Often a team's run to the NHL's Stanley Cup Final is accompanied by side stories about free agents about to walk, storied icons about to retire, or owners about to go bankrupt or move the team. (And no, we're not just talking about occasions when the New Jersey Devils get there, though they've covered them all.)
The 2012 Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings face no such issues.
In fact, other than worrying about whether his team partied too hard this summer inviting the proverbial Cup hangover, Kings GM Dean Lombardi can basically take the rest of the summer off. After gorging on the Western Conference playoff field and damn near running the table, his entire team can take a well-deserved nap.
Between Cup parties, that is.
The roster Lombardi painstakingly constructed turned around what at one point looked like a lost season and instead ended in a franchise-defining surge. The team he solidified with the hiring of coach Darryl Sutter and the acquisition of Jeff Carter (and dumping of Jack Johnson, an addition by subtraction by addition) enjoyed one of the most dominant runs in modern NHL playoff history.
The few offseason decisions the Kings faced were dealt with quickly: They re-signed centers Jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser before they even hit unrestricted free agency on July 1. Enigmatic power forward Dustin Penner soon re-upped at a modest pay cut.
Though it's tempting to think the Kings captured lightning in a bottle with their magical run and risk missing opportunities to improve themselves, the they were a dominant team through the second half once they had all their pieces together. With the aforementioned Carter and Sutter in place (and Sutter figuring out how to get the good version of Penner to wake up), the team enjoyed the emergence of Slava Voynov and Alec Martinez on the blueline.
All of them return to defend the franchise's first championship.
Which is kind of boring, at least for fans of drama and offseason headlines. (If it's free agency drama you seek, the Kings were at least linked to Coyotes free agent Shane Doan, as was a third of the league.) But it sets up an interesting experiment for anyone curious to see if this rather young team can pick up where it left off.
Offseason Changes / New Additions
Champagne and bling. Lots of bling.