Nick Bjugstad just recently signed a new six-year, $24.6 million extension with the Florida Panthers.

The NHL loves to market their star players: the Crosby’s, Ovechkin’s, Toews’, Kane’s, Giroux’s, Lundqvist’s, Stamkos’ and Datsyuk’s of the world, just to name a few. Besides their all-world talent, what is the one striking similarity between all these players? They all play in big, eye-catching markets. Past and present success along with fan bases who have helped prop these teams up and sustain the marketability that they possess are critical reasons for their uber-popular status. Does it take time for star players to gain credibility and marketability? In some cases, not very long as the likes of Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane all won Stanley Cups within their first four seasons in the league. Players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Claude Giroux, Henrik Lundqvist and Steven Stamkos are big names because they play in heavily populated cities in which hockey is very popular and their instant success has captivated those in the cities they play in. However, there are special cases in which players have to earn and work their way towards stardom for reasons not just in their control, but out of their control.

Take a look at Panthers forward Nick Bjugstad. The 6’6 power forward from Minneapolis, Minnesota was the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. At that point, the Panthers had still been a non-playoff team for many years and languishing near the bottom of the league. The 2010 draft for the Panthers was the start of good things to come, even if there were expected growing pains in the middle of the process. Bjugstad made his NHL debut during the lockout-shortened season on April 6th, 2013. 21 months to the day, he has burst onto the scene to become the Panthers go-to offensive trigger man and possibly a candidate for the 2015 NHL All-Star Game in Columbus on January 25th.

Just last week, Bjugstad earned himself a six year extension with the Cats that will entrench him into the spotlight in South Florida for years to come. Hockey has usually been on the back-burner in Sunrise in previous years, but with other teams in the area going through periods of downward spirals, these Cardiac Cats are taking full advantage and have slowly but surely become the best and most likable team in the city.

There are certain cities in which the way for teams to become popular and marketable are very simple: winning. For many years, the Panthers have been a shoo-in for one of the worst teams in the league and fans did not care to show up to games. After years of rebuilding, the Cats are turning the corner and Bjugstad is one of those crucial cornerstones to their future success. If the Panthers continue to win as they have recently, Bjugstad’s name and game will be recognized throughout not just South Florida, but the entire NHL. Winning does a lot for a player’s popularity and reputation. Unless you are a heralded superstar that gets followed at one’s every move, it takes hard work, dedication and most importantly – success in order to be a shining star. Bjugstad has all the tools and character to be a marketable star in the league for years to come. He is also one of the nicest, most humble players in the league and fans all around the league will warm up to him as one of the easiest players to root for because of his skill level and where he and his team have come from.

Aaron Ekblad, the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, is one of the reasons for the Panthers up-swing in the early part of this season.

There might not be many fans flocking BB&T Center for Florida Panthers hockey during the early stages of the 2014-15 NHL season, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t have their eyes fixated on this team filled with young talent and a potential that is beyond fruitful.

Through eight games this season, the Panthers are 3-2-3 and have only allowed 17 goals. While they’ve only managed to light the lamp on 12 different occasions, the potential that this young squad has should excite long lines of people. First overall pick from the 2014 draft in Aaron Ekblad has been a calming influence and he’s at the very young age of 18 years old. When watching the former Barrie Colts standout do his thing for the Cats, you would think he is a decade-long veteran who has already won multiple Norris Trophy awards. He makes smart, effective plays and having veterans like Willie Mitchell and Brian Campbell, along with a terrific, young leader in Erik Gudbranson on his side, certainly makes the transition less and less bumpy.

The Cats have been offensively challenged through the first month of the season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the group of players who have potential to become offensive standouts. With a collection of young players on this team, the most important factor is learning how to play the game the right way. The defensive principles that first year head coach Gerard Gallant has engraved into the minds of his hockey players has helped them gain confidence on a nightly basis. In years past, Panthers teams have not played with the winning ingredients that are necessary in order to be a competent team. That all starts with the head coach. A head coach has to instill the values that are important to winning in order for the players to realize their full potential and for the former assistant coach of the Montreal Canadiens, he is getting that through to his group of young and hungry players.

Goaltending, goaltending, goaltending. As the saying “location, location, location” goes, the same applies for netminding in the NHL. If you have it, the chances of success are much greater. If you don’t have it, then you will be stuck as a bottom feeder for years and years. The trade for Roberto Luongo in March of 2014 was the start of good things to come for the Panthers. Luongo played in the pressure packed city of Vancouver and while he had his critics there, he played about as well as any goalie could ever play in a hockey-crazed city. His calm demeanor has made a huge difference in the brand of hockey the Panthers have displayed. His teammates appreciate and respect him for who he is and what he’s dealt with in his career. The confidence the team has in front of him to this point in the season shows in the standings and when you have a goalie who will bail his team out at any point, you know you have something special. People forget that all this guy did was win the GOLD MEDAL for Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics. How many goalies in the history of the NHL can say that they’ve done that? Not only that, but Luongo was one win away from winning the first ever Stanley Cup for the city of Vancouver. At the end of his career, the accolades that this goalie will have in his back pocket will far exceed what most other goaltenders can say they’ve achieved. This Panthers team is lucky to have him and they should be taken seriously with him in net. He always gives this team a chance to win no matter what and good goaltending gives a hockey team an ample amount of confidence from top to bottom.

Think about hockey in South Florida – it might not be the hockey hotbed that everyone wants it to be, but at the end of the day it comes down to winning. When a franchise like the Panthers lack on-ice success, it can certainly be a challenge for fans on many different levels. Who wants to watch a losing team year after year? This Panthers team in 2014-15 is much different than what you have witnessed in the past. They have a head coach who is as intelligent as can be, a group of young players who care to the core when it comes to winning, a new group of veterans who have actually achieved the truest of success(Stanley Cup Final victories ala Willie Mitchell, Dave Bolland and Shawn Thornton) and a goaltender who loves the city and is at his most comfortable stage of his terrific career. The fans might not be showing up in droves as of right now, but without any doubt and any stone left unturned, they should be. Grow with these players and this franchise. They need your support and appreciation. The effort that these kids and vets are displaying should be appreciated by as many people as possible. Knowing that you have a group of players who care about putting a winning product on the ice should make you happy because you could always have a worse group. Be proud of your team and what they can do for hockey in the state of Florida. Two Stanley Cups in three years out in Los Angeles have done wonders for that city and how much appreciation that team gets today. Panthers won’t be too far behind if they keep up with their current philosophy, which is on a nice trajectory as of right now.

NHL season is back, boys and girls. The sweet sound of pucks shot off composite sticks, skaters gliding on the frozen pond and goal horns blasting with regularity – that is a sign of hockey coming back. If you’ve missed what has transpired this offseason, here is a refresher of what all 30 NHL teams have done from season’s end and what you will see on their respective opening nights.

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins

Opening Night Roster: Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Craig Cunningham, Loui Eriksson, Brian Ferlin, Matt Fraser, Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, Bobby Robins, Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg, Ryan Spooner; Defensemen: Matt Bartkowski, Zdeno Chara, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Dennis Seidenberg; Goaltenders: Tuukka Rask, Malcolm Subban, Niklas Svedberg

Additions: None

Subtractions: Johnny Boychuk, Jarome Iginla, Andrej Meszaros, Corey Potter, Shawn Thornton

Buffalo Sabres

Opening Night Roster: Goalies: Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth; Defensemen: Andre Benoit, Josh Gorges, Andrej Meszaros, Tyler Myers, Rasmus Ristolainen, Tyson Strachan, Mike Weber, Nikita Zadorov; Forwards: Nicolas Deslauriers, Tyler Ennis, Brian Flynn, Marcus Foligno, Brian Gionta, Zemgus Girgensons, Cody Hodgson, Cody McCormick, Torrey Mitchell, Matt Moulson, Sam Reinhart, Drew Stafford, Chris Stewart

Additions: Zac Dalpe, Brian Gionta, Matt Moulson, Andre Benoit, Josh Gorges, Andrej Meszaros

Subtractions: Cory Conacher, Christian Ehrhoff, John Scott

Carolina Hurricanes

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Anton Khudobin, Cam Ward; Defensemen: Brett Bellemore, Justin Faulk, Tim Gleason, Ron Hainsey, Jay Harrison, John-Michael Liles, Ryan Murphy, Andrej Sekera; Forwards: Patrick Brown, Patrick Dwyer, Nathan Gerbe, Elias Lindholm, Brad Malone, Jay McClement, Riley Nash, Victor Rask, Alexander Semin, Jeff Skinner, Eric Staal, Jordan Staal(IR), Chris Terry, Jiri Tlusty

Additions: Jay McClement, Brad Malone, Tim Gleason

Subtractions: Manny Malhotra, Justin Peters

Columbus Blue Jackets

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Sergei Bobrovsky, Curtis McElhinney; Defensemen: Tim Erixon, Cody Goloubef, Jack Johnson, Dalton Prout, David Savard, Fedor Tyutin, James Wisniewski; Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Cam Atkinson, Jared Boll, Matt Calvert, Michael Chaput, Adam Cracknell, Marko Dano, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Ryan Johansen(Pending), Mark Letestu, Jack Skille, Corey Tropp, Alexander Wennberg

Additions: Scott Hartnell, Brian Gibbons

Subtractions: R.J. Umberger, Matt Frattin, Blake Comeau, Jack Skille, Nick Schultz

Detroit Red Wings

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Jonas Gustavsson, Jimmy Howard; Defensemen: Danny DeKeyser, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, Brian Lashoff, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith; Forwards: Justin Abdelkader, Joakim Andersson, Dan Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk(IR), Johan Franzen, Luke Glendening, Darren Helm, Tomas Jurco, Drew Miller, Andrej Nestrasil, Gustav Nyqvist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Stephen Weiss, Henrik Zetterberg

Additions: NONE

Subtractions: David Legwand, Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi, Jordin Tootoo

Florida Panthers

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Roberto Luongo, Al Montoya; Defensemen: Brian Campbell, Aaron Ekblad, Erik Gudbranson, Dmitry Kulikov, Willie Mitchell, Dylan Olsen, Colby Robak; Forwards: Aleksander Barkov, Sean Bergenheim, Nick Bjugstad, Dave Bolland, Brad Boyes, Tomas Fleischmann, Jimmy Hayes, Jonathan Huberdeau, Jussi Jokinen, Tomas Kopecky, Derek MacKenzie, Brandon Pirri, Shawn Thornton, Scottie Upshall

Additions: Willie Mitchell, Dave Bolland, Jussi Jokinen, Shawn Thornton, Derek MacKenzie, Al Montoya, Aaron Ekblad, Shane O’Brien

Subtractions: Tom Gilbert, Jesse Winchester

Montreal Canadiens

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Carey Price, Dustin Tokarski; Defensemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Alexei Emelin, Tom Gilbert, Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Jarred Tinordi, Mike Weaver; Forwards: Michael Bournival, Rene Bourque, David Desharnais, Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Manny Malhotra, Travis Moen, Max Pacioretty, P.A. Parenteau, Tomas Plekanec, Brandon Prust, Jiri Sekac, Dale Weise

Additions: P.A. Parenteau, Manny Malhotra, Tom Gilbert, Drayson Bowman

Subtractions: Danny Briere, Josh Gorges, Thomas Vanek, Brian Gionta, Ryan White, George Parros, Francis Bouillion, Douglas Murray

New Jersey Devils

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Scott Clemmensen, Cory Schneider; Defensemen: Eric Gelinas, Andy Greene, Adam Larsson, Jon Merrill, Bryce Salvador, Damon Severson, Marek Zidlicky; Forwards: Damien Brunner, Mike Cammalieri, Ryane Clowe, Patrik Elias, Stephen Gionta, Martin Havlat, Adam Henrique, Jaromir Jagr, Jacob Josefson, Tuomo Ruutu, Michael Ryder, Travis Zajac, Dainius Zubrus

Additions: Mike Cammalieri, Martin Havlat, Scott Clemmensen

Subtractions: Martin Brodeur, Anton Volchenkov, Ryan Carter, Mark Fayne

New York Islanders

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Jaroslav Halak, Chad Johnson; Defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Matt Carkner(IR), Calvin de Haan(IR), Matt Donovan, Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey, Nick Leddy, Griffin Reinhart, Brian Strait, Lubomir Visnovsky(IR); Forwards: Josh Bailey, Eric Boulton, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Cory Conacher, Michael Grabner(IR), Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Matt Martin, Colin McDonald, Brock Nelson, Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, Ryan Strome, John Tavares

Additions: Jaroslav Halak, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Cory Conacher, Chad Johnson, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy

Subtractions: Evgeni Nabokov

New York Rangers

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Henrik Lundqvist, Cam Talbot; Defensemen: Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Matt Hunwick, Kevin Klein, Ryan McDonagh, John Moore, Marc Staal; Forwards: Derick Brassard, Anthony Duclair, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes(IR), Chris Kreider, Ryan Malone, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan(IR), Martin St. Louis, Lee Stempniak, Mats Zuccarello

Additions: Dan Boyle, Mike Kostka, Lee Stempniak, Tanner Glass, Ryan Malone, Kevin Hayes

Subtractions: Derek Dorsett, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Anton Stralman, Benoit Pouliot, Justin Falk

Ottawa Senators

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner; Defensemen: Mark Borowiecki, Cody Ceci, Jared Cowen, Eric Gryba, Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot(IR), Chris Phillips, Patrick Wiercioch; Forwards: Alex Chiasson, Erik Condra, Colin Greening, Mike Hoffman, Curtis Lazar, David Legwand, Clarke MacArthur, Milan Michalek, Chris Neil, Bobby Ryan, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Mika Zibanejad

Additions: Alex Chiasson, Curtis Lazar, David Legwand

Subtractions: Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky

Philadelphia Flyers

Opening Night Roster: Forwards: Jason Akeson, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Blair Jones, Vincent Lecavalier, Michael Raffl, Matt Read, Zac Rinaldo, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, R.J. Umberger, Jakub Voracek; Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Michael Del Zotto, Nicklas Grossmann, Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Mark Streit; Goaltenders: Steve Mason, Ray Emery

Additions: R.J. Umberger, Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz, Ryan White, Blair Jones

Subtractions: Scott Hartnell, Tye McGinn, Steve Downie, Adam Hall, Erik Gustafsson, Hal Gill

Pittsburgh Penguins

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury, Thomas Greiss; Defensemen: Robert Bortuzzo, Simon Despres, Christian Ehrhoff, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Paul Martin, Derrick Pouliot(IR), Rob Scuderi; Forwards: Craig Adams, Beau Bennett, Blake Comeau, Sidney Crosby, Steve Downie, Pascal Dupuis, Marcel Goc, Patric Hornqvist, Kasperi Kapanen, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Nick Spaling, Brandon Sutter

Additions: Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Christian Ehrhoff, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau, Thomas Greiss

Subtractions: James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Lee Stempniak, Tanner Glass, Jussi Jokinen, Brian Gibbons, Deryk Engelland

Tampa Bay Lightning

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Ben Bishop, Evgeni Nabokov, Andrei Vasilevskiy; Defensemen: Mark Barberio, Eric Brewer, Matt Carle, Jason Garrison, Radko Gudas, Victor Hedman, Slater Koekkoek, Anton Stralman; Forwards: Brian Boyle, J.T. Brown, Ryan Callahan, Brett Connolly, Jonathan Drouin, Valtteri Filppula, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Brenden Morrow(IR), Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik, Steven Stamkos

Additions: Jason Garrison, Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, Brenden Morrow, Evgeni Nabokov

Subtractions: Teddy Purcell, Anders Lindback, Keith Aulie, Ryan Malone, Mike Kostka, Tom Pyatt, Brian Lee

Toronto Maple Leafs

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Jonathan Bernier, James Reimer; Defensemen: Cody Franson(IR), Jake Gardiner, Stuart Percy, Dion Phaneuf, Roman Polak, Morgan Rielly, Stephane Robidas; Forwards: Carter Ashton, Troy Bodie, David Booth(IR), Tyler Bozak, David Clarkson, Matt Frattin, Peter Holland, Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel, Leo Komarov, Brandon Kozun, Josh Leivo, Joffrey Lupul, Mike Santorelli, James van Riemsdyk, Daniel Winnik

Additions: Roman Polak, Matt Frattin, Stephane Robidas, David Booth, Daniel Winnik, Mike Santorelli, Leo Komarov, Petri Kontiola

Subtractions: Carl Gunnarsson, Dave Bolland, Nikolai Kulemin, Mason Raymond, Jay McClement, Tim Gleason, Paul Ranger

Washington Capitals

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Braden Holtby, Justin Peters; Defensemen: Karl Alzner, John Carlson, John Erskine, Mike Green, Jack Hillen, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Dmitry Orlov(IR), Nate Schmidt; Forwards: Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle(IR), Troy Brouwer, Chris Brown, Andre Burakovsky, Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Brooks Laich, Michael Latta, Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, Aaron Volpatti(IR), Joel Ward, Tom Wilson(IR)

Additions: Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Justin Peters

Subtractions: Mikhail Grabovski, Dustin Penner

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Frederik Anderson, John Gibson; Defensemen: Bryan Allen, Francois Beauchemin, Mark Fistric, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Ben Lovejoy, Sheldon Souray(IR), Clayton Stoner, Shea Theodore(IR), Sami Vatanen; Forwards: Matt Beleskey, Andrew Cogliano, Emerson Etem, Ryan Getzlaf, Dany Heatley(IR), Tim Jackman, William Karlsson, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Maroon, Kyle Palmieri(IR), Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Devante Smith-Pelly, Nate Thompson

Additions: Dany Heatley, Ryan Kesler, Nate Thompson, Clayton Stoner, Jason LaBarbera

Subtractions: Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, Jonas Hiller, Saku Koivu, Mathieu Perreault, Stephane Robidas, Daniel Winnik, Teemu Selanne

Arizona Coyotes

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Devan Dubnyk, Mike Smith; Defensemen: Oliver-Ekman Larsson, Zbynek Michalek, Connor Murphy, David Schlemko, Michael Stone, Chris Summers, Keith Yandle; Forwards: Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Chipchura, B.J. Crombeen, Shane Doan, Martin Erat, Sam Gagner, Martin Hanzal, Justin Hodgman, Rob Klinkhammer, Lauri Korpikoski, Brandon McMillan, David Moss, Antoine Vermette, Joe Vitale

Additions: B.J. Crombeen, Sam Gagner, Joe Vitale, Devan Dubnyk

Subtractions: Paul Bissonnette, Thomas Greiss, Andy Miele, Mike Ribeiro, Radim Vrbata, Derek Morris, Jeff Halpern

Calgary Flames

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Jonas Hiller, Kari Ramo; Defensemen: T.J. Brodie, Raphael Diaz, Deryk Engelland, Mark Giordano, Kris Russell, Ladislav Smid, Dennis Wideman; Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Brandon Bollig, Lance Bouma, Paul Byron, Joe Colborne, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Glencross, Jiri Hudler, David Jones, Brian McGrattan, Sean Monahan, Mason Raymond, Matt Stajan, Devin Setoguchi

Additions: Brandon Bollig, Mason Raymond, Devin Setoguchi, Deryk Engelland, Corey Potter, Jonas Hiller, Raphael Diaz

Subtractions: Mike Cammalieri, T.J. Galiardi, Chris Butler, Joey MacDonald, Kevin Westgarth

Chicago Blackhawks

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Corey Crawford, Antti Raanta; Defensemen: Kyle Cumiskey, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsival, David Rundblad, Brent Seabrook, Trevor van Riemsdyk; Forwards: Bryan Bickell, Daniel Carcillo, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Marcus Kruger, Jeremy Morin, Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw, Ben Smith, Jonathan Toews, Kris Versteeg

Additions: Brad Richards, Kyle Cumiskey, Daniel Carcillo

Subtractions: Michal Handzus, Nikolai Khabibulin

Colorado Avalanche

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Reto Berra, Semyon Varlamov; Defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Nate Guenin, Jan Hejda, Nick Holden, Erik Johnson, Zach Redmond, Brad Stuart, Ryan Wilson; Forwards: Patrick Bordeleau(IR), Daniel Briere, Marc-Andre Cliche, Matt Duchene, Dennis Everberg, Jarome Iginla, Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon, Jamie McGinn(IR), Cody McLeod, John Mitchell(IR), Ryan O’Reilly, Ben Street(IR), Maxime Talbot, Alex Tanguay, Tomas Vincour(IR), Jesse Winchester

Additions: Danny Briere, Brad Stuart, Jarome Iginla, Jesse Winchester, Zach Redmond

Subtractions: P.A. Parenteau, Paul Stastny, Brad Malone, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Cory Sarich

Dallas Stars

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Kari Lehtonen, Anders Lindback; Defensemen: Jordie Benn, Kevin Connauton, Trevor Daley, Brenden Dillon, Alex Goligoski, Sergei Gonchar(IR), Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak; Forwards: Jamie Benn, Erik Cole, Cody Eakin, Patrick Eaves, Vernon Fiddler, Ryan Garbutt, Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff, Valeri Nichushkin, Rich Peverley(IR), Antoine Roussel, Colton Sceviour, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza

Additions: Jason Spezza, Ales Hemsky, Anders Lindback

Subtractions: Alex Chiasson, Dustin Jeffrey, Chris Mueller, Tim Thomas

Edmonton Oilers

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Viktor Fasth, Ben Scrivens; Defensemen: Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference, Brad Hunt, Oscar Klefbom, Nikita Nikitin, Darnell Nurse, Jeff Petry, Justin Schultz; Forwards: Will Acton, Mark Arcobello, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Luke Gazdic(IR), Boyd Gordon, Taylor Hall, Matt Hendricks, Jesse Joensuu, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, David Perron, Benoit Pouliot, Teddy Purcell, Nail Yakupov

Additions: Teddy Purcell, Benoit Pouliot, Nikita Nikitin, Mark Fayne, Keith Aulie, Leon Draisaitl

Subtractions: Sam Gagner, Ryan Jones, Anton Belov, Mark Fraser

Los Angeles Kings

Opening Night Roster: Forwards: Andy Andreoff, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Kyle Clifford, Marian Gaborik, Dwight King, Anze Kopitar, Trevor Lewis, Jordan Nolan, Tanner Pearson, Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll, Tyler Toffoli, Justin Williams; Defensemen: Drew Doughty, Matt Greene, Alec Martinez, Brayden McNabb, Jake Muzzin, Robyn Regehr, Slava Voynov; Goaltenders: Martin Jones, Jonathan Quick

Additions: NONE

Subtractions: Willie Mitchell, Colin Fraser

Minnesota Wild

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Niklas Backstrom, Darcy Kuemper; Defensemen: Keith Ballard, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Christian Folin, Nate Prosser, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter; Forwards: Stu Bickel, Kyle Brodziak, Matt Cooke, Charlie Coyle, Justin Fontaine(IR), Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Jason Zucker

Additions: Thomas Vanek, Jordan Schroeder, Ryan Carter, Nate Prosser

Subtractions: Matt Moulson, Cody McCormick, Clayton Stoner, Dany Heatley, Mike Rupp

Nashville Predators

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Carter Hutton, Pekka Rinne; Defensemen: Victor Bartley, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Anton Volchenkov, Shea Weber; Forwards: Taylor Beck, Gabriel Bourque, Rich Clune, Matt Cullen(IR), Mike Fisher(IR), Filip Forsberg, Paul Gaustad, Calle Jarnkrok, Olli Jokinen, James Neal, Eric Nystrom, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, Craig Smith, Viktor Stalberg(IR), Colin Wilson

Additions: Mike Ribeiro, Olli Jokinen, Derek Roy, Anton Volchenkov, James Neal

Subtractions: Patrick Eaves, Michael Del Zotto

St. Louis Blues

Opening Night Roster: Forwards: David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Max Lapierre, Jori Lehtera, Joakim Lindstrom, T.J. Oshie, Steve Ott, Magnus Paajarvi, Chris Porter, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko; Defensemen: Jay Bouwmeester, Ian Cole, Carl Gunnarsson(IR), Barret Jackman, Jordan Leopold, Alex Pietrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk; Goaltenders: Jake Allen, Brian Elliott

Additions: Paul Stastny, Carl Gunnarsson, Jori Lehtera, Chris Butler

Subtractions: Roman Polak, Ryan Miller, Vladimir Sobotka, Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy

San Jose Sharks

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Mike Brown, Adam Burish, Logan Couture, Andrew Desjardins, Eriah Hayes, Tomas Hertl, Patrick Marleau, Tye McGinn, Matt Nieto, John Scott, Joe Thornton, Chris Tierney, Tommy Wingels; Defensemen: Justin Braun, Brent Burns, Jason Demers, Scott Hannan, Matt Irwin, Mirco Mueller, Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Goaltenders: Antti Niemi, Alex Stalock

Additions: Tye McGinn, John Scott

Subtractions: Brad Stuart, Dan Boyle, Martin Havlat, Bracken Kearns

Vancouver Canucks

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Eddie Lack, Ryan Miller; Defensemen: Kevin Bieksa, Frank Corrado(IR), Alexander Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Luca Sbisa, Ryan Stanton, Chris Tanev, Yannick Weber; Forwards: Nick Bonino, Alex Burrows, Derek Dorsett, Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins, Bo Horvat(IR), Zack Kassian, Shawn Matthias, Brad Richardson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Tom Sestito, Linden Vey, Radim Vrbata

Additions: Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, Ryan Miller, Radim Vrbata, Dustin Jeffrey, Derek Dorsett, Linden Vey

Subtractions: Ryan Kesler, Jason Garrison, David Booth, Zac Dalpe, Jordan Schroeder

Winnipeg Jets

Opening Night Roster: Goaltenders: Michael Hutchinson, Ondrej Pavelec; Defensemen: Zach Bogosian, Grant Clitsome, Tobias Enstrom, Adam Pardy, Paul Postma, Mark Stuart, Jacob Trouba; Forwards: Dustin Byfuglien, Patrice Cormier(IR), Michael Frolik, T.J. Galiardi, Matt Halischuk, Evander Kane, Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Eric O’Dell(IR), Anthony Peluso, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Schiefele, Jim Slater, Chris Thorburn, Blake Wheeler

Additions: Mathieu Perreault, T.J. Galiardi, Peter Budaj

Subtractions: Ollie Jokinen, Al Montoya, Devin Setoguchi

The NHL season begins in just over a week with the Los Angeles Kings opening up on home ice at Staples Center to celebrate their Stanley Cup title of 2013-14. Anyone who is a part of a championship winning organization realizes how special it is to see a banner raising in person, understanding the hard work and dedication that it took in order to be the best. One of those people who is a part of the organization and has seen the Kings success in person is none other than Carrlyn Bathe(@CarrlynBathe on twitter).

If the name sounds familiar then that is because it most definitely is. Her father, Frank Bathe was a former NHL defenseman from 1972 to 1984 – most known for being a part of the Philadelphia Flyers. He was a tough customer who was known for his rough and tumble brand of hockey. In Los Angeles, the Kings have come full circle and they resemble very similar traits – traits that have helped them raise the cup twice in the previous three seasons.

Bathe is currently the in-arena host at Staples Center during Los Angeles Kings home games. Her personality fits the Kings fan base perfectly and she is a key cog to keeping the fans happy and upbeat during the course of a hockey game. The fans adore her for the wonderful and bubbly personality that she brings to the table and the success she’s earned to this point in her career surprises nobody.

If you follow the Kings, you’ll find her on a wide array of media platforms. Bathe also holds down the fort as the feature reporter on Kings Vision, which you can find on She has interviewed many of the Kings players and star celebrities, including the rock band named “Kiss” at the NHL Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium in January of 2014. If you are familiar with the Kings Ice Crew, then you will have noticed that Bathe got her start in the Kings organization as a member of the Ice Crew in 2008. Her hard work has paid off and she has never looked back.

In this interview, she talks about how the game of hockey has shaped her into the person that she is today plus how privileged and thankful she is to have the opportunity of a lifetime of working for the Kings. Also, you will find some non-hockey hobbies of her that resemble the game of hockey very well.

Q: What is the experience like of being the arena host for the Kings and the avenues that it has opened up in your career?

A: Wow, that’s a great question. Being a part of the Kings Ice Crew for five seasons is what created my foundation with the team. While I was on the Ice Crew, I was shooting my own video blog for Fox Sports West; just a fun behind-the-scenes about my life with the crew and what I do off the ice. During my last season, while the blog was taking off, I took interest in in-arena hosting and asked my bosses if I could jump on the microphone for a game that Jay Flats had to miss. From there, I was hooked and finished out the season still rocking the Ice Crew uniform but joining Jay on the mic for pre-game announcements. During that summer, I began hosting special features for Kings Vision and fully made the transition of Ice Crew member to in-arena host. My first full season as a host had the best possible outcome…we won our second Stanley Cup!! Once one door opened, there were many more doors that began opening beyond that. I’ve met some pretty amazing people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise in the hockey world and beyond. Outside of the sports world, the hosting door that I’ve opened has led me to lots of great guest hosting opportunities where I’ve gotten to chat about my other interests…like WWE Wrestling and music :) I’ve guest hosted for AfterBuzz, BiteSize TV, and Wrestling Compadres on the Nerdist Network to name a few. I really feel like I found my career path all because of hockey.

Q: Did you think the Kings would ever have this much success when you started in this organization years ago?

A: To be honest, yes. I grew up a Flyers fan (my dad used to play for them back in the day) and also a Bruins fan (that was the team closest to where I was raised in Maine). I moved here in 2007 and went to a Kings vs. Bruins game at Staples Center. The Kings lost….BIG time, but the team was full of so many young guys, you almost didn’t want to hold it against them. Then when I auditioned for the Ice Crew in 2008, I learned everything there was to know about this team. That year seemed like the turning of a new leaf, like a new era of hockey was starting for the organization as a whole. Players developed and grew up before all of our eyes and you just felt like we had it going on. Can’t really describe the feeling. And then 2012 happened, and then 2014, and then, you get the picture :)

Q: How excited are you for the banner raising ceremony on Opening Night?

A: Very, very, very, very, excited. 2012’s ceremony was perfect and I know this years will be just as incredible. It’s one moment where you know every single Kings player, employee, and fan, all share that same feeling of happiness.

Q: How did your love of the game as a child help shape you into who you are today?

A: If it weren’t for hockey, I wouldn’t be alive, literally. If my dad wasn’t traveling and playing with his team, my parents would’ve never met each other  It really shaped every member of my family in different ways. I grew up with four brothers who all played, including myself. It teaches you what it’s like to be hardworking, how to lead, how to stand up for yourself, the importance of fitness, and how dedicating your time to a craft can produce results. I apply each of those traits in my every day life. Anyone who has been a part of a team can say the same. Something I’ve learned from the sport, and mainly from my dad, is the importance of networking. We have a saying in our family that “the squeaky wheel gets the oil,” so I always speak up, try and meet new people, learn as much as I can, and make relationships with as many others in the hockey industry as possible. From hockey I’ve built an entire support system that I cherish and value immensely.

Q: If you could have advice for anyone, what would that advice be specifically?

A: Find a mentor. If there is something that you want to do in this world, find someone else who is already doing it and pick their brain. Find out how they got there, what they had to do, ask for advice, sit down and listen to their story. Never be afraid. No one, and I repeat, NO ONE was born being the best at whatever it is they are doing now. Everyone started somewhere. If you see someone doing something you want to do, just think about how even they had to start somewhere with no experience. All you need in this world is a good work ethic, a friendly attitude, and the willingness to learn and try new things. And BE NICE! I say hi and talk to everyone: the parking lot attendant, my camera crews, the fans, the aisle ushers, security guards, zamboni drivers, the broadcasters, our team, ticket reps, everyone. A friendly hello, high five, or a smile can really go a long way.

So let’s get this straight – the NHL Awards are for the absolute best players in the league, right? When you see players get awards, you should come away feeling that they 100% deserve the award, however it didn’t always feel that way tonight. A league that should pride theirselves on getting “it” right did not get it right on a lot of different accounts tonight during the award ceremonies.

Patrice Bergeron, who is a fantastic player in his own right, won the Selke Trophy for the best defensive forward in the NHL. Without any doubt he was worthy of being a candidate, that being said I think we all know that there is what we like to call an “East Coast Bias”. See, when people on the East Coast have to go to bed early because of a thing called “work”, they don’t get to see players on the West Coast like Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, “do work”. Kopitar, who just finished off his second Stanley Cup title in three seasons, does not get the award for reasons that aren’t fair to anybody involved.

These awards are predicated on regular season success, not playoff success. Sure, regular season success is nothing to sneeze at because it helps you get into the playoffs on most occassions. That being said, the Eastern Conference is powder puff compared to the Western Conference. Kopitar just went through San Jose & Joe Thornton, Anaheim & Ryan Getzlaf, Chicago & Jonathan Toews and the Rangers. Bergeron on the other hand, went through the Baby Red Wings and a Montreal Canadiens squad that nobody gave a chance going into the series, who ended up beating the Bruins in seven games. Don’t we like to judge players on what they do on the biggest of stages? Anze Kopitar led the NHL in scoring(even though this is not about offense) in the playoffs yet he shut down Thornton, Getzlaf, Toews and the Rangers en route to winning yet another Stanley Cup. “Yet”, the East Coast Bias comes into play again and Mr. Slovenia is a runner-up for this award. At least he’s not a runner-up when it comes to Stanley Cup Rings.

Also, the Norris Trophy voting is a joke. Shea Weber(who we all love), was on the ice for far more goals against than for in the regular season yet he was a finalist. At the end of the day, it was quite obvious that he was in the final three because of his insane offensive numbers. Zdeno Chara, while still good, is not great anymore. He’s lost a step and he is a shoo-in for the final three due to his name and his track record. Duncan Keith, who “won” the Norris Trophy, did not beat Drew Doughty in the playoffs. Doughty finished a whopping 6th in Norris Voting, which puts the stamp on the joke that is the NHL Awards. An award that is supposed to be for the best defensive defenseman in the league, we see players who get nominated due to their offensive input(Mike Green anyone?) and not their defensive prowess. Give me Doughty over the junk that you wish to take, he like Kopitar is all about the rings and I’m sure the Kings will gladly not mind the award snubs as long as they continue to blind everyone with their bling after 16 hard-earned victories every postseason.

One more thing, the GM of the year award that was implemented in 2010 is also a joke. This is not a cumulative award, this is a yearly award. What has Bob Murray of the Anaheim Ducks done in this past season? Traded Bobby Ryan for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and the 10th overall pick and then traded Dustin Penner while doing absolutely nothing at the trade deadline to improve his team. Yet the General Manager who trades for the eventual goal scoring leader in the playoffs doesn’t come close to winning this award. Tell me in any way how this is fair? Dean Lombardi has won two Stanley Cups in three seasons yet has zero GM of the year awards. Makes sense doesn’t it? Regular season, as much fun as it is to watch, should not be the end all be all when it comes to voting for players. Otherwise, they should just re-name it the “NHL Regular Season Awards” because this is what it all comes down to. The players who make history in the playoffs don’t get a sniff at those trophies while the likes of Crosby and others who couldn’t sniff the jock of teams like the Kings, get all of the awards. Makes sense doesn’t it?

In the end, it’s not even worth it to root for the players who “should” win the award because they never will. This IS a popularity contest and we all know it.

When a team wins a Stanley Cup, people automatically assume that the way a team wins a championship is the way they should continue to play for however longer it may be. In the 21st century, all phases of life involve having to evolve, in some way shape or form. How many organizations in this world have success by continuing to be stale and not evolving? It’s way too difficult to replicate the same type of success without making changes. It is especially true for the Los Angeles Kings, a team that is looking to get back to the top after falling in the Western Conference Finals last season.

Take a look at some of the contenders that the Kings have to deal with in the loaded Western Conference: Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and San Jose Sharks. All these teams are very tough and while not all of them have won a Stanley Cup as of late, they are certainly making every effort possible to dethrone the Kings and teams ahead of them. When the Chicago Blackhawks won their first Stanley Cup in 2010, the core of that team was evident. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook were all the big pieces that helped them raise the cup. When they won it again last year, those same six guys were the core of the title team. However, there was a glaring difference between the two cup winning clubs – their depth on the third and fourth lines. Gone were the likes of Ladd, Big Buff, Versteeg and entered were the likes of Saad, Bickell and Shaw. While Chicago had a lapse for a couple of seasons post-2010 cup season, they re-stocked the cupboard and they supplemented their core very well.

In the salary cap era of the NHL, there are a few factors that teams have to ponder – loyalty and money. It is hard to not waiver from those two situations without having to make changes in order to continue to have the necessary success needed in order to contend for the championship year after year. The Blackhawks paid for it the next two years after their first title, but they realized they needed to grow their system and make sure that not only are they competing for that one specific year, but for years following that.

In the case of the Los Angeles Kings, they are one of the few Stnaley Cup winning teams as of late to be really competitive in years following. Usually, after a team wins a title, a few key guys end up leaving due to out-playing their contracts and so on. Penguins dealt with that, Blackhawks and Bruins as well; but the one team that didn’t have that issue was the Kings. They retained their entire roster for the following season after winning the Stanley Cup, albeit it was a shortened season to follow. That being said, is it possible that the loyalty and the continuity of the entire roster could be catching up to them?

The core of the Kings, like any other great team, is evident. Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick are the main core of this team. They won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon. However, in order to continue making deep runs towards the Stanley Cup, the Kings will need to start evolving with their roster and bringing in the necessary players in order to help supplement the core and take some of the pressure off of them. In 2013-14, out of the 23 skaters that have appeared in games for the Los Angeles Kings, 13 of the 23 skaters have scored three goals or less on the season(Eight of the 13 have appeared in 30 or more games). That is not a very good stat for a team that is trying to compete with offensive powerhouses like the Blackhawks and Ducks. Compare the Kings to the Blackhawks, who only have 10 of their 25 skaters so far this season score three goals or less(Only three of the 10 have played 30 or more games) and the Ducks who have had 24 different players score goals this season.

In order for Los Angeles to make the next step, it may be time to cut bait with some of the depth players they currently have. As much as fans like Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan and Colin Fraser for their contributions on the Stanley Cup winning squad in 2012, they’re not worth sticking around for a long time to come if they can’t score at all. Those four guys have combined for just eight goals this season and two of the four have not scored a single goal on the season. The new NHL is made up of teams that rely on skill to win instead of bigger, tougher guys who try to intimidate the opposition. Players have gotten younger, faster and better in the last few years. The Kings, like the other 29 teams in the league, need to make modifications to appease to that – with one caveat – they can’t rip apart the system and quite frankly, they don’t need to rip apart the system just to bring in younger, more skilled players for the third and fourth lines. The saying goes, it is easier to teach skilled players how to play in specific roles than it is for role players to score. Either you have skill or you don’t and in the case of some of the bottom tier players in LA, the skill just isn’t there to be able to provide the necessary offense needed to continue to make deep playoff runs.

Who may the solutions be for the Kings third and fourth line scoring woes? Look no further than Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey. The duo, along with Tyler Toffoli made a spark in mid-November after the injury to Jonathan Quick. Those young kids single-handedly kept the Kings going for the first week after Quick’s injury. Did you see Trevor Lewis, Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan and Colin Fraser make that type of impact? No, because they simply aren’t skilled enough to carry a team, even if it’s just for a week. Great teams have three lines minimum that can carry a team for periods of time throughout the season and the duo of Toffoli, Vey and Pearson paid huge dividends for a Kings team longing for some depth scoring. There’s nothing wrong with young kids making mistakes on the third and fourth lines because they can learn from those mistakes and usually the offense will outweigh whatever other issues they may have at any given point. Are these young kids the end-all, be-all to the Kings scoring woes? It is hard to say that they are considering the best teams in the league don’t rely on two or three players to win, but it would sure help if those kids were inserted into the lineup. Having an infusion of young, cheap talent that can give you skill and energy is always an added bonus in this league. The Kings young kids will not take away from their strong defensive system in which they have the best goals-against average in the NHL. If anything, it will help them ease pressure off the big boys and it will make them a much stronger and fresher team when the games really matter.

Evolving is important in all forms of life. The Kings might be hitting this wall very soon and don’t be surprised if and when it does happen.

2012 was a legendary, magical and one of a kind run for the Los Angeles Kings. The rollercoaster ride that the Kings took to get to the top of the chain was beyond comprehensible. On April 8th, which was the day after the last regular season game for the Kings, the fate of which road the Kings would have to travel on was set. You could compare it to a one-way road in which the last car in the group had no chance of passing everyone else to become the number one car in the pack. That was the Los Angeles Kings. They had a vehicle that had the potential to be stout but had went through numerous troubles in the regular season and patch-worked different areas to sneak into contention. Once it began, it turned into a beautiful, spine-tingling ride.

As the playoffs began, the Los Angeles Kings faced off against the Vancouver Canucks, who had fallen just one win short of a Stanley Cup last season. Nobody gave Los Angeles any morsel of an opportunity to turn whole stones into broken pieces that represented a team breaking through and making an ultimate statement of representation. At the point in which the Kings took a commanding 3-0 series lead against Vancouver, you could tell that the Kings were beginning to form a special bond, not only as a group in the locker room but a bond that fans started to cling to as time passed by. Once Jarret Stoll sniped a wrist shot past Vancouver goalie Cory Schneider in overtime of game 5, the Los Angeles Kings arguably passed by all 15 vehicles at once to take a commanding position as the team to be most feared of.

In the 2nd round, the Los Angeles Kings faced a similar built Hockey club in the St. Louis Blues. Just like in the first round, the Kings took a commanding 3-0 series lead. At that point, the rest of the pack slowly began to taper off and it was the Kings road to lose. Not only did the Quick’s, Brown’s, Kopitar’s and Doughty’s of the world showed what they were truly made of but slowly as the playoffs proceeded, new blood infused the Kings motor and turned them into a living locomotive. Rookies like Dwight King and Jordan Nolan began to make significant contributions and revivals like Dustin Penner took drinks into the fountain of rebirth. At this point when the Kings knocked out the Blues, the light at the end of the tunnel in which a Stanley Cup was waiting for its moment to be hoisted by an incoming force, started staring at the eyes of the California wonder boys.

The last Western Conference team to stare down the black and white locomotive was the Phoenix Coyotes. Many believed that this was going to be a long series due to the fact that these two clubs were divisional rivals, however just like the first two series, this battle was over before it started quite frankly. The Kings took yet again, a commanding 3-0 series lead after a 2-1 victory in game 3. After a game 4 shutout loss, the Kings regrouped in Phoenix for game 5 and came up with a win for the ages as Dustin Penner continued to step up after a regular season of failures and scored the goal to send the Kings to the Stanley Cup Finals.

At this point the belief was that the Kings had the series wrapped up against the Devils before it started since they demolished each of the top three seeds in the Western Conference in chronological order. However, the hardest test was the New Jersey Devils, a team that took a run akin to the Los Angeles Kings. New Jersey was a sixth seed that took out two of the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference plus a team that took out two of the biggest generational talents in the game in the previous round in the Flyers. After Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter put daggers in the hearts of everyone associated with the Devils in games 1 and 2 in overtime, the LA Kings headed back to SoCal in an attempt to continue making historic wishes a reality. Game 3 symbolized how utterly dominant the Kings were in the playoffs this year. A 4-0 white-washing of Jersey just about cemented a Stanley Cup for the city of LA. After game 4 and 5 letdowns in which the Kings admitted was the case, game 6 was all about finishing the ride and coming out on top. When a team wins a championship, luck is always on their side. That was the case in game 6 as New Jersey forward Steve Bernier boarded Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi in the first period, which led to a five minute power play for the Kings. Three strikes in that timeframe was the exact knockout punch that any team could ever dream of in a championship clinching game. The journey completed on Monday, June 11th, 2012 just before the eight o’clock hour struck in Los Angeles. Dreams came true, wishes were officially blown and granted from the candles of each player when they blew them during their birthdays as young children and men and history was etched into the hearts and souls of every Los Angeles Kings player, coach and most importantly, every fan who suffered from beginning to present.

Dustin Brown made a statement as the leader of the Los Angeles Kings. He carried this team on and off the ice with his clutch on-ice play and calm yet confident demeanor off the ice. He’s everything you dream of as a leader. Clutch, productive, smart and most importantly, a great person on all-levels. You would think the leader of a Los Angeles based team would be a party guy that lives it up in sunny LA but Brown is the opposite. Born in Ithaca, New York, he is quiet on his own levels and is a great family guy who has a wife and children and can enjoy life without all the extra hoopla that is Los Angeles. The beauty of this also is that he offsets some of the other personalities in the locker room like Drew Doughty, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, which makes this team extra special because of the different personalities that unites a team together.

2012 was an exponentially special year for the Kings in every sense of the word. Every Kings fan should be proud of the product that was on the ice this season. Moments like these make it worthwhile to be a fan of a team like this. 12(Year) + 11(June 11th) – six(June) – one(one goal) = 16 wins, which the Kings successfully acheived this season in the form of winning a Stanley Cup.

This one is for every Kings fan on the face of the earth: Go Kings Go!

Keep it real folks.

Pics from

2012 NHL Stanley Cup Final – Game Six

Dustin Brown Changed The Lives Of Every Kings Fan After Hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Image  —  Posted: June 27, 2012 in Puckinvibes Hockey Blogs

Dustin Brown is the heartbeat of the Los Angeles Kings, on and off the ice.

On March 9th, the Los Angeles Kings took a tough defeat to the hands of the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, 4-3. After the game, many Kings fans declared that this would be the game that would break their, at the time underachieving season. It was a somber day in the Kingdom – however almost two months later, the Kings have done what they’ve set out to do, which is make a deep playoff run. After their four game sweep of the up-start St. Louis Blues that was completed in Los Angeles yesterday, it is easy to look at any one player for their sublime effort that was carried out in an eloquent manner – but the leader of this team is the guy that makes all of this a reality.

Dustin Brown has had a whirlwind of a last two and a half months. Back in February, Brown was in the midst of trade rumors that were well-chronicled in which the team as a whole had not played up to their potential. Thankfully, the power-forward/hitting extraordinare was still wearing Black and White after the trade deadline and everyone reaped the benefits. In his first game after the trade deadline(in which Jeff Carter made his Kings debut in the process), Brown ONLY scored a hat trick. Nothing much, eh? Honestly, since then it has pretty much been just another day at the office for the captain of the Kings. His playoff success has been what every team asks for from their captain. Clutch goals and plays at key points that lift the team to victory.

Not only is Brown a great player but his leadership skills are truly something to be proud of. Some captains can be loud and boisterous but for the Ithaca, New York native, he is low key and lets his play on the ice do the talking. The great part about the Los Angeles Kings roster is that there is the perfect mix of veterans and young players. The support that Brown has when it comes to the leadership group is very endeavoring. The likes of Mike Richards, Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi, Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams are veterans that know what it is like to be integral parts of a leadership group, whether currently in Los Angeles or in the past with other teams. Brown knows he doesn’t have to exculpate his leadership skills because at the end of the day, winning cures all ailments and bonds a strong locker room.

As the Kings wait for either the Coyotes or Predators in the Western Conference Finals, the obvious keys to the Kings getting to the Stanley Cup Finals will be no different. Jonathan Quick will have to be his usual self but leaders like Brown will be crucial to this team’s success. Every Kings fan should be lucky to have a guy as good as Brown be the Captain. It is not just his on-ice play but the demeanor that he carries off the ice. He is a great family man(check out this blog on The Fourth Period, written by Dennis Bernstein; Follow him on twitter at @DennisTFP: who is a staple in the Los Angeles community and he bonds with so many people when it comes to different charities and community get-togethers that it is beyond extremely difficult to not like him. Young hockey players should mold their game on the ice and their attitude off the ice based on what Brown currently does with the Kings. You can’t go wrong with a player like this on your team and Los Angeles gets to watch this beauty perform every night to the highest level and be a major cog to his team being just four wins away from having the ultimate opportunity to win Lord Stanley.

Keep it real folks.

Los Angeles is a big city, bright lights phenomenon that is the center of attention in the sports world – whether the teams are standing on the top of the world or are on rock bottom. However in the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings are flying under the radar come playoff time in terms of their chances of winning, per the “pundits” that predict who will and will not advance to the next round. Is there pressure on the Kings to perform big time in the playoffs? Yes and no for a littany of reasons that can be twisted in many different directions.

Going into the 2011-12 season, the Kings were tabbed as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. With the addition of Mike Richards to complement a roster filled with star power from forward to defense to goaltender, that addition of a second line center opened the eyes of many people and kept them wide open, in anticipation that this could finally be the year that LA brings home a Stanley Cup. That being said this team underacheived greatly in the first half of the season as the now former head coach of the Kings in Terry Murray was canned from his duties in mid-December. The fiery yet stoic Darryl Sutter took over the reigns of an underperforming Hockey club and had mixed results for the first two or so months of his tenure. A booming trade took place on February 23rd in which defenseman Jack Johnson was sent to the Columbus Blue Jackets along with a conditional 1st round pick for a center who had scored a plentiful amount of goals in the past in Jeff Carter.

While Carter didn’t light the world on fire in his arrival to Los Angeles, there seemed to be a calming attitude that caught on in which players were settling into roles that they were more comfortable in. The likes of Jarret Stoll and Dustin Penner were pushed back into more favorable and less-expectation worthy roles on the 3rd line. Carter helped the rest of the Kings forwards without physically helping them in forms such as feeding them the puck better or putting himself in better situations on the ice. His body in the lineup placed players in roles that they were better suited for. Carter is a top six forward that can snipe with the best of them. He has thrived on a line with the emerging power forward in Dwight King and that helped keep the top line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams intact so that players wouldn’t have to be shuffled to get a particular player back on his game.

There is zero doubt that any eight seed in a playoff series will be the underdog and for partly good reason. However, the Kings are a different story. People will not give them the credit they may deserve or the chance they may be given at this point because of everything they’ve experienced throughout the grind of an 82 game season. That being said, as analysts around the league, the one thing that always comes full circle is the saying about goaltending. If you have the netminder between the pipes that can make the crucial stops, you have a chance to win every night. Last time everyone checked, there’s a man named Jonathan Quick who has done more than an amazing job in net for the Kings this season. Quick notched 10 shutouts on the season and was without any doubt, the only reason the Kings are in the dance starting tomorrow night.

 While Roberto Luongo is a very good goalie in his own right, the debate is simply moot between him and Quick. The Kings are on the left side of the “>” when Luongo and Quick are compared to this very point. There have been countless instances in the past in which goaltenders have simply stole a playoff series, whether the teams in front of them have been devoid of offense or not. It is clear that the Kings are not the brightest of teams on the offensive ledger but if you put them head to head with the Canucks in the final month of the season, the Kings are pound for pound with the Canucks. At the end of the day, don’t we all fall for the team that comes into the playoffs hot as a firecracker? While the Kings aren’t blazing hot, they’ve definitely made an imprint on the Western Conference in the last month of the regular season. You have to look at the Kings offense as if it is the offense that scored a plentiful number of goals during March/early April and not the offense that suffered mightly for the first 5 months of the season. This team has gotten out of their offensive funk long enough to the point where it is safe to say that they can put the puck in the net if they have to.

In a league in which the parity is arguably better than it has ever been, why do so many pundits count the Kings out before the flippin’ series even begins? You could argue that in the majority of the playoff series that are taking place this year, the margin between two teams may not even be big enough to slip the tiniest of threads through. Kings coach Darryl Sutter has a saying in which this league is a “3-2 league”. It is totally true for a myraid of reasons. First of all, the parity in this league is so good that every night, you see games go into overtime or shootout in which teams like the Florida Panthers find a way to lose 18 games in overtime or shootout, even if they play a solid team game. For the Los Angeles Kings, there is comfort in which they know that Quick is the better goaltender, therefore with an improved offense over the past month it should be easier to put the puck in the net against Luongo when they really need to do so. The Kings can easily be compared to the Philadelphia Flyers of the 2010 playoffs. A team that had major expectations going into the season, but then the head coach gets canned at literally the same time of the year(one week apart) and yet still struggles for most of the season but when the playoffs come around, they turn up the heat. The Flyers upset the Devils as a 7th seed in the first round and went onto the Stanley Cup Finals. For the Kings, they are truly similar to that team in all ways but one: goaltender. LA’s goaltender is infinity times better than even a hot Michael Leighton. That should spring hope in the eyes of the beholder.

Who cares if the so-called “experts” aren’t giving the Kings a chance? The only people that truly know how good a team can be are the people who form the source. The Los Angeles Kings know how good of a team they can be when they are at full speed. While the pressure is on to make a deep run to make the likes of Dean Lombardi look better, as players the pressure should be minimal at most. The best motivator is a “Me against the world” when all else fails. Sometimes it takes an outsider to push you to the limit before realizing what is at stake. A Kings team that plays hard, yet loose and unassuming is extremely dangerous in so many ways. The Kings will be up for the challenge against the Canucks and every Kings fan on the face of this earth should be confident and smiling about their team.

Keep it real folks.