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Kings' Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson provided speed and excitement

Los Angeles KingsNHLSportsIce HockeyStanley Cup PlayoffsStaples CenterFree Agency
The Kings' Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson formed a wildly successful line with the veteran Jeff Carter
Toffoli and Pearson rewarded Darryl Sutter for his trust in them
Bob Miller and Jim Fox called the game in a booth at Staples Center

Sorry, NHL.

The Kings might be here for a while.

Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter don't become free agents until 2022. Drew Doughty is under contract until 2021. Jonathan Quick? He can't test the market until 2023.

They also have two young players who added speed and excitement, as if a 26-game march topped off with a Stanley Cup-clinching double-overtime victory didn't provide enough.

Tyler Toffoli, 22, and Tanner Pearson, 21, formed a wildly successful line with the veteran Carter, all of them wearing a jersey number in the 70s.

Toffoli and Pearson started the season in Manchester (N.H.) with the Kings' minor league affiliate because the big club was hemmed in by salary-cap problems. But Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi pulled off a series of trades that created room to bring them to the mother ship.

They weren't exactly handed the keys to the second line.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter doesn't always like using young players. It's a trust thing. He and former Lakers coach Phil Jackson have that in common. Not bad company there.

By the end of the playoff run, though, Sutter totally trusted Toffoli and Pearson. And they rewarded him.

Toffoli was fourth on the Kings with seven playoff goals, including two game-winners. Pearson had the team's second-best plus-minus rating (plus-10) along with four goals and eight assists.

"It's so special to win the first one," Pearson said. "These guys made the transition so easy for me, so I can't give enough thanks to these guys. There's so much veteran leadership here and so many guys that won it in 2012, so you just try to do your part and chip in where you can."

Toffoli and Pearson each make under $800,000 next season, a relative bargain in the NHL. They'll both be restricted free agents in a year.

They could also be a difference in helping the Kings become the first back-to-back NHL champions since Detroit in 1997 and 1998.

Not that Toffoli wanted to talk about it after his turn on the ice with the Stanley Cup on Friday night.

"I think we want to celebrate what we did now. I think next year, training camp, that's when we'll think about that," he said.

Toffoli was credited with the assist on the winning goal Friday, his shot from the right side popped back into the net by Alec Martinez after a rebound to the left side.

It made the final score Kings 3, New York Rangers 2.

"We just didn't stop. Guys didn't want it to be summer," Pearson said. "There's such a winning mentality in that room, and it just translates into the games. We were down, 2-1, going into the third period, and we come back and win in OT. It was definitely not the easiest way to win it this year."

National attention

While watching the Kings pass the Cup from one player to another, NBC analyst Mike Milbury had only the highest of compliments.

"You can see the level of skill, the level of will, the level of intelligence that makes a great team," he said. "This one is definitely going down in history as a great team."

The Kings can already tack up one goal for next season. It's been a long time since anybody's won three Stanley Cup titles in a four-year span — Edmonton in 1987, 1988 and 1990.

Still calling it

Kings broadcasters Bob Miller and Jim Fox didn't call the series because NBC had exclusive rights.

But as they did two years ago, they called the game in a booth at Staples Center as if they were broadcasting it live.

Here's Miller's play-by-play for the game-winner: "Right side, shot from there, the save and a rebound, score! Kings win the Cup! The Kings, Martinez, getting the rebound. The Kings have won the Stanley Cup! The Kings, in the longest game in their history, win it, 3-2.

Seconds later, he added, "Royalty reigns again in the National Hockey League. For the second time in three years, the Los Angeles Kings have ascended to the throne."

Etc.

Among the many facts and figures to tumble out of the Kings' playoff run was this surprising one: They became the first team since 1980 to win the Stanley Cup in overtime at home. The New York Islanders were the last team to do it, beating Philadelphia on Bobby Nystrom's goal.

Time to celebrate

The Kings' championship parade is scheduled to begin at noon Monday at Figueroa and 5th streets. There will also be a fan rally at Staples Center starting at 1 p.m., though that is already sold out. Doors to Staples Center open at 11:30 a.m., and season-ticket holders can watch the parade on the scoreboard or in other special viewing areas.

At the parade, the Kings and Anschutz Entertainment Group are encouraging fans to spread out along both sides of Figueroa. Access to LA Live will be limited, though restaurants within the area will remain open during parade hours via the northern entrance of Olympic Boulevard.

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Times staff writer Lisa Dillman contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Los Angeles KingsNHLSportsIce HockeyStanley Cup PlayoffsStaples CenterFree Agency
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