As was previously mentioned, last night the LA Kings retired the #20 sweater of Luc Robitaille. The ceremony lasted nearly an hour and featured many former teammates of Robitaille including Jari Kurri and Wayne Gretzky. It was a better than expected event for the player who turned out better than expected. Drafted in the 9th round, he retired as the highest scoring left winger in the history of the NHL.
For my beloved Kings, the ceremony was the best moment so far this season. As far as I'm concerned the team should pay people to go to the games, as they are abysmal to watch. Earlier in the day yesterday I phoned Goran and complained to him how much more fun hockey is to watch when one of the teams is not the Kings. As far as the game after the ceremony, the Kings did not fail to disappoint.
They turned in a great two periods which saw Alex Frolov and Anze Kopitar score two of the prettiest goals the team has seen all year. In what is all too familiar for King's fans, goaltending led to the team's demise. Newly claimed off waivers and the AARP list, 40 year old Sean Burke made the start and performed admirably until 3 minutes into the third, when he suddenly fell over on the ice with an apparent injury. He left the ice with what everyone thought was a hand injury.
Into the game came Yutaka Fukufji, the first ever Japanese born player in NHL history. For the first 8 minutes of the game he made the saves he needed to and then allowed two easily saveable goals in the last 7 minutes as the Kings lost their 7th in a row and 28th of the year.
One might ask how a team has a Japanese player even in the system and how he even gets into an NHL game. To be fair FUKUsan is the 6th goalie on the King's depth chart and the fact that he plays represents both the lack of luck and the terrible mangement of the franchise. Here is a list of the King's goalies and their story this season:
1) Dan Cloutier- injured nearly all of last year, and signed to a 2-yr contract extension before the season began. Once the season began he was horrible, having the worst save percentage in the NHL. Now he is inured for the rest of the season which may or may not have been forced by the front office.
2) Mathieu Garon- He has been slightly below average this season but is on the injured list for the second time this season.
3) Jason Labarbera-He started the season in the AHL and remains there as he will not be able to clear waivers if he is recalled by the Kings.
4) Sean Burke-recently claimed off waivers from Tampa and did not even make it into an NHL game this season.
5) Barry Brust-The backup for the King's minor league affiliate, he has played a few subpar NHL games and was recently sent down.
6) This is our boy Yutaka. Clearly he should not be in the NHL at this point, as he started the season in the ECHL which is between AA and A ball. Thus one cannot blame him for his performance.
All of this along with the play of the rest of the team explains why the Kings sit in 29th in the league and hopefully will get a lottery pick. Enough of the moaning.
BRING ON SPRING TRAINING!