Elliott: The Kings must make the NHL playoffs this season

www.latimes.com
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The Kings need to act now and stop making vague promises. They must be competitive again for the sake of their credibility and fans.
Someday for the Kings is now.

The Stanley Cup playoffs have been a distant dream for too long. They can't continue to make vague promises about when they'll be competitive again. That dream must become reality this season for the sake of their credibility and their fan base.

They've followed the right plan: constructing a team around the draft takes time, but it's the only realistic way to build in the NHL. Extra picks or young players can be leveraged in trades to fill lineup needs. If they have the right people behind that plan, their work must pay off this season with a playoff berth.

In the early days of their tenure general manager Rob Blake and team President Luc Robitaille misread the NHL's trend toward speed and youth and thought they could get another championship out of a group that aged fast while playing heavy hockey. By now, Blake and Robitaille have had time to retrench and replenish the talent pool and produce results.

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They've advanced to the stage of adding veterans rather than subtracting old, bloated contracts: signing shutdown center Phillip Danault as a free agent and trading second-and third-round draft picks for winger Viktor Arvidsson gives them two serviceable top-six forwards who should ease pressure on the kids. The worst of the pain is over.

Players are scheduled to report to training camp in El Segundo on Wednesday. On Thursday they'll begin official scrimmages. Why wait? After missing the playoffs three straight seasons and four of the last five, after earning one victory in two playoff series since they won the Stanley Cup in 2014, someday for the Kings is now.

Asked what he'd tell fans, Robitaille delivered a strong message. "We've turned the page. We're done with this you can call it whatever, rebuild, and it's time to start trending upward. Trending upward means you've got to get in the playoffs. You've got to compete," he said in a phone conversation on Tuesday.…
Helene Elliott
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