New On HockeyTalk: Kings Playoff-Bound?
LOS ANGELES — Entering their fourth season since President/General Manager Dean Lombardi began the process of tearing down the Los Angeles Kings and building them back up, practically from scratch, those efforts are now, finally, beginning to bear ripe, sweet fruit.
Indeed, instead of having a bunch of older veterans on the downside of their careers making up the core of the team, the core is now made up of young players who are on the rise. They are skilled, strong in terms of character and they have been “growing up” together, building strong bonds with each other, something rarely seen before in the Kings’ dressing room.
If that sounds like things are coming together for the Kings, don’t worry. You are not hearing things. You do not need to get your hearing checked.
Yes, Lombardi’s rebuilding efforts have resulted in significant improvements on the forward lines, on defense and in goal. But does that mean the Kings are now a playoff team?
To be sure, expectations for the team, both from fans and from management, are higher than they have been since the last time the Kings made the playoffs in 2002, maybe higher, since this team is not being built just to be invited to the post-season party. Rather, it is being built to win the Stanley Cup and become a perennial contender.
But they have not reached that level yet, so first things first.
“It’s early,” said newly-acquired veteran left wing Ryan Smyth. “For sure, every team wants to make the playoffs and from there, it’s a whole new season. But let’s start the season, get used to each other, develop some chemistry, some team camaraderie and go from there.”
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