Note from the Editor: Michael Lloyd joins Jewels from the Crown, where he will be publishing a regular column, “Perspectives from the Cheap Seats.” Michael’s column will regularly run on Mondays, but we’ll give you a sneak preview today. Read more about Michael, and our other new contributors, over here.
In The Candidate, after Robert Redford’s character wins an exhausting California senate race, he mumbles one of the most celebrated last lines in cinema history:
”What do we do now?”
After watching our boys surrender a 9-2 aggregate in the province of Ontario, I waited all night to hear how our Corsi numbers tell a different story. That’s what all the pundits tell us to make us feel better that the Hockey Gods will swing the bounces our way eventually and we will settle in to either fighting for the division crown or sneaking into the playoffs again for that magical Stanley Cup run we are all sure exists.
I mean seriously, the sky is falling, right? It seems to always feel that way for us these days.
There are three of us in my household who love the Kings:
- Me: The 50-year-old curmudgeon who used to sit in Jack Kent Cooke’s office when he was six and endured the misery (mostly) for the last 45 years.
- The daughter: A 22-year-old recent college graduate who only sees rainbows and sunshine on the ice (unless, of course, the Kings are on the PK, and now the power play).
- The son: The 19-year-old couch GM ready to make trades for scorers and speed at the drop of the hat.
There are three points of view after Monday night:
- The daughter: “It’s early in the season—but they need to figure out how to score more than one goal.”
- The son: “Dear Rob, something needs to changed. Maybe it’s time to make the call Columbus for the Breadman.”
- Me: “DEFCON 4.”
Through all of it, we are universally united in the sentiment that Coach Stevens blew the pre-season. A one win, six loss pre-season is okay, if you get something out of it. The one thing the Kings didn’t get out of the tune-up games was any semblance of chemistry and, oh boy, is it evident from the 300 level seats and more so on the couch. As much as the daughter wants to defend the coach, even she agrees this is on him.
We read Twitter and see the Instagram comments and then I say aren’t we all ignoring something? The Kings won it all, twice. Those were the perfect endings to a great movie and its sequel.
But during the 2015, 2016, and 2017 seasons, I found myself reciting those handful of words over and over again. What do we do now?
And then the overthinking set in…
What happens after two championship seasons that can’t conceivably be outdone? What happens when your loser identity gets stripped away, when you get the opportunity to reboot your entire fan culture? What materializes after you’ve been liberated from the sports purgatory? For the sake of the heavens, what do we do now?
Decades of suffering involuntarily encoded us Kings fans to question every decision, assume the worst, and never take anything for granted. Pretty much in the same manner your rescue dog flinches from sudden movement from repeated newspaper whackings by their previous monster owners. Certain truths will never vary. As Kings fans, we assume we know more than the current coach and we could run the front office better than the current GM. Many of us also carry this bravado that we can turn it on in playoffs if we can just find a way in. We can overcome 3-0 series deficits because of how the Sharks were embarrassed in 2014. Also we can get that tying goal on the late third penalty power play because Brownie and Kopi always talk about the never say die attitude (and often back it up). And many Kings fans are trained to allocating their winters to a star-crossed, ultimately disappointing hockey team. With that last variable of losing suddenly removed from our lives, it feels like winning the lotto and not having to worry about money anymore. You simply lose all perception of an 82 game season.
So at 2-3-1, what do we do now?
Whelp, really nothing at the moment.
(ME) Watching us on the offensive zone is depressing. I looked back at my Twitter posts and it looks like I’ve been depressed since 2016. Jeez, scoring shouldn’t be this much work with the likes of Kopitar, Carter, Toffoli, and Kovalchuk there. I see the guys our there kicking field goals at some random field in Ontario and all I can think is they should be practicing the power play until it hurts. I used to make fun of Edmonton and Todd McLellan and now it’s just embarrassing to hear it from the McDavids this year.
(THE DAUGHTER) “Okay, we need to figure out how to score, but you both need to chill out. We are six games in and you’re driving me crazy with your attitudes right now.” (Yeah it got real in the middle of the Ottawa game.)
(THE SON) Dear Tyler Toffoli…you need to get going. You get one off year not three. Yes, I understand you was injured for 20% one of them. But that means your scoring drops by 20% not 50%. You need to show up in playoffs too. Alex Iafallo has as many points as you in the last two King playoff exits. Yes, AI wasn’t in one of them and that’s the point. The Canadiens were good for so long because the GM shipped off players before they declined. The same applies to Pearson…better pick it up. I understand it’s only six games in, but I’ve got a short leash this year. We need to be lethal.
So there you have it. The logical side of me says be patient and three Cups eight years and all that, but my irrational side says to be unhinged until changes are made. #GoKingsGo.