For the next month or two, we’ll be taking a look at the players who made the Los Angeles Kings’ 2016-17 season what it was:
a crushing disappointment that got people fired an up-and-down journey which managed to be both unusual and familiar. Rather than the good-bad-future-grade format we’ve used in past seasons, we’ll ask a crucial question and answer it using it what we saw this year.
Will Trevor Lewis be a Los Angeles King for life?
On the morning of June 11, 2012, I was two days into a weeklong stay in Salt Lake City, Utah and I was FREAKING. OUT. The Los Angeles Kings were one win away from their first Stanley Cup and I had no clue where to watch the game. I had found a few other Kings fans at the conference I was attending, and we ultimately settled on the Lucky H Bar & Grill. At lunch, we asked the bartender if he would allow us to watch game six uninterrupted that night and he agreed. Awesome.
Fifteen minutes before game time, our hodgepodge crew of six rolled into the Lucky H ready to watch LA Kings history. Problem was, the bar was filled with business types in golf attire watching some PGA event from Australia (maybe New Zealand) on the big screen. Even worse, the bartender who promised us that very television was gone, replaced with what appeared to be a fifteen-year-old of eastern European descent. In a panic, I rushed to the new bartender and explained our situation: A group of thirty to forty somethings desperate to watch an ice hockey game that no one else in the bar even knew of, let alone cared for.
What happened next will stay with me forever. The bartender, and really, he looked like a kid, grabbed the remote and flipped the big screen from golf to coverage of game six. Immediately the crowd around the bar started to voice their objections with raised hands and voices. “No!” shouted the kid, “No! No more golf! Tonight, we watch hockey!” And with that the business types quieted down, resigned to their fate of an evening of hockey on the big screen.
Turns out, the “kid” was originally from Kosovo, Serbia, and was adopted by a Mormon family during the chaos of the Kosovo War. Apparently, he carried his childhood interest in ice hockey with him to Salt Lake City, and so was well aware of the legend that was Trevor Lewis, hometown hero (seriously click the link, the headline is so Utah). When Lewis scored the third goal of game six, all of us, “kid” included, went bananas.
For the salary cap era Los Angeles Kings, Trevor Lewis ranks in my mind with Brown, Kopitar, Quick, and Doughty in terms of emotional attachment by the fan base. He is a fixture in the Los Angeles community, embraces being a King, provides source material for memes, and scores big – and often thoroughly unexpected – goals.
Would the Kings want Trevor Lewis to retire as a King? I do not see why not. He is coming off the second most productive season of his career (with a career high in goals) and his underlying numbers remain strong, not to mention his leadership in the locker room. His current contract has three years remaining at 2 million AAV and will carry him through age thirty-three. If he is looking to play beyond that point, I think both he and the organization would work to make it happen.
The question, however, is not if we WANT Lewis to be a King for life (the answer is yes, and I will fight all those opposed) but rather IF he will remain one. That, however, is a very big if and is entirely in the hands of George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights, with a decision coming tomorrow morning at 7:00 am.
Of all the players the LA Kings left exposed in the expansion draft, Lewis is one of three most likely to be claimed by the Golden Knights. There are valid reasons for the Knights not to draft Lewis – his contract, his age, his propensity to miss wide-open nets – but there are just as many to draft him. He contributes quality minutes on the ice, has two Stanley Cups to his record, and is not shy about helping members of his community in need. For an organization looking to establish an identity in a diverse community, Trevor Lewis is a marketable commodity with a compelling life story.
So, will Trevor Lewis be a Los Angeles King for life? My gut tells me that George McPhee recognizes his value and scoops him up, driving another dagger into the heart of 2012. My heart, however, is holding out hope for a Lewis retirement ceremony at Staples in the not too distant future.