Rite of Spring for Kings

By Tony Calfo

Jared Aulin is supposed to be the jewel of the Rob Blake trade.

Jared Aulin is one of the keys to a re-born King farm system.

Jared Aulin is unsigned with three days left to sign him or lose his rights.

Jared Aulin is the latest to fall victim to the Kings’ take-it-or-leave-it negotiating style. Ironically, this was the style that lead to his arrival as Rob Blake chose the “leave-it” option that lead to his trade to Colorado. Luc Robitaille could tell you a little bit about it. Justin Papineau knows it well himself. Will Jared Aulin join this group Friday night? For the Kings’ sake I certainly hope not.

Let me first say that Rob Blake is one of my favorite players and I hated to see him go. I wholeheartedly feel the Kings were to blame for his departure. With that being said, Dave Taylor did a masterful job getting the most value possible. Deadmarsh and Miller are keys to the Kings future and Jared Aulin has wowed everyone who has seen him play. The Kings also have a first round pick next year to add to their windfall from that trade. They did however give up a player who may be the best at his position in the NHL and an up-and-comer in Steven Reinprecht who hurt the Kings badly in this season’s playoffs. The reason I can watch Blake and Reinprecht head to potentially another Stanley Cup is because the Kings received so much compensation, both for the present and the future. A move that makes Kings’ fans able to see another playoff failure, but know that better times are ahead. They spent the money to secure Jason Allison and are making shrewd hockey decisions and keeping costs reasonable while keeping the product and the system at a top level. So why all this with Aulin?

Why is the operative question. I can understand letting Luc go, although I didn’t agree with it. We covered Blake. Papineau, although he has since found his game, had some struggles when they chose not to sign him. But why Aulin? Why blemish the Blake trade? Why hurt the system so much? Why give the fans more fodder for failure? Why show potential free agents, potential draft picks and impending free agents on your own team that you will not negotiate in good faith or spend the money needed? Why take a step back when the last two seasons have seen such a step forward?

The model the Kings are setting up is an admirable one. One that worked for New Jersey. The Devils managed to win by making economically intelligent decisions with their talent. The Kings need to make the right one here.

As I have written every year in this same space at this same time.

Sign Aulin.

If they don’t, you might want to save this line below for Cammalleri and Frolov.

Sign(fill in the blank).