If there was a running timer for how long I booed Rob Blake it would be well over three hours. I booed him in person, I booed him while watching him on TV, I booed him when he was in Colorado, and I most certainly booed him while he was a Shark. But despite all that he's far and away the best defenseman the Kings have had. You know, up until currently with Alec Martinez.
Hearing Blake got traded to the Avalanche was devastating when I was younger (not to Piazza levels, but still). BUT, he brought back to the Kings the likes of Adam "Concussion" Deadmarsh and Aaron "Aaron Miller" Miller. Then he came back! What a great guy. And then he left again. For San Jose. Now, this is a pretty good reason to hate the guy. If you didn't think about the long term game plan Blake set in motion for Los Angeles.
Sure, he left the Kings in his twilight years. Sure, he left for a division rival. Sure, he provided that rival with a still valuable defensive asset. Sure, he also became the team captain for that rival. And hey, look what is wrong with the Sharks now.
- The never ending search for right handed defensemen.
- A complete lack of real leadership
- Fans that don't BELIEVE in their team enough
The third thing could be contributed to Blake because he left without giving San Jose a Cup and they were stuck with the likes of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Those "down" years with his second stint with the Kings? He had the vision to suck so that the Kings could land Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov (uh, back when he was just a promising defenseman and not a possible felon). That's what being a visionary is all about.
Then you compare him to that hack Teemu Selanne. Both may have left their southern California teams for Colorado and San Jose, except here's a key difference: Rob Blake was Los Angeles grown. Selanne was a Winnipeg export and had to leave, mostly because Winnipeg is unable to keep the most modest of luxuries (like toilets that flush). Blake also was a tough leader. He was a captain twice for the Kings, and the aforementioned Sharks. Selanne meanwhile only wore the "C" for a game, just to end his career and make him finally go away. Yeah, yeah, "He wore the 'A'," you moan as you stick your thumb up your butthole. Big deal. Matt Greene has one of those, and one more Stanley Cup.
Oh yeah, and about that toughness. According to Hockey Fights, Blake has been in 25 fights. Selanne? One. Against Brad Richardson. Now, I'm not calling Selanne a pussy here but...HE TOTALLY IS. He waited until he retired to finally rail against his coach and former teammates! Rob Blake on the other hand went to the Kings' front office when he retired and won a Cup. That's long term leadership.
And that booing I mentioned? C'mon. It was fun! Booing players has always been fun! Plus, we all knew he could take it. Hell, I'd even suggest booing him tonight. It's pretty much "BOOOOOOOLAKE" now. Anaheim couldn't boo Selanne as much as they would have liked to. His fragile psyche wouldn't be able to take it, even though he rightfully deserved it for dragging down the Ducks for over half a decade as they paraded his corpse across the ice like it was some sort of pagan ritual.
Teemu now has to try and keep getting the attention and adoration of southern California by serving you overpriced steaks that is covered in his dandruff. He'll bring it out to you with a smile on his goofy face, and you just have to sit there and take it, not having the heart to tell him his psoriasis is getting all over 45 dollars of food. Ol' Robbie B though doesn't need to win you over. He's made his mark, racking up the accolades, and sinking a rival franchise. His only regret nowadays is that he never had a chance to play for the Ducks and trash the hell out of their team. Fortunately, Selanne's book has done that.
At the very least, the Kings are at least acknowledging one of their key figures in their franchise's history, for better or for worse. *cough*Kariya*cough*
Maybe Rob Blake can still play? A Martinez/Blake pairing could be pretty solid. I'm not even sure where to begin with the problems the defense has been having. Aside from the ridiculous amounts of goals against, that is. They commit a lot of turnovers, they're scoring on their own net, they can't kill penalties, they forget anniversaries, they burn their toast, they leave their turn signal on, etc etc.
In other news, Nick Shore is slated to make his debut. Interestingly enough, Darryl Sutter has him centering what figures to be the second line with Dwight King and Jeff Carter. That's a lot of size, and some decent scoring touch, especially since I figured he'd be with some variation of Kyle Clifford/Andy Andreoff/Jordan Nolan.
Prediction: The Kings are struggling with just about everything, are facing a good (regular season) team, and will be standing around for about 45 minutes or so waiting to play while listening to a bunch of people talk about a guy the fans are likely to soundly boo. Kings lose 5-1. Goal by Shore. Blake gets booed. He smiles.