Cal Petersen situation sends message Kings cannot ignore

Kings general manager Rob Blake said he wasn’t trying to send a message as he put Cal Petersen on waivers and risked losing the goalie who would become the foundation of the team’s future.

Even though Blake’s only motivation was to help a shaky Petersen find his game — and even though Petersen cleared waivers on Thursday and was sent to the Kings’ farm team in Ontario, Calif. for extra work — Blake managed to shake up a team, It was sloppy on defense and maddeningly inconsistent in the first third of this season.

The Kings have the best skills they’ve had in years after picking up talent through the draft and gaining winger Kevin Fiala, who leads them in goals. Their power play, once a liability, has turned into an asset thanks to the creativity of new assistant coach Jim Hiller.

But their overall defensive effort has been decidedly poor, hitting a nadir on Tuesday in a wild 9-8 overtime loss to Seattle. The players spent Wednesday talking to each other, the coaches and Blake about Petersen. They spent Thursday morning greeting Pheonix Copley, who assisted Jonathan Quick against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night, and welcoming newly promoted fourth-row forward Samuel Fagemo and defenseman Tobias Bjornfot in a pairing with Matt Roy.

Waiving Petersen sent a message, okay.

“It damn well should,” said coach Todd McLellan, “because we’re a part of this transaction. We all do it.”

On purpose or not, it’s a statement they needed to hear.

“I think it’s a wake-up call for everyone in the organization. If you’re not performing…we all need to get better. I think that’s just the bottom line,” defenseman Drew Doughty said.

“Defensively we were very, very shaky in a lot of games and honestly didn’t help our goalkeeping at all. It’s a wake up call to everyone. We have to improve and play better. We have a better team than we showed this year. That’s it.”

Odds were against Petersen being claimed by waivers as the 28-year-old Iowa native is in the first year of a three-year, $15 million deal that includes a 10-team no-trade list. Barring a goaltender emergency, few general managers would be inclined to take on that much baggage for a goaltender who has a 3.75 goals against average and a .868 percent save percentage this season, the fifth straight season in which its bailout rate has dropped.

Petersen was the debut starter last season and had many chances to secure the job as Quick’s replacement, but he failed to take any of them. Still, he was part of the team, certainly part of their future. Not having him suddenly created the possibility that he would be in her rearview mirror. For a group still figuring out what they want to be when they grow up, insecurity was a troubling addition to the equation. The players were shocked.

“To be honest, it sucked that it happened,” Doughty said.

Kings goalies Cal Petersen and Jonathan Quick pass each other as the Kings switch goalies.

Kings goalie Cal Petersen (left) and goalie Jonathan Quick pass as the Kings switch goalies in the second half against the Seattle Kraken Tuesday at Arena.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Doughty made a point of assuring Petersen that his teammates recognized that they shared the blame for his suffering. “I felt sorry for him because maybe he wasn’t doing his best and he would probably be the first to say that, but at the same time we didn’t play well in front of him,” Doughty said. “There are games where he gave up four goals but he also saved 10 that should have gone in too.

“I told him that too. “We didn’t play well before you so just go down and play well and you’ll be back up here and we need you for the long haul.” ”

Blake, who also sent Rasmus Kupari and defender Jordan Spence to Ontario on Thursday, held his own talks with Petersen. He wanted to be realistic but also encouraging. “We believe that you will be here to help us move forward, but we need to find a way to play you back the way you can and how we believe you can,” Blake said at the Summary of his side of the conversation.

“What the idea here is, Cal can go into the American League and play games and get the structure that we believe in and come back up and help us. It’s not that easy.”

After the Kings’ morning skate on Thursday, Blake also highlighted the team’s ineffective penalty shootout as a concern and said he wants to find “the underlying issues” behind the wide discrepancy between actual and expected goals conceded. “There are some areas where we need to improve. There are a few areas where we’ve certainly made progress. The most important thing is consistency and I don’t think I’m the only one saying that,” Blake said.

This is a clear and direct message that they cannot ignore. Cal Petersen situation sends message Kings cannot ignore

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