How did we get here with Tyler Toffoli? Why did have to end?
In Cocktail, the late eighties Tom Cruise classic, Coughlin tells young Flanagan, “Everything ends badly, otherwise it wouldn’t end.” The Kings reached the ending badly point last year with Tyler Toffoli when he posted full season career lows of 13 goals, 34 points, a minus 16, and a shooting percentage of only 5.8. He was, in fact, the only player in the league that had over 200 shots and didn’t score at least 20 goals.
He seemed to have lost his superpowers after scoring 31 goals in 2015-16. What made it all strange was that he still looked like Toff. Same game. Same flow. Same innocent smile. Same skating stride. Everything looked the same with Toff, only he stopped finding the back of the net and stopped leading the league in plus/minus.
That ending point was so severe that Kings management didn’t bother to open contract discussions during the off-season. They quietly leaked that he wasn’t part of the Kings long-term plans. He was an asset that had to be traded.
For many of us, we couldn’t fathom why the Kings would want to trade him. Toffoli couldn’t either, saying as late as last month that he wanted to stay and wanted to prove it. Coach Todd McLellan put him on the top line with Anze Kopitar and he responded with 21 points in his last 28 games. Those are Art Ross numbers on a Kings team that averaged around two goals per game in 2020.
Through the years we counted on Toffoli. Some fell in love with him, not only for his play on the ice and his handsome good looks. We fell in love with his wife Cat and their dog Dodger. He was the originator of “the flow,” his curly locks flopping around in game warm-ups. His love for cupcakes went viral in 2016 and he used it for the good of the community, partnering with the Kings Care Foundation to create a signature dessert to raise money.
McLellan fell in love with him too. He quietly stumped for the Kings to go against “The Plan” and keep Toffoli. By all accounts he went to Kings management and tried to convince them to keep him.
There was always something about Toffoli that captured our imagination. Even in these tough times, most Kings fans refused to turn on him.
It’s been a Kings love affair unlike anything I can remember. We owed him too much for 2014. The fresh-faced kid teaming with an equally fresh-faced Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter to form the “That 70s Line” that provided all of that extra and timely scoring in the playoffs. Every Toffoli goal was greeted with “maybe this will jumpstart him” support and every failure was greeted with uncomfortable silence. The fans suffered just like he was and honestly, that’s a tribute to what he meant to us. He represented our hopes for quicker success despite The Plan. The majority of us hoped he would remain with a Kings franchise long on prospect talent and short on wins. He has inspired perseverance and emotion and loyalty. I mean, was there anyone happier when they scored a timely goal?
We live in a sports world where players are ground down until there is nothing left. They become over-rated and over paid in a New York Minute. Then we look to move them for draft picks as quickly as possible. So many of us are part of this disposable society where we take joy when a human being we pour our hearts into has outlived his usefulness.
I can’t lie, the Kyle Clifford trade angered me for hockey reasons, but this one hurt, it hurt badly.
And it’s going to take a long time to recover.
Thanks for the memories, Tyler Toffoli. You will be missed.
Toffoli Scores His First Career Goal - 3/18/2013
When we knew he was for real - 10/14/2014
The Newlywed Game
(and now reunited...)
The Goal that Broke the Sharks
Game 7 of the 2014 Reverse Sweep
The Best Game 7 of All Time - 2014 Western Conference Final
Tofolli with the Kings’ Third Goal
Kings Win Their Second Stanley Cup - 6/13/2014
The Perfect Shot/Rebound/Assist
First Career Hat Trick - 2/12/2015
“0.4 Seconds” - 10/28/2017
Tyler Toffoli Bobblehead Night - 12/4/2017
Christmas Game OT Winner - 12/23/2018
Going Out In Style
The Stadium Series Hat Trick