Andrei Loktionov played 39 regular season games for the Kings, and 2 more in the playoffs. The cut-off to qualify to get your name on the cup is 41 regular season games, or one game in the Finals. Loktionov didn’t dress in the Finals, so I was prepared for the news that his name wouldn’t make it onto the cup, along with the other Kings who didn’t meet the required minimum 41 games: Kevin Westgarth (25 games), Davis Drewiske (9 games), Scott Parse (9 games).
Except, when the names were announced by Rich Hammond this afternoon, Drewiske and Westgarth were included, which means the Kings lobbied the league to have their names included. The rule, as I recall it, is that the league will consider putting other names on the cup if the players did not meet the minimum because of some extenuating, special circumstances.
Apparently that includes “the coach didn’t want to play him.” But it does not include “the player is injured” (Parse). And, inexplicably, shockingly, it somehow doesn’t include Loktionov.
One rationale was proffered by Matt Berry: Drewiske and Westgarth were with the team all season. Loktionov spent time in Manchester. That kinda sorta makes sense, if you squint and don’t think about it. Because it’s not as though Drewiske and Westgarth were with the team all season out of choice, or moral fortitude. They were here all season because (1) it’s their job, (2) the coach didn’t think they were good enough or useful enough to put them into very many games and (3) they weren’t waiver exempt.
Loktionov was waiver-exempt, so he got sent down. And then got called up, because Lombardi and/or Sutter believed he was needed to play in actual games. Loktionov, like Drewiske and Westgarth, did everything that was asked of him. And he played more games than Drewiske and Westgarth put together.
Loktionov, with 3 goals and 4 assists, had more points than Drewiske (2-0) and Westgarth (1-1). The team had a better winning percentage with Loktionov or Westgarth in the line-up (.561, .560 respectively), than with Drewiske (.333).
So what is it, exactly, that puts Davis Drewiske’s name on the cup, and not Andrei Loktionov’s? Is it that Drewiske was a healthy scratch more than Loktionov? That he got to attend more practices?
I like Davis Drewiske. When my son got the chance to stand in the hallway with a bunch of other kids and wait for Kings players to walk by and sign autographs, Drewiske was one of the few who stopped by, and he was the first, and he stayed the longest. I get that he was a good sport, continuing to work hard and maintain a good attitude despite being a healthy scratch in 73 regular season and all 20 playoff games.
I just don’t see how that contribution is more deserving than that of a player who played 41 games.
If they had left off all the players who didn’t qualify according to the rules, that would have been harsh, but fair. When I say harsh, I mean harsh to Loktionov. I don’t think anyone would have thought it was unfair to Westgarth or Drewiske, who weren’t even close to the required games-played.
But if you’re going to make exceptions for some of the players who didn’t meet the requirement, but not all, it is in fact and by definition a value judgment. It’s no longer quantity we’re talking about (games played), it’s quality (you deserve it for some reason, despite not technically qualifying, while this other guy, while actually a hair away from technically qualifying, doesn’t deserve it as much as you).
Loktionov completed 95% of the requirement, and made up the other 5% in extra credit (the playoffs). Drewiske completed only 21%. But he’s such a trooper.
How about giving Loktionov some points for giving his word that he would come to North America if drafted, for keeping his word, for playing in the AHL for several years when he could have been making exponentially more in the KHL, for working hard to learn the language, for busting his ass to recover from two devastating shoulder reconstructions, and and and, but but but.
I’m not going to get into the fact that the owner’s wife gets her name on the cup. That’s not the first time that’s happened (there are several Ilitch family members on the cup, too — just to pick a name). And I also have no clue how much the fact that the owner’s wife is a huge Kings fan actually affected the destiny of the team (for all I know, she’s the secret to the Kings success, the hub, the linch pin — probably not, but hey, we could have had Frank McCourt. It’s hard to argue the Anschutz family hasn’t been great for the Kings). Nor am I going to compare contributions of the several deserving staff and support guys who also get to become a permanent part of the most famous trophy in sports. That’s apples and oranges. But comparing Loktionov to Drewiske is apples to apples.
And I think what they did to Loktionov here is rotten. Not to mention: given that he’s one of our two or three best prospects, treating him this way is stupid. He’s in the KHL now, waiting out this stupid avoidable lock-out, and what exactly is motivating him to return to the Kings when this is all over?
Just trade his rights to the Wings already. I’m sure they would love to have him. I mean, when you get around to hockey again.
Note to Jimmy Neutron:
We love you. We loved you on the Spits. We loved you on the Monarchs. We loved you on the Kings. We hope you come back to the Kings and take Jarret Stoll’s job. But if that doesn’t happen, we know you will be a force to reckoned with in the future. And your name should be on there with the rest of the team.