Gann Matsuda is concluding his stories on LA Kings trainer Pete Demers. His latest talks about Demers’ departure after Dean Lombardi was hired. Always good reading for any LA Kings history buff!
LOS ANGELES — After a career with the Los Angeles Kings that spanned 37 years, starting with three seasons with their former American Hockey League affiliate in Springfield prior to joining the big club in 1972, head athletic trainer Pete Demers left the club after the 2005-06 season. But that came right after four straight seasons when the Kings were absolutely ravaged by injuries (see Retired LA Kings Trainer Pete Demers Recalls Record-Breaking, Injury-Filled Seasons, 2001-02 to 2005-06).
In two of those seasons, the Kings set unofficial records for man-games lost to injury, with 536 in 2002-03, a record they eclipsed in 2003-04 when they lost 629 man-games.
Those seasons were sandwiched between years when they lost 211 man-games to injury in 2001-02, and 366 in 2005-06 (the National Hockey League did not play in 2004-05 due to a labor dispute).
That is an unfathomable, mind-blowing 1,742 man-games lost to injury in just four seasons.
Although the Kings made the playoffs in 2002, losing their first round series against the Colorado Avalanche in seven games, they would fail to qualify for the post-season party until 2009-10, four seasons after Demers left the organization.
With more injuries than anyone could possibly imagine on top of some very poor hockey during that period, there was a lot to complain about when it came to trying to figure out what was wrong with the Los Angeles Kings. Not surprisingly, general manager Dave Taylor was fired right after the 2005-06 season on April 18, 2006, and was replaced by Dean Lombardi just three days later.
As many general managers do when they join a new team, Lombardi made changes in the front office and in hockey operations, cleaning house almost completely. He brought in his own people, not only so that he would be working with people with whom he was comfortable and familiar, but also to change the attitude and philosophy throughout the franchise.
But the house cleaning began before Lombardi’s arrival. Indeed, it started with Taylor firing head coach Andy Murray on March 21, 2006.
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