Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Like the NHL, But I Live in Kansas City. Please HELP!


Have you recently come down with hockey fever for some reason, but you are unsure about which NHL team to cheer for during the upcoming season?!?!  Well, your ol’ friend Dr. Flubber is here with the remedy.  Over the next couple of days (or week or two) I will be listing the top 5, count ‘em FIVE, NHL teams for the locals to follow this season.  Maybe you will find a favorite team and start a long-lasting relationship, and get married to this team and live happily ever after.  Or not.  It is what you make of it.

There are no predictions.  No previews.  Just a simple way for Kansas Citians to get acclimated to some NHL teams that either have some connection to KC, have unstable ownership/low fan support, or other qualities area residents are used to in their sports viewing.  Basically, a team or franchise that could fit well in the city’s sports landscape.

Of course, this may be all for not since the entire area is full of Penguins fans, as evidenced the other night.  Hey, how about cheering for someone other than the Penguins.*  It will make you interesting at parties and junk.**  The first possible choice after the jump!

*The Penguins, obviously, are not one of the teams.
**Cheering for one of these teams will not necessarily make you interesting at parties.

"Ow, my face." 

YOOUUURRRRR Los Angeles Kings!

Why do I put the Kings here?  Because I like the Kings?  Well, yes.  But that isn’t the only reason.  You know the story.  AEG (run by C. Montgomery Leiweke) owns the Sprint Center and the Los Angeles Kings NHL franchise, thus the Kings have played in the last three NHL preseason games in Kansas City.  The Kings are featured as the home team in the exhibition games, and the commercial advertising the Pens game in KC featured all of their best moments in the past year (or something like that).  

KC, for all intents and purpose, is the Kings home away from their Southern Californian home.  Yes, that may be a stretch, but KC is somewhere they can play with the ownership right there watching them and Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” playing after every goal.  So, that’s cool.  But, are they your team?  Find out below.

Village West Best Potential Award:  Player that brings the most to the team

It would seem to be Anze Kopitar, freshly back from injury that kept him out of the playoffs.  Alas, that is the wrong answer.  Mike Richards is correct, coming over from the Flyers in a trade this offseason.  He fits the 2-way player theme that head coach Terry Murray has been mumbling about for his whole tenure in Los Angeles.

Union Station Biggest Burden Award: Player with least upside and carries a big financial burden (editors note: I like Union Station as a symbol for the city, but, yeah, people have lost money on it in the past.)

Dustin Penner, who has a lot to prove after his disappearing act at the end of the season and in the first round of the playoffs last year.  He is a UFA at the end of the year and is already making $4.25MM this year.  Also, Jarret Stoll may not be worth $3.6MM as a third or fourth line center, but, alas, he is an animal in the faceoff circle and in the shootout.

Eric Hosmer/ 2004 2008 2012 Royals Hope Award: Reason for Optimism

After being terrible and having to start a rebuilding process a season after the fateful lockout, the Kings have made the playoffs the past two years.  This year they appear to have most of the pieces in place, and have a lot of veteran skill guys that can work with the still very young core talent players like Kopitar, Richards, Jack Johnson, and Drew Doughty(?).

Katie Horner Scared-Sh!tless Award:  Reason to Worry

No Drew Doughty yet due to contract negotiations.  He plays the most minutes of any and every game, has missed very limited time due to injury, and pilots the powerplay effectively.  All at the ripe old age of 21.  But, with multiple other guys in the pipeline, the Kings are by no means short on talent.
Wait...what....WHAT????  Forget what I just said!  Doughty be back, baby!

If not Doughty, then the usual coaching errors that seem to plague the team as it has attempted to finish the past two seasons (i.e. poor powerplay, unnecessary line juggling, etc. etc. etc.).  Also, veteran guys who are injury prone (Gagne, Williams, Moreau...)

Buck O’Neil Positive Attitude Award:  Reason to cheer them

AEG (thus, Tim Leiweke) owns the Kings, and we hate Tim Leiweke.  But, like him or not, AEG has given Kansas City an exhibition NHL game three of the past four years, and as long as people keep showing up, that’s the best we are going to get for a while.  Also...

  1. They have been to KC three times in the last four years.
  2. If you are a bandwagon jumper, now is a good time to jump on.  The Kings have many of the right pieces in place that they have been building for the past 4+ years, and they could be a serious contender for the cup this year and in the years to come (this said ignoring my annual f-bomb laced tirades against Terry Murray come February).
  3. They fit the whole royalty motif (Chiefs, Royals, Kings (remember the NBA?), etc.)
  4. If you don't like the jersey, just wait about five years for a new one.
  5. Um...they have quite a few Americans on the team...

Mark Funkhouser Memorial Trophy:  Reason to Hate Them

You hold a personal grudge against AEG and Tim Leiweke or you are an Edmonton Oilers fan for some reason.

Worlds of Fun Ride that Best Describes the Franchise:  Cyclone Sam’s

This team has seldom been the favorite, especially in their recent history.  Only during the Gretzky years were they seen as much of a threat, and even then they only made the Cup Finals once and lost.  The past two seasons they were over-matched by the Canucks and Sharks, respectively, in the playoffs, but played those series hard enough to push them both to six games.  So, like Cyclone Sam’s, which a lot of my friends don’t like but I think is cool, the Kings have a tendency to be overlooked and even disliked for their status as a "non-traditional" market team.  Plus, after that Game 3 loss to the Sharks in the playoffs, my head was spinning so hard it almost popped off in a hurricane of wonderment and awe and anger.

Here we go again!!!

Number of Floating, Disembodied Jack Harry Heads:

Two out of Five

The Kings don’t have a championship to their name (40+ years and counting), so they don’t have any expectations to live up to like the ’70 Chiefs and ’85 Royals, but they have been around long enough to field one of the most starving of fan bases. Like Kansas City’s teams, the Kings have had hope in the past, but always seem to play the underdog.  Unlike Kansas City’s teams, expectation rarely gets the best of them (i.e. 2011 Chiefs, 2004 Royals, to name recent examples).  Playing in the shadow of the Lakers and local collegiate power programs, the Kings are just a part of the shuffle in LA.  But, their ownership group seems to give a crap (as much as you may dislike them).  Jack would probably yell about them as much as he does Sporting KC.  And that’s JACK SMACK!

Next up, another mystery team.  Who will it be?  Stay tuned to find out... 

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