Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rooting for the Los Angeles Kings in the Playoffs

Yes, you read that right. Yes, I know that the Los Angeles Kings are not in the playoffs, but if I have learned anything from #WeAreAllKings, it is that once a King, always a King. I have to say thank you to Lori Hultin (@lhultin) for inspiring the idea for this post. I will give you a comprehensive list of former Kings or those with Kings connections, and we can all continue to root on our beloved Los Angeles Kings!!

Montreal Canadiens
Although he has yet to make an appearance in this year's playoffs, defenseman Mike Weaver is on the roster for Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge. He signed with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent in 2004 and played for the Manchester Monarchs during the lockout year of 2004-2005 and for a few games in the 2006-2007 season. He played for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2005-2006 season and for the majority of the following year. Weaver left as a free agent and bounced around a bit until settling with the Florida Panthers in 2010 where he remained for a little over three seasons when he was traded to the Canadiens in 2014.

New York Islanders
I'm sure many Kings fans recall defenseman Thomas Hickey who was drafted fourth overall in the 2007 draft. Although he never played for the Kings, he did spend almost five season with the Manchester Monarchs starting in 2008. Hampered by injuries early on, he did not have a full season until 2010. In January 2013, Hickey was picked up on waivers by the New York Islanders.

Kings fans will also remember fan favorite Lubomir Visnovsky who was drafted 118th overall in the fourth round of the 2000 draft. The defenseman played in the purple and black from 2000 until 2008. I still remember a story about when then head coach Andy Murray was welcoming Visnovsky to the team and gave a big speech. After talking for some time, he asked Lubo a question who just smiled and said, "Hi!" Murray realized that he probably did not understand the majority of what he said because his English was still rather limited. But who can resist Lubo's smile? During the 2008 offseason, the Kings traded Visnovsky to the Edmonton Oilers for Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll. Edmonton later traded him to the Anaheim Ducks who then traded him to the New York Islanders during the 2012 offseason.

Washington Capitals
Defenseman (noticing a trend here?) Tim Gleason who now plays for the Washington Capitals was briefly with both the Manchester Monarchs and Los Angeles Kings. Originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 2001, he was later traded to the Kings for Bryan Smolinski (blast from the past, eh?) in 2003. Gleason split time between the Monarchs and Kings for the 2003-2004 season. The lockout in 2004-2005, he played for the Manchester Monarchs, but he spent the 2005-2006 with the Kings. Just before the season officially started in 2006, Gleason was packaged with Eric Belanger to the Carolina Hurricanes for Jack Johnson and Oleg Tverdovsky. Gleason has spent the majority of his career in Carolina and even served as assistant captain. He was later traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs then returned to the Hurricanes until being traded during this season's free agency to the Capitals.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Although not directly associated with the Los Angeles Kings, rookie right-winger Beau Bennett of Gardena, California did play for the  Los Angeles Junior Kings during the 2008-2009 season. So there is a small connection as that is the Midget AAA affiliate of the team.

Another indirectly Los Angeles Kings connection is Brandon Sutter, son of Brent and nephew of our beloved head coach Darryl Sutter. Brandon, who plays center, was originally drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007. During the 2012 draft, Sutter was packaged with Brian Dumoulin and a first round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Jordan Staal. I still remember that draft and finding out that Jordan would be delivered this news on the day of his wedding that he would be joining his two brothers, Eric and Jared, in Carolina. That was a huge trade that day.

And of course, Kings fans can cheer on defenseman Rob Scuderi. After winning his first Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, Scuderi signed with the Kings as a free agent. During his four seasons with the team, he won his second Stanley Cup in 2012 (woohoo!). I'm sure we all remember his decision to return to Pittsburgh as a free agent in 2013. Although it was sad to see him go, I think fans respect his decision to leave and are thankful for all the wonderful memories he has brought to all. He is contending for his third Cup to put him in the company of Justin Williams.

Detroit Red Wings
Defenseman Kyle Quincey, who had originally been drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, played for the LA Kings during the 2008-2009 season after being claimed off waivers. He was a key contributor when Jack Johnson was injured and lead the defense in scoring. During the 2009 offseason, Quincey along with Tom Preissing were traded to the Colorado Avalanche for forward Ryan Smyth (yay!). During the 2011-2012 season, Quincey was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning for about five minutes when the Avs traded him but then immediately dealt him back to Detroit where he has remained.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Despite the fact that this list has so far included defensemen, the Los Angeles Kings do occasionally draft forwards. Such as, Brian Boyle who was a first round twenty-sixth overall draft pick in 2003. I will never forget when the 6' 7" 244-pound center was drafted with his entire family in attendance, which included his twelve siblings. The Hingham, Massachusetts native went on to play for Boston College before joining the Manchester Monarchs and Los Angeles Kings for the 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 seasons.

During the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Boyle was traded to the New York Rangers for a third-round pick in the 2010 draft (Jordan Weal). It was during his time with the Rangers under John Tortorella that Boyle began to shine as a depth forward who knew how to make the most of his large frame. Dave Taylor was not wrong in envisioning Brian Boyle as being the type of player who could take the team to a Stanley Cup Final when he drafted him all those years ago, only it was for a different team. Kings fans will remember him with the Rangers who faced the Kings last year... when the boys won their SECOND STANLEY CUP!!! After the post-season, Boyle signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Lightning. If you haven't noticed, I am a huge Brian Boyle fan. This is for several reasons: 1. He was a King. 2. I had the pleasure of meeting him once, and he was very nice to me in all my fangirl awkwardness. I think at one point I actually confessed that while I missed him with the Kings, I felt his time with the Rangers had really allowed him to develop as a player. Somebody should really be with me at all time to make sure I don't embarrass myself like that again, or at least Periscope it, so everyone can witness my cringe-worthy moments in real time. 3. He was a great depth fantasy hockey acquisition mid-season a few years ago who helped me win my league. It's the important things in life, people!

Minnesota Wild
Although he does not have a more direct connection with the Los Angeles Kings and has not made a playoff appearance yet, goaltender Darcy Kuemper played for the Ontario Reign for the 2011-2012 season. He split that season with the Houston Aeros and only made eight appearances between the pipes for the Reign. If Devan Dubnyk shows signs of slowing down, Kuemper may be getting the nod.

St. Louis Blues
Veteran Olli Jokinen was originally drafted by the LA Kings third overall in the 1997 draft and played  portions of the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 seasons with the team. During the 1999 postseason, Jokinen was packaged with Josh Green, Mathieu Biron, and a first-round pick to the New York Islanders for Ziggy Palffy (yay!), Bryan Smoliniski, Marcel Cousineau, and a fourth-round pick.

Jokinen has had a long and successful career. He has played in over twelve hundred games and has tallied 321 goals and 429 assists for 750 points. This year he has split among the Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and St. Louis Blues. At thirty-six and looking at the tail-end of his career, he is chasing his first Stanley Cup.

Winnipeg Jets
Keaton Ellerby played on the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Kings. About a month into the season, the Florida Panthers traded Ellerby for a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft. His presence on the team that went to the Western Conference Finals is still fresh in the minds of fans. He was signed to a contract for the 2013-2014 season but was put on waivers nearly a month into the season and was claimed by the Jets. He has spent the majority of this season with the Jets' minor-league affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps, but he could be recalled if the team is hampered by injuries as he has a two-way contract.

Anaheim Ducks
Tim Jackman only appeared in five games for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2006-2007 season, but he played for the Manchester Monarchs for two seasons in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. In 2006, the Kings traded Yanick Lehoux for Jackman who was under contract with the Phoenix Coyotes but was playing for the AHL-affiliate San Antonio Rampage. In 2007, Jackman left as a free agent to sign with the New York Islanders.

Before the playoffs began, Anaheim activated goaltender Jason LaBarbera as a backup for the team. LaBarbera had previously spent the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons with the Manchester Monarchs and 2005-2006, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 with the LA Kings. He had been a goaltender with the team in the dark days before the rise of Jonathan Quick. I will never forget his Mr. Potato Head promo which has forever etched him fondly in my heart. "And the crowd goes wild!" On a side note, his wife Kodette is currently appearing in the Canadian reality series Hockey Wives, which you can find on Wednesday nights and on YouTube.

Vancouver Canucks
There are a couple of very familiar faces with the Canucks this year. Linden Vey who was drafted 96th overall in the fourth round of the 2009 draft by LA Kings is one of them. He spent 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 with the Manchester Monarchs but did crack the Kings roster to provide depth for the Cup-winning 2013-2014 season. In the offseason, Vey was traded to the Canucks for a second-round pick (Roland McKeown). He has not made a playoff appearance for Vancouver, but he may if there are injuries, which is likely if the series with the Calgary Flames continues to be physical and chippy.

Brad Richardson began his career with the Colorado Avalanche but was traded in the summer of 2008 to the LA Kings for a second-round pick. He played three games for the Manchester Monarchs and spent the rest of the season with the Kings in 2008-2009 and remained with the team until 2013. As so many fans remember, he played on the 2012 Stanley Cup winning team. During the 2013 postseason, Richardson signed with Vancouver as a free agent and is currently pursuing his second Cup as so many of his former teammates have last season.

Chicago Blackhawks
Perhaps a surprising name on this list is Kimmo Timonen. I say surprising because the defenseman has never played for the Kings or Monarchs but was drafted 250th overall of the tenth round in the 1993 draft by Los Angeles. After he was drafted, Timonen returned to Finland to continue development and played for the Finnish 1998 Olympic team who won the bronze in Nagano, Japan. It was shortly after this, the Kings traded Timonen with Jan Vopat to the Nashville Predators in the 1998 expansion draft for the assurance that they would not take Gary Galley.

In the summer of 2014 while with the Philadelphia Flyers, Timonen was diagnosed with serious blood-clot issues and has been sidelined for much of the season. Before the trade deadline, the Flyers dealt him to the Blackhawks where Timonen made a triumphant return to finish the season. Interesting note, Timonen was on the Flyers team who lost to Chicago in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.

Kimmo's teammate on that 2010 Flyers team, Daniel Carcillo, is also on the current Blackhawks roster. Car Bomb spent the first half of the second Stanley Cup-winning team of 2013-2014 with the LA Kings after being traded from the Blackhawks for a conditional sixth-round pick in the draft. At the 2014 trade deadline, the Kings traded Carcillo to the New York Rangers for a conditional seventh-round pick in the draft. Car Bomb has not made an appearance in this year's playoffs so far.

While looking at Carcillo, it is very interesting to note that he has appeared on a team competing in the Stanley Cup Finals three times since 2010. As previously mentioned, he appeared in the Finals with the Flyers in 2010. In 2013, he was on the 2013 Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks. Then in 2013-2014, he split the season with the LA Kings and New York Rangers who played each other for the Cup. Now, he is with the Blackhawks but has yet to play.

So even if the Los Angeles Kings may not be in the playoffs, fans can still root on former members of the team. Go Kings Go! We are ALL Kings!!

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