By Ryan Lambert
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
It's possibly the greatest bit of investigative journalism conducted since Woodward and Bernstein brought down Richard Nixon.
This exemplary, collective effort of sleuth work is currently ongoing in Los Angeles, Calif., where an entire media market has unearthed the NHL's shocking secret:
The city has a professional hockey team.
Over the past week or so here at Puck Daddy, we've tried to document every startling discovery made by the intrepid Los Angeles media, like how to properly pronounce Anze Kopitar's name (it's hard because he's from Bosnia or something), the real name of this Drew Doughty character (it's actually Brad!) and that hockey is in fact not played with a ball, but rather a little piece of rubber known as a "puck." That last one makes me pretty uncomfortable because of the word it rhymes with. ("Duck" — sorry, I just don't trust 'em; they have weird beaks).
Just how villainous is this team, operating as a sort of sporting sleeper cell? They got all the way to the Western Conference Finals without one local noticing. That takes real criminal talent. And not only that, but, the NHL had the diabolical idea to hide it right under the Los Angelinos' noses, by having their home games played at the Staples Center. You know, where the Lakers play. Further, they named the team the Kings to intentionally confuse even the savviest media organization into thinking they are the NBA's Sacramento Kings.
Astonishingly devious stuff. More twists and turns than the Da Vinci Code, which I've read three times just to make sure I understood it all.
The best bit of this journalism on this pressing issue comes, of course, from the city's paper of record, the Los Angeles Times, winner of 44 Pulitzer Prizes since 1942, including three in 2012. It was for that towering beacon of journalistic excellence that columnist Chris Erskine successfully scruted several of the team and sport's most inscrutable mysteries.
For instance, that thing I said earlier about the puck (again, yuck… oh and that's another gross word it rhymes with), I learned it from Erskine. Apparently they even freeze the thing. And that's a huge point of concern, because, "The hardest shots can reach 110 mph and tear flesh, crush bone, even kill you if you're not careful." Yikes, you guys!
(Coming Up: Rick Nash to Boston?; Tororella defends Prust; Ryan Suter faces his future; Evegni Malkin is having a pretty good season; why Lundqvist is King; why the Capitals can't win with Ovechkin; the Islanders know how to party; Canucks might keep Luongo; Ryan Miller on the CBA; Flames and Oilers coaching news; and are the Kings in trouble?)
And if you have actually taken the time to seek out a hockey game (and why would you?), then you might be terrified to learn that the surface they're moving around so quickly on is ice that's spray painted white. It's true. I read it in the Los Angeles Times. Their sticks used to be made of wood but now they're not. Unreal stuff.
There are other shocking revelations in the article as well: The Kings aren't a team per se, but rather a group of four "lines" that come out and play together. Each line has three forwards, two defenders and a goalie. Troubling stuff (and now that I think of it, there may have been an episode of The Shield about this kind of gang activity). Hockey also has a thing called icing, no doubt to lure children seeking baked goods into this violent world, which is presumably "blood in, blood out."
These guys also aren't very sporting. For one thing, they have a guy named Jonathan Quick who is the world's best "defender," as a goalie. And the stuff he does isn't very fair, because he uses athleticism, which most other goaltenders in the sport don't. As Erskine explains, "[They] used to be chosen for their Michelin girth."
Worse, the Kings are making it so that no one wants to go see a real sport, like the one played by the Los Angeles Clippers. Seats in the lower bowl for this hockey thing are going for more than twice the price of basketball tickets. Shameful stuff.
Personally, though, I'm glad all this work is being done. You would hate to have a city like Los Angeles, which has a seemingly unending supply of professional sports franchises, win its first title in two years on a sport no one knows or cares about.
What do you mean there's a Los Angeles Galaxy? That sounds made up.
Who knows what these shoe-leather reporters will unearth next? I wouldn't be shocked if they discover these Los Angeles Kings have existed since 1967.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Ducks prospect Justin Schultz remains undecided on whether he will sign with Anaheim, which drafted him in the second round in 2008. He wanted to get school matters finished before making a hockey-related decision, a thing no player in the CHL has ever said in his life.
Boston Bruins: Do the Bruins have a "major" interest in Rick Nash? Probably. Might they be willing to part with more than one of Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Rich Peverley, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and Dougie Hamilton? Probably not.
Buffalo Sabres: Ryan Miller on the pending possibility of a lockout or strike: "The last thing they need to do is have some kind of a work stoppage. We have a fan base that's loyal and, honestly, I think the best sports fans out of any sport. We can't alienate them. We can't have a disagreement at this point in time. It's up to the NHL and the NHLPA to get it right. Do it the right way." Whether Don Fehr and Gary Bettman agree with his stance remains to be seen, I guess.
Calgary Flames: Would the Flames consider Rangers assistant Mike Sullivan as their next head coach? Honestly, this makes almost too much sense not to work, and I'm therefore shocked no one thought of it sooner.
Carolina Hurricanes: The 'Canes are interested in adding either Zach Parise or Ryan Suter. Get in line.
Chicago Blackhawks: Brendan Morrison is reportedly considering retirement, which prompted most people in hockey to say, "Oh right, Brendan Morrison hadn't retired yet?"
Colorado Avalanche: Milan Hejduk got a very affordable one-year deal worth $2 million from the Avs on Friday and you gotta think this is gonna be a victory lap for the five-time 30-goal scorer.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Over the weekend, the Blue Jackets signed prospect Austin Madaisky and informed Petr Straka and Brandon Archibald that they would not be picked up. They're still unsure on netminder Mathieu Corbeil, who is backstopping the St. John's Sea Dogs in the Memorial Cup, just to give you an idea of what's wrong in Columbus.
Dallas Stars: The Stars want to become one of the best teams in the league, and that might require Kari Lehtonen to be unsatisfied with simply being very good, and Jamie Benn to get more assertive. Also, a roster with a bunch of way better players.
Detroit Red Wings presented by Amway: The Wings really liked the work of 20-year-old prospect Calle Jarnkrok for Sweden at Worlds, but judging by the picture accompanying the article, he might need to work on his skating.
Edmonton Oilers: All of Tom Renney's assistants have been told they might be kept by the next guy the team hires Brent Sutter, whoever that is Brent Sutter. Could be anyone Brent Sutter. But there seem to be about five frontrunners Brent Sutter. Shockingly enough, that includes Brent Sutter.
Florida Panthers: Should the Panthers look to Jacob Markstrom next season or continue to go with a retinue of older guys to shepherd him into the league safely? Fans want him in the AHL for another season, which seems reasonable enough I suppose.
Los Angeles Kings: Uh oh the Kings are in a lot of trouble! They lost their second game of the playoffs and still need to win one more out of the next three to advance. This adversity is bad news!
Minnesota Wild: Mike Yeo and several other members of the Wild coaching staff recently participated in a 12-mile obstacle course in Wisconsin known as The Tough Mudder. They tried to get Dany Heatley to participate as well, but you know how much he hates going to the dirty areas.
Montreal Canadiens: Hey here's Marc Bergevin not being an idiot -- He would have no problem whatsoever taking any of Nail Yakupov, Mikhail Grigorenko or Alex Galchenyuk, all of whom are dangerous and lazy Russians. Oh wait Galchenyuk was born in and played his entire life in the U.S., and dad is actually Belarusian, which is not the same thing? Whatever.
Nashville Predators: Ryan Suter is going to discuss his contract with his agent this week, and David Poile hopes to talk to the pending UFA before June. That talk will start with, "Hi Ryan are you going to re-sign here?" followed by Suter pretending he's going into a tunnel.
New Jersey Devils: That whole "Don't let Rangers fans get tickets at the Prudential Center" thing? It didn't go so well.
New York Islanders: Say what you want about the Islanders, but they do their team draft parties right -- big-name players in attendance, contests, prizes, discounted merch, etc. Of course, when the draft has been the highlight of your team's season several years in a row, this is probably just what you have to do.
New York Rangers: John Tortorella said Brandon Prust's blatant elbow on Anton Volchenkov wasn't, like, THAT bad, and also hey the Devils are staying down a little long milking injuries after getting elbowed in the head from behind aren't they?
Ottawa Senators: Here's some math showing just how bad Erik Karlsson is in his own end. Hint: Very.
Philadelphia Flyers: Claude Giroux had surgery on both wrists since the Flyers' season ended, one to repair torn cartilage in his right wrist, and the other to remove bone spurs. Bet everyone feels super bad about ragging on him for getting shut down by New Jersey. Oh, no one does. Right.
Phoenix Coyotes: So far, the Coyotes are doing pretty well with their new mantra.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Evgeni Malkin is just having a ridiculous year of hockey, capping a monstrous NHL season with an MVP award and gold medal at the World Championships. What a player.
San Jose Sharks: The rookie tournament in Penticton that the Sharks — as well as the Oilers, Jets and Canucks — participate in has been canceled due to looming CBA-related issues. First sign of trouble or a who-cares development?
St. Louis Blues: The Blues have three prospects playing in the Memorial Cup, though only one, Shawinigan forward Yannick Veilleux, was drafted higher than the sixth round.
Tampa Bay Lightning: The Bolts are really bad at developing goaltenders. How bad? They've drafted 20 of them in franchise history, and Kari Ramo holds the distinction of most games played among them. At 48.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Things that surprise no people: Of cities that have NBA, MLS and NHL franchises, Toronto's three entries to those leagues have the fewest wins of all of them. Cities that beat out Toronto (presumably with ease): Chicago; LA; Denver; Washington, D.C.; Dallas; Boston; New York; and Philadelphia. Not sure if they counted the Golden State Warriors as San Francisco or San Jose, but if so, them too.
Vancouver Canucks: Now maybe the Canucks keep Roberto Luongo. After all that. They might keep him. It's amazing. What a franchise.
Washington Capitals: Is Alex Ovechkin hindering the Capitals' ability to win a Stanley Cup? I don't know. Let's only play him four minutes a night all next season and find out.
Winnipeg Jets: "Jets aren't playing for the Cup today because they lack specific key elements," says pompom-waving Winnipeg Free Press writer Ed Tait. Chief among those key elements? A NHL-quality roster.
Gold Star Award
I guess Henrik Lundqvist had a pretty good go of things on Saturday.
Minus of the Weekend
If you look real close at this highlight of the goal that salted the game away for the Rangers, you can see Marek Zidlicky move his foot out of the way of the shot.
Play of the Weekend
Real nice keep-in and backhand from Shane Doan, real bad decision from Jon Quick to play this puck.
Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week
User "cgf" has the right of it.
Matt Duchene, C
Tyson Barrie, RHD
2nd round pick
Tobias Enstrom, LHD
Alex Burmistrov, C/W
I'm sure if I saw that house now it'd make me sick.