it will just be what is the best fit for me.”
LAKI isn’t in the player advocacy business, but here’s to hoping Rick latches on with a good team and finds a strong, mutually beneficial fit. He wasn’t scoring in Washington, but he was still entrusted with hard zone starts against strong competition and was a valuable penalty killer for the Presidents’ Trophy winners.
–Milan Lucic joined the Roenick Life Podcast – some of you may not be happy with the way this sentence is beginning – and said that Wayne Gretzky’s influence impacted his decision to sign in Oil Country.
Said Lucic, via The Hockey News, “I talked to him on the phone before I made my decision to go to Edmonton,” Lucic said. “He just talked about what it was like for him to live in a place like Edmonton, and how it is to deal with their fans and he talked about how great their fans were and the friends. It was obviously really cool. The way I see it is, when the Great One calls you and tells you to go to Edmonton, you go to Edmonton, you don’t go anywhere else.”
Although Regehr is one of the most intelligent, well-spoken, cerebral people one could ever meet, some of his fondest memories with the Kings are of the practical jokes played between teammates. A whole-hearted practical joker himself, Regehr thoroughly delighted in the small locker room pranks.
One of Regehr’s favorite tales is when Rob Scuderi, who had returned to the Pittsburgh Penguins after winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 with the Kings, came back to STAPLES Center with the Penguins to play the Kings. As Regehr tells it, Scuderi snuck into the Kings locker room and filled Stoll’s shave kit with about 100 cough drops.
The practical joking wasn’t just confined to the players. Regehr once sawed one of Sutter’s sticks in half just before practice, and on another occasion sewed Sutter’s pants pockets closed.
“That was funny,” Regehr says. “He likes to walk around in the morning with his hands in his pockets, so he couldn’t get his hands in his pockets because they were sewed shut.”
Regehr also remembers using crazy glue on one of Assistant Coach, Davis Payne’s, whistles. He glued the little ball inside the whistle to one side, so that it couldn’t make the whistling noise, and told some of his teammates. While Payne was trying to figure out what had happened to his whistle, Regehr and company had a good chuckle.
“That type of stuff goes on all the time and it’s a lot of fun and I love that kind of stuff. It’s part of what makes hockey so much fun to play. I was part of the pulling of some practical jokes myself and have had some pulled on me,” says Regehr with a laugh. “Those are the things I look back on with a smile.”
-There are some good conversations Ryan Cowley of Make Way for the Kings had with junior hockey coaches and figures; here’s his conversation with Victoria Royals head coach Dave Lowry – Joel and Adam’s dad – on 2015 seventh round draft pick Chaz Reddekopp. Reddekopp has progressed well, based on conversations with those on Los Angeles’ scouting staff, and will return to a Victoria team that should again be among the best teams in the WHL’s Western Conference this upcoming season. He’s added strength and has shown poise while growing into wider roles with his junior club. After Reddekopp, here are conversations he’s had regarding Kale Clague, Jacob Friend and Spencer Watson.
ODDS AND ENDS: Michael Latta is excited to join the Kings. Reading the comments indicates that Capitals fans were pretty fond of the hard-nosed, defensive center. (Russian Machine Never Breaks) … An evaluation of Alec Martinez’s 2015-16 season (Jewels from the Crown) … Derek Forbort’s potential is weighed by Jason Lewis (HockeyBuzz) … Kevin Gravel comin’ (Frozen Royalty) … A recap of the Kings’ draft from the First Niagara Center (CaliSportsNews)
More from 50 Kings, a conversation with inaugural King and Sabre Bill Inglis: