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The L.A. Kings Hockey Season Redux: Newbie No More – Coach Change

Jonathan Quick, Miracle on Ice, Pacific Division, Stanley Cup Champions

I remember the first time I saw Jonathan Quick without his helmet on, I thought, “Is he twelve?” lol. I was SHOCKED that this big burly goalie who covered the entire net without breaking a sweat was so young! After a shootout in early November in a game, after making save after save through the game, he slammed his stick against the goalpost when he lost 3-2 on a shootout, to the Penguins. (And where are they today? Hmmm?).

First of all, I was still trying to figure out what a shootout is at the time. Second, I thought this guy is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! He’s a sweet innocent, and quiet, boyish young man during the day, and then he turns into the incredible expanding monster during hockey games.

So of course I loved Quick from the beginning. It was amazing to watch his consistency during the season, at a level of greatness by the way, and see it turn into a tour de force. There was never a moment when I DIDN’T think he would go on to win MVP in the playoffs and THE STANLEY CUP! (Savor that thought for a moment. Thank you, Jonathan Quick. Amen).

By mid-November we were 17th in the league, then battled back to 1st in the Pacific Division. Up and down we’d go. The most interesting part for me at that time was watching the long-time Kings’ fans get loopy. They refused to give up on their team and predicted the Kings’ would go the playoffs, and get kicked in the semi-finals, the most they could reasonably hope for at that time.

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Or so they thought. They joked that a “miracle on ice” wasn’t going to be happening this season, AGAIN. (Wrong! Ding!) They grumbled, they whined, they complained. And then they reminded each other this is a good team. They kept hoping, and I prayed with them! Go Kings!!!!!

Anze Kopitar continued to be a hockey god. Sis called him “Kopistar” right after he singlehandedly turned a game around by taking the puck around the net, getting his own rebound, then hitting it again and again until it went in. Dwight King must have been looking because he did the exact same thing in a memorable play in the playoffs, scoring against New Jersey (I think it was NJ!).

But, overall, the chemistry just wasn’t there among the Kings in the early months, and fans and others began clamoring for change. Coach Murray continued to try to find the perfect lines by switching guys around, but it wasn’t to be. In December, Murray was out and an interim coach John Stevens stepped in. Kings fans responded by feeling relief, excitement, fear, and sorrow to see Murray go because he did so much for the team defense.

The question quickly became, who is this guy, the new coach, Darryl Sutter, and will he make a difference? Long time fans know the Sutter clan, since they’ve apparently been in hockey since we were all knee-high to a grasshopper, sitting at our mothers’ knees. There are no less than six Sutters in the NHL, four of whom went on to coach.

Newbies like myself were curious about they guy, because this is, let’s say, an INTERESTING looking guy! lol. And his way of speaking is so unique. Hmmm. We learned he’d spent 8 NHL season as a player, 13 seasons as an NHL coach, and that the Kings were the fourth team he has coached. Sis called him a “hard ass.” Well, he turned out to be just the hard ass we needed, I guess!!!

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Also, Rob “Scuds” Scuderi and his lovely wife Courtney had a baby around this time. Little did he, and we, know at the time the crucial part he would play, and the blood he would spill, in the quest by the Kings to become STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!

Next installment: The worm begins to turn! But slowly.

Related article:The Los Angeles Kings Hockey Season Redux: Newbie No More