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Preview: The Converted King

The Converted King

A longtime Detroit Red Wings fan adopts the Los Angeles Kings as his new favorite team after his best friend signs a contract to play for LA.

Updated: 2015-09-16T13:17:11.064-04:00


Brief, Cool Story


When Jack was at the All-Star Festivities for the Young Stars game, he approached All-Star defenseman Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames.

Jack introduced himself.

"Hi, I am Jack Johnson, I play for the Los Angeles Kings"

Phaneuf paused, looked at Jack for a moment, and shook his head.

"What? What are you talking about? I know who the fuck you are. You're going to be my d-partner in this game in like 2 years!"

Red Wings Struggling/Trade Deadline/Other


The Detroit Red Wings losing FOUR GAMES IN A ROW!!?!?!!?

It must be time to trade Zetterberg.

This little slump will pass very soon, but in the meantime it provides an excellent opportunity for Ken Holland to start thinking about the roster tweak that we ALL know he is going to make at the trade deadline. There is a reason he saved salary cap space during the off-season.

Holland knew this team was good enough to win as is. Now the question is whether or not they are good enough to win the ultimate prize. Considering it is essentially the same group as last year (Rafalski and Schneider cancel each other out), one could argue against the pro-side. The Ducks look like the team to beat in the playoffs, regardless of regular season record.

The Red Wings must make a move of some sort. They have the cap space. Why not bring back Sergei Fedorov's expiring contract and see what playing on a winner again does for his well-discussed lack of motivation. I cannot imagine the Blue Jackets asking for much more than a 2nd round pick for the guy.

Mats Sundin is probably a pipedream, but that would obviously be the ideal situation.

How about Rob Blake? The team is not starved for defense, but can you ever have enough quality d-men? The Wings barely lost to the Ducks in the Western Conference Finals despite playing without two of their top four defensemen (Kronwall and Schneider). Blake would be a nice addition on this team of veterans.

I just have a feeling about Blake ending up in the winged wheel. Maybe it is because I have rooted for the guy since early childhood. Wishful thinking can cloud judgment. I still say it is going to happen, and it will not take a king's ransom (no pun intended) to get it done.

Speaking of LA, I loved checking the Kings' boxscore and seeing Jack with a 10 minute misconduct. People that watched the game had no idea what happened: my Dad was clueless, there was no mention in the game recap. Everybody assumed that he was ripping the referee to shreds and they finally had enough.

Not the case at all.

Jack was messing around with the puck during a stoppage and accidentally flipped the puck into the crowd. It grazed a fan in attendance (causing no injury, the fan waved and appreciated the free souvenir). The referee took exception, and issued the 10 minute misconduct.

And with that, new meaning has been given to the term, "rookie mistake".

Kings Playing Well


In my years as a sports fan, I have often heard people root against their team in the hopes of earning a better draft pick. While I understand the problem of missing out on a superior prospect for no reason, one must consider the overall health of the organization.

Jack Johnson said it best a couple of days ago. When asked if the Kings' struggles this season were part of the growth of a winning team, he shot down the notion. His message was clear: "Losing stinks". It is something that a true competitor will never grow accustomed to.

Losing is not productive for an organization. A better draft pick is nice, but the culture developed by losing creates a trend that is very difficult to reverse. There is a reason why certain teams are almost always near the bottom (Kings, Panthers), while a precious few are good year in and year out (Detroit, Ottawa). It is the culture surrounding those teams.

When a player throws on a Red Wing sweater, they become better. Not only because of the talent around them, but because of the tradition and expectations created by a long history of winning. This element is not impossible for an organization to create. Any team, if run the right way, can reach sustained success.

While I cannot speak for every player on the Kings, it seems common sense that these guys have enjoyed their recent wave of (relative) success. OK, so Los Angeles is not setting the league on fire. Still, it is undeniable that the team has played much better recently. It is a healthy trend as the goal for next season becomes a playoff birth.

The sooner this team starts to win consistently, the better. It seems like common sense. A quick survey of Kings fans rooting against the team in the hopes of landing Steve Stamkos says otherwise.

All-Star Break


I have not written in quite some time. For this I apologize. It is time now to get back into the swing of things.

Well, the Kings have made me look stupid. I thought for sure this group was going to contend for, and ultimately win, the 8th seed in the Western Conference. While the season is only about half over, there is a slim to none chance that my prediction will come to fruition. The Kings are wallowing in last place. Even though the expectations were not that high, no one in the organization envisioned being at the bottom of the standings.

In terms of pure talent, there is no chance that the Kings are the worst team. There are many good players on this roster. The future still does look bright.

It is interesting being a fan of both the Kings and Red Wings. On one hand I have a team that is so far ahead in the West that they barely need to try anymore. On the other hand, I have a team in dead last struggling to put together any type of positive streak of games. That said, I am still pulling for Los Angeles. This season has been a bit of a disappointment, but as long as the plan to stay young and develop within works in the end, it will all have been worth it.

Many people have written me asking why I no longer post at the website Let's Go Kings. I think I wore out my welcome there. People perceive me a certain way and no matter how inaccurate the portrayal may be, sometimes you just cannot change minds. I think my presence there was ultimately a success when you consider the original motivation. Eventually, it just became time to move on. I envisioned it being a permanent, player-fan interaction.

That aside, I am excited for the 2nd half of the season. I have been able to watch many of Jack's games, and I have truly enjoyed watching him out there. The one good thing about the Kings missing the playoffs (most likely) is that he and I will be able to attend the Wings' run to the Cup. It is always a good time.

Frozen Fury/Other Thoughts


We are into the one month countdown until Frozen Fury in Las Vegas. I am very much looking forward to the experience. There are going to be plenty of Kings fans there, and as "The Converted King", I feel the need to mingle with them as much as possible as I try to find the pulse of this fanbase.

In Detroit as a Wings fan, I have always known that if they did not win the Cup, the season was a failure. In Los Angeles, the fans seem thrilled merely at the prospect of a playoff berth. I find this to be quite a low standard, given the fact that an 8th seed is not that difficult to obtain. The Kings have one of the best defensive units in the league (on paper), and a group of immensely talented young forwards. Barring significant setbacks due to injury, not even the goaltending woes of this team will keep them out of the playoffs this season. Where the Kings go from there is another story, but for the record, I predict a first round upset this season. LA will get bounced in 5 games in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Kings need merely competent goaltending and a reasonable spell of good health to be an absolute lock for the playoffs. They are going to score goals and limit opportunities on the other end. Jack Johnson is going to face a difficult learning curve, but is as equipped as anybody to handle it. It will be interesting to see who he is paired with. There is a preseason Calder buzz for Jack, which was to be expected whenever he finally made the jump to the National Hockey League. In many ways, Jack is the key to the defense. Everyone knows what Blake, Visnovsky, and Stuart are capable of. Preissing is no slouch, either. The only real wildcard in the bunch is the rookie.

Jack has never been afraid of making mistakes on the ice. He plays the game with ferocity and relies on his instincts. While this may open the door for errors, the positve outcome fair outweighs the negative. The game is always entertaining with Jack on the ice, and while his dominance of years past will be difficult to attain at the highest level, he will no doubt be a force sooner rather than later.

As I've mentioned before, a trio of Cammalleri/Frolov/Kopitar represents one of the most dynamic units in the NHL. Michael Handzus is going to be an asset on this team.

Dan Cloutier has given his team average goaltending in the past, and that is all this team needs to get into the playoffs. If he flounders, Jason LaBarbera should be able to take his place.

The Dodger Fan



Jack "Stole The High-Speed Motorboat" From Sidney Crosby


I have no idea what stealing the high-speed motorboat is, but I am guessing it is a compliment. Jack is enjoying the tournament in Magog, and the people there seem to be enjoying him. Here is a translated excerpt from today's local newspaper in Magog:

"Johnson stole the (show) from Crosby, scoring 2 goals that made the jaws fall from spectators that simply could not believe their eyes"

(link: )

Jack was named player of the game in his team's victory.

My First Assessment


As a fan of the most successful hockey franchise of the past decade, it is easy to take things for granted. The Detroit Red Wings have won 3 Stanley Cups in my lifetime, and have come close several other times. The playoffs are a lock year in and year out, a Red Wing always wins a major individual award (Lidstrom with his Norris hardware in particular).... it is great to be a Wings fan.I will always be a Detroit Red Wing fan. Taking on the Los Angeles Kings as my new primary team does not disqualify the Red Wings from my heart. I will still root for the Red Wings 95% of the time, with the only exceptions being their games against the Kings. Many people ask how I can root for the Kings "all of a sudden".As much as I love the Detroit Red Wings, I don't personally know any of those guys. Why would anyone cheer on a bunch of complete strangers if their best friend was on a different NHL team? I grew up with Jack and rooting against him in life or in hockey (which for him, are now intertwined) is something that I cannot fathom. The only time I root against him in anything is when I am the opponent.The first comment this blog ever received was critical of me for "abandoning" the Wings, so-to-speak. This simply could not be further from the truth. I honestly believe that most anyone in my position would be the exact same way: you continue to support the team you grew up on, but you first and foremost want to see your best friend's team succeed.The funny thing is, Jack and I were talking about how talented the Kings were BEFORE HE EVEN GOT TRADED THERE. In our casual hockey conversation, I noted that LA was stockpiling young talent and was going to be a real threat to knock Detroit out in the first round very soon (it happened before, in 2001). Jack agreed, suggesting that Michael Cammalleri and Alexander Frolov were a dynamic duo up front and any team with one of our personal favorites Rob Blake has a chance. OK, we're both overboard with our support of #4... guilty as charged.I will be straight with you and say that I was not looking forward to rooting for the Hurricanes. I really did not like their team all that much, and Karmanos is a fierce rival of Wings' owner Mike Ilitch. Still, I would have rooted for the Hurricanes if Jack had ended up there. The trade to Los Angeles bailed me out of this problem, as the Kings were a team I could see myself liking with or without Jack.Either way, Jack believes he will begin and end his career in LA. He wants to grow with the franchise and help bring the first Stanley Cup to Los Angeles. One thing people out there will fast learn about him is how honest and straight forward he is. Jack means it when he says he is thrilled to be with the Kings organization, and the way that team is looking, I think it will be an easy transition rooting for them.Re-signing Michael Cammalleri is essential. Anze Kopitar, Alexander Frolov, Michael Cammalleri.... there are not many better trios of forwards in the entire league. Those are 3 young, dynamic talents that could help lead LA to the ultimate prize. Frolov reminds me a bit of his comrade Sergei Fedorov. Both are immensely talented, but Fedorov would take shifts (and sometimes games) off. I saw some of that in Frolov in the few games I saw the Kings play. I will be able to give a more accurate assessment on this particular subject when I watch more Kings hockey this upcoming season.Assuming Cammalleri is retained, this team will be loaded for a while. The defense looks very strong for this upcoming season, especially if Jack is able to perform at a reasonably high level. I know Jack has noticed a certain feeling going around the organization that this team is going in the right direction. The pieces are slowly starting to come together, and most of the players are realizing it.If the Kings can get average goal[...]



(image) Just a great picture of Jack getting right in the face of Steve Downie. This was before the opening faceoff in their first meeting since the famous "flying elbow".



I will use this space to describe my life as a new Kings fan and to share with the public some of my experiences growing up with defenseman Jack Johnson. For those who do not already know the story, I met Jack at a baseball camp the summer before our 6th grade year in school. He and I went to school together for 2 years at Vaughan Middle School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan before he was recruited to hockey powerhouse Shattuck St. Mary's. We managed to keep in touch despite his move to Minnesota, and have maintained our friendship for several years.

While Jack will have a role in the blog, it was created mostly as an outlet for me to explain my conversion to a Kings fan. I have a bit of an outsider's perspective of the organization and believe my insight will be unique- if not intelligent- and perhaps refreshing. I appreciate all the support that I have received from the people at Let's Go Kings, as they have all been exceptionally patient with my relative ignorance as I plunge into the abyss of King Fandom.

This is essentially a journal to chronicle my experience with this transition. I am doing it for predominantly selfish reasons, but I hope some others can enjoy it. As long as it serves its purpose to me, I will be happy. If a few lonely souls find it to be worthwhile reading for 5 minutes, all the better.