Later today, winger Dwight King will make his debut for the Montreal Canadiens. After 662 combined games in the Los Angeles Kings organization and 417 with the big club, this will be his first professional game for a team other than the Ontario Reign, Manchester Monarchs, or Los Angeles Kings. And while we’re excited that King has been traded to another team which will clearly value his particular skillset, and while we’re pleased that Dean Lombardi got something for him before losing him in July… we’re kind of sad, too.
I was at Dwight King’s second NHL game on November 19, 2010. He was — to put it politely — not ready for the NHL. Terry Murray dropped him next to Anze Kopitar on the first line, as part of his continuing search for a good left wing for #11 (sound familiar?). To my eye… King looked overwhelmed. I left Staples Center that day wondering whether I’d ever see him again after his inevitable demotion. Thankfully, he headed back to Manchester a couple weeks later, got some seasoning, and returned during the 2011-12 season. He never returned to the AHL.
King alternated between cult favorite and punching bag for fans of LA, often on a nightly basis. And while we can all appreciate his penalty killing and how difficult it often was for opposing players to win one-on-one battles with him, we grew attached to King for other reasons. In somewhat chronological order, here are ten things we’ll remember about King as he heads north of the border.
King and Nolan Form a Surprisingly Dynamic Duo
King and Nolan are inextricably linked for a few reasons. They were born 12 days apart, both came from First Nations backgrounds, both debuted with the Ontario Reign in 2009, and both landed full-time jobs with the Manchester Monarchs in 2010. Of course, what really joined them in our minds was when they were called up in February 2012 and debuted on the same line flanking Mike Richards. Though they didn’t end up skating together all that much, they were a symbol of LA’s renewed energy and us-against-the-world mentality down the stretch.
King Scores Five Goals In Five Games in the 2012 Playoffs
With expectations still low for both King and the Kings, Dwight had a quiet opening to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring zero points in the first seven games despite LA’s 6-1 record to that point. Then, suddenly, he couldn’t stop scoring, as he potted his first postseason goal in Game 3 against St. Louis and exploded for four in the first three games against Phoenix. Of the five, four were go-ahead goals, and the last one elicited a stunned “What a shot!” from Jarret Stoll.
King Drives to the Net in Game 6 of the Final
Trevor Lewis finished the play, but with LA winding down their five-minute man advantage and content to put their third line on the ice, King decided to go for the dagger. He beat Mark Fayne on the outside (yes, King went around a defenseman) and got the puck to the front, essentially sealing the Stanley Cup after 15 minutes of Game 6.
King Takes Photos with The Cup
Few players did better with their allotted Cup time than King. He’d have earned praise with the below photo alone…
— #LAKings (@LAKings) August 15, 2012
… but then returned to Meadow Lake in 2014 for the world’s most adorable photoshoot.
King Picks Up an Unlikely Hat Trick
Where were you when Dwight King picked up his first career hat trick on October 24, 2013? I don’t know where you were, but I bet you remember.
King Excels in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals
Dwight was more productive in the 2014 playoffs, partially because he’d earned the coaches’ trust completely, and partially because he spent a large part of the run alongside Conn Smythe winner Justin Williams. But he flew under the radar, and a good example of that was Game 7, when King picked up two assists and posted the best Corsi For% of any forward on the Kings.
King (Allegedly) Interferes with Lundqvist in Game 2 of the Final
The Kings made a habit of coming back against the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, and King’s first (and so far, only) SCF goal tied Game 2 in the third period. Controversial? Yes. Classic King? Also yes.
King Scores from Center Ice on Brodeur
SNIPER. This goal was one of the few bright spots in the 2014-15 season.
King Makes Excellent Faces, Even While Fighting
That fight went until Dwight King smiled in dude’s face, then McQuaid was like GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE
— Jewels frm the Crown (@JFTC_Kings) March 20, 2016
Adam McQuaid came across the ice to fight King after a big hit on Torey Krug. King seemed to enjoy it for some reason — maybe because his brother DJ was an NHL enforcer — and it brought King’s famous grin to the forefront once more.
King Scores Twice in 25 Seconds
This year, King did what he usually does: play solid defense, thrive on the penalty kill, and score more goals than you expected. His 100th career point was a tipped shot to give LA a late lead on the Islanders, and before the scorers even had time to recognize what he’d done, King had already scored again.
Simply being on two Cup-winning teams ensured that Dwight King would be more fondly remembered than your usual depth player, but as you can see, #74 found plenty of ways to make an impact in his 5+ years with the Kings.
May Montreal treat you well.