Jarret Stoll wasn't about to be disappointed again
By Daniel Nugent-bowman, The StarPhoenix
June 14, 2012
Los Angeles Kings' Jarret Stoll is pursued by photographers as he holds up the Stanley Cup after his team defeated the New Jersey Devils in Game 6 on Monday.
Photograph by: Reuters , The StarPhoenix
After falling one win short of a Stanley Cup championship six years ago, Los Angeles Kings centre Jarret Stoll vowed to not let history repeat itself.
Then a member of the eighth-seeded Edmonton Oilers, Stoll marched all the way to the 2006 Stanley Cup final only to lose in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes.
So when the Kings reached this year's final - becoming the first eighth seed to do so since that same Edmonton team - the former Saskatoon Blazer wasn't going to let anything stand in his way.
"Losing Game 7 in '06 was devastating, but you learn how hard you can push your body and how much extra you have when you think you don't," Stoll said Wednesday from Los Angeles, two days after the Kings closed out a six-game affair against New Jersey.
"That's one thing I learned coming into these playoffs and coming into this finals - I might not be able to get back here. I felt very fortunate to have two cracks at it."
When the Oilers missed the playoffs in the back-toback seasons following their unexpected run, Stoll was traded along with defenceman Matt Greene to the Kings for blue-liner Lubomir Visnovsky in June 2008.
The Kings missed the post-season in Stoll's first year with the team and then bowed out in the first round in each of the past two seasons.
But thanks to the off-season addition of centre Mike Richards and the emergence of the team's young core, the Kings were expected to morph into contenders.
However, Los Angeles struggled to find its scoring touch early in the season and looked to be in jeopardy of missing the playoffs.
Stoll said the team's fortunes really turned around when forward Jeff Carter was acquired in a deal for blue-liner Jack Johnson on Feb. 23.
"He really solidified our lineup," Stoll said. "Everyone was slotted then in the spots where they belonged. Our forward lines were set and we rolled them."
Stoll played mostly on a third line with Trevor Lewis and Meadow Lake native Dwight King. He chipped in with five points on two goals - one of which was scored in overtime of Game 5 of the Western Conference quarter-final against Vancouver.
That tally moved the Kings into round two and they never looked back.
"It snowballed," Stoll said. "You've got to ride your confidence for as long as you can."
The Kings won the first three games of each series they played in, but Stoll insists the Kings never got too far ahead of themselves with head coach Darryl Sutter at the helm.
With the Kings up 4-1 Monday, Lewis notched an empty-net marker late in the game and the Kings knew the Cup was theirs. Greene rounded out the scoring in a 6-1 win.
"Then we lost ourselves a little bit," Stoll said. "We almost stopped playing the game. It was hard at that point.
"When it was 4-1, you never know what can happen. We were a little nervous, but as soon as that empty-goal went in it was party time."
As each player had his turn to hoist the Cup at Los Angeles's Staples Center, members of the team's executive and scouting staff were called onto the ice. Among them was the Kings' western Canadian amateur scout, Brent McEwen.
McEwen was the general manager of the Saskatoon Blades for more than six years before being fired by the WHL team in May 2004. He was hired by the Kings three months later and quickly started assembling talent.
Although Dwight King was the only player to win the Cup with Los Angeles after being drafted out of the WHL, others were used to acquire top-end talent.
Defenceman Colten Teubert (Regina) and centre Brayden Schenn (Brandon/ Saskatoon) were dealt in order to bring in winger Dustin Penner and Richards in separate deals, signifying the end of a long rebuild.
"That's a big part of what our general manager (Dean Lombardi) wanted to do in trades," McEwen said after landing in Saskatoon on Wednesday. "We weren't that good and he was bringing in a lot of draft picks.
"Then the times changed and they thought they were getting to a point where they wanted to contend and they could move some of those assets for proven players ... That's what happened. It worked out well."
It was a moment both McEwen and Stoll said they would never forget.
When the game ended Stoll was joined on the ice by his mom, Sherri; dad, Tim; sister Ashley; brother-in-law, Dan; nephew, Jordan; and three friends from Saskatoon.
And unlike six years ago, he will now return to Saskatoon this summer with the Stanley Cup.
"I guess it's different for every player and every person but it can mean so many different things," said Stoll, who played his minor hockey in Melville and Yorkton before suiting up for the Blazers in 1997-98.
"It's hard to describe what it feels like if you don't win it. Now winning it, it's everything and more."
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