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LA Kings create another contender 8 years after lifting the Cup WGN Radio 720

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El Segundo, Calif. (AP) – The Los Angeles Kings lifted the Stanley Cup for the second time in June 2014, focusing on a phenomenal three-year series in which longtime NHL plans won 10 playoff series as one of the toughest teams in the world. hockey.

And then the Kings won just one playoff game in almost eight years between that Cup title and a win at the start of the series on Monday in Edmonton.

Reaching the top of the sport was a long and time consuming process for the Second Six franchise, which won one conference title in its first 43 seasons. This three-year period of success from 2012-14 was a consolation for long-suffering Los Angeles fans after their team returned to the NHL.

With the list surpassing many expectations this season just by reaching the playoffs, the Kings are beginning to believe that a return to the top may not take decades.

Coach Todd McLellan enjoys the progress Los Angeles made in the third game on Friday night, drawing 1-1 with the star-studded Oilers in their first-round series. Kings are still outsiders, but they’re sure they’re building something.

“I think it gives us a marker on the line of evolution, and the marker is shifting every year,” McLellan said of first place in the Kings playoffs in four years.

“Marker on the line actually moved back in the first few years, and now he’s back on track and started moving where we need to take him,” McLellan added. “It’s a reflection of the plan, the sustainability of the plan, the intelligence staff, the development team, everyone and everyone involved in the organization, including the players.”

The Kings were slowly slipping from their peak, while the front office of former general manager Dean Lombardi was stubbornly trying to maintain a culture of winning the championship. They handed out huge contracts with incomprehensible regularity, and eventually regretted many of them.

Trapped between a reboot and a recovery, the Kings have finally been forced to change almost every key component of their franchise over the past eight seasons. The team, which goes out on the ice in downtown Los Angeles for Game 3 on Friday night, has only a few things in common with the champions, who raised two title banners hanging on rafters.

However, the Kings have managed to maintain a wonderful, almost unique foundation in the modern game.

Four players remained on the roster of the two championship teams. Because star defender Drew Dowty has dropped out of the season after wrist surgery, only three are playing against the Oilers – and due to the fact that Dustin Brown will not retire, only three will return next season.

But what a quartet it is: Brown, Doutie, Anse Kopitar and Jonathan Quick were designed and developed by the Kings between 2003 and 2008, and they have been together the last 14 seasons.

Several teams in all sports boast such continuity – and while the Kings have retuned their front office, made three changes to the coach and replaced all other players on the roster after the championship, the four remained to give Los Angeles an identity. ticket- sales focal point and institutional memory of success.

“These four guys are taking the initiative,” General Manager Rob Blake said. “That’s why this team is where it is. … From our point of view, it’s a lot easier because they were able to win. Many times you say, “Well, we keep (the core)?” Were they able to (win)? ‘ They were able to do it. “

However, the Kings have been treading water for several seasons in a mediocre stretch that has continued even after Blake took the top spot in 2017, and McLellan took the post behind the bench in 2019. This season has become an important milestone in the process after the Kings finished seventh and sixth in the Pacific Division in McLellan’s first two years.

But the current Kings have developed a clear identity, leading to a regular season of 44-27-11 and 99 points – their highest number since 2016.

Los Angeles wins by tirelessly scoring the neutral zone, stubbornly defending their opponents ’best players and making enough offense to score 235 goals, less than any playoff team other than Dallas. Their defense is backed by an incredible rebound season from Quick, the former owner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, whose career in Los Angeles seemed to be almost over a season ago.

While Brown and Captain Hoof provide leadership and points, the second generation of talent appears along with Blake’s cunning acquisitions of veterans Philip Danault and Victor Arvidson. Adrian Kempe scored 35 goals and 54 points in the All-Star season, while Southern California native Trevor Moore scored 48 points.

The Kings endured through the start of the 1-5-1 season and injury problems to become the third best team in the Pacific Division. Even if they fail to upset the Oilers, Los Angeles is building a base of success for its next generation.

“Some of the young guys have taken on (leadership) roles, which may not have been expected of them just because we have so many guys affected during the season,” Kopitar said. “They withstood a little more pressure than maybe we should have withstood them, so I like where our team is.”

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