Well, not all. Just the ones who didn’t play during the lock-out.
Didn’t play: Dustin Penner, Justin Williams, Jeff Carter, Simon Gagne, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll, Colin Fraser, Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene, Davis Drewiske, Brad Richardson, Jonathan Quick.
The players on the first list have mostly been good. The players on the second list have mostly been bad. The players on the first list are mostly the younger ones. The players on the second list are mostly the older ones.
I think it’s arrogance. Arrogance that you can let your conditioning slide a bit and still turn it on like flipping a switch. Maybe arrogance that winning the cup signaled some kind of “arrival,” as in, finally we’re champions and so ever shall it be happily ever after amen roll credits. Arrogance that all of your player transactions have been validated because they led to winning the Stanley Cup. Certainly, most Kings fans would gladly accept the trade off of winning the cup last year in exchange for missing the playoffs this year. And probably Dean Lombardi has earned a coupon that would allow him to miss the playoffs this year and still keep his job.
But it’s Lombardi himself who has always preached the desire to build a team that’s great not just for one playoffs but for the long term, not just for last year, but for every year.
I said in my season preview this could happen. I also wondered which Jarret Stoll we would see (the playoff one or the regular season one), whether Simon Gagne would ever find a place on this team, whether the Kings would have problems scoring goals like they did all of last year until the magical playoff run, whether Quick would be able to return to form after surgery and what I’m guessing is the first seven month layoff he’s ever had in his life.
In the preview I wondered when the Kings would stop playing like the Kings of the playoffs, and who they would be when the spell wore off. The first part of that has been answered. As for the second part, they seem very much like the Kings at the beginning of last season, not the end.