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The History Behind the LA Kings' Winter Woes

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Why do Kings fans always expect the worst from the team in December and January?

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Fire up the JftC Mystery Machine, gang!

Some say there's a hockey team in Los Angeles that's haunted every December and January by an almost supernatural predilection for losing.

But we here at JftC don't believe in ghosts, do we? Let's run down the cumulative Points Earned % for every Los Angeles Kings regular season month, from 1967-68 to 2013-14:

W

L

T/OTL/SOL

Points Earned %

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .600

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .400

September 1 1 0 0.500
October 223 204 65 0.519 14 22 16 11
November 237 244 77 0.494 13 19 20 10
December 239 269 81 0.475 10 15 27 15
January 232 283 99 0.458 6 12 26 16
February 217 244 81 0.475 9 20 23 14
March 275 285 97 0.492 11 18 23 14
April 76 74 30 0.506 15 15 15 13
May 1 1 0 0.500

Jinkies! The winter months, especially January, have been a monster to the Kings. In 27 Decembers and 26 Januarys, Los Angeles earned less than half of the possible points. Compare that to just 16 below-average Octobers.

So there's a reason for the chill in the bones that every Kings fan feels after Thanksgiving. Certainly, there's no such thing as a Los Angeles "winter curse"the only ghosts of the Forum here were the more-or-less invisible LA defenders.

However, every legend owns an origin. When did the Kings' winter swoons begin? Was it in a particular era? To that end, I've divided team history into five periods for our meddling:

Expansion Era
1967-68 to 1971-72

W

L

T/OTL/SOL

Points Earned %

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .600

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .400

October 14 25 4 0.372 0 1 3 3
November 19 38 4 0.344 0 1 4 3
December 20 34 10 0.391 0 1 4 2
January 19 40 14 0.356 0 0 5 3
February 18 39 7 0.336 0 1 4 4
March 20 39 13 0.368 0 0 4 3
April 4 1 0 0.800 2 2 0 0

These were dreary years, before Rogie Vachon's first full season in Forum blue and gold. December was a bad team's best month; February was rock bottom. Only two players held on for most of this bumpy ride: Eddie Joyal and Bill Flett, who were traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in early 1972.

Next year, Bob Pulford would kick off a long, distinguished coaching career by leading the Kings to respectability. You might also know Pulford as Dean Lombardi's father-in-law.

Marcel Dionne Era
1975-76 to 1986-87

W

L

T/OTL/SOL

Points Earned %

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .600

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .400

October 55 56 18 0.496 3 6 4 4
November 65 68 21 0.490 2 5 5 4
December 65 69 24 0.487 3 5 7 2
January 60 80 31 0.442 0 3 7 4
February 51 70 23 0.434 1 4 8 6
March 68 82 25 0.460 2 4 6 3
April 8 15 6 0.379 2 2 7 7

Between the expansion years and Dionne, there was 1974-75, and a squad that only lost two games in the first two months of the season.

But after Dionne's acquisition that off-season, February betrayed LA. January, too, was not much kinder. The roots of the now to-be-expected winter declines grow here.

It was perhaps in 1982-83 that the franchise's first notable December-January collapse occurred, as a club that started 11-9-3 then went 5-18-4.

Wayne Gretzky Era
1988-89 to 1995-96

W

L

T/OTL/SOL

Points Earned %

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .600

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .400

October 46 29 11 0.599 3 7 0 0
November 45 36 9 0.550 3 3 2 1
December 33 42 13 0.449 2 2 5 3
January 33 48 17 0.423 1 2 5 5
February 40 48 17 0.462 2 2 5 3
March 51 45 14 0.527 3 3 3 1
April 14 19 6 0.436 1 1 3 3

Zoinks! So this is where the legend really begins. From Octobers that fed championship fantasies to expansion-level Januarys, no other era was rocked by such volatility. Can you believe that every October was enjoyed with over .500 in Points Earned %?

Most famously, LA started 1992-93 on a 20-8-3 tear (with Gretzky sidelined!), only to lose 17 of their next 25 games.

Dave Taylor Era
1997-98 to 2005-06

W

L

T/OTL/SOL

Points Earned %

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .600

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .400

October 42 36 16 0.532 3 3 3 1
November 46 38 18 0.539 5 5 2 1
December 45 46 19 0.495 1 2 4 2
January 48 43 16 0.523 2 3 4 1
February 40 29 12 0.568 3 5 1 0
March 46 51 18 0.478 1 4 4 3
April 23 18 6 0.553 4 4 2 1

GM Dave Taylor, that is (there was some thought to calling this the Mattias Norstrom Era, as he was inherited by and outlasted Taylor). Another ubiquitous figure from this period was Coach Andy Murray, who shepherded some of the best winters in team history, but also its longest losing streak, closing 2003-04 with 11 consecutive defeats.

Finally, there was 2005-06, which saw a 27-14-2 record begin to unravel in the winter and lead to Taylor and Murray's dismissals.

Anze Kopitar Era
2006-07 to present

W

L

T/OTL/SOL

Points Earned %

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .600

Months w/ Points Earned % Greater Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .500

Months w/ Points Earned % Less Than .400

October 43 34 7 0.554 4 4 3 2
November 41 36 11 0.528 2 4 3 0
December 47 46 9 0.505 3 4 3 2
January 42 42 11 0.500 2 3 3 2
February 43 29 13 0.582 3 6 2 0
March 61 44 15 0.571 4 4 4 3
April 20 17 9 0.533 3 3 3 2

Despite building an unmatched standard of excellence for Kings hockey, Kopitar, along with long-time running mate Dustin Brown, have also suffered the December-January blues. Of course, Terry Murray was canned in a December.

However, fans may want to train their focus on March: Under Darryl Sutter, LA has gone 31-14-2 in that month, propelling themselves to three straight deep playoff runs.