Frozen Royalty: 2010-11 Los Angeles Kings Were Reminiscent Of A Roller Coaster Ride
You have to hate it when media starts writing season re-caps before the Stanley Cup is raised. But, hey, the Kings were eliminated so what are you going to do? One of our favorite writers, Gann Matsuda has a solid write-up on the “roller coaster” season by the Kings. Have a look and get ready for pre-season!
LOS ANGELES — The Stanley Cup Conference semi-finals are almost over, with three of the four conference finalists decided, and with the San Jose Sharks and Detroit Red Wings heading into a seventh and deciding game at San Jose on May 12.
It has been a little over two weeks since the Los Angeles Kings were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs in six games by the Sharks, and Frozen Royalty has been taking a break, catching its breath, so to speak, and taking some time to do other things.
But the time has come to look back on the 2010-11 season for the Kings, one that is filled with highs and lows, some expected, others not.
Those highs and lows typified their season, taking everyone on a season-long roller coaster ride.
The lows began in July, when the Kings, who were expected to be the frontrunner for unrestricted free agent superstar left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, were suddenly pushed out of the limelight by the New Jersey Devils, who signed him to a 15-year, $100 million contract.
But missing the boat on Kovalchuk was not the real problem. After all, it became clear after Kovalchuk signed with the Devils that he never intended to sign with the Kings at all. Rather, all the negotiating, the visit to Los Angeles—it was all a negotiating ploy. Indeed, he used the Kings as a bargaining chip in negotiations with other parties, most notably, the Devils.
No, the real problem was that Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi, either out of necessity, overconfidence, orders from above, or whatever other reasons there may have been, put all his eggs in one basket. There was no “Plan B.”
Indeed, for the Kings, it was sign Kovalchuk or Bust.
The Kings did shore up their blue line by gambling on unrestricted free agent defenseman Willie Mitchell, who had finally recovered from a concussion. But when the summer came to a close, “bust” is exactly what the Kings did, having to settle for unrestricted free agent left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky, who was signed to a one-year deal.
Ponikarovsky was certainly not in Kovalchuk’s class. Of course, no one was expecting him to be that kind of player. However, Lombardi knew the Kings needed a sniper, but he had no backup plan to acquire the help his team desperately needed, and that would play a huge role in the Kings’ 2010-11 successes and failures.
As such, the Kings headed into the 2010-11 season with their only significant additions being Mitchell on the blue line, Ponikarovsky up front, and rookie Jonathan Bernier taking over the backup goaltender position from Erik Ersberg.
Read the rest on Frozen Royalty.