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Fool’s Gold: A Perspectives Mailbag

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Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Arizona Coyotes in the first period at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

What a difference a couple of weeks make. Last time in Perspectives From The Cheap Seats, I was busy talking about the joke of a season that we were living through after that debacle against Anaheim. I am sure that nothing irks us more than losing to the Ducks and the Sharks — which the Kings done in spades over the last half decade — but that Ducks game was something else.

Then Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick started playing at elite levels again and Dustin Brown channeled his inner Alex Ovechkin, churning out goals at a career peak pace. After a 4-1-1, road trip things were looking rosy.

Not so fast, Kings fans.

This stretch is fool’s gold and don’t be tricked by it. During this roadie, my email lit up like a Christmas tree with naysayers calling me an “alarmist” and the “never happy” columnist. Meanwhile SB Nation keeps sending me emails asking if I think the Kings are headed in the right direction. I mean, sure the Kings are moving up. How can they not? They aren’t Detroit or Ottawa. They have a lot a great prospects and the best farm system in the NHL.

What’s not to be confident in, right? Then I received this email and my brain tilted on an axis:

“You gotta love Rob Blake don’t you? He’s so good at finding those overlooked players like Alex Iafallo and Blake Lizotte. The plan is coming together. The sky isn’t falling like you forever love to write!” — Bob H. from Covina

Bob, let’s start with this Instagram post:

Any time you see a team putting this kind of story out there, it has one purpose, and that’s to to brainwash the public. When you read this, look between the lines. There is trouble in paradise. I like AI as much as the next fan and you always want a player “who does all of the things you don’t see on the scoresheet.”

But when that player averages 0.19 goals per game playing next to the best or second-best two-way forward in the league, there’s a lot left to be desired. Iafallo is not a top-line player as much as everyone wants him to be. When a coach is talked to talk about the intangibles of a top-line player in his fourth year, beware!

Another player “who does all of the things you don’t see on the scoresheet” is Blake Lizotte. I love Jim Fox dearly, but if I hear how much Lizotte does for the team on the ice that I can’t possibly see in a box score, I’m going to scream. After he returned from the league’s COVID-19 protocols and was dropped from his cushy spot as second-line center to his rightful place on the fourth line, it produced a much better result on the ice. Two goals and zero assists as a center in this league won’t cut it. Don’t drink the Kool-Aid everyone. Lizotte will be in Ontario soon enough.

So to answer your question: No Bob, GM Blake isn’t the second coming of Jack Adams or even Jim Rutherford. If I’ve written it once, I’ve written it one hundred times, GM Blake might be able to draft, but he can’t put together a roster. I’m happy to be wrong in the future.

“I just pulled up theses stats (below) after tonight’s game and was floored!!! Aside from Doughty, only ONE OTHER DEFENSEMAN has a goal on the Kings this season!! Surprisingly Kurtis MacDermid is the only other King’s defenseman that has scored a goal. I know Roy and Walker missed some games but I always hear everyone raving about both these players and Roy only has 3 points and Walker has 2. Matta only has 1 point in 16 games!!” — Michael V. from Camarillo

Michael, the reader before you just said Rob Blake finds the diamonds in the rough and, of course, Jim Fox will tell you that Olli Maatta has really stepped up his play after being a healthy scratch in games 5, 6, 7 and 8. Did you really think GM Blake would find Drew Doughty a quality scoring partner? Or even a quality first-line partner? You ask a lot.

I’ll say this for Rob Blake, at least he didn’t pursue Erik Karlsson at $11.5 million per season to get one goal through 15 games.

“Okay Cheap Seat genius, what would you do to improve the Kings instantly besides send Lizotte to the AHL?” — Samantha R. from Naples, Italy

JACK. EICHEL.

The Athletic talked to some general managers and leaked this nugget: “LA is a team that people should be looking long and hard with (Quinton) Byfield, (Alex) Turcotte and plenty of other pieces,” he said. “And does Buffalo really want to play against this guy a bunch every year or do they want him in the Western Conference?”

The Kings are run like some midwest team on a budget who loves draft picks (think: the Tampa Bay Rays). This doesn’t cut it in Los Angeles, where the Lakers have LeBron and a title, the Clippers still bask in their overhype and the Dodgers are still selling World Series shirts. The Kings need some star power to sell jerseys. Attention GM Blake: make some phone calls and part with some of your precious prospects and draft picks. We all would like a reason to buy a new jersey from the Team LA store.

Speaking of which...

“A note to the brass at Los Angeles Kings: It’s bad form to pump us all up about the Reverse Retro jerseys and then make them so rare that no one can find them. We can’t go to games and we have some extra cash to help out with the revenue shortfall. I wasn’t asking for a free jersey, but I was expecting more than a “so sorry, not sorry” kind of response.” — Joshua L. from Irvine

Yep, this is same thing the did with the 50th Anniversary sweaters, but worse now. This is something out of the 1970s merchandising playbook.

“What are the top 10 things you’ve noticed so far this season?” — Joseph B. from the Valley

Here’s nine...

  1. The Kings have found their second-line center in the form of Gabe Vilardi. Don’t take my word, listen to Doughty: “Vilardi is a special player, he just needs more experience.”
  2. Let Byfield chill in the AHL for the season. Settle down everyone, he’s barely 18 years old.
  3. The death of Jonathan Quick is grossly over-exaggerated. It will hurt to see him go to Seattle.
  4. February Doughty is Norris Trophy Doughty.
  5. Stop with “moral victories.” Only victories that get two points matter.
  6. Todd McLellan is conducting a master coaching performance this year. He’s in the coach of the year category, because this roster is either too old or too young and outside of some really bad things that occurred at the end of three Minnesota games, the Kings would be sitting pretty.
  7. Mikey Anderson is a great pairing for Doughty.
  8. It’s embarrassing that the Kings let Tyler Toffoli take a pay cut to play in Montreal.
  9. Dustin Brown’s year has been extremely underrated. His 11 goals are hardly mentioned on the national level. Also, did you know that he scored goals in each of his 1,000th, 1,100th, and 1,200th games?

“Any more bright ideas, Mr. Know it All?” —Jonathan J. from San Clemente

Yes, these are the readers from the cheap seats.