So much to cover this week, especially with Alex Faust exclaiming that the Kings finished at .500 on this home stand.
I mean, I guess the four-game run was a success. Terrible, uninspired losses (NJ and Arizona) sandwiched in between two throwback wins (Carolina and Vegas). Talk about spin zone, but, I have to say that anytime you can humble the Vegas fans at Staples is a real pleasure.
Perhaps the most disturbing development of this decade—other than the near death of newspapers and magazines and the fact that YouTubers are actual celebrities—has been the diminishing canons of etiquette in our culture.
Whether it’s Starbuck over-orderers, thoughtless cell phone users, road rage, movie theater talkers, foul-mouthed spectators, everyone just seems to be annoying everyone else.
Of course, there isn’t a better petri dish to examine the convergence of these interactions than a hockey game. It’s cold. The attitude is always tense. It’s expensive. Fans are crammed into every nook and cranny of the arena. People are drinking. Other people have kids and try to protect their innocent ears.
In a future “Perspectives” column, I am working on a Top 10 (or 20) worst fans analysis (which I won’t cover here). But after attending several Vegas-at-Staples-Center games, I had to leak a little of the column. The typical Vegas fan falls in the behavior displayed by this guy/girl (usually a guy):
Number 5 Worst Fan: The Obnoxious Guy Rooting for the Visitors
Look, most of us have cheered our home team in an enemy arena, however, there’s a huge disparity between supporting the visitors and provoking the home fans, amirite? The Obnoxious Guy usually wears some form of opposing paraphernalia (usually a jersey, sometimes a hat), shouts out unintelligent nicknames for his players, claps his hands repulsively, curses and flashes his middle finger towards the ice, and does everything imaginable to exasperate people in his section. He blossoms when he does it.
But there’s a fun little hitch in this master plan ...
When something encouraging happens for his team, the Obnoxious Guy inevitably stands up, turn around with his back to the ice, point to his jersey/hat and yells, “Hell Yeahhhhhhhhhh!” to everyone sitting behind him. At Staples we are bored by this aggression. We’re from LA. We’re laid back. We roll our eyes and wait for that moment to flash the two cups peace sign. In other stadiums, like Philly, Chicago, New York, he’d get something hurled at him—a beer, a half-eaten plate of nachos, sometimes a left-handed haymaker. You know: what goes around comes around.
The Vegas Golden Knights fan strolls into Staples with their freshly-stitched Fleury, Karlsson, or Pacioretty jersey with an aroma of entitlement you might expect from Ducks or Blackhawks fans. Say what you want about these insufferable fans, but at least their teams have a recent Stanley Cup and have played more than 200 games in the history of their franchise. The Vegas fans start up with you as you walk through the parking garages and then scoff at the greatest hockey monument ever erected in front of any arena in North America.
Then, they get inside and do that stupid, disgraceful “Knights” shoutout during our national anthem right after the Hero of the Game is announced. They can’t even be respectful during the “Star Spangled Banner. “ Seriously, knuckleheads: grow up.
After the way Vegas has been playing recently, I expected to be pretty depressed following 60 minutes of action (or inaction), but after the Vegas faithful went nuts after a 1-0 lead, everything felt normal again. Derek Forbort returned to his post-Van Gogh dominance after taking most of the season off, the penalty kill and power play produced positive results, the new guy scored, Carter scored, Brayden McNabb looked bad, and all the bounces went our way. Obnoxious Guy was silenced. Good times.
To sum it up neatly, Saturday’s 5-1 destruction of Entitled Vegas was a true treat.
Except that another conspiracy theory popped up again. Why does the NHL love Vegas so much?
A week or so ago, Ryan Reeves wiped out the Capitals’ Tom Wilson with this dirty hit:
The result from NHL Player Safety? No suspension or fine.
Saturday, Kyle Clifford was cruising along, moving the puck down the ice when Pierre-Édouard Bellemare decided the Kings didn’t have enough players watching from the press box and decided to put Clifford into concussion protocol with this headshot:
The result from NHL Player Safety? No suspension or fine. Heck, there wasn’t even a penalty called which even shocked Jim and Alex.
When Drew Doughty did far less last year, he was suspended for a playoff game:
C’mon NHL…stop the madness, and the favoritism.
Willie Desjardins Watch
I remember when I was a kid and the Cold War was freezing over the planet. The rumors about the Soviet Union mistreating their people had made their way to the newspapers and nightly news. In true American form, I asked my dad why wouldn’t the United States simply go all CIA and take out Leonid Brezhnev.
For those of you wondering who Brezhnev was, he was the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (serving from 1964 until 1982). I was hoping to take out the big leader in the hopes we could all get along and live in peace. Peace through death. I was so misled. Yet I digress…
He told me that you should always be careful about wishing to topple a leader because the person who could follow might be much, much worse.
All of this convoluted setup is to tell you that I wrote my John Stevens coaching obituary long before he was fired. I campaigned for it as well. And, as we all know, the keys to the kingdom gates were handed to Willie Desjardins and now things are even worse.
With that in mind, I am giving up on getting Rob Blake to can Willie D. before the end of the season. I understand why he should stay. What quality coach would come here after the Kings relieved two head coaches of their duties in a 30-game stretch? Instead I’ll embrace the coaching nightmare and ride out the rest of the season. Also there’s this:
What’s Monday, April 8, 2019 at 8:00 AM? That’s the Monday after the Kings’ last 2018-19 game and my best estimate as to when Willie D. is shown the door.
Listen, I don’t want anyone to be out of a job, but bad coaching is, well, bad.
Jack Hughes awaits.