Sunday, May 6, 2012
Pacific Division pride is restored
By Pierre LeBrun
LOS ANGELES -- The success of the Kings and Coyotes in these playoffs has certainly restored the honor of a Pacific Division that took a bit of a hit this year.
The Central Division romped during the regular season and put four of its teams in the playoffs. The Pacific didn’t have any of its teams compete for the conference title and in fact didn't crown a winner in its own division until the final few days.
But now with Los Angeles and Phoenix elevating their play in the playoffs, Pacific pride is back. And if you ask Coyotes GM Don Maloney, it was never gone.
"Unlike every other division in the NHL, there are no weak teams in the Pacific," Maloney told ESPN.com via email Saturday. "Look at the two Pacific Division clubs who missed the playoffs: after a poor start to the season, Anaheim had one of the best records in the league for 3-4 months and only faded at the very end of the season. Dallas won 11 games in a row in March and barely missed the postseason. You could certainly argue the Atlantic and Central divisions were strong this year. However, top to bottom, you never go into a game against a Pacific Division opponent expecting an easy night, which speaks volumes to the division's strength and depth."
Hard to argue with that.
Give Taylor credit for Kings' rise
Let’s not forget the work of former Kings GM Dave Taylor in the success the club is now having. It was under Taylor’s regime that the Kings drafted the likes of Jonathan Quick, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar.
"Dean [Lombardi] has done a terrific job there but people shouldn’t forget what Dave did there as well," an NHL source told ESPN.com over the weekend.
Taylor is now the director of player personnel for the St. Louis Blues.