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Kings to Paupers

Gretz_1 Seems like forever ago when the Kings were the toast of hockey, the Wayne Gretzky led team the center of cool in Hollywood. Remember how must-have those black-and-silver jerseys were back in the day?

Tonight the Kings (and their goofy uniforms) come to South Florida, their first trip to CSA since Nov. 5, 2003.

To paraphrase from SlapShot, the Kings are a mess. They have the worst record in the Western Conference, and the only reason people don't make fun of them more is a) they're from LA, and b) the Flyers are still around and much easier to poke at.

Unlike the Flyers, though, it looks like the Kings have a plan. Sure, they're going to stink it up this year (they have lost 10 of 11 and have won just six on the road), but they're looking to become another version of the Sharks.

GM Dean Lombardi and coach Marc "My Avs beat your Panthers in the 1996 Finals" Crawford are going to turn this thing around, they just need some time. Earlier this week, Lombardi sent Craig Conroy back to Calgary for Jamie Lundmark and a second and fourth round pick. It's going to be interesting to see how this young team matures a bit as the season rolls on. Right now they're bad, but the Kings could be OK in the not too distant future.

Only they need to bring back their old threads. Pronto.

-- Speaking of Crawford, did you know JM was an assistant under Crawford in 1995-96 with the Avs? JM never got his name on the Cup however as he left Colorado in the middle of the season to become the new coach of the Senators. He stayed there the next 8 1/2 seasons.

THE NEWS: Ed Belfour back in net again tonight; it's his sixth straight start. Belfour is Florida's hot hand, no doubt, as he has gone 9-2-3 in his past 14. Not too shabby. The Panthers HAVE TO WIN THIS GAME TONIGHT. Not only are the Kings not so good (wanted to use another phrase, you know, the one that rhymes with duck), but they've flown across the country to play in this game. Four of the next five are on the road, so the Panthers need this one. Bad.

-- JM says he plans on holding a team Super Bowl party in Denver. He didn't like it when I asked if there was going to be balloons and a cake though. He says the team is going out on Sunday not only so they can have one full practice in the high altitude, but also so they can watch the football game together. A little team building, if you will. Unless this thing is mandatory, though, I don't know how many of the players want to hang out and watch the game. Football isn't that big of a deal to most of the guys (although Olli was surprisingly upset about having to miss the game).

-- JM's pick: Indianapolis.