Kings' Cup run changes team outlook
They'll visit the White House. They'll be congratulated on the podium by opposing general managers during the NHL Draft. They'll have exceptionally high NHL '13 ratings. In fact, when you turn on NHL '13, the default "Play Now" game will feature the Kings and Devils.
From superficial to longer lasting, the Stanley Cup will be bringing winds of improvement to an organization that will be raising its first championship banner high above the west end of Staples Center.
They'll be among the most sought after tickets in the league, from Winnipeg to South Florida, while drawing more intense media scrutiny at practices and games while in Canadian cities. More of their games will be televised nationally, allowing players a much broader platform to showcase their abilities.
Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty and others will all see a heightened profile that will afford them a more fair evaluation when being considered along Eastern Conference players for trophies and awards. Put money down on Anze Kopitar warranting a Selke Trophy nomination as the league's top defensive forward next year as his profile has widened under the increased spotlight this postseason has provided him.
Remember the Phoenix Coyotes? Expect some residue nastiness from their third-round series to spill over into a handful of regular season games. The budding divisional rivalry will attract more interest and notoriety than LA-Phoenix games over previous seasons, obviously, and one or two may even draw a national broadcast.
Freeway Faceoff games in Los Angeles and Anaheim will take on a new dynamic as both teams have now brought the Stanley Cup down to Southern California. Should the Dustin Penner Trophy be assessed to the winner of the season series?
More importantly, by having won a Cup, the Kings' developmental message has been verified, the player evaluation and development process confirmed.
"To win in the league, you really get to see what it takes in the playoffs," general manager Dean Lombardi said midway through LA's run.
"So everything they're trying to preach them and develop them in camp, about why we start this development program, and all these things we make them go through, now you see why."
Lombardi also has a key piece in free agency negotiations with the ability to pitch Los Angeles as a place where a player can go if they're serious about winning a championship.
Among the less desirable aspects of a Cup run: A night out at a Kings game is about to get more expensive. Season ticket holders were notified in February that there would be an increase of ticket prices for the 2012-13 season, which combined with the team's resurgent popularity and ability to sell out all 41 home games, means that prices on the secondary market will also rise sharply. Many fans were gouged by explosive parking prices around Staples Center during the Cup Final and should expect to see nearby parking lots raise their fees towards Laker-level pricing on Kings game days.
Also, it will be an awfully short summer. There is likely to be an early season lull as the Kings are forced to reset for important regular season games only four months removed from winning the Cup. The Bruins and Canucks found it difficult to summon the required commitment early on in the 2011-12 season, as Vancouver opened with a 9-9-1 record before rallying to go 42-13-8 the rest of the way in capturing the Presidents' Trophy. Boston's 3-7-0 record through October gave way to a 23-3-1 stretch.
From a competitive standpoint, the Kings' run furthers the notion that a Stanley Cup remains a team's ultimate goal, and that all else is simply window dressing. It has to be the expectation heading into the season, a principle Luc Robitaille learned quickly as a member of the Stanley Cup winning 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings.
"I think what I took away first of all was the message," Robitaille said earlier this season about what he had gained from playing in Detroit. "You have to believe that the first day you get to work that your goal – set your goal high. So if you say 'We want to win the Cup,' you never know if you're going to win the Cup, because 30 teams are going for it and only one team will. But that should be your first goal as an organization, to say 'We want to win the Cup.'
"The second thing was the quality of the people they had around them. As an organization, they had nothing but very high quality people. Personally, I got to learn a lot from that standpoint. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to bring that every day and say that's how we want to be as an organization. Their goal from day one was to say 'Whatever you want, we'll get it done for you, because we want to win the Stanley Cup.' They didn't know if they were going to win the Cup, but it certainly was a great message. As a player, you felt that way. The fans understood, the trainer understood, the PR person understood, the community relations – everybody had one common goal, and I really thought that was very special. And that's the way we live, and that's what we talk about in the LA Kings organization now."