The Manchester Monarchs, AHL Affiliate to the newly crowned 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, went on a remarkable journey for their 13th season in the American Hockey League.
The Monarchs started their season on a high note and it remained that way all the way to the final buzzer in their final regular season game. With a lot of chemistry and consistency in the locker room, the Monarchs posted a record of 48-19-3-6. With that record they earned 105 points, which was the 2nd best throughout the league and statistically the best season in their 13 year history. The team with the best record during the 2013-14 season was the 2014 Calder Cup Champion Texas Stars. The Monarchs were also able to capture their 3rd Atlantic Division title, and with all this success the Monarchs were one of the first teams to capture a playoff spot. This past postseason was the Monarchs’ 12th appearance out of 13 seasons.
Although there were many highs this past season, there were lows as well, most of them being trades and call-ups. Top prospect forward Brandon Kozun was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs Organization for Andrew Crescenzi and Nick Deslauriers traded to the Buffalo Sabres for top prospect defenseman Brayden McNabb. Three major call-ups also happened with Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, and Martin Jones all joining the Kings, but made everyone in New Hampshire proud. As stated earlier, the Monarchs were very consistent which helped them a lot.
Unfortunately, the Monarchs ran into arguably the best American-Born prospect goalie ever, John Gibson. The Norfolk Admirals stopped the Monarchs playoff push after winning the series 3-1. The Monarchs almost doubled Norfolk’s shot on goal total in every game. Coincidentally, Gibson went on the play in the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Anaheim Ducks against the Kings. The Los Angeles Kings went on to win that series in seven games and beat the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games in the third round. They then met with the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final and beat them in 5 games when former Monarch, Alec Martinez, netted a double OT goal capturing their 2nd Stanley Cup in 3 seasons.
After their playoff elimination, the Los Angeles Kings announced that they wouldn’t renew head coach Mark Morris’ coaching contract because he wanted to go in a different direction. Mark is aiming for coaching in the National Hockey League, which he deserves. Mark Morris served 8 years behind the bench and assistant coach Freddy Meyer also announced he wouldn’t return. The Kings are actively looking to hire someone for the head coach position in Manchester and do have a top candidate for the job according to multiple sources.
There have also been numerous rumors that the Monarchs, along with other teams who have their NHL affiliate on the west coast, will relocate closer to them in the West. Dave Andrews, the AHL President and CEO stated that those rumors are true but it will take a lot of effort and time to make the move. Monarchs President Darren Abbott spoke about saying, “A lot of things have to happen. There would have to be certain leases put together in West Coast buildings," he said. "There would have to be arrangements broken in current situations, so there are a lot of hoops to jump through."
A Los Angeles Kings spokesman came out and said while nothing is certain, currently there are no plans to move. Even if relocation does in fact happen, which it might or night not, it wouldn’t occur for another 2 or 3 years.
One thing is for sure though; the doors will be open for the 14th season in Monarchs franchise history at the Verizon Wireless Arena in October with a new 2013-14 Atlantic Division Champion banner hanging from the rafters. Many of the same faces will be in Manchester next season ready to go for the 2014-15 season, look for them to be a playoff contender once again.