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LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi’s Focus On Character and Leadership Is Paying Dividends

LA Kings winger and captain Dustin Brown
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Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net

LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — With the Los Angeles Kings on the verge of winning their second Stanley Cup Championship in the last three seasons, perhaps as soon as tonight, much has been said about their character and leadership qualities that have been on display throughout the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Indeed, leading the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, the Kings could win the whole enchilada as soon as tonight, when the two teams face-off in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York (5:00 PM PDT; televised on NBCSN in the United States and on CBC and RDS in Canada).

Character and leadership are usually not even a thought in anyone’s mind while watching their favorite hockey team, and especially here in the Los Angeles area, those characteristics were often scoffed at by pundits and fans alike, who believed that skill and talent were all that mattered.

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LA Kings: Dean Lombardi’s Gamble On Justin Williams Is Paying Off Many Times Over

LA Kings right wing Justin Williams
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Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net

LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — Back in early March 2009, when the Los Angeles Kings acquired veteran right wing Justin Williams, many people, including yours truly, expressed concern about the deal, given Williams’ lengthy injury history.

Indeed, before joining the Kings, Williams had played a full, 82-game season just twice. From 2000-01 to 2008-09, he suffered injuries that include broken fingers and hands, a broken wrist, shoulder strains and sprains, a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn Achilles tendon.

When he was acquired by the Kings, Williams was on injured reserve after suffering another broken hand.

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Quick One-Timer On LA Kings Defenseman Jake Muzzin

LA Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin
(click above to view larger image
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty.net

LOS ANGELES — In case you haven’t noticed, and by all indications, many still haven’t, or worse, refuse to do so, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin has taken some huge leaps forward, in terms of his play, during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

I wrote about that on May 23, explaining the reasons that the vast majority of criticism hurled at him is unwarranted (see Contrary To Popular Belief, LA Kings’ Jake Muzzin Is Becoming A Solid NHL Defenseman).

After that story was published, Muzzin went on to play what was, arguably, the best game of his career, earning the second star of the game in the Kings’ 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the 2014 Western Conference Final on May 26 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.

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Game 5 vs. Chicago Is Likely To Be The LA Kings Toughest Challenge Yet During 2014 Playoffs

LA Kings center Anze Kopitar (foreground), shown here being pursued by Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane during Game 4 of the 2014
Western Conference Final at Staples Center in Los Angeles on May 26, 2014.

LOS ANGELES — After the Los Angeles Kings soundly defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 5-2, in Game 4 of the 2014 Western Conference Final at Staples Center in Los Angeles on May 26, many media, pundits and fans alike declared the Blackhawks dead, and the series over.

The Blackhawks are trailing in the series, 3-1, facing elimination in tonight’s Game 5 in Chicago. But as the saying goes, there’s a reason they play the games, and as the Kings themselves have proven during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, coming back to win a series after being pushed to the brink of elimination is not impossible.

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