This past summer, the Los Angeles Kings hoisted the Stanley Cup and skated around the Staples Center ice. Each player had an opportunity to spend a day with the holy grail of hockey, but not all of them will be forever immortalized in the chalice’s silver bands by engraver Louise St. Jacques.
In fact, four players suited up for the Kings in 2011-12 that didn’t make the cut.
Currently, the NHL requirements to have your name emblazoned on the cup are to have either played in a minimum of 41 regular season games or have suited up for one game in the Stanley Cup Finals. Guys like Jordan Nolan and Dwight King may have played little in the regular season, but both made their presence felt in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Teams have the option to petition the league for an exception to the requirements, often in the case of an injured player, as was done with the still-concussed Marc Savard of the 2011 Boston Bruins.
Here are the poor souls who can wear their rings proudly, but won’t be on the Cup this year:
Loktionov was drafted by the Kings back in 2008. In 2011-12, the 5’11”, 187-pound center split time between the Kings and their AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. Picking up 20 points in 32 games in the minors, Loktionov was limited to just 7 points in 39 games in the NHL. Two games shy of the minimum requirement for games played, the healthy Loktionov would have to hope for an exception to make the final list.
He didn’t get one. He didn’t even get submitted for consideration.
Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider reported that the Kings opted not to petition the league to include Loktionov because he split time between Los Angeles and Manchester, starting and ending the season in the AHL.
A Kings spokesman said Loktionov failed to meet the internal criteria club executives had set for inclusion. They also considered the fact that both Drewiske and Westgarth, who were included on the Cup, spent the entire season with the Kings, according to Helene Elliot of the LA Times.
As the Kings apparently bailed on Loktionov’s name making it to the Stanley Cup, Loktionov has now bailed on the Kings. An AHL-eligible player, he was assigned to the Manchester Monarchs to start the 2012-13 season. He failed to report, instead opting to head over to the KHL to play during the lockout, where he’s suiting up for Severstal Cherepovets. It’ll be interesting to see what’ll happen when NHL play resumes.
You can’t blame the guy for feeling slighted. He gets left off the Cup despite being two regular season games away from the cut-off — and despite going into the lineup for two postseason appearances.
A comparison with Kevin Westgarth is unfair, as the forward made his way on to the Cup thanks to an injury exception. Westgarth played fewer games (25), had fewer goals (1), assists (1), points (2), and less average time on ice (5:16). His last regular season game was on February 16 – a game in which he injured his hand in a fight with Twitter-master Paul Bissonnette. Westgarth missed the remainder of the season, including playoffs. He gets a pass based on the reasonable expectation that he would have, at minimum, hit the 41-game requirement had he not been injured, or that he would have suited up in the Finals.
(Mathematically speaking, Westgarth was below the cutoff line at the time of his injury. He was injured in his 25th game of the season, which was the Kings’ 58th match. That would project to 35 games played over an 82-game season, below the required minimum games played.)
Davis Drewiske also became immortalized on the Stanley Cup, though the justifications are far more suspect. He managed to make a scant nine appearances, with only two goals to his credit. The last time he took the ice was on February 18th against the Calgary Flames. His last point was back in December 2011. Obviously, the only way he made the list was based on a hell of a petition by the Kings. For a guy who wasn’t talented enough to play more than a handful of games, I can only imagine the positioning the Kings used with the league to get him on the Cup. I can also imagine the sting that Loktionov must feel thinking about the fact that Drewiske was worthy of an exception, and he was not.
There’s another guy in the Kings lineup with identical scoring who was also left off:
Scott Parse, RW
Parse missed the cut despite posting numbers identical to Drewiske’s while also suffering a season-ending injury. Granted, he was in a different role and at a different position, but we’re pretty far removed from either of these guys making a ‘valuable contribution’ to the Kings’ lineup throughout the season. Parse started off strong, but was felled by a hip injury less than two months into the season. He played his ninth game in the Kings’ fifteenth matchup, so he was on pace to have played 49 games that season. Despite the possibility of including him via exception due to his injury, the Kings left him off the list. Parse became an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
Trent Hunter, RW
Hunter had an interesting path to the Kings. He was traded by the Islanders to the New Jersey Devils prior to the start of the season. The Devils bought out his contract, making him a free agent. Hunter signed a tryout with the Kings and ultimately made the team. If he’d stuck in the lineup, he would’ve had the opportunity to face his ‘former team’ in the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately, he struggled in the lineup and found himself clearing waivers and being demoted to the AHL before the 41-game mark. Hunter is currently a free agent.
Ethan Moreau, LW
Grizzled veteran Ethan Moreau played in the Kings’ first 28 games of the season. With only four points on the board, he cleared waivers and was sent to the AHL. Shortly after arriving in Manchester, he reported ‘feeling off’ and suffering concussion-like symptoms. Moreau never played a game in Manchester. He announced his retirement after the 2011-12 season. He’ll get his ring, but he’ll never have his name on the Cup.
Not that we need another conspiracy theory, but one can’t deny that the Kings’ Stanley Cup list is an interesting one, as are the reasons behind the players selected. Those that received exceptions (Westgarth and Drewiske) just so happen to have another year or two under contract with Los Angeles. Those that did not are either free agents, retired, or, in the case of Andrei Loktionov, no longer feeling welcome.
To think that one engraving decision may have just carved Loktionov out of Los Angeles entirely…