|King turned Shark, Marty McSorley|
After the LA Kings were defeated by Vancouver in the first round of the 2010 NHL Playoffs, it was a bad feeling that stuck around all summer.
The tension and disappointment was still in the air during training camp a few months later and it was easy to keep the issue on the front burner, considering the two teams would open up the 2010-11 regular season right where they left off – facing each other.
This time around, it’s different. For some strange reason, the Kings playoff loss to the Sharks just six months ago seems like another lifetime. After an off-season filled with big moves, resulting in even bigger expectations and a roller coaster ride through the first 13 games, tonight may be more of a clean slate, than two teams ‘resuming the rivalry’ from last year.
Marty McSorley is a man who knows both teams well. Of course, he was a member of the Kings for the bulk of his career, but also spent two seasons with the Sharks – back when Dean Lombardi was the GM there.
As part of tonight’s pregame primer, we spoke with McSorley about the two clubs…
MM: First off, what are you up to these days?
McSorley: My wife and I recently had our third (child), a little girl named Maggie. She’s a great little girl. So, I think we’re pretty much done having kids. Other than that, I still play some Alumni games in Canada, I’ll play three or four a month. Then, I have some other events I’ll do this year in Edmonton or Fort McMurray, Alberta. I’m just enjoying being in the game. In the summer time, some of the NHL players call me and I’ll sneak out on the ice and work with them a little bit on certain things I might see or to try and improve their game. With a few of the tough guys, I try to work with their balance more than their fighting, surprisingly enough. But, with three kids, I really enjoy being at home, being a father and being settled a bit.
MM: Any thoughts about the moves the Kings made over the summer?
McSorley: First of all, they were willing to go out into the free agent market and be aggressive. At the same time, because they’ve gotten better over the last year, it’s more attractive for free agents to come to Los Angeles. Good players want to come where they have a chance of winning. The Kings now have more depth. Over the course of a playoff run you’re going to have injuries, you’re going to have some guys who step up and some guys who maybe struggle a little bit. Other guys need to feel those shoes or on certain nights just pick it up. If you have three lines that can step over (the boards) and really make an offensive punch, and ice a fourth line that can really do some special things for you, if you’re balanced across the blue line, and the Kings goaltending has been very, very good. I like what they have in net. So, it’s a team that can beat anybody. And I think the Kings have to shoot this year for being one of the top four teams in the Western Conference. That have to set their goals that high and say ‘That’s what we’re going to be.’ Then, let’s get into the final four teams of the playoffs and see what happens with that mentality.
MM: Most people see Anze Kopitar as an underrated forward. Do you agree?
McSorley: That was not a good injury he had last year. He’s a good kid and a very good player. The more you talk to people around the league, he’s the one guy – well, he and Drew Doughty are the two guys – that stand out in everybody’s conversation. Those two are guys who can lead you to special things.
MM: What do you make of the West being so much tougher than the East?
McSorley: The West is so hard, it’s so hard. It’s a good eight, nine or 10 points harder in the West than the East to get into the playoffs and get yourself into a good position. With the Kings depth and their strength – and hopefully they’re a little faster this year – if everybody stays healthy, they’re in a good position.
MM: How do you sum up the Kings-Sharks playoffs series last year?
McSorley: San Jose is a talented hockey team. They did not react very well against Vancouver (in the playoffs) and the Sharks, I think, have been underachieving for years. But, that’s a very talented team. I didn’t think the Kings were quite ready to win that series, to be perfectly honest with you. I’d like to be able to say this year that they are. They’ll let us know come March and April.
Before we get to the end of the season there Marty, the Kings and Sharks will meet six times, including tonight’s game to kick off the series.
Both clubs enter the night with 15 points. However, San Jose has played one fewer game. The Sharks are 2-2-1 at home and the Kings are 3-1-2 on the road (4-1-2 if you factor in the games played overseas).
The 2010-11 season series was won by the Sharks with a 3-1-2 record, including two wins in the shootout. The Kings best game of the entire regular season – and a game Jim Fox calls one of the five best games he’s seen any Kings team play, ever – was LA’s 4-0 win at the Shark Tank on December 27, 2010.
Sharks captain Joe Thornton was a guest on MayorsManor prior to the rematch at Staples Center less than a week later, you can check out that interview here.
Also, if you’ve never read it, click here to see what Rob Blake had to say on the eve of his final game at Staples Center – as a member of the Sharks. It’s the interview many people thought would never appear on MayorsManor.
Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 7:30pm PST.
As usual, we will be running our first goal contest tonight too. If you’d like a chance at winning a free t-shirt from Glass Bangers, simply reply below with the name of the Kings player you think will score the first goal for LA tonight. You can even use your facebook profile to enter.