Kings acquire Jack Johnson, become more dangerous…

0927-johnson.jpg…in a few years.

So Dean Lombardi has done it again, by trading Tim Gleason and Eric Belanger to the Hurricanes for Oleg Tverdovsky and super defensive prospect Jack Johnson. Johnson is rated by hockeysfuture.com as the third overall best prospect currently. This is a tremendous deal, but will not affect the Kings’ chances of making the playoffs this season. In fact, it may decrease it some. But, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

However, I think Deano has been looking over my shoulder when I play my EA 2004 game. You see, in this game for the Playstation2, you can run a franchise for 20 seasons in the game. You can pick a team, draft the roster and run the team, it’s quite in-depth. So much so that I haven’t finished it. (I’ve just finished year 19, with my pernnenial winger, Ilya Kovalchuk, 30 points away from Wayne Gretzky’s actual all-time scoring record.) During the course of the game, you have to deal with keeping your salary low while keeping butts in the seats. It was a tough thing to do, until I read a stategy that makes it super easy to stay young while winning Cups.

You just keep track of who was the number one pick the previous year, and remember who drafted him. Then, when the season starts, you offer that team some crappy player and a draft pick in exchange for their number one pick. Rookies are usually rated low when they enter the league, so it’s easy pickings. The game’s AI is stupid, so it’ll trade if the ability levels are the same. Hey, it’s a video game… there’s always a glitch.

This same thinking has allowed Lombardi to cherry pick two highly-touted prospects this preseason, first with Patrick O’Sullivan, drafted #56th overall by the Wild, and now Johnson, drafted third overall in the Crosby draft of 2005. The Hurricanes get immediate help on their blue line with Gleason, since several ‘Cane D-men are shelved with injuries. And the Kings get a young defenseman who, according to Deano himself, should finish the season in Michigan and be in a Kings uni by the end of the season!

The loss of Eric Belanger opens up a spot of Kopitar, who has had a great preseason, and the Kings get a vet on defense who’s good on the offensive side. As far as I can see, L.A. has Kopitar and O’Sullivan penciled in for the big roster. When was the last time the Kings had a top C prospect, top LW prospect, top D prospect, and a top G prospect in their farm system? Never. Dean clearly has a long-range plan for the club. This season may be a lost cause, but look out in the near future.

Blake makes his preseason debut…

0919-blake-score.jpg…and all is right with the world.

Rob Blake was one of all all-time favorites on the Kings. Mostly because he was a home-grown talent for the Kings, and seeing him evolve into the Norris award-winning defenseman coincided with the Kings arrival to success.

When he left, back in 2000, it was a huge blow to Kings fans. Many felt affronted by Rob when he spurned the Kings and decided to take a shot at the Stanley Cup with a better team, the Colorado Avalanche. Many fans began to boo him. Lustfully. And I was one of them.

If you aren’t donning the purple and black, you are the enemy. And Blake was the enemy. But then, it became much more than that. It became a swipe at Blake and his “greed” for more money for a lot of fans. Many simply don’t understand that the NHL, out of all the major sports, have the least amount of job security. I mean, what can an ex-NHLer do? Some go into commentary and sportscasting, like Marty McSorley did last season for FOX. But, the shelf life is really small. You gotta take the big pay-day when you can. And that’s what Rob did, and I can respect that.

So, I stopped booing Blake and started counting the days until his return. When Luc signed for one season last year, I knew that the Kings would bring back Rob. It just made sense. And having him out there on the ice tonight… well, it’s been a long time, but… the fans were cheering him.

Even Bob Miller made mention of this, when he scored the Kings’ only goal against the Sharks. Fans were standing, and clapping, and cheering for Rob Blake. And that should be music to any Kings’ ears.

L.A. Kings Hockey Blog