As first and foremost a baseball fan, I have always appreciated some of the structural similarities in the player recruitment and development structures of major league baseball and the National Hockey League. By drafting and signing players into the sport and then providing a minor league development system, so unlike basketball or football, enthusiasm is built up for a few seasons as the progress of future players, and future stars, is seen from the prospective of the parent team, and fans can anticipate the guys who will be playing there next season, next month, or maybe the next day. Granted. additions and subtractions to the roster are made by trades and by the worst abomination ever to hit professional sports, but the unavoidable offshoot of a free enterprise system, free agency, but there is something special in hearing and reading about the next big star tearing it up in the minors, and awaiting the day he will be doing it at Dodgers’ Stadium or Angels’ Stadium, or at Staples Center.
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|The best team that money can buy features high-priced veterans acquired from other teams through trades and free agency, but it also has at its heart the home-grown likes of Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Dee Gordon, Kenley Jansen, A.J. Ellis, and a guy named Puig. In Anaheim, the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson signings make the headlines, but the heart and soul of the Angels is centered on the likes of Mike Trout and Jered Weaver. And much the same thing can be said about the Los|
After years of floundering under Dave Taylor, Dean Lombardi replaced him as the Kings’ general manager following the 2005-2006 season. In nine seasons under Taylor, the Kings reached the playoffs four times, and only once won a playoff series, as they compiled an overall 10-18 record over those years. Even for Lombardi, the team did not reach the playoffs for his first three seasons, changing coaches, players, and philosophies along the way. By the 2011-2012 season, everything was now in place, and the Kings won their first ever Stanley Cup Championship.
The team that won it all in 2011-2012, and the team that will begin its pursuit of Cup number two tonight, was built primarily through its organization and the draft, with a
Lonbardi has recently been quoted as saying “We don’t want to sacrifice our identity, sell our soul, to get a quick fix.” Clearly, he has built a team with a soul, one with an identity, and one that has the talent and cohesiveness to win now and tomorrow.