Why the L.A. Kings Will Avoid Stanley Cup Hangover Thanks to NHL Lockout

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistNovember 12, 2012

Darryl Sutter won't give any of his players a pass based on last year's championship run.
Darryl Sutter won't give any of his players a pass based on last year's championship run.Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The last two Stanley Cup champions went through significant Stanley Cup hangovers the season after they won their championships.

In the case of the 2010 Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, the hangover was driven by team management decisions to get rid of some vital players as a result of salary-cap issues.

Valuable players like Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel and Ben Eager were traded weeks after the Hawks beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games to win their first Stanley Cup since 1961. Stan Bowman had to make additional moves to get Chicago in line with the salary cap and the team barely made the playoffs in 2010-11.

The Boston Bruins ended 39 years of frustration when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win the 2011 Stanley Cup.

After a long summer of celebrating the victory, the Bruins got off to a pedestrian start in 2011-12. While they would turn things around and get hot in November and December, the poor October was laid at the feet of the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover.

The Bruins had a solid 2011-12, but something was missing when the postseason started and they were eliminated by the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.

The Los Angeles Kings should not face a similar dilemma when (if) the season finally gets underway.

They rose from the No. 8 seed in the West to win their first Stanley Cup.

A hangover situation could have been likely if this was an ordinary offseason, where training camp started in September and the season in October.

But this is clearly not an ordinary offseason.

The season will likely be quite compressed when it gets underway.

The Kings will be under the demanding watch of head coach Darryl Sutter, and he's not one to run a lax ship under any circumstances.

Once the season gets underway, he will no longer be impressed with his team's achievement.

He's not one for glad-handing and back-slapping. Sutter has always been a prove-it-to-me kind of coach. What his players did last year is in the past. He will need to see production right away and he won't put up with excuses or any player who simply goes through the motions.

Sutter will almost certainly make an example of any player who tests him early. General manager Dean Lombardi is a big fan of Sutter and will almost certainly back his methods.

The Kings have another reason to avoid the Stanley Cup hangover. While they were clearly the best team in the postseason, they were rather ordinary until the final month of the regular season. If they hadn't improved their level of play, they could have easily missed the playoffs.

They don't want to go that route again. They want to show they can play with the big boys in the league for however long the regular season lasts.

They don't want to tempt fate by going into the postseason as the No. 8 seed once again.

They certainly have the weapons to compete with Vancouver, St. Louis and San Jose for one of the top spots in the Western Conference.

Last year, the Kings struggled to score goals during the regular season. However, that may no longer be an issue. When they traded for forward Jeff Carter prior to the trade deadline, they became a much better offensive team.

With scorers like Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Carter, the Kings should be able to handle their offensive responsibilities.

The shortened season combined with a demanding coach and the relatively new offensive firepower should keep this team on track and help them avoid a post-Stanley Cup hangover.