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Back-to-back Cup winners like Kings' chances

Thursday, 08.30.2012 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

By Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Back-to-back Cup winners like Kings' chances
With the Kings' entire championship roster returning this season, a couple of notable names like their chances to repeat.

The 2012-13 NHL campaign will mark 15 years since the Detroit Red Wings became the last team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions. In the 13 postseasons since the Red Wings went back-to-back, 11 different clubs have won the Cup, with Detroit and the New Jersey Devils the only clubs to win it more than once. But with the Kings' entire championship roster returning this season, a couple of notable names like their chances to repeat.

"I think their chances are very good. It's becoming tougher and tougher [to repeat]. You need to try to avoid the hangover of the celebration. They're the champions and someone's got to knock them off the hill," said Bryan Trottier, who won the Cup six times as a player with the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins and is one of only two players in the past 30 years -- along with Larry Murphy -- to win consecutive titles with two different franchises. "I know our first [Islanders] championship, we weren't the best team in the League during the season. But the next year, everyone was ready for us and prepared for us. We had to show up and we had to earn our stripes."

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To be sure, a lot has changed in the National Hockey League to make it more difficult for a team to repeat as Cup winners. Foremost among those changes is free agency, which has made it difficult for teams to keep a roster intact from year to year. Throw in variables like injuries and unlucky bounces, and there's a reason why only one team has gone back-to-back in the past two decades.

"When I think of my time in Pittsburgh, we won two Cups and I thought the following year was our best team and we didn't win it. There's no guarantees," said Murphy, who repeated as a Cup champion in Pittsburgh before playing on those back-to-back Red Wings teams. "You need some breaks, you need to stay healthy. You need the drive. That's probably the hardest thing after you win it the first time, trying to recreate that sense of urgency. Plus everyone is gunning for you too. And teams are always getting better. It's a difficult task to do it once. To do it twice Is much tougher."

But the Kings will have some elements working to their advantage. While several past champions, most notably the 2010 Chicago Blackhawks, lost key pieces of their championship roster immediately following their championship runs, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi managed to keep his entire roster intact. Considering that the majority of the team's core players will be 27 or younger heading into this season, there could be a number of factors working for the Kings. And the few players who have repeated as champions more than once see a unique opportunity in Los Angeles.

"The Kings have positioned themselves well cap-wise, they've got the players," Murphy told NHL.com. "They've got the opportunity."

Quote of the Day

They said, 'You're going to love the city. It's smaller than Philadelphia, but you're going to love it. You're going to love the fans. Just watching the playoffs last year, the fans seemed louder there than they did anywhere. I'm really excited about that.

— Forward Scott Hartnell on his upcoming season with the Columbus Blue Jackets