I wasn’t always a Kings fan.
My transformation has already been explored on this site, so I won’t bore you with the details.
But I will say, before the gradual sliding away from my hometown team(s) — before the unexpected transformation — before my time at Jewels from the Crown began, there was Tanner Pearson.
No, a goofy video with his BFF probably isn’t how most people will remember Tanner Pearson, but for me, one of the things that helped draw me to the team was the players themselves. My west coast friends, who wanted to turn me into being a Kings fan, peppered me with all the little off-ice videos the team did, and it turns out, I’m a pretty big sucker for weird, laughing boys.
Everyone’s got a different point of entry to the Kings. That was mine.
So, sorry, Tanner, but I’m writing this piece and therefore part of your JFTC Retrospective includes you giggling over being asked silly roommate questions.
Anyway: cue the Sarah McLachlan music. Press play, and then keep reading.
Tanner Pearson broke through on the Kings in his second professional season. He always did things a little late — late to have a breakthrough season in the OHL, late to get drafted for his age group, late to earn a permanent spot on the Kings.
He was a late bloomer, sure, but he was our late bloomer.
It took Pearson a little longer to catch on in the NHL during the 2013-14 season, earning just seven points in 25 games, but when the playoffs came around?
24 games, 4 goals, 8 assists, playing on a line with Jeff Carter (25 points in 26 games) and Tyler Toffoli (14 points in 26 games) that absolutely dominated any other players they came up against. Pairing Carter with two young, up-and-coming players paid enormous dividends for the Kings as the trio worked together seamlessly on the ice.
While the Kings as a team struggled after the 2014 Cup win, Pearson slowly started to grow into his role on the second line, becoming a familiar netfront presence for opposing goalies, and, more often than not, dishing out some pucks that would find the way to the back of the net, even if it wasn’t off of his stick.
Pearson hit a career high in points in the 2016-17 season with 44 points (24 goals, 20 assists) in 80 games. And while he saw his goal totals drop the next season, he had a career high in assists (25) and generally had excellent statistics with and without the puck. Pearson, like the rest of the Kings in 2017-18, just couldn’t score.
That said <puts on work uniform> Tanner Pearson (going to Pittsburgh, looks like) is a really solid forward. pic.twitter.com/CfHcWsGQ5I— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) November 14, 2018
And so the story went, on into this season, where Pearson tried hard, went to the net, played his game, and was rewarded with exactly one assist and zero goals for his effort.
The Kings’ problems don’t start and end with Tanner Pearson, but he and his zero goals and his palpable frustration and the almost three full seasons left on his contract, were the easiest for GM Rob Blake to subtract.
Pearson has been a good soldier for the Los Angeles Kings.
And now, when that course correction comes, and his shooting percentage rises from the goose egg he’s got right now, he’ll be doing it in black and gold.
Thanks for your years in Los Angeles, Tanner. May you have the best of luck and a rejuvenated season in Pittsburgh.
Oh, yeah — and sorry I made fun of your beard once.
this is the opposite of how i wanted to get on the kings radar i'm sorry tanner i'm so sorry pic.twitter.com/0v85AxdMue— sarah. (@goorgoahead) April 8, 2016
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I would like to thank everyone in the LA Kings organization past and present for the past 6 years. Management, coach’s, trainers, equipment staff, PR team and finally the fans, you’ve all done a lot for me so thank you. Most of all I want to thank my teammates for the great friendships and memories I will never forget and good luck the rest of the way! @lakings