Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Weekly Topic: KMS2's Favorite Off Season Event

The 2005 NHL Entry Draft was the first off season event to which I took notice. Before then I was in college far away from the reaches of the LA Kings media and before college I was in LA before the breakout of the internet and easy access to Kings news. Once the Kings season ended and the Cup was finally won, the off season was a time when I actually took a break from hockey. I always had summer school and sports to keep me occupied and the summers seemed to fly by. While I dreaded the return of the school year, it was comforting knowing that hockey was just about to start.

Once I finished college and summer vacation became a thing of the past, I noticed myself suffering through the off season. In 2005 I surprisingly found myself anxious about the Draft. I wasn't too familiar with the names, but I remember reading about the Number One European prospect, Anze Kopitar (Note to Rumor Starters: keep your grubby paws off him! He's not going anywhere). I didn't think we had a chance at him since the Kings were picking 11th. But lo and behold, we snagged the first Euro of the Draft and now he's on his way to becoming a franchise player, an ultimate fan favorite, with the possibility of reaching Luc Robitaille fan status. As for the remainder of the off season, I don't even remember the Free Agency period...well, except for the JR signing, which I would like to forget.

I became much more aware of off season events in 2006. I actually watched part of the NHL Draft and was thrilled and slightly relieved that the Kings drafted the highest ranked goaltender, Jonathan Bernier. I was torn when the Kings traded away Pavol Demitra, shocked that one of the team's highest scoring forwards would be shipped off for a Draft pick and a prospect, Patrick O'Sullivan (Purple Crushed Velvet favorite!). It was my first taste of learning to embrace the youth movement brought on by the new Kings GM, Dean Lombardi. The Free Agency period though was still off my radar and it wasn't until the 2007 off season when I became engulfed in all of the off season events: awards, Draft, signings, arbitrations, and Free Agency.

My favorite off season event is dependent upon the Kings position and as the Kings, hopefully, move up the NHL ladder, I foresee my favorite event changing in the future. Right now my favorite event is the Draft because it seems like the only way the Kings are going to improve is by way of new blood obtained in the Draft. Lombardi has done a fantastic job of drafting players and it's very exciting to see who could be in a Kings jersey in years to come. However, the wait for a competitive team is sometimes unbearable because it always seems like the time is never now. How many seasons away are the Kings from making a splash and seriously competing for the Cup? We're always waiting for this team and it'll definitely be several more years before my favorite off season is the Free Agency Period when the Kings will be able to go after players and see them actually want to come to LA. But until that point comes, I'll always have the Entry Draft to look forward to and think about which players will don the Royal Purple and help make the Kings a winning franchise.

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