Why the Kings are Where and What They Are

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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Jonathan Quick LA Kings 2014 Stanley Cup Bound T-Shirt $29.95
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
Angeles Kings

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

couple of key trades made possible by the presence of a deep roster that allowed the team to trade value, and in in some cases excess value, for value, obtaining the needed missing pieces in building a champion. The team under Lombardi has infrequently entered the free agent market.

And so, the team that won it all
two years ago and that got to the brink of the finals last year, and that will face off in a few hours in its journey to regain the title, is built around three Dave Taylor-era draft picks, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Jonathan Swift, Lombardi picks that include Drew Doughty, Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis, and other key players. In fact, the current roster that still includes 18 players from the 2011-2012 team, also features 11 team draft choices of its 21 man roster. Lombardi has created a championship contender by adding a few key players by trade, including Justin Williams, Mike Richards, and others, but most importantly Jeff Carter during the last title season, and during this years’, Marian Gaborik. The current roster includes only three players signed as unrestricted free agents.

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.

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