You do not trade a player like Evgeni Malkin unless you absolutely have to.
You don’t trade him because the salary cap is going down.
You certainly don’t trade him because of one bad playoff series.
We get why there was speculation, but in the end, the Pittsburgh Penguins made the right call.
Malkin is only 26 years old. He’s already won a Stanley Cup. He was the named the MVP of the league last year. He’s scored 100-plus points three times.
Actually, when you put it that way, maybe we don’t get why there was speculation.
With Sidney Crosby, Malkin gives the Penguins the most dangerous one-two center combination in the NHL.
“When you have two world-class players like this, you do everything you can to keep them,” said Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero.
Not that Malkin is perfect. He’s in no danger of winning the Selke Trophy, for example. But ask the Toronto Maple Leafs how difficult it is to find an elite center outside of the draft. Ask the Calgary Flames.
There’s no precise blueprint to building a Stanley Cup winner, especially in the salary-cap age where a team can’t have everything. But two world-class centers, a stud defenseman, and a great goalie are the four pieces that typically go at the top of the list.
Pittsburgh has two out of four signed long-term now. Depending how you feel about Kris Letang, there may be the potential to lock up a third. The goalie question is a massive one going forward.
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.