Hey. Heard about the Kings lately?
Probably not. The media only swirls when they are winning.
Which they are not doing.
So many questions are raised during a tailspin. Should I try and right this suped-up Cessna? But how? There’s a damn engine on fire! Should I go down with the ship? Noble to the end but no less dead. Or bail?
These are questions for fans.
For the Los Angeles Kings, there is only one.
Where is the breaking point?
There are points in a season where barriers are reached. Every barrier in the NHL has a breaking point. Scoring woes, gaping smelly holes in defense. Malaise. Hesitation. Lady Luck.
Teams either fight through it or die trying. No team is safe from it. No player can avoid it. How it is dealt with defines careers and makes champions. Its feeds off of and flows back into culture. There can only be so much losing that is tolerated by a NHL caliber player of any level or skill set, from fourth line grinder to dominating superstar. At some point learning through losing becomes learning to lose. Winning culture is not a term I made up or unfairly hold firmly to my expectations for the Kings. These are Dean Lombardi’s standards. I only echo and internalize them.
There are many slanders you could throw against the Kings 8 game slide, like so many rotten eggs against a windshield. Some would stick. Others bounce off. The gripes tend to go, in no particular order but generally in either more imploring or hostile terms:
“I’d give my left nut for a winger of the same orientation.”
“If Drew Doughty doesn’t settle down and start putting up some points, I might have to start slapping everyone I meet with a mustache.”
“If I had a quarter for every line change that didn’t really do anything I’d never have to worry about street parking for the rest of my life.”
“You call that an offensive system? Well, at least we have the powerpl- oh fuck me.”
There are more. Kopitar needs to drive the net regularly. Johnson needs to stop turning the puck over. Simmonds needs to show something resembling a scoring touch. Smyth needs to try a move other than the wrap around. Brown needs to… well I’ll be damned I don’t think anyone is complaining about Brown’s play. He falls down a lot. That asshole.
All of these are true. The difference in opinion lies in the extremity of that truth. How close to your breaking point are you as a fan? Your answer to this is directly tied to how close you believe our incomplete NHL stars of the future are to theirs. Or if they even have one.
For me, we are approaching that time, for both individuals and as a team where careers are made and broken. Not the end. Don’t go diving off that cliff I let you glimpse. Hockey and life are always subject to change.
But trends are about to be set.
To compete for this season’s goal of a top four playoff berth, only so much losing can be allowed. While still very early in the schedule, there are ultimately only so many points to go around. Falling far from grace and then surging to reclaim what you already once lost is not a winning culture. Its schizophrenia.
We have hit a wall.
As a team, the barrier either stands as a looming threat, or a mere obstacle that must no WILL, be destroyed. Attitude.
As individuals, the choice is to casually stroll to each side hoping to stumble upon a breach, or to gather all your strength and beat your fists until flesh gives way to bone. Determination.
For coaching and management, the barrier must be anticipated and dealt with swiftly when reached. Is the army at the gates filled with the best soldiers, or do those soldiers need a new plan of attack? Strategy.
What results come of these challenges put winning culture to the test. Now is a time to build upon it, not let it slip away.
Somewhere in the distance is the point at which the tendrils of losing begin to feed through the brain.
Its proximity defines our culture.
GO KINGS GO
Categories: L.A. Kings News