Team Profile: Los Angeles Kings

Whether or not you like the Kings or not, they have an interesting history. They won two cups in three years and have a reputation for their physical game they make work.

A quick overview:
Western Conference
Pacific Division
Established: 1967
Arena: Staples Center
AHL Affiliate: Ontario Reign
Owner: Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG)
Coach: Darryl Sutter
Best Known Line: Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, Charlie Simmer (Triple Crown Line)
Notable Former Players: Wayne Gretzky, Rogie Vachon, Luc Robitaille, Rob Blake
Current Captain: Anze Kopitar
Goalies: Jonathon Quick, Jeff Zatkoff
Notable Current Players: Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene

Interesting points:
In their first few seasons, the general managers got a reputation for trading away first round picks for veteran players that had a way of backfiring on them and their attendance suffered for it.

Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, and Charlie Simmer made up what was dubbed the Triple Crown Line starting in the 1978-79 season. They are one of the highest scoring line combinations in NHL history.

In the 1982 playoffs, the Kings managed to beat Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers who were ranked 2nd in the league while the Kings were ranked 17th overall. In one particular game, now known as the “Miracle on Manchester”, the Kings came back from a 5-0 deficit and won the game in overtime. While the advanced in the playoffs, they lost in five to the Canucks in the next round.

Bruce McNall purchased the Kings in 1987, and on August 9th, 1988 made one of the most significant trades in NHL history when he traded for Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers for five players.

Despite having just acquired arguably one of the best players to ever play in the league, the Kings only advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals once while Gretzky was on the roster. He did not win another Hart Trophy after 1989, and the Kings did not win the Stanley cup until 2012. Gretzky had been retired for 13 years at the time.

The Kings Colors were purple and gold up until the 1988-1989 season.

Anschutz Entertainment Group is the world’s largest owner of sports teams and sports events. AEG Live is the second largest live music presenter after Live Nation. Not only does AEG own several arenas around the world, hockey teams within the NHL, AHL and ECHL but they also own a Swedish soccer team, part of a Swedish hockey team, and two German hockey teams.

Advertisements

Team Profile: The New York Rangers

Another one of the ‘Original Six’, the ‘Broadway Blueshirts’ are another team with a proud and interesting history.

Here’s a little bit of background:

  • Located in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference
  • Founded in 1926
  • Located in New York City, New York
  • Arena: Madison Square Garden
  • Owner: The Madison Square Garden Company
  • GM: Jeff Gorton
  • Head Coach: Alain Vigneault
  • Captain: Ryan McDonagh
  • Minor League Affiliate: Hartford Wolf Pack
  • Stanley Cups: 4

I’ll try not to let this one get too long. Maybe instead of a history I’ll do interesting facts? Ok, we’ll see.

Was founded after then president of Madison Square Garden, George Lewis ‘Tex’ Rickard saw how successful the New York Americans (team that no longer exists) were, and wanted another team to play out of MSG.

The new team was nicknamed “Tex’s Rangers”. (No relation to our local MLB team, the Texas Rangers, despite the similarities in color scheme. No, I absolutely did not have to look that up…)

They had Conn Smythe (yup, now of the Playoff MVP trophy) as the team’s first manager and head coach. He was fired the day before the season began after having a falling out with a member of Rickard’s team.

They were the first team to travel by plane. On December 13th, 1929 they travelled to Toronto to play the Leafs.

In their second season they defeated the Montreal Maroons to win their first Stanley Cup.

They won the Stanley Cup in 1933 and 1940, defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs in the finals each time.

In the mid-40’s, they kind of imploded, where they would lose games 15-0.

In the 1950 Stanley Cup Finals, they had to play all of their games on the road since there was a circus (yes, literally a circus with elephants and stuff) at MSG. They used the Leafs arena for their home games. They ended up losing the series to the Detroit Red Wings.

During the Original Six Era, they struggled quite a bit. They failed to make the playoffs 12 out of 16 seasons. They got a boost in the 1960’s, and then made the finals twice in the 70’s. They lost both times, to the Bruins and the Habs. Who were beasts in the 1970’s.

In 1975, the Rangers faced their newly formed rivals, the New York Islanders, in the first round of the playoffs. They were eliminated by the Islanders in 3 games (best of 5 format). This was a nice boost to the rivalry.

In fact, beginning in 1981, the Islanders eliminated the Rangers while winning their 4 consecutive Stanley Cup titles.

The Rangers won their 4th Stanley Cup title in 1994, boosted by the recent acquisition of Mark Messier from the Edmonton Oilers. This was 54 years after their last title. As a result, Brian Leetch became the first American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP,while Alexander Karpovtsev, Alexei Kovalev, Sergei Nemchinov and Sergei Zubov became the first Russians to have their names engraved on the Stanley Cup.

In 1996, the Rangers signed Wayne Gretzky, reuniting him with his Oilers teammate, Messier. Gretzky helped them to the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals, but were beat by the Flyers, led by future Ranger Eric Lindros.

The Rangers failed to make the playoffs for 7 consecutive seasons. This was despite having players like Lindros, Theo Fleury, and Pavel Bure on the roster.

In 2005, Henrik Lundqvist made his debut with the Rangers. He has been dazzling the league ever since (you don’t get the nickname ’The King’ for nothing).

In 2006 they finally returned to the playoffs. They were swept in 4 games by the New Jersey Devils.

The Rangers were one of four NHL teams to open their 2008–09 season in Europe, playing in Bern, Switzerland and in Prague.

They won the President’s Trophy during the 2014-2015 season. They beat the Penguins and the Capitals, but were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 7 games.

This past season they were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Penguins.

Notable Players:

  • Mark Messier
  • Brian Leetch
  • Adam Graves
  • Jean Ratelle
  • Wayne Gretzky
  • Jaromir Jagr
  • Frank Boucher
  • Mike Richter
  • Henrik Lundqvist
  • Vic Hadfield
  • Harry Howell
  • Andy Bathgate
  • Mats Zucarello
  • Ryan McDonagh
  • Rick Nash

Most recently the team has struggled with an expensive and aging core. They have attempted to address this, trading Derick Brassard to the Senators in exchange for the younger, less expensive Mika Zibanejad earlier this week. A lackluster showing against the Penguins during these playoffs signify that maybe more change is coming.

new-york-rangers-stanley-cup-1994
Mark Messier after winning the Cup in 1994

Welcome to the Dallas Stars, Dan Hamhuis!

Once again, continuing with the theme of outdated news, we’re taking a moment to welcome our new defenseman, 33 year-old Dan Hamhuis (who Caitlynn may or may not have seen at Market Street buying dinner a couple of weeks ago), who was acquired in free-agency. He is signed to a 2-year contract, earning $3.75 million per season.

This is of course, the same Dan Hamhuis that Dallas reportedly attempted to acquire from the Vancouver Canucks at the trade deadline. So maybe it was always meant to be. Hamhuis had apparently waived his NTC for Dallas, but the deal never went through.

He will add key a veteran presence to the Stars’ young defensive line, maybe even seeing some time on the top pairing with Klingberg.

All in all, this seems like a solid, smart signing by Jim Nill.

hamhuisjersey_dl

 

Oh hey, no big deal…

Old news at this point, but Jamie Benn signed an 8 year contract extension with the Dallas Stars!

$76 million, or an AAV of $9.5 million. Which falls right between the $8.5 million deal Stamkos received in Tampa Bay, and the $10 million LA’s Anze Kopitar will be receiving.

We’re also being spared the agonizing speculation that Lightning fans were subject to for the past year, since Benn signed his extension a year before he hit free agency.

Now that that particular piece of off-season business is out of the way, we can focus on the important stuff. Like trading for Ben Bishop… (We kid…but for real, please?)

Anyways, here’s to 8 more years of The Captain doing his thing!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Team Profile: The New York Islanders

It’s not easy to compete for recognition in a state that is home to three NHL franchises, while sharing a city with one, but the Islanders have managed to stand their ground. Consecutive Stanley Cup wins will do that for you…

They’ve run into some issues in recent years, but at this point which team hasn’t? Get ready, this is a long, dramatic history.

Team Overview:

  • They’re located in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference
  • Founded in 1972
  • Located in New York City, New York
  • Arena: Barclays Center (which is generally disliked…)
  • Owner(s): Charles Wang, Jon Ledecky, Scott D. Malkin (no relation to Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins, unfortunately)
  • GM: Garth Snow
  • Head Coach: Jack Capuano
  • Captain: John Tavares
  • Minor League Affiliate: Bridgeport Sound Tigers
  • Stanley Cups: 4

So basically the Islanders were founded because county officials in New York did not want the WHA team, the Raiders, to play in Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, since officials didn’t think the WHA was a major league. The WHA was in its early stages at this point. In order to keep the Raiders out, they persuaded an NHL team to make its home in the county.

While there were some reservations about starting a team so close to the already long-established New York Rangers, everyone involved realized that they could receive compensation from the new team for encroaching on the Rangers, but not from the WHA team.

The New York Islanders franchise was awarded to Roy Boe, owner of the New York Mets, in 1971.

Bill Torey was named the team’s first General Manager. He put an emphasis on developing players from within the organization, instead of trading for veterans, because as he put it, “we’re not going to beat this team next door by taking the castoffs from others teams. We’d have to develop our own stars.”

They had a terrible first season. The inexperienced team, which included young players Billy Smith, Bobby Nystrom, and Lorne Henning, finished with the NHL record for most losses and worst overall record in a season (at the time, at least). Finishing last overall, they were able to select first in the 1973 draft, picking Denis Potvin.

At the 1974 draft, they added Clark Gillies and Bryan Trottier, continuing with the theme of building a team via drafting instead of trading for talent. These young players would go on to lead their team to success. That following year they had one of the best comebacks in NHL history, earning 88 points to clinch their first ever playoff spot. Those 88 points were 32 more than the previous season, and 2 more points than their first 2 seasons, combined.

Despite losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Philadelphia Flyers, in the 3rd round, they did well, even staging a comeback in 4 games against the Penguins when down 3 games in the series. Only 4 other North American franchises have accomplished the reverse sweep.

The Islanders continued to face playoff disappointment despite their strong regular season performances. The 1975-1976 season saw them earning their first 100+ point season, which continued until 1980. Arbour, the head coach at the time, wanted players to put more focus on their playoff performance instead of their regular season dominance. That year, they won the Stanley Cup for the first time, beating the Philadelphia Flyers. This was after finishing the regular season with 91 points.

Their 1980 Stanley Cup Championship win marked the beginning of the New York Islanders Dynasty. They were also the first NHL team to win the Cup with Europeans on their roster (Stefan Persson and Anders Kallur). Their method of building a team through drafting proved successful, since most of the major contributors to their playoff run (and the next 3) were home-grown players.

They won the Stanley Cup the following 3 seasons, from 1981-1983, beating the Minnesota North Stars, the Vancouver Canucks, and the emerging Edmonton Oilers (which included the budding superstar, Wayne Gretzky) in each final.

1984 saw a re-match between the Oilers and Islanders, but with the Oilers emerging the victors, breaking the Islanders streak, and marking the beginning of their own dynasty. Up until this series, the Islanders had a 19 series playoff streak, which still remains the longest in the history of professional sports.

The next decade saw the Islanders decline a bit as their stars retired or left the team. Despite making it to the playoffs every year until 1989, they found little success.

During the 1987 playoffs, the Islanders played the Washington Capitals in a match now known as the Easter Epic. Despite being outshot 75-52, the Islanders won 8:47 into the 4th overtime, at 1:56 am on Easter morning. The Islanders went on to win the series, but were eliminated in the next round by the Flyers.

During the 1992-1993 season, the Islanders returned to the playoffs after a series of blockbuster trades rebuilt the core of players.

During the first round against the Capitals, Dale Hunter checked Turgeon from behind as he celebrated his series clinching goal. Turgeon suffered a separated shoulder, while Hunter was given a 21-game suspension. They won the next series against the defending champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in what was considered an upset. It was predicted that with Turgeon out, the Lemiuex, Jagr, and Francis led Pens would sweep the Islanders. This would be the last playoff series the Islanders would win until this past season, 23 years later.

1995-2000 saw major issues with management. The team received criticism for the handling of its major players. In an effort to bolster interest, they changed their logo for the 1995-1996 season. The logo was poorly received, as it was compared to Gorton’s Fisherman. Other teams mocked them by calling them fish-sticks. The logo was changed as soon as the league allowed it.

1280px-new_york_islanders_logo_1995e2809397-svg
The super short-lived Fisherman logo

During this time Mike Milbury was given major roles within the organization, at one time as both GM and head coach. So yeah, probably not the best idea.

In 1996, the franchise was sold to Dallas businessman, John Spano. Turns out this was another bad idea, as it was eventually revealed that Spano was a fraud, having misled the NHL and team executives about his net worth, forging documents to vouch for his wealth. After being forced to relinquish the rights to the Islanders team, Spano was sentenced to 71 months in prison for bank and wire fraud. The NHL was criticized for failing to properly vet Spano.

The team was finally eventually sold. The new owners tried to run the team on the smallest possible budget in order to make a profit. Nassau Coliseum was in need of serious renovations, and several star players were traded away to avoid paying their salaries.

In 2000, the team was sold again. The new owners encouraged Milbury to invest in players. However, Mike ‘Mad Mike’ Milbury made several unpopular moves that instead seemed to put the Islanders back several steps. For instance, he traded Luongo and Olli Jokinen to the Panthers, and selected Rick DiPietro instead of any of the several players ranked in front of him. He stepped down as GM in 2006.

In 2006, the Islanders signed DiPietro to a 15-year contract, the longest to date in the NHL. This was widely considered a poor move.

In 2009, the Islanders selected John Tavares, current captain, first overall. They still struggled in the standings, finishing last overall, or towards the bottom most seasons.

In 2011, voters in Nassau County rejected a proposal to build a new arena to replace Nassau Coliseum. This led to the team announcing in 2012 that they would move to Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-2016 season.

In 2013 they made it to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Only to be eliminated in the first round by the Penguins in 6 games.

They played their first regular season game at Barclays Center on October 9th, 2015. Many complaints have emerged about the arena, including poor vantage points from some of the seats, and even concerns about the quality of the ice.

The 2015-2016 playoffs saw the Islanders win a series for the first time since 1993, beating the Florida Panthers in 6 games. They were eliminated in the next round by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Issues with management and ownership really hold teams back. Hopefully, led by Tavares, this team will find future success.

Notable Players:

  • Denis Potvin
  • Bryan Trottier
  • Billy Smith
  • Mike Bossy
  • Clark Gillies
  • Pat LaFontaine
  • Bobby Nystrom
  • Bob Bourne
  • Brent Sutter
  • Ed Westfall
  • John Tavares
new-york-islanders-banners
Banners displaying the Islanders 4 consecutive Stanley Cup wins (photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

Team Profile: Washington Capitals

As the team with the most points at the end of the 2015-16 season, the Capitals were a pretty big deal.

Here’s a general overview of the team.

Eastern Conference
Metropolitan Division
Established: 1974
Arena: Verizon Center
AHL Affiliate: Hershey Bears
Owner: Monumental Sports & Entertainment
Coach: Barry Tortz
Notable Former Players: Rod Langway, Mike Gartner, Dale Hunter
Current Captain: Alexander Ovechkin
Goalies: Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer
Notable Current Players: Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Jay Beagle

And some interesting facts.

In their inaugural season in 1974-75, they won only 8 games; the worst for any team playing more than 70 games.

The Capitals would continue to under-perform until the 1982 season, when they would make it to the playoffs for the first time.

The Capitals made it to the playoffs for fourteen seasons through the eighties and into the nineties.

The Capitals made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998 and haven’t been since.

Starting in the 1995-96 season the Capitals switched from their red, white, and blue color scheme to a blue, black, and bronze that they wore until 2007-08 where they returned to the familiar red, white, and blue. The switch was made in an attempt to modernize their look, and it included a new logo featuring a bald eagle, and an alternate logo that featured the capital building and crossed hockey sticks.

Washington_Capitals_Home_Logo_2002–2007.svg

In 2001, the Capitals signed Jaromir Jagr to the largest contract in NHL history at $77 million for seven years. This was part of the Capitals efforts to use high priced veterans to bolster their poor performance.

At the beginning of the 2003-04 season, the Caps traded away a lot of their high priced veterans to help reduce cost and admit that their attempt to buy wins had failed them.

Because no teams were willing to risk the $11 million a year for Jagr, who was under-performing, they were unable to unload his contract until 2004 where he went to the Rangers. In order for the Rangers to be willing to take him, they had to agree to pay $4 million per year or Jagr’s salary and Jagr himself agreed to defer $1 million.

While the Capitals have a few of the league’s top players on their current roster, they have yet to make the Stanley Cup Finals with their current superstars.

Team Profile: Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers seem to be one of those teams that people love to hate. You either hate them or you love them. There aren’t many who seem divided on their opinions, but no matter your feelings for them, they’re a fascinating team.

Team overview:
Eastern Conference
Metropolitan Division
Established: 1967
Arena: Wells Fargo Center
AHL Affiliate: Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Owner: Comcast Spectacor
Coach: Dave Hakstol
Best Known Lines: Eric Lindros, Mark Recchi, and Brent Fedyk (Crazy Eights for their numbers 88, 8, 18). Jean-Guy Gendron, Andre Lacroix and Simon Nolet (The French Line). Dan Kordi, Daniel Lacroix, and Scott Daniels (Fighting Dans, The Dan Line).
Notable Former Players: Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz,
Current Captain: Claude Giroux
Goalies: Steve Mason, Michal Neuvirth
Notable Current Players: Wayne Simmonds, Nick Schultz, Shayne Gostisbehere, Sean Couturier

Interesting facts:
In their inaugural season in 1967-68, they had to play their last seven home games on the road because a storm blew off part of the roof of the Spectrum arena they played in.

The Flyers made it to the playoffs in their first and second seasons, only to lose to the Blues both times. After being swept in their second playoff appearance, Ed Snider told then general manager Bud Poile to get bigger, tougher players.

During the height of the disquiet over the Vietnam war, the Flyers started playing “God Bless America” instead of the national anthem because it seemed that fans were more likely to sing along at the time. The perception that the team seemed more successful during games after “God Bless America” was played, they continued to use “God Bless America” before games deemed to be important.

During the 1972-73 season, the Flyers earned their nickname “the Broad Street Bullies” after a particularly feisty game against the Atlanta Flames that prompted the Philadelphia Bulletin to use the headline “BROAD STREET BULLIES MUSCLE ATLANTA”.

They went on to win the Stanley Cup in 1974, and then again in 1975.

In 1974 when they won the cup, they were the first team to win that wasn’t an original six team.

flyers lol