If winning the Stanley Cup is one of the toughest accomplishments in sports, how tough is it to win two in a row?
That’s a question the LA Kings will answer in 2012-13.
Historically speaking, capturing consecutive titles has been difficult. There have been just two repeat champions since 1990 — the Pittsburgh Penguins 1991-92 and the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98.
For you mathletes out there, that’s 15 years without a back-to-back champ — which isn’t overly surprising. A full playoff run combined with the regular season is (usually) over 100 games in length, a grind that takes a massive physical toll.
And since the lockout, that toll seems to have increased.
The 2006 Cup champion Hurricanes didn’t make the playoffs in 2007. The 2007 Cup champion Ducks lost in the opening round of the 2008 playoffs.
Detroit and Pittsburgh briefly reversed the trend by each making consecutive Stanley Cup finals in 2008-09, but the trend returned with the 2010 Cup champion Blackhawks (bounced in Round 1 of the 2011 playoffs) and the 2011 Cup champion Bruins (out in the opening round in 2012.)
That said, the Kings are uniquely positioned to buck that trend.
The biggest reason — as mentioned in the offseason report — is that L.A. returns almost its entire Cup-winning roster, a rarity in today’s NHL. Whereas the Bruins and Blackhawks lost key contributors following their victories, the Kings’ biggest loss might be Scott Parse, who appeared in nine regular season and zero playoff games.
Also consider the theory that Los Angeles’ run wasn’t super taxing. Taxing sure, but in the context of previous runs, not so much.
The Kings were average performers for half regular season — Anze Kopitar said they were “way more aggressive” after Darryl Sutter took over — and their playoff run consisted of 20 games with no series going longer than six (whereas three of Boston’s series went to Game 7.)
And hey, it wasn’t like the Kings were shouldering years of lengthy playoff runs. Last season was the first time L.A. advanced past the opening round since 2001.
The flip side of this, though, is that L.A. now has an unprecedented profile. The bullseye on its collective backs will be magnified by 1) the highest expectations in the club’s 45-year history, and 2) the immense spotlight that’s sure to be on Jonathan Quick after winning the Conn Smythe and signing a $58 million contract.
So…are the Kings well positioned to repeat, or will the task be too tall?
Let us know in the comments section.