I was out to dinner with some buddies Thursday night for a rare guy’s night out. What can I say? Between working nights and getting all our schedules to match up, it’s hard to get all of us together.
And as is the case, the barbs were flying back and forth. Good-natured needling always takes center stage when we get together, and it still causes us to double over in laughter. The beauty of it is no one gets off scot free, there is no off-bounds. And it’s usually extremely vulgar. Just guys being guys.
At dinner, I was being hammered mercilessly for ordering a three-cheese panini (“Hey, isn’t that just a grilled cheese sandwich?” “Does it comes with crayons and ketchup?” “Where’s your apple fries and sippy cup?” “Need a booster?”)
During a lull in the ribbing, my friend Brandon leaned over to me and showed me a text message he got.
“You just got scooped, son,” he said.
I glanced at the message, still laughing from all the ragging I was enduring for my dinner. I had to do a double take when I finally read it:
“Doughty agrees to 8 year, $56 million deal.”
I grabbed my iPhone to verify from the Kings website, and there it was. The confirmation that Kings fans everywhere had been waiting for all summer: Drew Doughty is a King.
I realized as I was driving home from dinner that the feeling I was experiencing was something different than the usual preseason jitters I experience every year. Gone was the veil of uncertainty, replaced by an overwhelming sense of elation.
For once in a very long time, fans know exactly what to expect from the Los Angeles Kings heading into the season. They don’t have to worry about goaltending, thanks to Jonny Quick and Jonathan Bernier. They don’t have to worry about scoring, thanks to the return of Anze Kopitar and the new free agent signing of Mike Richards. And now, they don’t have to worry about the defense, with Doughty joining Jack Johnson on the blueline for the foreseeable future.
I also realized that this team, as presently constructed, is going to be the same team for quite a while. Thanks to CapGeek.com, I can bring these numbers: While Doughty is signed through 2018-19, Richards’ contract is through 2019-2020. Johnson’s deal ends in 2017-18 and Kopitar’s is up in the 2015-16 season. The contracts of Jonathans Quick and Bernier both expire in 2012-13, and it’s not inconceivable to admit one of those two will be locked up long-term while the other gets dealt.
There’s your core, Kings fans. Kopitar, Richards, Johnson and Doughty (plus either Quick or Bernier). From here on, Lombardi will be adding pieces to compliment these four players on offense and defense. These are the pillars the franchise now rests upon. This is the future of your Los Angeles Kings.
What a perfect end to a perfect evening.
• LA Times: Kings sign Drew Doughty to eight-year, $56-million deal
“I’ve been a Kings fan since I was a kid and I was never thinking about going elsewhere,” Doughty said by phone from his home in London, Canada. “I knew it was just a matter of time before it got done and I’m just really excited to be a part of that team for eight years. I hope we can win many Stanley Cups in that time and I’m going to do everything I can to help lead us to that.”
• LAKingsInsider.com: Leiweke comments on Doughty signing
“I just want to go win Cups. Drew is going to help us do that. What the fans should understand is, this kid is a warrior. I’m glad he’s on our side. I’m glad he’s here for eight years and I’m glad we got it done, because I think the world of him.”
Doughty statistically ranks among the best defencemen to ever play for the Kings. His nine career game-winning goals ranks fourth all-time among Kings defencemen and his 17 career power-play goals ranks ninth all-time. He also ranks 12th on the all-time list in career goals (33), 13th on the all-time list in both career assists (93) and career points (126), and tied for 15th on the all-time list in career plus/minus rating (plus-16).
Anze Kopitar held a press conference Thursday and talked about a smattering of things, including his rehab progress, his new teammates and his expectations of the upcoming season. In all, your basic “Hey everyone, I’m all
good. Let’s get this going” interview from Kopitar. Next week we’ll see
how he looks when he gets to L.A.
Oh yeah, season starts in a month!
By Luka Dolar
On Monday, Anze Kopitar will head off to California, where he will join his teammates in Los Angeles training camp. During this official closure of his training and rehabilitation time during this summer, he has shared few details over his summer activities and his thoughts of upcoming season.
His training base this summer was town of Bled, where he has gone through most of training steps. Joined by Gasper, his younger brother and few other Slovenian players, he was trained and guided by father Matjaz.
“Summer has not been different as any other so far. Close to zero off days, no vacation and lots of training. Most of my program was similar to past summer workouts, but we did increase intensity. I am in optimum (shape) and I hope that management in Los Angeles will confirm it as I come over. I feel great and barely wait for season to start.”
It has been five months since Kopitar hurt his leg.
“Everything about (my) injury is normal. My leg doesn’t hurt anymore, it actually didn’t all through summer and I could focus on my workout. Obviously there were some drills that (had to be) modified, but all in all it went better than planned.”
Kings made many steps into becoming serious Cup contenders through all five seasons Kopitar played; this season should be another important step forward. Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and late addition of Ethan Moreau should give more punch to the team.
“We were one of very active teams on the (free agent) market during summer. We landed strong deals and we did get players that will help us on our path to final goal. On the other hand, we did lose Wayne (Simmonds) and Brayden (Schenn) in these deals and I hope that they will both fit into (their) new teams. I (haven’t talked) to them yet, but I am hoping to have a chat once I am back in (the) States.”
Besides Simmonds and Schenn, team lost also Michael Handzus to San Jose, Ryan Smith left to Oilers and Oscar Möller returned to Europe. As a player, Kopi tarwants to develop each season, he wants to give more to the team and Anže has higher goals as he did in the past,
“The goal is clear, that is no secret. But there are many steps to it. As a team we need to be much more constant through all 82 games and of course making the play-offs. For the past two seasons we were eliminated in first round, now we must take this huge step forward and go past round one.”
And you know what that means…. it’s SHUTOUT DAY! Right now, you can pick up some of our popular Shutout Day apparel and finery. And what better way to celebrate than getting a water bottle fit for a King (whether it’s Quick or Jonathan Bernier.)
For a limited time, these 24 oz. water bottles, as well as the rest of the drinkware selections are at-cost with no markup. I figure why not spread the word that the Kings have a legit goalie tandem that can shut down the best of teams.
What better way to bask in the glory of Shutout Day at work than sipping joe from a ceramic coffee mug, or chugging some Newcastle from a 22 oz. stein. Or a subtle reminder to your adult league pickup opponents that you aren’t messing around in net.
The Kings have been built from the blueline out. Now you can share in the excitement! (How that for someJ. Peterman-inspired sales copy?)
I was a little surprised when I got an email from a friend of mine who works at a major sporting good chain. Mostly because he owed me money, but also because he sent me a description of the new Reebok jersey that has been hotly debated since Rich Hammond leaked the news.
The email starts by basically describing what Hammond said in his post, a white version of the current third jersey. What’s new, right?
But then the kicker…
“Dude, you aren’t going to believe this. The Kings are going to introduce yet another crown logo.”
He described it as a “bulbous, rounded, almost stylized” crown, complete with three iron crosses, possibly to signify “Triple Crown Line.” When he said that, it reminded me of a particular crown I have seen before, the crown that was embedded in the Chevy logo.
It makes perfect sense. The jerseys obviously harken back to the Gretzky era, but updated with the inclusion of the unnoticed crown hidden in the logo.
The decision to abandon the Home Plate logo did surprise me, since it obviously has grown on a lot of people. But by changing the logo yet again signifies yet another shift in marketing. Much like the Kings wore the throwbacks to kick off this season, perhaps these jerseys will serve the same purpose as they kick off the 2011-12 season overseas.
It seems the Kings are truly Down With The Crown*.
* – If you’ve gotten down this far, congratulations. For one day only, I’m offering up the entire DWTC inventory at cost in my CafePress store, meaning I make jack squat if you buy something. But hey, it’s all good. But the offer expires at midnight tonight. Follow the link above to go get you some stuff.
The Kings are taking on the Oilers an good, old-fashioned smackdown. What better way to watch the Road Warrior Kings than on a monster 220-inch HD screen! Not only that, but the always fetching L.A. Kings Ice Crew will be down there to give away t-shirts, Kings gear and register fans for four free tickets.
The Kings’ Ice Rider promo truck will also be there. A fully-converted
ice cream truck, the Ice Rider boasts three 65-inch video monitors where
fans can actually play video games. And if I bought the right cables,
we’ll be rocking the NHL 94! It’s a gamer’s paradise!
Also confirmed is the appearance of the famed King Cone Ice Cream truck.
(Get it?) And if you don’t want ice cream, they’ll make you a shaved
ice with a variety of flavors, including wild cherry, blue raspberry,
cotton candy, banana, sour green apple, pina colada, and… wait for
it… tiger’s blood. No confirmation of Charlie Sheen, however.
Make plans to join us down at Legends in Long Beach, Mar. 29 at 6 p.m. It will also be Martini Tuesdays, where any martini you can think of is three bucks! But Legends isn’t just a sports bar, it’s a great restaurant. They have a load of local team-themed food, including a delectable Kings bacon cheeseburger.
According to a report from Yahoo!’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika, the Kings’ Willie Mitchell plans on donating his brain to science after he dies to aid in research about the effects of concussions.
Following the news about recently deceased NHL fighter Bob Probert had suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (or CTE), a condition brought on by his rough style of play. With 3,300 minutes in the penalty box, Probert took crap from no one. According to the website hockeyfights.com, Probert was involved in over 200 fights. The number of concussions? Who knows?
Mitchell has had three, the last one lasted the longest (seven months). He described to Cotsonika what it felt like dealing with a concussion.
“You don’t feel right. You’re sick. You’re sick, right? You get a little snippet into life of feeling like you have a terminal illness. Not the physical aspect, the emotional aspect of it, too. I know what I went through.
“I could hate you. You could have done something to me, it’s the worst thing in the world, but I’d never want you to go through what I went through or what those other guys are going through. It’s not fun.”
After his experience and learning Keith Primeau plans on donating his brain when he passes on, Mitchell has told his wife what his wishes were.
“Why not do something like that?” Mitchell said. “Science is relatively unexplored on concussions. We’re learning as we go. We don’t know protocols. We don’t know all that stuff as far as healing it yet. And so any little bit of information that they can get that helps the situation would be great.”
Mitchell recently got a scare when he took a puck off his face against the Coyotes’ Kyle Turris. Other than getting 40 stitches, he was relieved when he was cleared to play. Even though he hasn’t started the formal process of signing over his gray matter, it’s encouraging to read about anyone who hopes to further science through his traumatic experience in the hopes of helping others.
The Kings have acquired 28-year-old forward Dustin Penner from the Edmonton Oilers on Monday in exchange for a 2011 first-round draft pick, a 2012 conditional second-round pick, and defenceman Colten Teubert.
Here’s Kings general Manager Dean Lombardi, talking about his outstanding trade, bringing another 20-goal scoring to Los Angeles.
And here’s coach Terry Murray, talking to NHL ON The Fly.