KINGS HAVE PIECES IN PLACE TO WIN IT ALLBy Dan Arritt
The Los Angeles Kings began their rebuilding process as soon as Dean Lombardi walked into his general manager's office in the spring of 2006.
He traded veterans for draft picks, brought in a few older players who could mentor the youngsters, and eventually hired a coach, Terry Murray, who was more of a passive instructor than a quick-tempered disciplinarian.
The five-year plan has fallen into place just the way Lombardi envisioned, cemented in the last eight months with the additions of high-scoring forwards with Stanley Cup experience, Dustin Penner, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, and long-term contracts to young, talented defensemen Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty.
They have the scoring, they have the defensemen, and they have the best pair of goalkeepers in the league. The organization even experienced a taste of the playoffs the last two seasons, losing in the first round.
Lombardi has done his job. Now it's up to the players and coaches to lift Los Angeles to that next level, a Stanley Cup Final.
CUP CONTENTION IS A HUGE LEAP EVEN WITH PIECES IN PLACEBy Arash Markazi
I want to believe the Los Angeles Kings will be legitimate Stanley Cup contenders this season.
I was with the team in Vancouver when they gave the Canucks a scare in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs and in San Jose when they gave the Sharks all they could handle in the postseason last year.
Both times the Kings fell short and were eliminated in the first round and were left to wonder what could have been if a couple breaks went their way. I suppose this is the year where all the pieces are supposed to fall into place and all of the moves Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has made over the past five years will finally culminate in the Kings' first trip back to Stanley Cup Finals since 1993.
I guess I'm going to hold off before falling into the same trap again as I did the past two seasons. It's not that I don't think the additions of Dustin Penner, Mike Richards and Simon Gagne weren't significant, but I'm not sold on those signings taking this team from a one-and-done playoff team to a legitimate title contender.
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