Why the LA Kings Will Miss Derek Armstrong
This may not be the most popular post I’ve ever written but, you know what? I’m going to miss Derek Armstrong. So will the Los Angeles Kings. While certainly not the most prolific goal scorer, skater, passer or fighter, Armstrong did bring certain intangibles to the table: leadership, a sense of humor and a willingness to do whatever was asked of him. Let’s face it, on a team that lacked depth for the majority of Army’s tenure, he centered the first and second lines, led the Kings in plus/minus in 2006-2007 and always stood up for his team mates.
While players such as Trevor Lewis and Brad Richardson could very well end up centering the fourth line next season, I don’t think they will be nearly as effective as Army. Why? Armstrong brings a grit that’s needed on the fourth line. Last season, primarily on the fourth line, Army played 56 games scoring 4 goals and 5 assists. Hell, Marcel Goc played for San Jose and, in 55 games, scored 2 goals and 9 assists…for the Sharks. Even the once great Brendan Shannahan played 34 games for New Jersey and scored 6 goals and 8 assists. Michael Peca played 71 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets and scored 4 goals and 18 assists. All somewhat comparable numbers on much better teams. Now I certainly don’t consider Armstrong a great player but he is serviceable.
As much as I love the LA Kings “youth movement” and appreciate players brought up under “the system”, I genuinely like Derek Armstrong. There was not a better guy at Kings events. The guy was a comedian, auctioneer and dunk-tank victim. Oh yeah, he could play a little hockey too. On a team that will still be very young next year, Army’s leadership, I believe, is essential.
In my oh-so-humble opinion, the Los Angeles Kings should have signed Army to a one-year, two-way deal. He either makes the team or is the captain for the Manchester Monarchs. Either way, he would have been put to good use. And, you know what? Army would have done what was asked of him even if it meant heading to Manchester for a year. Dean Lombardi constantly talks about players having the “LA Kings tattooed on their butts”. I submit the first person to receive such tattoo was, indeed, Derek Armstrong. As much as Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Drew Doughty may be the “face of the franchise”, Derek Armstrong was its heart and soul.
I believe the Los Angeles Kings made a mistake not re-signing Derek Armstrong one last time. Personally, I’m going to miss him. But that’s just my opinion. Flame away…