Expectations were so high in Los Angeles after the Kings managed to bring in Ilya Kovalchuk to bolster the offense that ranked 17th in the league last season, and re-signed star defenseman Drew Doughty to a lucrative $88-million eight-year contract. It felt like there were ready to go back to their glory days…
On Saturday, after the Kings were handed a 5-1 loss by the visiting Buffalo Sabres, the team barred the dressing room doors post-game while the players and GM Rob Blake had a secret meeting about their awful season start. After registering a 2-1-1 record through the first four games in 2018-19, Los Angeles has dropped four consecutive games in embarrassing fashion: they lost on the roads at the hands of the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs. They lost home games against the New York Islanders and Sabres by a combined score of 21-5.
Head coach John Stevens has been the first to be blamed for the Kings’ poor performances over the past week and may be landing on the hot seat… However, according to the panel of The Hockey News on their latest broadcast on Monday, fans almost cannot blame the Kings themselves for their embarrassing start.
“I think the problem with the LA Kings is, it’s not their fault, the league changed on them, explained NHL insider Ken Campbell.
“The Kings not so long ago were that big dominant Western team that could cycle the puck, that could wear you down and do all of those things and win championships. And almost like that, the league turned into a league where speed is at a premium and where small players can be successful in this league.
“It’s not their fault. They build a championship team that won two Stanley Cups. It’s just that the model is outdated. So they’re going to have a closed-door meeting, what are they going to say, let’s skate faster guys?!”
“They can’t do something they’re incapable of doing!”
The Hockey News panel believes that the Kings need to face the reality that they need to be faster to remain a contender in the league, but have failed to address that issue in the past five years. Ryan Kennedy even admitted to getting into an argument with Doughty about the team’s need for speed.
The easy way to shake up a team is usually to fire the head coach but in this situation, it seems like pressure should be on the shoulders on GM Blake to make the necessary changes before it is too late. They also need better prospects, as Los Angeles hasn’t had a single selection pick higher than the 11th-overall pick in the past nine drafts…
Maybe with how this season has started off, the Kings might be able to land a high draft pick in the summer 2019…
The Kings' cold start is surely putting the urgency on the problem, and Blake might not be able to wait for a rebuilding phase. He could pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade to acquire the speed he desperately needs to move forward this season before it's too late...
Source: The Hockey News
Photo Credit: Zuma Press