In the event of the defending Stanley Cup Champions not being able to properly defend their title, there is still a lot to be thankful for in regards to Los Angeles Kings hockey. Even with the internal troubles facing the Kings in this offseason, Los Angeles has done well for itself as an organization that is recognized for exceptional individual play and team athletics. The Stanley Cup has brought a lot more recognition to the city of angels in terms of hockey.
Long gone are the days in which Anze Kopitar is not being recognized as one of the greatest two-way players in the game right now. The last three years, there was no need for recognition, as Kopitar would lead his team to two Stanley Cups playing against fierce, top level opponents such as Ryan Getzlaf, Jonathan Toews, Henrik Sedin, and David Backes.
Last year was a bit more special because, in addition to getting his name on the Stanley Cup for the second time, Kopitar was also nominated for his first NHL award, the Selke trophy. Selke finalists Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews were nominated last year as well and this year, the same three are nominated for the same trophy. In addition to being recognized as a great defensive forward, Anze Kopitar has also been nominated for the Lady Byng trophy this season.
Another member of the Los Angeles Kings was nominated for an individual trophy. Drew Doughty was recognized for his outstanding year and has been nominated for the Norris Trophy.
The Norris trophy is presented to the best all-around defenseman in the NHL. Doughty was nominated once before, but he took on a whole new level of responsibility this year in the back end. Averaging 28:00 minutes per game, Doughty is utilized in every possible situation. A lot. While his offensive numbers were down this year compared to some years past, he still produced forty-six points.
On May 20 of this year, the Los Angeles Kings were recognized as the best sports team by the Sports Business Journal. The Sports Business Journal awards the team that best exhibits traits such as excellence, planning, innovation, implementation, and outcomes. The Kings beat out teams like the St. Louis Cardinals and the Seattle Seahwawks for the award and it truly exemplifies how far the Kings have come in implementing a winning culture and having a great franchise.
Minor League Affiliate Achievements
The Manchester Monarchs beat the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL Eastern Conference Final and are now heading to the Calder Cup Finals for the first time in franchise history. The Monarchs have had an incredible season thus far and it will be exciting when the Monarchs move to Ontario next season and are closer to the LA Kings fan base.
In the ECHL, the Ontario Reign tried to continue their winning ways, but lost game seven of the ECHL Western Conference Final against the Allen Americans. Players that are signed by the Kings like Alex Roach and Maxim Kitsyn could only benefit from gaining playoff experience at a professional level and continue their development in the Kings’ organization.
The most exciting hockey is being played right now and sadly, the Kings are not playing. However, it is an extremely exciting time to be a Kings fan and watch this franchise grown into one of the top teams in all-professional sports, even when not playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Cole R. Querry resides in Southern California. Having played hockey through college and a background in science and math, he promises to bring an objective analysis to the team and sport he loves.