Detroit barely made the playoffs in 2013-14 and was promptly dismissed by the Boston Bruins in the first round. In terms of points percentage, it was the team’s worse season since Mike Babcock became the head coach and yet he was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award. The reason for that isn’t hard to decipher.
The Red Wings had to overcome a lot just to get to the postseason. They set a franchise record with 421 man games lost due to injuries and it wasn’t just a question of the quantity of the injuries. Detroit’s top two players, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were each limited to 45 contests.
Starting goaltender Jimmy Howard, forward Johan Franzen, and free agent acquisition Stephen Weiss are just a few of the other players that spent a portion of the season on the sidelines.
Given all of that, were the Red Wings truly a merely average team last season as their record would suggest or were they a good squad that was simply unlucky? Injuries are part of the game and it’s assumed that every team will deal with some hardship over the course of the 82-game season, but when the amount of time players have spent on the sidelines becomes record-breaking, it’s hard to just dismiss it as business as usual.
At the same time, an argument can be made that the Red Wings were fortunate in other regards. Gustav Nyquist stepped up with an impressive 28 goals and 48 points in 57 games. It’s too early to know if he can replicate those results, but it certainly seems like he got hot at the right time.
This isn’t an entirely academic question. Whether or not Detroit was unlucky last season doesn’t change the result, but keep in mind that they’ll be entering the campaign with roughly the same roster. If you buy into the argument that Detroit underperformed in 2013-14, then it’s not unreasonable to make the leap that they are a serious candidate to do meaningfully better in 2014-15.
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.
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.