After 105 regular season and playoff contests, staying rested is a challenge for the New Jersey Devils. Their coach, Pete DeBoer decided that it was a bad idea to hold a practice Monday morning after the team flew cross-country for Game 6 in Los Angeles.
So instead most of the Devils went on walks, because if there’s one thing they don’t want to do all day, it’s lay around.
“We have a lot of those guys,” DeBoer said. “Lou (Lamoriello) reminds me on a daily basis. I’ll come off the ice, tell the guys to get off and he’ll give me a call telling me there’s still 15 guys out there 15 minutes later. So, you have to go back and get them off.
“They love to play. I don’t think you get to this point of the year unless your best players genuinely love to play. You’re not playing at this point of the year for money or for anything else. It’s because you love to play and you grew up wanting to win a Stanley Cup. When your best players have that desire, you have success and part of that is they don’t want to come off the ice, they don’t want to leave the rink. You have to push them out, push them off.”
What the Devils have done so far is certainly a testament to their strength of character as a group. It would have been easy for them to give up after going down 3-0 in the Stanley Cup finals. At that point, no one expected them to overcome the odds and their season would have still been called a success in the grand scheme of things, but they didn’t want to give up.
Of course, the Los Angeles Kings can claim the same kind of drive, especially given their status as a team that had to claw their way into the playoffs in the first place. These squads are both worthy of the Stanley Cup, but only one will get it.
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.
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?
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.