It was April 22 and the
To put it mildly, the Kings' prospects of advancing did not look good at that point.
"I don't know about a sense of shock. It's certainly not satisfying," center
"We've all won here and we know how it feels and we've been on the other end and we've lost, and now we've got to regroup and take it one game at a time and we'll see."
"This team has stayed largely intact for five or six years, led by a core that has grown up together and lifted the
"While it's great that they get along and sacrifice for each other, their struggles against the Sharks suggest this mix needs some stirring and new ingredients. …The mix simply isn't right anymore."
That dire pronouncement came from me, and although a few readers have suggested I wrote it to inspire the Kings to turn things around, I can't pretend that was my ulterior motive. I wrote it because that's how bad things looked — and I wasn't alone in thinking the worst.
Justin Williams, so strong a leader throughout a march that ended when the Kings defeated the
Minutes after he was handed the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs, Williams was asked how he would have responded if someone had told him on April 22 that he shouldn't worry, the Kings were going to win the Cup.
"I would have punched you in the face maybe," he said, triggering laughter at his post-victory news conference.
"Things looked bleak for us. But we were able to channel our inner will. We just didn't want to go away. The term 'one at a time' certainly applied to us that series."
Their inner will proved more formidable than anyone outside their locker room could have known. I was right in predicting the Kings would defeat San Jose in seven games but never expected it to unfold as it did, or that they'd display such great resolve and get such timely scoring.
Sutter did change the mix a bit. He moved a struggling
In addition, Sutter had used penalty-prone winger
As that first-round series went on and they repeatedly avoided elimination, the Kings shattered the Sharks' fragile psyche. There's usually little momentum from game to game in the playoffs, but the Kings began to build confidence and develop an unbreakable sense of calm during what should have been their darkest moments.
"One and two were a little out of character for us," goaltender
"They kind of pushed that upon us. They forced us to make errors and mistakes and you've got to tip your cap to them on that. Games 3, 4, right on through, we got back to what we're used to doing."
They routed the Sharks, 5-1, in Game 7 but had no time to relax before facing the top-seeded
"With this whole group we battled through so many things," defenseman
They battled past the
"Once we won the first one, all we wanted to do was win another one. We kind of messed that up last year and we lost the Cup to another team and we wanted it back so bad," Doughty said on the ice Friday at
There will be changes this summer. Mitchell, 37, and Greene, 31, are eligible for unrestricted free agency, and one — or both — might not be back. Gaborik, who scored a playoff-high 14 goals, will command big dollars if he reaches free agency on July 1. General Manager
This playoff run was exhausting and exhilarating, splendidly tense and ultimately, for the Kings, triumphant. "Your heart doesn't get tired," Doughty said in explaining the team's resilience.
After witnessing so many rallies, after seeing Doughty grow up and
Stirred but not shaken, the Kings climbed from the deepest deficit to hockey's highest heights and became champions for the second time in three seasons. It's as real as their chances of doing this again and again.