Despite the Los Angeles Kings not playing a single playoff game in 2021, numerous former Kings have impacted these playoffs. For example, Kings fan-favorite Alec Martinez and Brayden McNabb (the antithesis of a fan favorite) both played for Vegas. Beloved center Jeff Carter was another player fans of LA were rooting for this postseason. Additionally, Jake Muzzin and Jack Campbell of the Toronto Maple Leafs both used to don the Kings’ regal jersey. However, all of these players are no longer skating in the playoffs due to their respective teams being eliminated.
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Alas, only two teams are left standing in the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs. These are the Tampa Bay Lightning, looking to cement their status as a dynasty via winning back-to-back Stanley Cups, and the Montreal Canadiens, whose Cinderella run has stunned many throughout the hockey world. No matter who emerges victorious from this series, a former King will hoist the Stanley Cup, while a former Kings’ rival will also emerge victoriously. Here are the familiar faces that Kings fans will see in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final.
Former Kings Draft Pick: Erik Cernak, Defenseman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Cernak never played a game for the Kings, but he was one of the team’s highly touted prospects. Selected 43rd overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, he was shipped off to Tampa Bay at the 2017 trade deadline in a package deal that saw LA acquire Ben Bishop, who has been an elite goaltender in the NHL for the better part of a decade. This trade exploded for LA, as Bishop played just seven games with the Kings (where he struggled mightily) before being sent to Dallas, where he instantly rejuvenated his career.
On the other hand, Cernak played a pivotal role in Tampa, capturing the Stanley Cup in 2020. He did this through his highly aggressive, physical play. Alongside other physical forces such as Yanni Gourde, Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman, Cernak helped provide the Lightning with an element that they’d been missing in years past. For the past two playoffs, he has primarily skated on a pairing with star blueliner Victor Hedman. Due to this, Cernak is a name that will be heard often in the Stanley Cup Final.
Foe: Patrick Maroon, Forward, Tampa Bay Lightning
The “big rig” Maroon is attempting to win his third straight Stanley Cup. In 2019, he signed with his hometown St. Louis Blues and nabbed his first Cup. Last year, he signed with Tampa and snagged his second Cup. Subsequently, he re-upped his contract with the Lightning. Before being known for smoking cigars after winning the Stanley Cup, he was known for his tenure with the Anaheim Ducks.
In 276 games played with Anaheim, Maroon racked up 337 penalty minutes (PIM) and threw 535 hits. The “Freeway Face-off” is the nickname for the brutal rivalry between the Kings and Ducks. Maroon played for the Ducks during one of the most intense points in the history of the rivalry between the two teams based out of Southern California, which was the 2014 playoffs, the lone time the teams have met up in the playoffs. Due to his tendency to hit and take penalties, he was a thorn in the Kings side for many years.
Foe: Corey Perry, Forward, Montreal Canadiens
Speaking of thorns in the Kings side, Corey Perry is one of, if not the most detested active hockey player in LA. If you were to ask a Kings fan about their opinion on the agitating forward, 10/10 fans would have a negative view of him. Why the vehement hate for Perry, you might wonder. Look no further than some of his on-ice antics and the fact that he played for Anaheim and frequently played LA.
Although Perry’s a familiar face for Kings fans for the wrong reasons, the former Stanley Cup Champion, Hart Trophy winner and Rocket Richard Trophy winner has played an important role for Montreal en route to the Stanley Cup Final.
Former King: Luke Schenn, Defenseman, Tampa Bay Lightning
Luke Schenn is a depth defenseman for the Lightning. He has skated in just eight playoff games this season, where he has scored one goal, and he averages just 9:13 of playing time (TOI) per game. For perspective, only Maroon and Mathieu Joseph have averaged less time per game.
Schenn is one of two players in the Stanley Cup Final to have actually skated for LA. Midway through the 2015-16 season, the Kings acquired him and Vincent Lecavalier from Philadelphia for Jordan Weal and a third-round pick. In 48 games with the Kings (regular season and playoffs), Schenn nabbed 13 points. He was a respectable player in his short tenure with the team.
Former King: Tyler Toffoli, Forward, Montreal Canadiens
The player Kings fans are presumably most excited to see in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs is Tyler Toffoli. The longtime fan favorite excelled with LA and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2014. He scored 20 or more goals in three seasons with LA, including a 31-goal campaign in 2015-16. 2015-16 was the best season of his tenure with LA, as he posted a plus/minus of plus-35 and had 58 points and 31 goals, all of which stand as career highs. His plus-35 ranking was the highest in the NHL, and he would have won the plus/minus award had it not been discontinued in 2008.
Toffoli has been phenomenal in his first season with Montreal. In the 2020-21 regular season, he led the team in points (44) and goals (28). His 28 goals ranked eighth in the entire NHL. In the 2020-21 playoffs, he leads the team in points (14) and is tied for first in goals (five).
Three players in the 2021 Stanley Cup Final have links to the Kings organization. Two were drafted by the team (Toffoli and Cernak) and two played for the team (Toffoli and Schenn). Furthermore, two of the Kings’ fiercest foes are in the Stanley Cup Final. Overall, Kings fans will be seeing and hearing about several familiar faces/names in the sure-to-be-exciting Stanley Cup Final.
I am a lifelong hockey fan who will be covering the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks here at The Hockey Writers. Before joining The Hockey Writers I spent two years blogging about hockey.
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