Always next year

Has there ever been a bigger late-season collapse than this Leafs one?


The Toronto Maple Leafs were embarrassed again last night. A 7-1 home loss to the Flyers was just the latest dreadful performance in what’s been one of the most monumental late-season collapses in NHL history.

Since Feb. 6 – when the Leafs were 28-19-6 and on the way to their first playoff appearance since 2003 – they’ve gone 5-17-3 without a single victory at the Air Canada Centre.

They haven’t just lost games either — they’ve lost them spectacularly. Five of them by four goals or more. One 8-0.

“It doesn’t get much more embarrassing than that,” Leafs defenseman Cody Franson said after last night’s 7-1 defeat. “It’s one of those situations right now where it seems like no matter what we try to do it’s just not working. We’re having a tough time getting through it right now.”

There have been similar, and arguably worse, collapses in other sports. The 2011 Red Sox lost 18 of their final 24 to blow a nine-game lead over the Rays, topping it off with a blown save in the final game of the season. The 2007 Mets blew a seven-game lead with 17 games left. The 1993 Dolphins started 9-2 and finished 0-5 to miss the playoffs.

But what about NHL late-season collapses that resulted in teams missing the playoffs? The 2006-07 Oilers were 28-24-4 on Feb. 11 and went 4-19-3 down the stretch, but they didn’t fall out of a playoff spot. The 2002-03 Penguins fell apart, but their fall started in January, so calling it a “late-season” collapse is a bit of a stretch.

Anyway, if any of you can think of (or Google) something, please share it in the comments section. Maybe we’re missing an obvious one.

Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?

Coyotes exploit another lousy outing from Quick

Jonathan Quick

Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.

Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.

Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).


A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:

Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.

It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.


After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.

Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.