The Blake Situation- Do or Die?

By Tony Calfo
It is a situation that seems to be accepted as commonplace. A star player approaches the end of his contract and the former team is poised to trade him before he leaves for nothing. Ray Borque, Mark McGwire, Wayne Gretzky and Mike Piazza are a few of the sports legends that have been in this situation and now Rob Blake of the Los Angeles Kings is the latest player to join the list. Like the others, Blake has postured himself as caring so much about the organization that he is going to sacrifice himself by taking a trade to another team so the Kings will have something to show for all his years of service. Blake’s cavalier act will not include signing an extension though, virtually eliminating any chance of acquiring any quality players in return. I for one am tired of this trend that holds franchises hostage for the wishes of one player. Despite these feelings, history has shown that the Kings need to sign Rob Blake.

Los Angeles has seen two of these exact situations. Wayne Gretzky left the Kings for St. Louis and the Kings made what was considered a blockbuster trade for his services. Prospects Roman Vopat, Craig Johnson, Patrice Tardif and a first round pick, who became Matt Zhultek, came to the Kings for the Great One. Only third line winger Craig Johnson remains, with no remaining compensation for any of the other players. A third line center for the greatest player in NHL history is not what franchises are built on. The Los Angeles Dodgers also traded Mike Piazza and have seen the franchise stagger ever since.

The Kings claim the money will not allow them to give their best player what he wants. My question is this; Aren’t the Kings is the second largest market in the United States? This isn’t Kansas City! The Kings need to spend the money to keep Blake. They know how the team plays without Blake- poorly. They know that they have a good team in a new building that is vying for a division title. If the Kings trade Blake during a playoff run, it would destroy any credibility they have managed to rebuild. If the #2 market in the U.S. is on the verge of a fire sale, what does that say about the NHL and the Kings franchise?

Sign the deal, keep progressing and keep the fan growth you have started. Trade Blake and I can assure you of at least one lost fan.