Sunday, August 9, 2009

Faith - hockey style

Being that it's Sunday I've decided to give a few thoughts on faith.

Since I don't go to church some might say I don't have any faith at all. While others might say that after giving the Kings lots of my money for nearly 20 years that's all I have - faith.

Either way, one thing is for sure. I'm losing faith in the Hockey News.

It's kinda funny. Today I was going to write about my shock and disgust that there is even a debate going on in certain online circles about "if" JR is hall of fame worthy. Come on people, you KNOW I have an opinion on that one (so, I'll get to that debate in a future blog). Yet, while cruising The Hockey News website this week I noticed they're revealing their predictions for the upcoming season. Actually, they're slowly revealing their thoughts, with a new team added daily. You know, to build interest. Oohh, the drama.

While clicking in today I notice they have the Kings ranked #12 in the West. WHAT?

Let's spend a few minutes on this. Last season the teams finished:

1. San Jose
2. Detroit
3. Vancouver
4. Chicago
5. Calgary
6. St. Louis
7. Columbus
8. Anaheim
9. Minnesota
10. Nashville
11. Edmonton
12. Dallas
13. Phoenix
14. Los Angeles
15. Colorado

THN sees the bottom of the West this year looking like:

12. Los Angeles
13. Minnesota
14. Colorado
15. Phoenix


Assuming that you agree with what most people would say (and why would you, that's no fun...however, in the spirit of keeping this blog relatively short, lets assume that) - San Jose, Detroit and Chicago are the three best teams in the West as we head into the new season.

Those same people would probably say that Calgary, Vancouver and Anaheim are in the second best tier.

So six spots out of 15 are taken. Actually, nine spots are taken because you can slot Phoenix, Colorado and Minnesota in the bottom three.

That leaves six teams - St. Louis (#6 last year), Columbus (#7), Nashville (#10), Edmonton (#11), Dallas (#12) and LA (#14) - to "battle" it out for seeds 7-12 this year.

Can you sensibly make the argument that out of those six teams the Kings will rank dead last this year? NO WAY.

The West is wide open this year, outside of just a few elite teams (and even those teams have some question marks).

What propels this belief? Some misguided eternal faith in the Kings? Perhaps. My unwavering (and growing) faith in Dean? Maybe.

But how about some simple logic. Or, even common sense. Perhaps my dad was right though. He would say "common sense isn't very common at all." Must be true when you have the leading hockey information source in the WORLD putting out garbage like this.

If you're not the optimist or realist that I am or want to be, at best you could say those six teams are all interchangeable. That barring injuries and such, any of those teams could end up in any of the #7 - #12 slots. Even IF I want to follow that train of thought, come on. Give the Kings a little more credit. The goal tending is better coming into this year than it was coming into last season. All of the "kids" have another year of experience. Plus, Dean addressed the two things he said they needed to do this summer - get a top 6 forward and continue strengthening the defense. Check and check.

More importantly for me, they added the missing ingredient that is so often needed. I don't care if you call it character, grit, that extra special something, WHATEVER. It's been missing from this team since guys like Lappy and Deadmarsh were here. I love the kids, yet the one thing I've been dying to see on this team is grit.

Recently I had a conversation with Jim Fox at Healthsouth (yes, I still refuse to call it TSC...and yes, the Angels are not from Los Angeles...hold on, I need to breathe...ok, I'm back). He was talking about how so many of the "experts" love to draw the comparisons between the Kings and the Blackhawks. I was telling him - and now I'm sharing with you - I think the better comparison is right in our own backyard. And I think the comparisons run all the way through the organization. The Kings are the Dodgers of 24 months ago.

Everybody used to complain about McCourt as an owner (until they started winning). People questioned the hiring of the GM and some of his early moves (until they started winning). The boys in blue were full of young talent. Yet, they couldn't win until they added Manny. What is Manny? He is that grit. The guy is a gamer and his teammates feed off of him.

The Kings have finally added some grit, some character, some of the missing ingredient by acquiring Ryan Smyth. Don't get me wrong. He isn't going to put up MVP like numbers ala Manny. However, he is going to be the leader for all of the younger players in LA. And just like the Dodgers, once the Kings start winning people will stop complaining about AEG as owners, they will stop questioning Dean's plan, etc. Winning solves everything. Its been proven time and time again and the Dodgers are just the latest example.

The Kings are back. The wins are coming. Believe me. I have faith. And I have enough common sense to say that the Kings will certainly finish better than #12 in the West this season.

Can I get an amen?

The Mayor

NOTE: you too can follow the daily drama on THN as they continue to post their rankings by clicking here: The Hockey News 2009-2010 predictions

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