Just over a month ago, it was a great time to be a fan of the Los Angeles Kings. Despite their star goaltender being injured, there was a collective effort in Los Angeles as the Kings earned points in 20 of their 22 games spanning from November 7 to December 21. But since then, it’s been anything but pleasant to be a silver-and-black support, whether it would be in the City of Angels or beyond. Now, many of these once-happy fans are calling for trades while others are looking for the coaching staff to be fired. Either way, it’s an unpleasant sight.
Since December 21, the Kings have gone 5-10-3 and in their last three, have been shut out twice. While we are used to seeing them go through such offensive struggles, it is increasingly difficult to comprehend how a team so hot not too long ago can suddenly go so cold. You may think that such a reversal of fortune is more common that one would think – and you’d be right – but everything that was working for the Los Angeles Kings during said hot streak has been having the opposite effect lately.
The duo of Dwight King and Jeff Carter have been split up despite their success together and while the latter is the most consistent King up front along with Anze Kopitar, the rest of the pack has lagged behind.
While I’ve never been to afraid to admit when I’m wrong, I am certainly disappointed that Matt Frattin hasn’t fit in the way I thought he would.
His two goals and four assists in 38 games this season isn't quite what I expected, especially after notching seven goals and six assists in 25 games for the Leafs last season. I thought Frattin would work out in Los Angeles mainly because if anyone can perform in the hockey media circus that is Toronto, they can perform anywhere. I guess that isn't so in Frattin's case - and I'll take one on the chin for misreading that one.
But it's not just Frattin. Jake Muzzin continues his Jekyll-and-Hyde routine, captain Dustin Brown is in the midst of his annual disappearing act while Jonathan Quick, despite being effective, isn't living up to the standards of many - but not because he hasn't played well but because the bar is set so ridiculously high that it would take a near-miracle for poor No. 32 to impress the skeptics. But overall, there's something missing and fans of the Los Angeles Kings are smart enough to know that.
While I don't agree with the suggestions of some fans who say that the Kings need to "trade everybody" or "fire (head coach Darryl Sutter", I do do admit that something needs to change. Even the dynastic Edmonton Oilers of the 1980's and, as a more recent example, the Chicago Blackhawks had to keep changing to remain successful.
The Oilers of three decades earlier had to part ways with Paul Coffe, Dave Semenko and of course Wayne Gretzky during their hay day. Conversely, the Oilers brought players like Esa Tikkanen, Marty McSorley as well as utility guys like Dave Hunter and Geoff Courtnall to stay at the top. Even the goaltending duties were shared between Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog. Then, the Oilers traded Moog to Boston for Bill Ranford who led Edmonton to another Cup.
After their Cup win in 2010, they Blackhawks had to trade key players - but returned to prominence three years later with another of hockey's Holy Grail won.
The best teams in sports, much less hockey, have done this and the Los Angeles Kings shouldn't be afraid to do the same. If that means Dustin Brown, if that means Mike Richards, if it means Justin Williams, then so be it. I'm certainly not inclined to give Dean Lombardi any advice but I have faith that he'll do the right thing. Most, if not all, Kings fans should feel the same way.
But what frustrates me most is not Los Angeles's lack of offense - as annoying as it is - but fans who accuse other fans of being the fair-weather types simply for being frustrated with their team's recent lack of success, just to name one area the Kings have a shortage of.
Like I said, I don't agree with the notion of trading all the players or firing the coaches but for the ones who have suggested that, whether they meant it or it was said in the heat of the moment, I don't blame them. They have the right to speak their minds and because of it, they should not be accused of being fair-weather or "bandwagon" fans. Perhaps some are - but most aren't.
It's really not that difficult to notice what's going on around the NHL these days. The Bruins, Penguins, aforementioned Blackhawks and, worse, the cross-town Anaheim Ducks are all having phenomenal seasons while the Los Angeles Kings are, in a matter of speaking, stuck in the mud with the wheels spinning but no moving.
Will this misfortune end? Of course it will. But let's not be upset with the fans who are simply frustrated with their team. For those who question the work ethic of Dustin Brown or Drew Doughty aren't questioning them as human beings. Heck, they're not even questioning them as players. Again, they're frustrated because these are two players (not to pick solely on them) who are much better than they've been playing recently. It also adds fuel to the fire knowing how much money each players makes per season. Reaching a certain limit with one's team in no way characterizes a fan's love for their team
Parents get upset with their children and vice-versa but they still love each other. Spouses get mad at each other but love one another anyway. As far as I'm concerned, it's no different loving a sports team. Granted, the capacity of said love is a bit different from the former two examples but it's love nonetheless - and for 99.9% of those fans, said love is unconditional. It really doesn't get any simpler than that.
The Los Angeles Kings are struggling, but that will pass. The fans of the Kings are frustrated, but that will also pass. Like the title of George Harrison's first solo album, all things must pass.
While I'd love to, I cannot guarantee that the Los Angeles Kings will make the playoffs. I believe they will, however, and when they do, fans will look back on this period and chalk it up under another bit of adversity overcome. Some players may not be in Los Angeles when fans get to do such a thing but the Kingdom will be united once again as the silver-and-black, when it's time, will rebound and make their fans forget their early 2014 frustrations.
It's been done many times before - and this time won't be any different. Does it get any simpler than that? No, it doesn't.