The Los Angeles Kings are your 2012-13 Stanley Cup champions.
How good would it be to hear that? How plausible does it actually seem?
There are a few things, certainly, that the Los Angeles Kings as a whole have going for them. However, let's just talk a minute about how hard it actually is to repeat as a Stanley Cup champion.
There has yet to be a repeat Stanley Cup champion in the new NHL era. That's right, since 2005 we've had seven different winners in seven years. Dating back a little further, since 1990, there have only been two repeat champions: The 1991-92 Pittsburgh Penguins, and the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings.
So to think about the Kings repeating, well it seems a little bit on the impossible side almost.
When you look at the rosters, however, from the '97 and '98 Stanley Cup Detroit Red Wings teams, one thing stands out that the Kings have done this offseason.
They had 21 players on the '97 winning team that they had on the '98 team. They retained the services of almost every key member of the cup-winning team. The Kings, this offseason, did exactly that and retained the services of every single player.
No new additions were made, and more importantly no big subtractions were made either.
It's smart general managing, and great scouting. The Detroit Red Wings of the late '90s had an ungodly amount of talent. How could a team have so many good players? Lidstrom, Yzerman, Fedorov, Kozlov, Shanahan, Draper, Holmstrom, Maltby, Knuble, Larionov, etc.
It was a combination of homegrown talent and well-constructed trades and signings. The Red Wings grew players like Lidstrom, Yzerman, Fedorov, Holmstrom and Kozlov, and they added the Maltbys and Shanahans of the world to an already existing strong core.
When you look at how the Kings have operated, you can see how they have tried to model themselves and their ascent to the Detroit Red Wings of the late '90s. When Lombardi was hired it was in the Kings' plans to be built like that.
So how have they done? Well winning a cup was a good start, and when you look at the two franchises, you can really see a similarity.
The Kings have built and are still building a long-lasting, and young core around Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty, Mike Richards and Jonathan Quick. They've also made their Shanahan- and Maltby-like additions bringing in Willie Mitchell, Justin Williams and Rob Scuderi.
They brought in a coach, an older coach, with a good track record to match their team's overall identity with Darryl Sutter. It's similar to what Detroit did back in '93 when they brought in Scotty Bowman from Pittsburgh where he had won a cup.
There were years of tumult in the mid-to-late '80s, or the more aptly named "Dead Wings" era, followed by years of continued but varied success. They stockpiled draft picks and young players, and eventually emerged as an incredibly deep franchise.
It's easy to get lost in the comparisons of the two franchises, because of course there are definite differences.
But there are other things aside from roster retention that help the Kings. They are a stingy team, built and predicated on defense, and defense does in fact win championships. They are still also a very young team, (26.89 average age per QuantHockey) with a top-half ranked pipeline. They have a lot of long-term, and affordable, contracts in place as well.
It all looks very good on paper, right?
Well, as we all know the game isn't played on paper. The Kings are almost certainly a shoo-in for a postseason appearance in the 2012-13 season (granted we actually have a season), but once we get into the dance it's anybody's game.
No one expected an eighth-seeded Kings team to go on a glory run that would knock off all three top-seeded Western Conference teams on its way to the cup, did they?
So in realistic terms, you can say it's no more than a 1-in-16 chance, because come May, everyone in the postseason has a shot.
A little anticlimactic? Certainly, but that's the nature of the postseason. A hot goalie and a few lucky bounces can mean the difference between a first-round exit or a Stanley Cup. Heck, one whacky play can make all the difference, just ask Michael Leighton.
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