Player X Gives Us: Out With The Old, In With The Old – Is It Bottom Yet?

Player X is one of Surly & Scribe’s readers. His comments caught my attention because I noticed a hockey acumen that went beyond the basics of the game. He recently submitted this article to me for consideration. I read it. I agree with some of his points. I disagree with others. The article is long but it is a quick read and well worth the short investment of time. Read it, absorb it and tell Player X your thoughts on his outlook of the Darryl Sutter era.

(You Won't Have Me To Kick Around Anymore)

Hello, my name is X, and I am…a Kings fan. I have had this affliction since 1985, but it started taking over my life in 1993. I have had a few brief recoveries in the past when I could ignore the team for short stretches of time, but I was only fooling myself. I have to admit I am powerless over this addiction because I just keep falling back into the hell-pit of addiction.

Last Saturday night, after the Detroit game, was a real low point for me, but I doubt whether it will be a low point for this team. The recipe for my depression goulash contained the following ingredients:

We lose to Detroit in a close game but come up just two field goals short.

I watch 24/7 and see Simmonds flat-out insult Los Angeles by saying Philly is a much better hockey town and he’s really glad to have been traded. What’s worse is, it is obviously not just the typical pabulum quote in a press scrum. He meant it.

I watch how Laviolette and Tortorella talk to their teams, and I see their commitment and passion and it makes me feel just plain sad for my team. These guys are serious, their brains are fast-twitch muscles, and they are not afraid to say negative things to their players straight and to the point, in the player’s face and in the press.

I see Ed Snider, the actual freakin’ owner of the Flyers, in person dedicating a youth skate rink and then I think of Tim Leiweke strong-arming the city council for Anschutz’s latest half-billion religious tribute to the almighty…dollar.

Then, I read Babcock’s quotes to an L.A. reporter before a Kings game, saying team’s all think they should win the Cup but some have no business thinking so, and that organizations don’t really understand how far away they are from winning it until they go through the process of doing so. That means the Kings have no idea whether they are actually close or not. The Kings don’t know, because they can’t know, but still, every organization has to win the first time, right? Take Anaheim, for example….er wait, never mind. Too depressing.

I see all these things, and I ponder, and it becomes obvious, by comparison. The Kings are not yet worthy of being called a serious organ-eye-zation. The Kings are not a threat. The Kings are really, really trying, but they are just not there yet.

As I sit, drowning in my metaphorical Hungarian stew…or is Goulash a soup? I do what men do; I try to fix it. I try to figure it out. Why, oh why, do the Kings just SUCK? And I have one word for it. I do not contend that one word can turn this scow onto a course toward the harbor of success, but I can cover just about every problem with one simple concept: Accountability. The Kings lack actual personal and organizational accountability.

The cliché would be that accountability has to start at the top, and apparently it just did with the firing of Terry Murray. But Murray is a middleman; he can neither skate nor trade. Yes, he bears responsibility, but only in a shared percentage as one of the leaders of this team.

For me, accountability is primarily an individual trait, but it must be collectively administered. Players need to police themselves and foster an atmosphere of commitment. Coaches need to police themselves and their players. A General Manager needs to police himself, his coaches and his players. The Guvnah Leiweke needs to lay low and make only the huge decisions, such as GM firing and payroll limits. His impact on accountability is usually only implied, or deferred, until matters are so grave that a total reset is needed. Can we be far from that point?

If players need to police themselves, then we start with the leaders. Dustin Brown is, despite the volume of outcry, a very good captain, in my opinion. His play is his example, he is very outspoken at times in public, especially lately, and it cannot be known how vocal he is in private. His work ethic is beyond question, his play has improved every year, his heart and mind are in the game at all times. The only question is whether he has the will of an Yzerman or Messier, both of whom had a quiet stare that bespoke of severed limbs and locked cellar doors. Is that “fire” there?

By virtue of position and salary, we look at Anze. Without dispute, Anze Kopitar is doing everything for this team. His play, his skill and his work ethic deserve full marks. The only question for Anze is how good can he be with top-flight skill on the OTHER lines. But, Anze does not hit, he checks. He does more than enough, but if I could ask more of Anze, it would be for him to add some nasty to his game. Again, is that “fire” there?

Drew Doughty, by virtue of salary, must be considered a leader. He has loads of skill. But his head is not always in the game. This guy has no idea that sometimes, there is some serious shit going on. Laughing on the bench when the team is getting creamed, giggling with opposing team members between whistles, bopping to the arena tunes on the bench mid-period… Doughty has gone from looking and acting like the village idiot with a simpleton’s grin to now just being the bored kid at a funeral popping bubble gum during the eulogy.  These things bleed into his on-ice demeanor, also. Doughty watches his passes, is playing rover on a team that desperately requires structure, takes bad penalties, is god-awful on power play carry/entry and is nearly as bad as a PP quarterback, and on and on. His D-zone coverage has regular and recurring lapses, his outlet passes are only decent, and for some reason he is always upright and off-balance when trying to stop someone in the corners. He rarely maintains full engagement; his defensive play can best be described as someone who jabs at it. If you watch him, you will see he has a habit of stopping movement, standing upright and still after every few seconds. If there is a “fire” in Doughty, it probably has more to do with marshmallows and ‘Smores than a compulsive need for victory.

Roughly only half this team is playing at all well. Mike Richards, Matt Greene, Willie Mitchell, Jack Johnson, sometimes Simon Gagne and lately Dustin Penner, these guys are playing well, and I do not question their commitment (Penner LATELY, I said).

All the other players seem to be waiting for their collective balls to drop. Justin Williams has exhibited less testosterone than a member of the Vienna Boys Choir; he avoids contact at all costs, is incapable of carrying the puck without circling like a riderless Sea-Doo even thru center ice and only skates thru the box on his way out of the zone toward a shift change. Trevor Lewis had to be benched for many games before he grasped the idea that he was expected to actually create contact with opposing players; “…get out there and cause some mild chafing, Trevor.” Brad Richardson, who I love as a player, even Brad Richardson is becoming inept at anything but hurry up and almost get there; he is starting to look like another Brian Willsie. Westgarth and Fraser have some real chemistry; oil and water. And anyway, who the hell is Fraser? Why do we have a Hunter? When was the last time Hunter bagged a kill? Stoll is enigmatic, like a sci-fi character that only takes on the character of those around him; when the team sucks, Stoll sucks. He cares, his bottom is better than many others’ top, but it must be said this is a terrible year so far for Stoll. Andre Loktionov has exhibited zero percent of the purported puck-wizardry and has been a negative factor overall in every aspect of his involvement. The guy has had quality linemates both when he was at wing and at center and he still only has 2 points and zero goals. Do not cry to me about his not getting PP time, either, my accountability rubric yields him none and deservedly so. Scuderi has mastered the “shove it down the boards no matter what” play; he was totally befuddled against Detroit when he had the puck with open ice in the O-zone right down the middle with no Red Wing above the circles or in his shooting lane. His decision was not to take that ice and close in for a shot, or god forbid even contemplate doing so and then beating a guy for an even better shot. No, Scuderi had a golden opportunity to drill one from close in the middle and that is why he passed it to a covered Doughty for a bad-angle shot into a gaggle of bodies.

Let me sum up the players by saying I do not see the fostering of an atmosphere of personal accountability. I see a cluster-sutt of undisciplined individuals with limited offensive play-making vocabulary allowed to perimeter-dance in predictable comfort zones of unproductive busy-work. I see a roster of the correct number of low-dollar guys, but even they are not playing to their pay, and a group of high-dollar guys that have turned into head cases.

Stevens, and Murray, are to put it kindly, rather mild-mannered. The only fire there is, that Murray was actually fired. As for accountability, it seems the prime directive on this team is to not ruffle the feathers of their precious songbirds. I have seen zero accountability enforced toward the players from the coaching staff. As an example, last night when the Kings had the game at 3 to 1 with Kings momentum, Johnson made a perfect outlet zip-pass to Trevor Lewis at our blue line. Murray had bastardized our entire breakout system all year long using the edict to “get the puck to the forwards quickly,” and when Johnson does exactly that Lewis is just not ready for it. He flubs the pass, and that turnover leads to a transition scramble from which the Kings never recovered until it was in their net. A few minutes later, Trevor Lewis is out there on the first unit of a power play. What am I missing here? I am missing accountability.

And how is this situation addressed by the General Manager? A team is lost at sea, and Lombardi drops the compass overboard and pokes a hole in their life raft. Then, he summons the Coast Guard in the person of Daryl Sutter. Sutter, former Calgary coach and GM and also nose-swallower-in-training, is gruff and tough, and supposedly gets the most out of his players. He has a good record as a coach, was one goal away from a Stanley Cup with sub-par skill level, and relies on a defensive mindset and hard work to win games.

(Sutter Twins)

I can see the thinking here: Lombardi sees a team that is under-performing and brings in an ass-kicker. Lombardi sees a team built on and good at (reads “used to be good at but not recently”) defensive structure and hires a coach well versed in a very similar structure. Lombardi sees a team without fire and passion and brings in a guy who is not a deep thinker but who is willing to get angry and loud about losing in hopes of creating that fire.

As a tough bastard, who is familiar with the team’s most familiar mode of play, Sutter, ostensibly, would seem to be a great candidate to provide the accountability I see lacking. Or is he?

One of my problems with the Sutter is that this team already knows defense; Sutter does not have much room to improve the defense, nor much need to improve it. The area that is lacking is offense, the under-performance is offense, the players that have any capacity to improve are the top scoring forwards. To whatever degree possible, the checkers could also benefit from the trickle-down effect of enhanced offensive play. Is Sutter the man for that job?

Another problem with the Sutter is that building “fire” based on fear is a sham. It is external to a player, not internal. The player is not trying to be his best; he is trying to meet the coach’s standard to avoid harsh discipline. It seems counter-intuitive to an “us against them” attitude that includes the entire organization. Instead, it seems like overly harsh tactics would create a players-versus-coaches mentality. Instead of creating an accord of commitment self-enforced by a group with a common goal, Sutter runs the risk of basing the team’s future on a fundamental discord where the ultimate leader is not spiritually in the trenches with his troops.

So, is this the bottom? I fear not.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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25 replies

  1. …For me, accountability is primarily an individual trait, but it must be collectively administered. Players need to police themselves and foster an atmosphere of commitment…

    Well thought out and written article with a lot of good points and telling marks. Althogh I didn’t agree wit h the fact you did not identify Mike Richards as the leader of this team, which has shown for the most part in his play all year, particularily in since November. He might not be wearing the C, but he’s been captaining the team for awhile now, a job he’s very good at and the team has shown that in their actons , they know he’s the one who has their backs out there and he’s the one the’ll go to war for.

    He’s the only forward with killer instinct who plays starving hungry all the time and has a high hockey IQ and talent to capitalize on that. He ‘s the one who defends his teammates when they’re run, he’s the one who is a general on the ice, always talking, thinking, sharing, teaching. He’s the clutch player, those 9 goals in 10 games before he got hurt, 7 were game winners or game tyers. That instinct is not one you learn, you either born with that fire in you gut or your not. He’s a helluva lot close to Yzerman or Messier than Brown.

    This team lost 6 games without him because he’s the heart of the team. If Kopi or Brown went down Dec 1, the team most likely wouldn’t have gone into a tailspin

    Kopitar is the most talented player on the team and his natural skill is exhiliarting but he’s not been consistent. Four goals in the last 6 and half weeks isn’t elite. He’s got the ability, that’ s clear, but not the killer instinct that would turn him into a beast. Maybe sutter can push those buttons.

    I don’t know Sutter well enough to label him, but he deserves a chance . If just lighting a fire under the undermotived players and under performing players will get them rolling, then the burden of the scoring won’t be borne by a few. That should turn things around.
    They need to get started on a high note and win tonight and go on a winnning streak, esp the divisional games.

    • Dierdre, Thank you for the time to read and respond. I would agree that Mike Richards is one of the leaders of this team. I do not think he is the Shadow Captain, nor the only leader. I love Mike Richards, he has brought much-needed intensity to the on-ice play, but Dustin Brown is the Captain and in my mind deservedly so. I could have gone on more about Richards, (I do tend to go on and on) but the article was already, umm, not short. I see your point about the losing without Richards, but DB has been here thru the previous seasons when the Kings had winning and losing streaks, too, so I am not willing to attribute this season’s woes to one single factor, of losing Richards to injury. Yes, the guy is clutch, we both love him, but his positives don’t negate Brown’s.

  2. I watch 24/7 and see Simmonds flat-out insult Los Angeles by saying Philly is a much better hockey town and he’s really glad to have been traded. What’s worse is, it is obviously not just the typical pabulum quote in a press scrum.

    … Actually, yes it is. I don’t expect Wayne to say anything other than he loves the team he’s on he loves the town he’s in etc etc etc. Did you expect anything else? Besides that, Philly IS a better hockey town than L.A.; that’s just being honest. I didn’t see it as an insult to the Kings or whatever, as he didn’t even mention the Kings and honestly there’s no need for him to do so.

    I can see him preferring to be with the Flyers because a) the Flyers are a better team, b) the Flyers are better coached, and c) he’s getting more time out there to show what he can do as opposed to not getting much more than jack shit when he was here. Funny how it works, isn’t it? Simmonds gets more than two minutes more ice per game, he gets PP time in abundance, and his results are better. Even though Simmonds went into an offensive funk for a while, the Flyers stuck with him, and he’s pulling out of it. This is incredibly shocking stuff, I know. It was said before the season that Clifford would easily replace what Simmonds brought to the team. Yeah, that’s not working out too well, is it?

    I’d be pretty happy to be where I was if I were Wayne Simmonds, too. Wouldn’t you? It’s nice to be with a good team that actually believes in you as a player, isn’t it?

    By virtue of position and salary, we look at Anze. Without dispute, Anze Kopitar is doing everything for this team. His play, his skill and his work ethic deserve full marks. The only question for Anze is how good can he be with top-flight skill on the OTHER lines. But, Anze does not hit, he checks. He does more than enough, but if I could ask more of Anze, it would be for him to add some nasty to his game. Again, is that “fire” there?

    … The Kings have no “top-flight skill” on the other lines. What they have is a top six made up of Anze and five second liners. And as for Kopitar adding some “nasty” to his game, that’s not going to work here because the Kings are desperate for any time he can spend on the ice. This team doesn’t need him to be taking any stupid and unnecessary penalties. His fire is strong, but he’s disciplined and he’s been the most consistent player on the team. As I said in another thread, he’s been damn near a miracle worker.

    Doughty watches his passes, is playing rover on a team that desperately requires structure, takes bad penalties, is god-awful on power play carry/entry and is nearly as bad as a PP quarterback, and on and on. His D-zone coverage has regular and recurring lapses

    … And if he didn’t take so many penalties, he’d be accused of not being “nasty” enough, right? Can’t have it both ways, I’m afraid. His D-zone coverage is usually excellent; I’m not sure what you’re seeing, but I’m not seeing the same things you are. His coverage is only surpassed by Mitchell and Scuderi, and those two guys’ only job is to play defense. Completely disagree on his being bad on the PP, as well. The PP is disjointed when five guys aren’t working together, and it’s not Doughty’s fault that the rest of the players around him aren’t as aware of the situation as he is. The Kings were throwing out Trent Hunter on the PP, for chrissakes. It’s almost like they wanted the damn thing to fail. If Sutter cuts out the silly shit and acts normal, and puts his best six forwards out there, things will see improvement – and since it looks as if Hunter will be scratched tonight, it’s likely Darryl will do just that.

    It’s disappointing to see your little “durr hurr Doughty is fat lol” at the end of that paragraph as well. That’s LGK shit right there, and it reflects poorly on you.

    I see a roster of the correct number of low-dollar guys, but even they are not playing to their pay, and a group of high-dollar guys that have turned into head cases.

    … Actually, they haven’t turned into head cases, and that’s to their great credit. There has been very little leadership on this team from the very top down, there’s an atmosphere where no one seems to know who’s in charge and if the organization is just doing this by the seat of their pants, and consequently that has had an effect on the team. How can it not??? If Sutter can bring about some order to the chaos, it’ll be to his great credit and he will see the appropriate results. Now that we’ve gotten the whole “We’re Cup contenders and the Time is Now” horseshit out of the way, the team can start to concentrate on just playing the game competitively and correctly. I’m willing to give Sutter a clean slate to work with; even if the team misses the playoffs this season, as long as he can direct this team’s focus on the proper things, he’s golden in my book. But – if they DO miss those playoffs, Leiweke and Lombardi should be removed. Like you, I’ve been a diehard since the mid-80s, and I know embarrassment when I see it and experience it. I’ve had enough embarrassment during Tim and Dean’s respective tenures. Enough is enough.

    • …. His fire is strong, but he’s disciplined and he’s been the most consistent player on the team. As I said in another thread, he’s been damn near a miracle worker….

      I guess that depend on your interpretaton of the word consistant. If he was consistent he’d be scoring goals on a regular basis, not 4 in almost 7 weeks. if he this ‘miracle worker’ you speak of, why didn’t he pick up the gauntlet and lead this team when Mike Richards, you remember him, you’ve labeled him as a non elite player, went down? This team lost their focus and shape when Richards got hurt becaues he is the heart of the team
      What part of the HImalayas where you lost in , in november when Richards and Quick carried this team?
      I get that you blame Richards for your hockey hero Simmonds being traded (evident in your comments on this and other boards you post on) and the fact you can’t see Richards is lightyears past Simmonds in talent, hockey IQ and every other hockey aspect tangible and otherwise puts a wince factor on your hockey savvy.
      Kopitar is the most talented player on this team, that’s a given. But thi syear he has not been consistent, he didn’t put the team on hi s back when Richards went down .They went from 6-2 prior in Nov, with Richars leading to 2-6 without him. Richards is still the leading goal scorer being out three weeks… but that’s because he’s not an elite center , right???

      • I get that you blame Richards for your hockey hero Simmonds being traded

        … Actually I didn’t mention Richards once in my post. If Richards is your hockey hero, and you want to credit him for all or most of the team’s success, be my guest. I don’t really care. Richards is a good player. I’ve already listed where Kopitar is more consistent than Richards, and my definition of consistent is the actual definition of consistent, sooo – have fun I guess.

        They went from 6-2 prior in Nov, with Richars leading to 2-6 without him. Richards is still the leading goal scorer being out three weeks… but that’s because he’s not an elite center , right???

        … OK. You’re right. The only thing that hampered the team during the last eight games was simply Mike Richards not playing. It wasn’t anything else. That’s a relief!

        And all I’ve ever said about Richards is that he’s a second line center, which he is. If you think that I’m slighting him by saying that, then that’s on you, OK?

        • JT i see a common thred here. You always disagree with whatever the article is. You act like you are the end all be all of hockey knowledge. And im afraid that just simply is not the case. You hardly back.up anything you say. And when.you do its some obscure or cooked statistic that fits your opinion. And that is what you post your opinion and not the facts. Maybe if you had actually played this game youd better notice the subtle neuances of hockey. Until then you just look like an.ass hy constantly argueing with whatever is posted on here

          • … I see a common thread here, too. You never debate a post I’ve written, and instead come on to insult me or troll me or whatever it is you’re going for here. You’re certainly not the first to do it, or the last.

            If you want to point out where you disagree with me, then do it. Otherwise, why bother posting?

            And I’d suggest making use of the spellchecker, so that you come off as halfway literate in your future posts. I’m not sure if your goal is to make me laugh, but that’s what you’re doing.

          • Haha i have several times explained where u are wrong and you never respond. As for spell check i am on my phone with a stupid touch screen keyboard which doesnt always input all the enter. Im not trolling you its not that important to me but honestly if u believe you know it all you should think of starting your own blog and see how successful youd be

          • I’m calling a moratorium on your using the term troll JT. It’s too quick of a go to of yours. I’ll chalk it up to a remnant of your days on LGK.

          • … I love it when you get all authoritative and shit. I just call a spade a spade.

            And, did I say the Kings would win tonight? What I meant to say is that they would tie. Sometimes, you know – typos.

          • Lol.

            In your heart of hearts JT you’re a submissive. But seriously you do call a lot of people trolls.

            Time for two points.

    • Thank you also for taking the time to read and especially respond. There is a streak of contrarian in some of your reply, and I am not sure of your actual point at times, so if I miss the mark here in my counter-points let me know.

      “Besides that, Philly IS a better hockey town than L.A.; that’s just being honest. I didn’t see it as an insult to the Kings or whatever.” My point was that I was sad because Philly is a better hockey town. It is my remaining subjective opinion that Simmonds was sincere in his quote: it was in fact made in his car, not in a press scrum, as I said. And Simmonds could very well have said something different; remember the Mike Richards reaction quotes to his trade? For me, it was insulting, or maybe better said would be hurtful. I think we could agree it was not positive, at least, right?

      The thing about Simmonds not getting more than two minutes of ice time while he was here is hyperbolic, and Simmonds was given plenty of opportunity. He was not a top 6 guy here, and did not play his way into that role. Please don’t now engage in the litany of “the stifling” by Murray, that dog has run off. Again, my reaction to the Simmonds thing is sadness because my team looks worse in comparison, so your whole angle about being better coached, etc., has a tone of soft belligerence that seems out of place when you are actually agreeing. Maybe I need to get used to your inflection, I dunno, just how it reads felt a little extra edgy.

      Your points about Kopi are also just over-the-top. There is room for debate without needing to take an extreme position. Saying the Kings have no other first-line players completely disregards the success in past seasons. Do you like this team? And adding “nasty” is more than taking bad penalties, that idea is simplistic.

      As for Doughty, I am not out on any limb here discussing his poor play this year. The last few games he has been better, but when the new coach comes in discussing his play suffering from missing camp, I am just not wrong about the underachievement. If you think I am wrong about some particular areas, fine, we disagree. Of course, all five players impact the PP, but he PP got worse last year and Doughty had a lot to do with it. Small sample size, but when Doughty was outie and Johnson was QB alone, the PP was kicking ass this year. Doughty can be good, and great, but steady and consistent is not accurate so far this year. As for your attributing my smores quote to something like an LGK comment, I do not tolerate snobbery well. Your tone overall is disagreeable, but in one swipe you simultaneously come at me and some other site in condescension.

      Your last paragraph is baffling to me, I can find no actual debate. If you don’t think guys are underachieving and gripping their sticks and not scoring, which is for me the obvious sign of guys having “head cases,” then we disagree. Also, my post was about that we are not there, and the organization is not a serious one yet. I guess what you’re saying is that with Kopi and no other top-flight players Sutter can become golden but we should fire Lombardi and Lieweke?

      • The thing about Simmonds not getting more than two minutes of ice time while he was here is hyperbolic

        … You misunderstood my meaning there. He’s playing two minutes per game more per game this season than he did last.

        and Simmonds was given plenty of opportunity. He was not a top 6 guy here, and did not play his way into that role.

        … Simmonds was well ahead of almost every other King in points per minute played at even strength in 09-10 (only Parse was higher, and he played just 59 games). And what was his reward for this? He saw his ice time cut in 10-11. That’s gratitude for you.

        But the same thing happened to Frolov from 08-09 to 09-10. Murray just had his favorites, and they didn’t happen to include Simmonds or Frolov. As I said, it’s nice to see him doing alright in Philadelphia, because that’s a better team and because they actually believe in what he can do and aren’t going to give up on him if he goes into a slump. It’s not hard to see why he enjoys playing there, which is what my point was.

        Please don’t now engage in the litany of “the stifling” by Murray, that dog has run off.

        … I don’t give a shit if it’s run off or not. It happened.

        Saying the Kings have no other first-line players completely disregards the success in past seasons. Do you like this team?

        … I love this team. Always have. I just don’t kid myself about the talent level here. Richards is a second-line player. So is Brown. So is Gagne. So is Penner, and that’s being generous when looking at his performance so far this season. So is Williams, and that’s also being generous. If anything, I’m probably being too nice.

        That the Kings even considered playing Trevor Lewis alongside Richards and Gagne just shows the dearth of actual talent up front on this team. And, what’s even more frightful is seeing people get excited by it. That’s a serious problem. Lewis makes past players like Craig Johnson look like stars by comparison.

        As for your attributing my smores quote to something like an LGK comment, I do not tolerate snobbery well.

        … Just calling it as I see it. It was an LGK comment. They’d eat it up over there, pun intended.

        I guess what you’re saying is that with Kopi and no other top-flight players Sutter can become golden but we should fire Lombardi and Lieweke?

        … That’s exactly what I’m saying. This is Lombardi and Leiweke’s team. The whole “The Time is Now” B.S. was and is all about those two and their collective egos. The way they’ve handled their affairs this season thus far has been embarrassing for anyone who loves this team. They’ve been here too long and their level of success while they’ve been here has been painfully underwhelming. Do you argue otherwise?

        As for Sutter, if he can help turn the season around and bring the Kings back to respectability, he’s golden in my eyes. It’s not going to be an easy task to even make the playoffs. If he can get the team there or get them close, I’m fine with him.

  3. Liked the article, and agree with most of it.

    This is nitpicking, but on DD, you critisize his commitment defensively, and yet he plays major minutes on a team that is 5th in the league in goals against. I’d say, in the defensive zone the Kings don’t have a problem, and that critisizing them for being the best in the 1 area they excell in is an insult to their identity.

    On the offensive part of the game, and your concerns with Sutter. I’m 100% in agreeance.

    I do think the team is loaded with underperforming players though, and don’t see a lack of talent, but a comperable game plan that can produce offensively. Motivational speaking might turn their fortunes around, but I feel the players are already trying, and could use an alternative game plan to not get them to try harder, but work smarter.

    • Hi Dominick! Nice to see you…

      I see DD as someone with a less than serious attitude. I feel this attitude bleeds into his teammates, and is detrimental to accountability. I agrre the Kings defensive prowess exists, but I credit it more to the diligence of our forwards and goalie. I am not saying Doughty is awful, and I don’t think you are saying he is flawless. ( I could make up a word: flawful) My point is more about Doughty not playing up to his salary, and I highlight areas of his game that are recently less than stellar. Again, I am not the only one saying Doughty is having a rough start to the season, and although he is improving lately over th last few games, I am talking about 30 or so games here.

      As far as system/game plan… The players are all saying, as is the coach, that the basic system will not greatly change. They are all saying it isn;t “x’s and o’s”, it is attitude. Small tweaks, especially in break out and entry, make a world of difference in the perceived “system” as if the coach is in their ear saying “dump it, dump it” or something. Murray wanted more creativity, but the guys had already tuned him out. That is shared blame, and something that just happens over time in a game that is so dependent on emotional charge and momentum.

      I guess my concern is how you inspire players. Is Sutter gonna just yell at his guys, or is he gonna live and die with them? for example, Lavillette texts Giroux after a game when Giroux is not on a road trip die to injury. Lavi just wanted to tell him he was missed… So Laviollette is tough and gruff, but he can also be warm and fuzzy, too. Can Sutter achieve that balance where guys know they have a tough as hell father type, or is Sutter gonna end up just being a mean boss?

  4. X…thanks for the write up an interesting read. I generally agree with your points. The frustration is evident and no doubt about it the Kings are one helluva frustrating team this season. One point that I’d like to add is the mention of this thing floating around called “attitude.” There needs to be an “attitude” adjustment with the team. I can see it. They play hard when they want to and they try and claw their way back into games but to me it doesn’t seem like they really, down inside believe they can come back and win. Where is that swagger? Where is that attitude that DL mentioned about scoring a goal. The “whew I just scored a goal” vs “hell yeah you’re right I just scored” mentality? Is this the small things that Sutter is talking about adjusting? Because that shift in attitude/mentality, imo, can really start to snowball over the course of a season.

    I’ve listened to Tampa players from last year and how they almost went to the cup finals and even though they were down, they were reminded of regular season games where they down but not out and came back to win. That gave them the ability to come back and win games from behind. Do the Kings have that? I don’t see it. Maybe that’s the “identity” DL is talking about?

    • I think that’s confidence more than anything. If your confident you can score 3 goals, you could care less if the opposition jumps out to a 2 goal lead, because you believe you can get it back.

      The Kings right now, are not even confident they can score 2. Can that change by being more intense as a coach? Possibly. Does it address the problem with not scoring in the first place? I’m not so sure.

      We’ll see though.

    • The ever vigilant fan in me got the red ass when I read your Tampa Bay comment…. Until I thought about it and I cant remember us digging ourselves out of ANY hole this year. Maybe I’m getting old but does anyone remember a game this year where we looked beaten and climbed our way out of hell? One of those damn points I hate having to agree with.

    • Thanks Hat Trick, nice to meet you and thanks for responding.

      Yeah, two years ago they were a comeback team. Last year, we got down to Detroit 3-0 at Staples after 1, tied it in the second, and Kopi won it with about 5 minutes to go or so in the third. Not seeing much of that this year, I agree. Totally with you about attitude; a mercurial substance that defies all containment, brother to confidence and momentum…

      One year, the Kings have slow starts, own the second period and if the y go into the third with a lead it’s a virtual lock. Next year, they get fast starts but can’t hold leads in the second, but if they do hold a lead it’s almost a lock. This year, 3rd period goals and losing leads follows erratic starts, but still they win games when leading after two. So, I guess we just have to watch; Sutter should be expected to provide quick starts, at least in his first games but probably overall it seems like a Sutter would have a team ready to play. The question will be if the Kings can maintain the lock with third period leads and improve elsewhere, or does the decline elsewhere finally degrade the third period lock.

  5. Very well written X.

    Personally, I disagree with your one word. Accountability is too easy of a word, it’s too all encompassing, it leaves room for nothing else. Plenty of teams in the NHL have accountability and still don’t win. It’s not the be-all-end all. The Kings just fired their coach and got yelled at from their GM, that’s more accountability than some of the teams have.

    Is accountability a problem for the Kings? Clearly, for players like Doughty, whether you want to call it accountability or lack of self-motivation or lack of discipline and getting pushed from the club, it is a problem. However, I think the bigger problem is talent. Here’s what most contenders have:

    Two top-six centermen. 2-3-4 (5 on rare occasions) top-six wingers (or maybe another top-six center playing on the 3rd line like the Sharks had with Pavelski last year).

    A good third line.

    A good top-four defense, usually with two top-pairing dmen.

    A good goaltender.

    The Kings have the two top-six centermen, they have a pretty good top-four defense. But they dont have the top-six wingers, no top line wingers whatsoever, and they dont have the 3rd line.

    Thats a talent issue. Depending on how important you think top centers and D are compared to everything else, maybe you feel the Kings can get away with not having wingers to an extent, maybe win a playoff round, but I think thats the scale of the debate. People who value wingers & forward depth the most will claim this is a fringe playoff team at best, incapable of winning a playoff round. People who think having good centers and defense can trump the other holes will probably say the Kings should be a 5th seed type of team that wins a round.

    But I dont think anyone objective who looks at this roster on paper, and sees the wingers and third line, would tell you this team has the talent to win the Cup.

  6. J.T.

    Have to agree with Player X on Simmonds’ comments. He wasn’t asked the question “You love Philadelphia, right? You’re really happy here, right?” That players sometime get asked, and they have to answer it affirmatively. He offered everything up willingly. He didn’t just say “I love it here in Philadelphia,” which would have sufficed and pleased the fans, he offered up, willingly, of his own accord, “it’s a much better hockey town than L.A.”

    So it’s not BS or phoniness, I’m sure he meant it.

    Where I disagree is that it matters he said that. In fact X, correct me if Im wrong, but I read it more as just something that upset you in that it was piling on top of the much bigger issues. I think taken by itself, so what if Simmonds said it, and meant it? It’s obviously true. The Kings are just now trying to get their act together for the first time in a long time, maybe since Gretzky. The Lakers have always been the main show in LA. Fans didnt even sell out the Kings games here until recently. Philadelphia is the opposite. There’s much more media coverage there for the hockey team, the city as a whole cares about the team much more. Im sure thats all Simmonds meant, and it’s true. It doesnt mean he didnt like L.A., just that he got traded to a good team with good support, why wouldn’t he happy?

    • You’re right, it was part of the many things at once. Still, it has it’s own improtance because he was right about the two towns, and that Simmonds should be happier there with a better history and at this time a much better record and team, and a franchise that has been all the way and was quite close recently.

      The idea of the article was a two-part snapshot: The team is underperforming, but even if performing to full level the team, and the entire franchise, is as yet not only unproven but trending the wrong way and beginning another coaching makeover. Kind of like thinking you have a fair shot at getting to the top, to now doubting whether you really do, afterall. Thanks for the time…

    • I think you are both misinterpreting X here. I don’t think it really has anything to do with Simmonds. I took his point as meaning it sucks big time that a player could even think that in the first place, because it true. Not that Simmonds did say, or anyone else, but that we don’t have the type of culture here where a player wouldn’t even consider saying that. No one would think of saying that about Toronto, or Philly, hell San Jose even and that’s not even a good hockey town, thy just have a reputation for being a good hockey team. And really, that’s what defines a ‘good hockey town’. It ha little to do with how much hockey is appreciated in the town, it has to do with expectations for success. There are virtually none here and that is what bothers Player X and myself.

  7. Maybe that’s what this team needs is someone to instill fear into them and get results. I see a lack of system and lack of motivation.

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