The healing began in May, when Rob Blake heard a voice from the past. His old Canadian national team coach was on the phone, wanting to know what was up with this underachieving Kings bunch.
It seems a couple of scouts told Andy Murray that he would be getting a call from Dave Taylor about coaching the team, and what would Murray be getting himself into if he said "yes?"
"Rob said they needed a little more discipline, some more accountability," Murray says. "I wanted to know if I could be a fit. . . . What Rob did was to give me a feeling that what I could offer was what this team needed."
Blake should know.
He is the captain of the S.S. Kings, which sometimes has resembled a battleship, other times a leaky rowboat. This season the battleship is back, with Blake firing the long guns.
He has 10 goals and 10 assists for a team that is tied for the most points in the NHL. His points, 20, are second among the league's defensemen.
It beats last season, when he went down with the ship.
Blake spent March and April handling discipline and accountability through stern locker-room lectures, then going to then-coach Larry Robinson to negotiate a stand-pat lineup on behalf of players who were tired of being shuffled like a deck of cards at a blackjack table.
It was a new Blake, one who never got comfortable with the job.
"I don't think anybody likes it," he says. "I don't think anybody wants to get up and yell at guys. . . . It's not a comfortable position for anyone, and when you're winning, you don't have to do that."
It's difficult for him to say, as difficult, perhaps, as acknowledging that being a vocal leader, after years spent quietly showing the way by scoring goals and knocking down players, can take time and effort that halts the goals, hinders the knocks.
"The things that happen in the dressing room, you take care of in the dressing room before you go on the ice," he says simply. "The game's the same."
"Blakey is the leader of this team, and maybe sometimes you believe that means you have to turn around everything yourself," says Mattias Norstrom, Blake's defense partner. "No one player in this league can do it by himself."
Couple that difficulty with a two-month injury, and his 12-goal, 23-assist season can be explained, if not excused.
"Actually, I didn't think I had that bad a year," Blake insists. "I missed eight weeks, and there isn't much I could do about that. Things went on around here. If you don't make the playoffs, it's a bad year for everybody, that's how I feel."
He's quiet again, letting his stick and his body do his talking, and they are speaking volumes.
Accountability comes easily. He took the overtime loss Wednesday night at Dallas hard because he was wrestling with Richard Matvichuk when Matvichuk scored the game-winner. Nobody blamed Blake. They didn't have to.
"If was my fault," he says simply, quietly.
It's easier now, because the Kings are winning, because he is playing well. The two are intertwined in a chicken-egg relationship that he understands, even if he has a difficult time admitting it.
"Look around," he says, sweeping his arm around the locker room. "No. 33."
Ziggy Palffy, No. 33, is part of a mutual admiration society.
"I never played with a great defenseman like that, a defenseman who can take a shot and play defense, play two-way hockey," Palffy says.
With that weapon available for play-making fun, Palffy spends a fair amount of energy sending Blake the puck, then yelling what to do with it.
"He yells at people to shoot," Blake says. "He'll get the rebound.
"He yells at me to shoot all the time, which is pretty much all I do anyway. It's not like I'm going to make a great pass to the other four guys."
And Palffy is not alone.
"No. 21 [Bryan Smolinski]," Blake says. "No. 2 [Fran Kaberle]. You look around the room and there are a lot of changes there. For the most part our goalies have been healthy until lately, and we have more depth now. And we are able to deal with injuries better."
And they have a 10-goal, 10-assist defenseman as their captain.
Blake has mixed well with the new cast, but his impact has not been muted by it.
The Kings struggled at Pittsburgh until he leveled Matthew Barnaby midway through the opening period of a 5-4 win. They struggled at Colorado until Blake scored early in the second period of a 6-2 win.
It's an old story, perhaps told best two seasons ago when the Kings made the playoffs and Blake won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman. That, compared with last season's debacle.
The burden is heavy.
"It comes with the job," he says, shrugging. "You are expected to do that. That's all the pressure in the world that I want. You have to want that. You want to be in position to have that. Anybody would.
"And I've felt like I've had it since I came into the league. If you contribute, you win games. That's what I want."
It's what he's got.
The Kings are 10-4-1 when he gets a point.