Sports Outside the Beltway

Rob Blake’s Return to Los Angeles

With pending free agency and contract demands the Kings didn’t want to meet, Rob Blake was traded to the Colorado Avalanche. The deal worked out well for Colorado and Blake as he went on to win a Stanley Cup. All the Kings were left with was chronically injured players and prospects who turned out to be busts. Kings fans took out their anger on Blake seizing upon every opportunity to boo him.

But 2006 brought changes to the Kings after a disastrous season that saw the first Kings collapse and fail to make the playoffs while having one of the worst power play and penalty killing units in the league. The entire coaching staff was fired down to the trainer and the revamping of the team began with GM Dean Lombardi and Coach Marc Crawford. Seizing upon the opportunity Lombardi went out and brought Blake back to Los Angeles as a free agent for his leadership and skill on the power play.

While the Kings’ power play has vastly improved over the last season, thanks in part to Blake, not much else has gone right. The team’s record is worse than last year and there is a lack of consistency in the team’s play from night to night. Blake’s welcome by the fans has been mixed between fans who are and aren’t willing to forgive. In the locker room veteran players are glad to have a talented defenseman and proven leader, while the younger players benefit from the mentoring he is willing to provide. Despite the adversity of the season and the actions of some fans, Blake says he’s happy to be back. Of course if I had his house in Manhattan Beach, I’d be happy to be back in Los Angeles too.

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