The New York Rangers have come to the defense of their struggling teammate, Dan Girardi, after the veteran’s giveaway in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final led to an overtime loss versus the Los Angeles Kings.
“Stuff like that is going to happen in a hockey game,” said Rangers forward Carl Hagelin. “I think what we’ve been doing is coming back stronger in the game after when we lose. G is a big part of this team, a great leader. He plays a lot of heavy minutes for us. It’s unfortunate that happened. He’s going to bounce back next game.”
Forward Derek Stepan had a similar, supportive message.
“Dan is a huge part of our hockey club,” he said. “I know that he’s probably moved way past it and he’s getting himself ready to play the next game. We’ve all been there. … If there’s a professional that can move away from it, it is Dan.”
The problem for the Rangers is this: Girardi’s giveaway may have been unlucky, and something that could happen to anyone. But the 30-year-old’s struggles extend far past one play, as illustrated by his postseason possession numbers, which are among the worst on the club.
To be fair, as Hagelin noted, Girardi does play “heavy minutes,” often being deployed against the opponents’ best players, with a good number of defensive-zone starts.
Regardless, Girardi will be a player to watch Saturday in Game 2.
“I do know that Dan’s got great teammates,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “I’m sure that they’ve all talked to him. It was a bounce. It was a bounce that unfortunately didn’t work out. He couldn’t put the handle on it. Stuff like that happens. You got to turn the page and move on.”
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.