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For Kings who have lost in Final, memories remain

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- They all remember the sting and the disappointment and seeing the opposition celebrate in front of them, a polar contrast of emotions from one end of the ice to the other.

For Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, it was seeing Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks in a jubilant dash down the length of the ice in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final. For Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene, it was hearing the roar of the enemy crowd from inside a quiet locker room after the Carolina Hurricanes won Game 7 of the 2006 Final.

While four other Kings players have won the Stanley Cup, Richards, Carter, Stoll and Greene have been on the other side of it on other teams. That they are getting a rare second chance with the Los Angeles Kings isn't lost on them as L.A. prepares to play the New Jersey Devils.

"I think just having that bitter taste and remembering what the feeling was afterward when we lost that Game 6," said Richards, who was teammates with Carter on the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers team that fell to Chicago in six games. "Obviously it's a feeling that you don't want to happen again. I think that just gives you more motivation."


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The Flyers seemed destined for something big that year after they erased a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Bruins and became the third team in NHL history to come back and win from a 3-0 series deficit. They eliminated the Montreal Canadiens in five games and tied the Blackhawks, 2-2, in the Final before losing the series on Kane's overtime goal in Game 6.

"It's not the best feeling in the world," Carter said. "To come up short, it's tough to swallow. A lot of guys don't get a second chance. We've got a few guys in the room that are getting that second chance. We're going to do everything in our power to come out on top this time."

Stoll and Greene are following the same path they took in 2006 as members of the eighth-seeded Edmonton Oilers team that lost to Carolina. Traded to L.A. for Lubomir Visnovsky in 2008, they are now part of another eighth-seeded team going to the Final.

"There's a trivia question no one will get," Greene joked.

Stoll said they don't need much more motivation for the Final but the loss in 2006 does add an element of unfinished business.

"Just knowing how disappointing it was in '06 -- to see the Stanley Cup hoisted on the other side was very, very disappointing," Stoll said. "You definitely don't want that to happen again. For guys that have been there, this is their first time, the experience is fun, too. But you've got to take advantage of it. You can't go into it and be happy to be here. You got to realize this might be your only chance."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter has his share of heartache in the Final, too. In addition to losing a Game 7 to the Tampa Bay Lightning as coach of the Calgary Flames in 2004, Sutter was an assistant coach on the 1992 Chicago team that won 11 straight games in the playoffs before it got swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Final.

Sutter estimated that fewer than five percent of NHL players get to play in a Final and "there's very few that do actually win it," he said.

"Two of my brothers have won six, and I've played a lot of conference championships and coached in them, and in the Stanley Cup Final. It's really difficult. There's 30 teams now. I know what it takes -- what you give you up from a personal standpoint, so that's why it's good to be here."

Richards said he's much better prepared for the experience this time knowing how to deal with the circus-like atmosphere in regards to the media attention and the outside distractions such as ticket requests from family and friends.

The spectacle can be overwhelming to the uninitiated, but "we know what to expect," Richards said. "Before we might have been a little shocked or taken back by it. But we know what to expect and we can focus on hockey now."

Stoll concurred a large part of the process is learning to navigate the off-ice aspects of the Final. The Kings will use Monday strictly as a travel day before media day on Tuesday. Game 1 is Wednesday.

"It's almost like the Super Bowl," Stoll said. "Sometimes those outside distractions -- your first time there it can maybe get to you a little bit. You sit back and think 'Oh, wow, this is cool.' But you've to get out there and play the same hockey you've played against Phoenix, against St. Louis and Vancouver. That doesn't change."

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