Sunday, May 20, 2018
Sports

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LOS ANGELES — One team winning two Stanley Cups in three seasons during this salary-capped era of parity in the NHL defies logic. But the Kings have never paid mind to the expectations of others.

The franchise, which entered the league in 1967, had never won a Cup and had made one appearance in the final until capturing its first championship in 2012. Friday they defeated the Rangers 3-2 in double overtime to again hoist one of the most recognizable trophies in sports.

"That's the result of our management keeping us together and us pulling together," captain Dustin Brown said. "That's really hard to do with the cap, but we've found ways to have guys come up and play well, to add the core we have here."

In 2012, the Kings were the eighth seed, but they finished three rounds in 14 games before defeating the Devils in a six-game final. This season they made the playoffs more comfortably but trailed 3-0 in the first round to the Sharks, 3-2 in the second to the Ducks and squandered a 3-1 lead over the Blackhawks to go to Game 7 in the Western Conference final. They became the first team to win three Game 7s all on the road. They then won a five-game Cup final that had five overtime periods.

"The second (Cup) was much harder, partly because of the way we did it and partly because we're not an unknown the way we were the first time," Brown said. "I'm emotionally spent like I've never been before."

Brown, the longest-tenured King, was one of many returners from 2012. Of the 20 skaters who dressed for the Kings on Friday, 18 were on the roster or in the organization in 2012. All but one of the players and coaches live within five miles of one another, which has helped develop an uncommon solidarity they credit for much of their success.

Foresight and unwavering confidence have been constants for the Kings. General manager Dean Lombardi said in 2012 that he was not trying to be merely an asset manager. His goal, despite the salary cap imposed before the 2005-06 season to help engineer parity, was to win multiple Cups and build a dynasty.

The Kings have most of their top players under contract. That could open a window of opportunity to add more banners to the rafters of Staples Center, which were once adorned exclusively with mementos of the Lakers' NBA championships.

After the game Friday, Lombardi brought up the Packers, Steelers, 49ers and Patriots, dynasties all, in talking about his team. In a somber bit of coincidence, the architect of the Steelers, former coach Chuck Noll, died at age 82 while the game was going on. Told of Noll's death, Lombardi was quiet for a few seconds, then said, "You know what's funny, though? All those teams, when you go and dig into it, every word that comes out is how tight they were.

"That's what's really hard in this era. Going back to those teams, there was no free agency, there was no big money. And that's the other thing that's special. You refuse to give up on the human spirit."

Canadiens: Coach Michel Therrien signed a four-year contract extension, two weeks after Montreal was eliminated from the playoffs by the Rangers in the Eastern Conference final. Therrien, who has coached the Canadiens for the past two seasons and got them in the playoffs both times — they swept the Lightning in the first round this year — has one year remaining on his contract before the extension starts. No financial terms were reported.

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