The Kings head to Detroit today to take on the Red Wings in a battle for a Western Conference playoff spot. Their improved effort in a win against Buffalo on Thursday could be a boost for the Kings, but once again distraction rears its ugly head.
Much has been made of General Manager Dean Lombardi's critical comments about Jack Johnson and the coaching he received in college. Johnson found those comments to be “irresponsible and unprofessional.” Quisp over at Jewels From The Crown defends both Lombardi and Johnson, saying there was too much emphasis on Lombardi's negative comments and not enough on the positive.
Regardless of whether Lombardi was justified in making those comments or if Johnson has the right to be upset, it happened. It's happening. So what now? Well, since this story emerged rumors have been bubbling up about Johnson getting traded. The validity of these rumors? Your guess is as good as mine. Eklund has it as an (e4) to Detroit, if that does anything for you. Let's look at some factors that may point us in that direction:
-Johnson was rumored to be on the trade block this past summer. The word was that Johnson wanted much more money than he deserved, which turned out to be patently false. However, where there's smoke, there's usually fire. GM's are always looking at their options with any given asset, especially one that is not signed.
-Kings have options moving forward to replace Johnson. With Randy Jones in the fold now as an offensive option, Hickey waiting in the wings, Martinez logging some NHL time, and Teubert and Voynov a few years off, this team has some defensive depth. It might be more advantageous for Lombardi to trade Johnson at this point in time.
-Johnson hasn't worked out in Los Angeles. He has been a minus every year of his NHL career thus far, minus-60 total. Granted, the Kings have been bottom-feeders until this year, but Johnson is on course for his worst minus yet. Generally you can't place too much stock in the plus/minus stat, but you can't ignore a career minus-60, a career that is just 2 and 1/2 seasons old.
-Obviously, this situation has strained Johnson and Lombardi's relationship. Add to that the fact that Johnson's father/agent has a history of calling the shots in his career, and this could be a seriously volatile situation.
It will be interesting to see how this works out over the next few days/weeks. How will Johnson respond to these comments with his on-ice play? Will he be included in a package for a playoff rental? Or does he stay put?
About the Author
Written by Eric Cooney
Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney