Last week, we pondered, “What do we do now?” This week, no one knows.
Ask the head coach:
“I have to be honest. I don’t have an answer at this second.” – John Stevens
Ask the insider:
“There are visible roots here that go beyond any singular shortcoming such as coaching or injuries, and into broader more abstract issued like identity and culture.” – Jon Rosen
Ask the captain:
“No one’s saying it’s going to be easy [digging out of this early season hole], but we’re going to get out of it.” –Anze Koptiar
Ask the reporter:
“This is about the King’s management overestimating the ability of the Stanley Cup-winning core to win again in a league that younger and faster and it’s about management not finding secondary players who can eventually become scoring leaders and locker room leaders.” -Helene Elliott
Ask the D-Man:
“I don’t know. I don’t think we’ve got enough fire and emotion and passion to win games right now.” -Jack Muzzin
Ask my son:
“Get ready for the Jack Hughes Sweepstakes.”
Saturday, we sat in our seats with the score 4-1 late in the third period, and my daughter waved her arms fast and furious towards the Kings goal. Puzzled, I looked at her and asked her what was up.
(I mean in the middle of getting humiliated for the fourth straight game, there wasn’t much to get excited about.)
There it was: an empty Kings net with Jonathan Quick tucked neatly inside his bench. That was at the 4:55 mark.
This is when the sky actually started to fall.
This is when desperation set in.
This is when Coach Stevens said to me and some of us other judgmental fans: “Hey, even though no one else is trying, look how hard I’m trying! Don’t be mad at me, Kings Nation! I’m employing desperation tactics this early in the game to try something, anything.”
Just four days ago I was at DEFCON 4. Today? We are at DEFCON 1.
I’ve watched every second of this four game skid and it has been a mess. There’s been no chemistry. No joy. No smiles. No effort, even. Teams like Ottawa and and Buffalo are quietly laughing at us. How embarrassing was it that the Islanders came to California and mustered two goals in losses to the Ducks and the Sharks but annihilated us 7-2?
In my 45 years, I can’t recall a Kings team looking this bad. They are terrible in a way that compares to the 1967-68 Original Kings that lost 10 of its first 14 games while surrendering four or more goals nine times. Sound familiar? It didn’t even seem this bleak last year when the Kings went 0-8-0 before the all-star break. The highlight of our day at Staples Center on Saturday was a visit from Bailey to wish my daughter a happy birthday.
The sad part about this entire 2-5-1 debacle is that everyone in the Kings organization now knows that the masses are assembling en masse to scapegoat John Stevens. The people have gathered their pitchforks and are gassing up their torches. They want answers. They want assurances that it will be okay. They want trades. They want the excellence that has been promised to them.
I read every bit of news and commentary on Twitter, the sports websites, and the views from the local Los Angeles media. Almost all of the pundits and experts have endorsed patience. A “wait until Dustin Brown” comes back and the plan can start to gel attitude is the best course of action, we are told.
For the few, the proud, the patient, they want their answers so they can sleep at night. But what have they gotten?
What they received was a long closed door meeting after Saturday’s game that produced a bunch of generalities, such as this from Kopitar: “I’m not going to spill any beans, but just made sure that the things that needed to be better were addressed.”
Don’t the boys know that the pitchforks and torches are out? Don’t they know they are ready to storm the castle and kill the beast? People are directing one hundred percent of the blame towards John Stevens. It’s up to the players to tell the angry fans that they love and respect Coach Stevens, and most of all tell us that they haven’t quit on him.
Why is it their responsibility? Because eight games in, it seems fairly evident they have mailed it in.
What’s really depressing is that the sound of #JackHughesSweepstakes and #LoseForHughes doesn’t sound that awful if we aren’t destined to have royal reign again in 2018-19.