That wasn’t the way it was supposed to go down.
But last summer, after three playoff runs with the Kings, it was time to move on. No problem though, no hard feelings. He openly thanked Kings GM Dean Lombardi, coach Darryl Sutter and his teammates inside the Los Angeles locker room for supporting him through several low periods, both on and off the ice.
Then, he took less money to return to his original team across town, where the comfort of several close friends would likely help him get his career back on track.
Already a two-time Stanley Cup winner, who had earned the nickname ‘Playoff Penner’ with his ability to score timely goals in the post-season, the 31-year-old forward still hungered for another ring.
And everything looked to be coming together perfectly. Penner already had 10 goals this season heading into a game between the Kings and Ducks just two nights before they were set to play at Dodger Stadium.
He had the game tying goal in that Stadium Series preview and welcomed all the attention he received from the media over the next 48 hours. After all, Penner was custom made for the spotlight – the bigger the stage the better the show.
Yet, somehow, when nobody was looking, the wheels fell off a little more than a month later. Ducks GM Bob Murray abruptly shipped Penner to Washington at the NHL Trade Deadline. To say he was angry and confused about his departure would probably be an understatement.
After his Capitals didn’t make the playoffs, Penner first took some needed time away from the game.
“It usually takes about a month to six weeks [to decompress], especially if you go traveling and things like that,” shared the usually jolly giant. “You try to plan your summers more precisely because your schedule tends to fill up quicker than when you were younger.”
He started out with a few R&R trips to San Diego. “I also went to see if the slot machines [in Las Vegas] still work. They do,” Penner quipped.
He’s also kept tabs on the playoffs.
“I follow along pretty closely,” he explained. “If I’m not busy doing something else, I’m definitely watching. But I usually don’t plan my schedule around [the playoffs].”
In a surprising move, Penner also showed up at Staples Center for Game 3 last week. Although time is supposed to heal all wounds, seeing the Kings and Ducks meet up in the second round of the playoffs has perhaps poured a mighty large handful of salt in that yet to close laceration.
“I’ve been watching this series intently,” he told MayorsManor. “Being with L.A. last year and Anaheim this year, I wouldn’t say going to the game was fun or it was easy, but I enjoyed it.”
Always opinionated, and outspoken, Penner seemed a little more reserved than usual when evaluating the play of both teams thus far.
“They’ve played well. Each team has had a chance and there is a lot of pride on the line. A chance at possibly playing for the Stanley Cup is also on the line, so I’m not surprised it’s gone to a Game 7.”
Which brings us to the key question, what’s his prediction for Friday’s winner-takes-all game between the Kings and Ducks?
“My prediction?’ he said. “Pain.”
Ah yes, it wouldn’t be a chat with Penner unless there was a movie quote worked in.
Just don’t look for Penner in Anaheim on Friday night.
“I have a way better night planned,” he confidently stated.
We wouldn’t have expected anything less.
Now – are the Kings Rocky Balboa and the Ducks Clubber Lang… or is it the other way around?
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