Los Angeles Kings: Who’s Second To Drew Doughty?

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 13: Alec Martinez
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 13: Alec Martinez /

Who is runner up for best D-Man on the Los Angeles Kings, Alec Martinez or Jake Muzzin?

Chances are, if you engage any Los Angeles Kings fan in a debate about the current state of the franchise, they will moan about the team’s perennial lack of scoring. However, after this, the question about who is better between Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin will eventually come up. It’s a fascinating discussion, and one the Kings might have to address sooner rather than later.

Both are homegrown players. Both are Stanley Cup champions. After that, the similarities end and the differences become the fodder for heated disagreement.

Martinez’s indelible mark

Alec Martinez is a versatile, mobile defenseman, able to skate with the best forwards in the league but also with the smarts to know when to jump up into the play. His ability to play on the right or left side gives coaches a variety of options for defensive pairings. For Kings fans, “Marty” will forever be known for two of the most memorable goals in franchise history.

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In 2014 he finished one of the greatest series in NHL playoff history by eliminating the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, in overtime, in Game 7. Then just five games later he won the Stanley Cup in double overtime, beating Henrik Lundquist and sending Staples Center into a frenzy.

His “Jazz Hands” celebration is one of the most iconic moments in Kings history. I will go out on a limb here and say, without equivocation, that his feat will never be duplicated. There will never be another defenseman who scores consecutive overtime series winning goals, in the Conference Finals and then the Stanley Cup Final.

Muzzin’s inimitable, tenacity and grit

Jake Muzzin arrived on the Kings scene with a style that fit Daryl Sutter’s hard-hitting, heavy system to a T. Everything about Muzzin’s game is hard, his checks, his shots and some might say, his head. When teamed with the dynamic Drew Doughty they form a formidable pairing, complementing each other and delivering results. There is no doubt that the 2014 Cup win would not have happened without Jake’s powerful presence.

Who Is The Fan Favorite?

On the whole, the player who is embraced by more fans is Martinez. Scan Staples Center during any game and you’ll see hundreds of Martinez jerseys compared to a handful of Muzzin’s. Perhaps it is Alec’s playoff heroics that have endeared him to the fanbase, or maybe his good looks (yes, there are lots of women’s jerseys bearing his name) or his affable personality and eloquence in interviews.

Muzzin, while a solid player who makes up a part of the Kings core, simply does not connect the same way. In fact, Muzzin is the object of considerable scorn, moans, groans, and fury. He is prone to painfully boneheaded mistakes that Jim Fox, the Kings TV color commentator, highlights with his telestrator nightly.

In a recent chat with Jim, I asked which defenseman he would suggest GM Rob Blake keep. His answer: Muzzin. His reason: Muzzin was a member of Canadian National Team.  That’s it. For him, that sealed the deal. If the Canadian hockey brass felt Jake was good enough to represent their country in their national sport, then it meant he was more valuable.

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I think Jim Fox is the best in the business and a fantastic guy but on this one, we agreed that we’re going to disagree. I believe Martinez has more mobility, better instincts, sees the game better and deserves to be a King for as long as he wants. If Blake can bundle Muzzin for a player who can actually score goals, he should do it.