Los Angeles Kings

Brown calls out Kings, Sutter reminds captain he needs work too

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The Los Angeles Kings’ chances of making the playoffs haven’t evaporated, but they certainly have thinned after losing nine of their last 11 games. The contrast between their 2014 Stanley Cup championship and the 2014-15 campaign couldn’t have been starker as the Kings went from visiting the White House on Monday to being shutout tonight.

They might not be the same team that won the Stanley Cup in 2014, but a lot of the players are the same. So what’s holding Los Angeles back? If you ask captain Dustin Brown, he’ll argue that it boils down to a lack of emotion.

“It starts with our emotion,” Brown said, per LA Kings Insider. “I answered that question similarly today. We’re a good team, but it’s hard to win when you don’t play with enough emotion. That’s on an individual level and a collective level. We need everyone to be invested in the game emotionally, and from there we can work on X’s and O’s and all of that, but you need the emotion first.”

On a more positive note, Brown thinks the team still believes in the system and defenseman Matt Greene added that they remain confident. At the same time, their slump has dragged on for about a month now and they’re still dealing with the same issue.

“If guys don’t know what’s going on, then they haven’t been listening,” Brown said. “We’ve had plenty of meetings. We’ve talked about it. At a certain point, you’ve got to stop talking.”

And it would seem that Brown isn’t immune either as Kings coach Darryl Sutter noted the captain’s bad change on Washington’s first goal tonight when reporters brought up Brown’s lack of emotions talk.

If the Wings still want a right-shooting d-man, Franson, Petry and Green are probably available

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According to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun, the Toronto Maple Leafs are likely to trade Cody Franson prior to the March 2 deadline and the Edmonton Oilers are likely to deal Jeff Petry.

According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Washington Capitals are likely to do the same with Mike Green.

What do Franson, Petry and Green all have in common?

All three are right-shooting defensemen.

And what team has been talking for what seems like forever about adding a right-shooting defenseman?

That would be the Detroit Red Wings, who only have one of those on their active roster — rookie Alexey Marchenko, .

“We knew he’d (be) here eventually,” said coach Mike Babcock of Marchenko, per the Detroit News. “He’s a steady, big man, right-hand shot, who knows how to play without the puck.”

But Marchenko is still in the audition stage. And even if he passes, Babcock would probably prefer another righty or two anyway.

“I just think it’s so much easier when you have a right and lefty on every pair,” he said in June. “All you got to do is look at L.A. (Stanley Cup champion Kings), a right and lefty on every pair. Makes it easier to get through the neutral zone, easier off D-zone faceoffs to execute. You have the puck more. You can get it off the wall and shoot it in the offensive zone. To me it just makes sense.”

Which also makes you wonder if the Kings, without right-shooting Slava Voynov indefinitely, will take a run at Franson, Petry or Green.

As for the Wings, the argument against adding one of those three, or some other righty D, is that the Wings are doing just fine the way they are, so why give up an asset to make a change?

That’s for GM Ken Holland to decide.

Franson, Petry and Green are all pending unrestricted free agents.

Dean Lombardi is criticizing the NHL again

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L.A. Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who has already taken the NHL to task this season, lobbed another complaint at the league on Tuesday — this time, regarding the Canadian dollar’s affect on next year’s salary cap.

“It’s a matter of how all these pieces fit into the puzzle,” Lombardi told the L.A. Times, in speaking about his club’s cap situation. “Then we also have this whole thing with the Canadian dollar. I’ve been talking to other GMs about that. It’s a crazy way to run a cap.

“Do I need a stat guy or do I need a currency trader to figure this out?”

Lombardi is referencing statements made by Gary Bettman at All-Star weekend in Columbus, during which the commissioner said next year’s salary cap would be affected by the (slumping) Canadian dollar, but clarifying it wouldn’t cause the cap “to fall off a cliff.”

Bettman said that if the Canadian dollar continues to trade around $0.80 USD (as it is currently), next season’s salary cap ceiling would be $71.6 million. If the Canadian dollar is at $0.82 USD, the cap ceiling would be $72.2 million.

(Back in early December, the league pegged next year’s cap number at $73 million.)

The Kings have been pressed up against the cap ceiling for a while and, recently, waived high-priced center Mike Richards before sending him to AHL Manchester, which relieved them of $925,000 of Richards’ $5.75M cap hit.

Lombardi had another cap-related complaint earlier this season. In early November, he called the system “dysfunctional” after the Kings were forced to carry Slava Voynov’s $4.1 million hit despite the Russian rearguard being suspended indefinitely following a domestic assault arrest.

Two weeks after the “dysfunctional” remark, Lombardi was at it again.

“As this case makes clear, we must now do one and/or two things. We must build in a cushion in case one of our players is a bank robber, kleptomaniac, etc,” he said, per the O.C. Register. “The seemingly better alternative is, we have to do a better job of educating our players and, in particular, monitoring our players away from the rink.

“While monitoring them away from the rink may have the Orwellian connotation of ‘Big Brother’ oversight, that is the nature of the sports business in the cap era.”

Financially speaking, L.A. will be a team to watch this offseason. The club has several big decisions to make on key players, including the reigning Conn Smythe winner in Justin Williams (a UFA on July 1) and two highly-coveted RFAs in Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli.

PHT Morning Skate: Kings give Bettman grief for his ‘tough shoes’

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

It sounds like Sam Bennett is making some nice progress toward a return for the Calgary Flames. (Calgary Sun)

Former Colorado Avalanche GM Francois Giguere is focusing on helping players handle their finances. (Denver Post)

Five coaching blunders that may or may not compare to Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s disastrous play call. (The Hockey News)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.
It might be best for the Columbus Blue Jackets to “focus on the future” rather than this season. (Columbus Dispatch)
As festive as it must have been when the Los Angeles Kings visited the White House, the most memorable thing to come from the photo op was probably Marian Gaborik giving Gary Bettman a hard time for his foot wear on Instagram.

Here’s the photo:

source:

 

Gaborik’s caption reads: “Tough shoes Mr. Bettman at the White House @nhl @nhlpa.”

Drew Doughty brings it back to labor unrest:

Three reasons the Rangers could be deadline players

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1. Everybody’s already discussing it. Brough alluded to the Rangers’ interest in welcoming Mike Santorelli to the trade rumor mill, and over the weekend all the local rags — Post, Daily News and Record — had some variation of the same story, playing off this quote from head coach Alain Vigneault:

“If we can improve ourselves and become a better team, we’re gonna do that. We’re no different than any other team now. But so far, I’ve liked the way our team has progressed. I’ve liked how certain individuals have progressed.

“We’ve got a little bit of time here to sort things out, and that’s what we’re gonna do.”

The talk, primarily, is about strengthening New York’s center position, specifically the third-line role currently filled by rookie Kevin Hayes. Depth down the middle has been an issue for this club this season, especially after losing Brad Richards and Brian Boyle during the summer, though it’s fair to suggest the Rangers could be primed to do more than add a bottom-six center. Why? Because…

2. GM Glen Sather has a history of big deadline deals. Last year Slats co-orchestrated the Martin St. Louis-for-Ryan Callahan blockbuster, which continued in his string of significant moves; the year prior, he flipped Marian Gaborik to Columbus for a trio of players that included Derick Brassard, and also acquired Ryane Clowe from San Jose.

Sather also has a few assets to deal. Teams looking to acquire young defensemen might look the way of Brady Skjei or Dylan McIlrath (though it’s tough to gauge the latter’s market value, given he’s yet to establish himself at the NHL level.)

3. The Rangers are in go-for-it mode. The window is now, and it’s open. The reigning Eastern Conference champs are probably more aware than anyone that the east is up for grabs; last season, the Rangers made it to the Stanley Cup Final despite heading into the playoffs as the “five” seed (Boston, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Montreal all finished with more points) and parity appears to be almost equal this season.

So, who are the Blueshirts going to target?

One would have to think Coyotes center Antoine Vermette is at the top of their wist list. He’d be an ideal addition down the middle and would have some chemistry with Brassard and Rick Nash, his former Blue Jackets teammates (from 2009-12). The Vermette bidding war is expected to be high, however, and the Rangers are at a disadvantage without a first-round pick at the ’15 Entry draft, sent to Tampa Bay in the St. Louis deal.

David Legwand could be another name to keep an eye on. The veteran center seems to have fallen out of favor with new Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron, and Sens GM Bryan Murray admitted Legwand could be on the move. At 34, Legwand has the veteran experience Vigneault likes; Vigneault would also be familiar with the ex-Predator from his coaching days in Vancouver (most notably the ’11 playoffs, when the Canucks ousted Nashville in Round 2.)