LA Kings primed to defend Stanley Cup title

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 10, 2013 at 9:12 pm •  Published: January 10, 2013
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Indeed, the Kings showed plenty of mental toughness while becoming the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup, rampaging through the last postseason with 16 wins in 20 games. Los Angeles' championship was the first in the Second Six franchise's history, and the lockout provided the players and fans with extra time to celebrate — not that they wanted it, of course.

"Sometimes you just shake your head about how it all happened, but here we are now," Stoll said.

Lombardi and Tim Leiweke, the president of the sports conglomerate that owns the Kings, both decided early in the offseason to keep their roster completely together — something they're pretty sure has never been done in hockey history. Leiweke told Lombardi he'll have whatever money he needs to keep the club in title contention, which hasn't always been a given in the Kings' lengthy history.

"There's no doubt in my mind about these players after what they did in the playoffs," Lombardi said. "It made me have a newfound appreciation for all of these guys. There's no doubt they're going to build on it. So much of this season is mental, and they've got the mental toughness to do it. It's not about recapturing that feeling from last season. It's about writing a new story."

Not everything is ideal for the Kings as they prepare for the likely start of practice on Sunday. Anze Kopitar, the Kings' leading scorer last season, slightly injured his knee a week ago while playing in Sweden.

Lombardi said Kopitar is likely to need three weeks of recovery before he can play, which means he could miss the Kings' first few games. If Kopitar is out, Jeff Carter could slide up to center to fill in for the Slovenian star.

Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier asked for a trade last summer after Quick signed a 10-year, $58-million contract extension, but Lombardi said Bernier hasn't repeated the demand lately. Lombardi says it's unlikely he'll move the talented Bernier, given the demands of a short season and the goalie depth in Los Angeles' farm system.

"I don't think it's feasible right now," Lombardi said. "He's an important part of our depth — important to what we're trying to do here."



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