It didn’t end well last season for the
But after a first-round loss to the
Then the World Cup of Hockey gave him the opportunity to get feedback about his Kings players in the tournament, namely defenseman
"It also makes you realize how good your own players are," Lombardi said. "Sometimes when you've had good players … you start taking them for granted. You start looking more at what they can't do versus than what they can do. You always think the grass is greener."
Although Kopitar won the
“I said, ‘What have you been watching?’ ” Lombardi said. “You guys don’t watch hockey after 10 [p.m.] , and you watch the highlights. It’s why you vote for [
Lombardi’s point of emphasis came to light when he was in Colorado this preseason and took note of the
"They won a Cup in '96," Lombardi said of Colorado. "It was five years before they won the next one. You look at the same players on both teams. It was very similar to what we have, a strong core. But that team turned over 14 players.
"Then you look at Pittsburgh. They won that Cup. Six players are left from that [first] team [that won the Cup]. That's a classic example of people that used their window, had some ups and downs. You had that remodel even with Colorado, in a non-cap era.
"I did a lot of work evaluating this. This is the plan we have and we're going to stick with it. I think we got little away from that."
Another example would be Chicago's changes from its Stanley Cup win in 2010 to the Blackhawks' most recent championship, in 2015. There were many changes from the team in 2010 to the group in 2015, but still the core remained intact.
The focal point of the Kings’ core is Quick. Last season he played a league-leading 4,034 minutes in 68 games, and Coach
"It's always a tough one to answer," Sutter said. "Most of it is based on performance of your goaltenders and how your team is doing. You start mapping out a schedule for goaltenders and very seldom can you stick to that schedule.
"You want to be in the 60- to 65-game [range]. When you have a top goalie, that's what they expect to play and that's what you expect them to play."
They open the regular season Wednesday at San Jose and the usual preseason chatter featured a sense of optimism rather than a sense of a team having plateaued.
"Maybe there's a little time for renovation, a little bit," said Kopitar. "But at the same time, the big pieces are in place."
There was far more off-season turmoil for the Kings a year ago. Now Kopitar is the new captain, taking over for friend
Kopitar's captaincy of Team Europe was a good test run.
"I know it's different but at the same time, it's nice to get a few games in that role," Kopitar said. "I've said it all along. I'm not going to change. I must have done something right: being myself with no pressure whatsoever. They trust me with this role."
Almost no one could have predicted Kopitar and Brown would be joined on the top line for the season opener by winger
He has spoken about his past alcohol and drug troubles and stint in a rehabilitation clinic in Malibu about 19 months ago. The contract represented a chance for Setoguchi to re-establish his career after being with three other NHL teams since 2011. He started his career in San Jose, drafted eighth overall in 2005.