Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eddie Joyal Award Winner announcement

Preseason does a lot of things - providing clarity isn't one of them. It does allow owners to make a little extra cash, as they charge regular season prices for glorified scrimmages. The NHL gets an opportunity to expand their fan base by staging exhibition games in new cities - like Kansas City and Seattle. Fans of former NHL cities, like Winnipeg and Quebec, even get a chance to reminisce for a few hours when the preseason caravan stops by their town.

However, even with sometimes exciting games filled with lots of toughness (read: fighting), some crazy officiating (blatantly missed offsides and penalty shots called) and kids throughout the league battling for spots on their respective teams with each 30 second shift...the one thing that isn't there when its all over is clarity.

Are the Red Wings going to finally slip this year? Will Tampa Bay really bad THAT bad AGAIN? And here in LA, we're wondering if Anze Kopitar's strong preseason was a precursor to an 80 point season or was it just another example of things that happen in preseason...well, they stay in preseason?

If they would have taken my bet in Vegas this past weekend, I'd have bet on the former, not the latter. One thing is clear though - after eight preseason games, Anze Kopitar is the winner of the inaugural Eddie Joyal Award, given to the Kings player that leads the team in scoring during the preseason.

As written about a few weeks ago (click here for the article), Joyal was a points machine during the Kings first two seasons back in the late sixties. he led the team in points during '67-68 and followed that up by leading the team in goals and points in '68-69. His knack for showing up on the score sheet was evident right from the start - during the very first Kings game ever, a preseason game on September 18, 1967, he notched two assists.

Forty something years later Kopitar led this year's squad during preseason with 8 points, coming on 5 goals and 3 assists. Perhaps even more impressive was that he did it while playing in just 5 games. The Slovenia native just edged out American Jack Johnson and Canadian Wayne Simmonds for the award. JJ, who totalled 7 points (2 goals, 5 assists) in six games should see plenty of power time come regular season.

The other Wayne in the news this week had a very impressive preseason himself, tying Kopitar for the team lead in goals (5) after playing in 6 games. Not bad for a guy that netted just 9 goals during his rookie season, coming back and nearly averaging a goal a game during preseason. Will he keep up that pace during the real 82? Probably not. Correction, absolutely not. Yet, 20-25 isn't out of the question.

Finishing up on Anze...he looks ready to go. He's playing on the top line. More importantly, he is playing with two skilled guys that should also find the net often. The Kings haven't had a top line with this kind of potential in several seasons. Since...surprise...the last time they made the playoffs.

One thing is clear as we put the remnants of this preseason in a box and place it on the top shelf of some closet inside TSC, this isn't the same team as last year. The pieces seem to be in place. Offense, Defense, Goaltending - seems more than "good enough" to me. Is it enough though to finally make a return to playoff hockey?

Two points are available Saturday night. Two points that sure would be nice to already have come March and April of next year when the importance of clarity rears its ugly head again.

The Mayor

photo by Michael Zampelli of LetsGoKings.com


  1. HI I am from San Diego and Eddie will get a kick out of having an award named after him. Eddie was still playing up until a few years ago and was the top scorer in his 60's


    Thanks for your comment last night. We have actually been trying to reach Mr. Joyal for an interview. I have no way of reaching you, since you didnt leave an email address. If you happen to return, please contact me at Mayor119@live.com.

    the Mayor