Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lockout Was Not All Bad for Kings

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Lockout Was Not All Bad for Kings

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks started being ripped apart seemingly minutes after they won the Stanley Cup in 2010. Other winning teams limped into training camps unrested and faded away.

After all, it's human nature to exhale after getting to the top of the mountain. Or at least to buy another round or two for old friends.

"We've had our fun already," Kings center Anze Kopitar said.

And rightly so. The first Stanley Cup championship for the Kings ignited summer-long celebrations, from Southern California to Kopitar's native Slovenia.

But the NHL's long work stoppage, as painful as it was, happened to work for the Kings on multiple levels. It took away one obvious story line -- the specter of Stanley Cup hangover. Seven months has a way of curing even the worst of "hangovers."

And although it damaged the NHL brand, it did little to affect the Kings brand. More important, it assisted the Jonathan Quick brand, giving the Kings goalie and playoff most valuable player ample time to recover from his August back surgery.

Had the season started on time, the Kings would have been without Quick for maybe three-plus months. Quick wasn't the only ailing Kings player. Left wing Dustin Penner required wrist surgery in the off-season.

"Usually when you win the Cup, you've got maybe a good month of training before the season, and now we've had ample amounts of time," said Kings forward Justin Williams, who won the Cup with Carolina in 2006. "There's no excuse for bumps and bruises: 'We played long last year.'

"But [the hangover] shouldn't apply to us. It shouldn't even really enter our minds. You lose a couple in a row. Someone will probably say that. But I don't think it has any bearing on what we're trying to do this year."

Although Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth was traded the day after the lockout ended, he did not take a single shift in the playoffs. …

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