At the end of last season, there was a lot of controversy brewing in Los Angeles as the Kings failed to clinch a spot in the postseason. As soon as the regular calendar was over, the Kings fired general manager Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter. Rob Blake was promoted to vice president and GM while Luc Robitaille was named the team’s president, and John Stevens took over behind the bench.
It was mayhem as fans did not understand why the men who led the Kings to two Stanley Cups were dismissed, but on Wednesday, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman might have provided some answers in his weekly 31 Thoughts column on Sportsnet.
According to Friedman who recalled a conversation he held with a Western Conference coach, the firings might have taken place following the demands of two star players, captain Anze Kopitar and star defenseman Drew Doughty. Here is how Friedman puts it:
"One Western Conference coach on Doughty and Kopitar: “Those guys asked for change and put their (somethings) on the line. They delivered. That should matter in voting, too.”"
The comment was inserted in the ongoing discussion on who should win the Ted Lindsay Award, which is awarded annually to the National Hockey League's most outstanding player in the regular season as judged by the members of the NHL Players Association. According to that Western Conference coach, Doughty and Kopitar would have voiced their displeasure with the coaching and front office management on the team, which pushed the Kings to make the significant changes they did during last offseason. That same Western Conference coach believes they should be in nomination for the Ted Lindsay award seeing that they not only said what was wrong but also managed to answer to the changes, and be the best versions of themselves on the ice.
Tonight, the Kings are reunited with playoff action as they set to face the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round of the Western Conference. Los Angeles allowed the fewest goals league-wide, has the season’s best penalty kill numbers, and averaged the eighth-fewest shots-against per game. The team surely has answered to the changes placed by the new head coach... and we guess they can thank Doughty and Kopitar for that...