Are the L.A. Kings the worst thing to happen to hockey? –

Well, maybe if you don’t like hockey anyway, don’t know anything about it, or you’re a reporter who never stayed up late enough to watch games played on the West Coast, or if when you say “hockey” you mean “advertising revenue and/or network ratings for hockey.” Or you’re Shane Doan.

Christian Science Monitor: Are the LA Kings the Worst Thing to Happen to Hockey?

It seems as if no matter how the NHL tweaks hockey to open up the play so that offensive stars can shine, the game still manages to devolve into random tedium as the Stanley Cup playoffs progress, much as it has in the current finals matchup between the Los Angeles Kings and the New Jersey Devils.

Lots of things appear random that are in fact not random. Required: understanding what you’re looking at.

The Kings […] play a style of hockey that has met with a certain derision. The team has come to epitomize a lockdown mentality that takes the air out of the room, and the scoring out of the game.
The Kings are third in this year’s playoffs in goals-for/game, with 2.88, behind only Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Keeping in mind that scoring in the playoffs is much harder to do than scoring in the regular season, if the Kings managed their playoff goals-for during the regular season, that would have been 8th overall out of 30 teams.

The Devils can’t really argue with the Kings’ strategy, which relies on big, high-skill players lining up two or three deep in front of the net to deflect pucks,

This season the Kings were second to last in the league in blocked shots. Last? New Jersey. Good theory you’ve got there.

and on corralling bounces for quick rushes and scoring chances at the other end.

But. Quick rushes and scoring chances. Are good? Right?


Though the New York Rangers epitomize this tactic [shot blocking], they got bounced by the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals.

Thus, upsetting the many journalists who were working on their “shot blocking is killing hockey” dissertation.  The fact that the Rangers were unsuccessful with this strategy should be worth something, no?

L.A., meanwhile, has perfected a jittery, block-ready defensive zone trap that gives New Jersey’s star forwards precious little wiggle room and makes most scoring chances a hope for the best – a pinball, instead of an actual skilled play.

The fact is, New Jersey hasn’t been able to score at all. But the Kings have scored on numerous “actual skilled plays.”

The result: “It comes down to a bounce…. It’s not going to be pretty, and it won’t be much fun,” writes Sam Fels, a Chicago Blackhawks blogger, on the NBC Los Angeles website.

Kopitar scores on a breakaway in overtime. Carter scores on a second or third effort with a sweet shot in overtime. Doughty scores on a Bobby-Orr-esque rush. Kopitar scores on a bang-bang-bang pass play on a rush. Chicago blogger? Come on. 

Los Angeles blew past the Devils 4-0 in Game 3 on Monday, but previous matches had been low-scoring and even tedious. The first two games went to overtime, but there was little of the flow and go, run and gun that had dominated the playoffs’ early rounds, in which every team with more than 100 points on the season was eliminated.

Translation: “Although one game out of three doesn’t fit my dopey theory, the other two were boring, I say, despite the fact that both of those ended with thrilling OT goals (see above) and dozens of spectacular saves by both goalies, all of which pales in comparison to the exciting back and forth action of defenseless teams that racked up points in the regular season when it doesn’t matter but couldn’t win when it counted.”

Yeah, the Kings had 95 points. They had more points last year. 101 two years ago. It’s not a guarantee of anything.

[update — see comments below — the Devils had 102 points this year.]

Hence, the finals fell to teams that proved they could play defensive games studiously and consistently.

The finals “fell” to the Kings and Devils. By virtue of beating everyone else.

“Low-scoring games typically go to overtime, connoting the notion of excitement and parity when it is instead gridlock and stalemate,” groans Canadian hockey writer Bruce Dowbiggin, of The Globe and Mail, in a column.

Literally one of the dumbest people ever conceived. Okay, that’s going too far. But citing this guy is not helping your case, CSM.

“Change the names and jerseys and very few would notice. The league’s Hockey Operations department wants it thus. Coach’s Corner likes it thus. The networks grudgingly go along. What choice do they have?”

What can any of this even mean? Who wouldn’t notice if Jonathan Quick and Martin Brodeur switched jerseys? Or Anze Kopitar and Ilya Kovalchuk? Zach Parise and Mike Richards? People who actually watch hockey can recognize players — even without numbers or names on the back — just by the way they look when they skate. Seriously, Kings fans, picture Wayne Simmonds, or Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Nick Lidstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Ryan Smyth, Rob Blake. Easy, right. You could wrap them head to toe in rubber and we’d be able to recognize them from the cheap seats.

NBC can’t be happy, though. Viewership for Game 2 was 2.54 million, down from Game 1’s 2.9 million – a five-year low. The History Channel’s “Swamp People,” with 4.85 million viewers, beat Stanley hands down on the kickoff night of the finals.

I think the game two numbers don’t include the West Coast, which is the way that usually works.  Still, I’m sure NBC isn’t thrilled with the numbers. To which I say,


I’m not an advertiser. I’m not a network. I followed hockey when there were 12 teams and nothing on TV. I don’t care how popular it is. What kind of a moron only likes or cares about things that are popular, or equates popular with good. If anything, the relationship is inverse.

Hair-tearing hockey fans have already come up with numerous prescriptions, as they are wont to do. Some say to penalize shot blocks that involve kneeling or lying, down on the ice. Others suggest a basketball-court-like “key” in front of the net, which only two defensive players can patrol.

None of that will happen, of course.

Right. Because it’s all mind-numbingly stupid. Hey, baseball would be higher scoring if the fielders weren’t allowed to use those annoying gloves. And football — oh so boring with all its stopping and starting — I say we declare all incomplete passes are now FUMBLES.

Oh, how exciting everything will be!

[…] Before the latest criticism, the concern was – not for the first time – that violence and brutality are what sparked high viewership in the early rounds, another indication of hockey’s perennial high-wire act between sportsmanship and bloody knuckles, between the push for more goals against the bottom-line goal of winning a Stanley Cup, by whatever scheme necessary.

Scheme = coaching. (gasp)

“The people that are writing about us with our shot blocking … I think they’re idiots,” Tortorella told NBC’s Bob Costas recently. “Blocking shots is part of playing proper defense, and we’ve got a couple of guys covering our team that don’t get it. And that really upsets me. Not for myself, but for the players that do it. It’s part of us. It’s part of what these guys want to do.”

Maybe we should go back to the old rule that said it was a penalty for the goalie to leave his feet.


  20 comments for “Are the L.A. Kings the worst thing to happen to hockey? –

  1. Doughty99
    June 5, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    “but there was little of the flow and go, run and gun that had dominated the playoffs’ early rounds, in which every team with more than 100 points on the season was eliminated.”

    But the Devils have 102 points!!!! And the Rangers were in contention for the President’s Trophy until the final day!!!!!!! There’s no way more than 5 minutes was spent on research, right???

  2. June 5, 2012 at 8:22 PM

    “Oh, how exciting everything will be!”
    Rugby 7s is probably the most exciting, high-scoring outdoor sport, but no one in North America watches that.  Heck, even the incomplete passes ARE fumbles!

  3. DougS
    June 5, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    What sort of yutz wrote this garbage?

  4. DougS
    June 5, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    Say what you will about Torts, I like that quote he gave Costas.

  5. Garrett79
    June 5, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    My favorite quote: “The first two games went to overtime, but there was little of the flow
    and go, run and gun that had dominated the playoffs’ early rounds…”

    Run and gun dominated the first round, did it? I guess if you ONLY watched the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series  in which 56 goals were scored in 6 games and twice the winning team notched 8+, it did. Ooh, exciting! Every time they rushed up ice, the goalie looked like a fool and the team with the puck scored. It was just like basketball!

    If you watched Washington and Boston battle through a hard-nosed 7-game affair that featured a grand total of 31 goals, you probably wouldn’t think the first round was dominated by run-and-gun hockey. Or how about that Rangers-Senators series which also went 7 and only once had a team score more than 3 in a game and which in 7 games had 27 goals scored? The West was equally non-run-and-gun. Both the Sharks/Blues and Preds/Wings series saw combined totals of 22 goals in 5 games, a team hitting 4 only once between the two series. The Coyotes and Hawks scored a grand total of 29 goals in 6 games. To be fair, the Kings-Canucks series was the lowest-scoring, with only 20 goals in 5 games, though in the first two they were averaging 6 a night (which is of course a paltry total when you consider that the Pens and Flyers were averaging 9 per game!)

    Ugh, “journalists” are stupid. Clearly he has not watched a single game but wanted to shoot his mouth off about something that is relevant at the moment.

  6. Bill N.
    June 5, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    You know, this whole argument strikes me as the same that people have against soccer. Oooooh, they don’t score enough. So the f what? There’s run and gun in all sports. It doesn’t mean that it’s good (insert sport). By this argument, then Phil Jackson and Tex Winter were bad for basketball, running the triangle and taking the run-and-gun out of basketball. And don’t get me started on the last five minutes of any basketball game, which goes on for a mind-numbing half hour of timeouts, fouls and commercials. 

  7. longsufferingkingsfan
    June 6, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    I think one of this “journalist’s” ancestors was that bloviating idiot who also criticized Mozart for having too many notes in his music. It’s too bad cretinism runs so deep in the family. People shpould Never write about anything tgey don’t understand. they only embarrass themselves.

    • longsufferingkingsfan
      June 6, 2012 at 2:13 AM

      *should      *they       sorry, my keyboard sucks

      • USHA#17
        June 6, 2012 at 3:40 PM

         Try telling that one to Mozart    ;>)

  8. June 6, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Something is fishy with that article, aside from the obvious. If you scroll through the comments the “author”, Patrik Jonsson, begins to respond to criticisms. Soon enough his wife, Alice Jonsson, appears with the following quote:
    “Eurotrash or not, I can’t quite find anything to apologize for in this
    piece. You guys make some great points, but I’ve been watching and
    playing hockey for a long time (I’ve got a Borje Salming autograph to
    prove it) so I’m not a fly-by-nighter when it comes to talking and
    thinking about the state of the game. And while the piece was certainly
    inspired by the debate out there about this series, I’ll claim every
    word, except the quoted parts, as my own.”

    The crazy part is the last sentence – “And while the piece was certainly
    inspired by the debate out there about this series, I’ll claim every
    word, except the quoted parts, as my own.” Is she saying what i think she’s saying, that she is the actual author of the article? I asked her in the quotes and am waiting for a response but plan on emailing Patrik as well.

    • DougS
      June 6, 2012 at 11:12 PM

      Seriously? :-0 That is freaking bizarre.

      It sounds like he’s using his wife’s account to respond. But somehow, that doesn’t make it any less weird.

  9. Tsmith
    June 6, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Quisp, dude you crack me up.  This was a fantastic thrashing of shoddy journalism, which is in abundance these days!  

  10. sstephen17
    June 6, 2012 at 11:45 AM

    Christian Science Monitor?  This is what happens when you mix religion and science, lol.

  11. USHA#17
    June 6, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    The reason you didn’t get it right in game 1 was the shitty ice.  I doubt there were more then 2 dozen “stick ready” offensive passes by  either team.  And, with pucks bouncing like super balls defenseman on both teams would have been crazy to risk playing up to hold the blue line.

    I enjoy my friends who watch games with me but don’t really know hockey.  They say some of the same things but at least they are being objective in their ignorance.  They aren’t being paid to talk about something they don’t understand.l

  12. Rfujii1
    June 7, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Maybe if NBC put the finals on free TV, we would get better numbers. Msny people have to go to a sportsbars to watch the game or watch it on their computer/smartphone. No Neilsen ratings there. I guess the Christian Science Monitor writes about things they know nothing about on slow newsdays, this one just made it to print! On the brighter side, he could be a news anchor here in LA.

  13. June 7, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    What the heck does the author want them to do, start calling shot blocking a penalty and pretend it’s obstruction?  

    Great job ripping his article apart, Quisp.  

    • June 7, 2012 at 5:08 PM

       Yes, that is actually one of the suggestions. It’s not only mind-bogglingly stupid, it’s unworkable. Maybe, as in basketball, they’ll call the penalty “goaltending.”

  14. Avaran
    June 8, 2012 at 8:42 AM

    The only thing that’s “bad” about the Kings are their “Oh, celebrities care? I should care now!” fanbase. The team is great and they deserve the cup… their fans on the other hand….

    Which is why I don’t understand how people so baffled by the bad ratings? Very few people in L.A. genuinely care. People will watch the game in the stadium because they can be “seen” there, but it is doubtful that many of those same individuals would go home and faithfully tune in, night-after-night.

    I guess it just sucks, because there are plenty of fanbases out there that would be worthy of the Kings’ success. Just not L.A.

    • Jeff K
      June 8, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      There are Kings fans that started following the team since its inception in ’67.  They remember the days of Carson, Vachon, Dionne, Simmer, Taylor, Luc as a rookie, and the retro purple and gold sweaters.  Heck, even the large bandwagon Gretzky-era fans have been following the team for nearly 20 years.  I am a relative newcomer, as I attended my first Kings game in ’02.  Still, I’ve seen my fair share of lean years.  I’ve survived Palffy, Deadmarsh, and Allison all being out of the lineup at the same time.  I survived the Ducks winning in ’07.  I survived Cloutier, drafting Doughty, and mulletgate.  Your post not only reeks of ignorance as if you yourself have never stepped foot in Staples Center for a Kings game, but you paint an entire fanbase with a small brush and a bucket of paint given to you by the media and papparazzi.  Your post is flawed and moronic.  I award you no points.  May God have mercy on your soul.

    • July 29, 2012 at 5:08 PM

      A Canucks fan, I’m sure.

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