Rob Blake was frustrated after the top-seeded San Jose Sharks were upset by the Ducks in the first round of the playoffs last spring. The way he and his teammates are handling it suggests they're ready to shed the tag of being postseason flops.
"The anger part is going to be there, but this falls directly on our shoulders," the veteran defenseman said Monday before the Sharks flew to Los Angeles to face the Kings tonight at Staples Center.
"It's not often you play on a Presidents' trophy team. You think you're going to have a good run in the playoffs after you have that type of regular season. You don't get those kinds of chances all the time.
"We talked during camp how we have to turn the page. There's always going to be talk that we can't win, but we put ourselves in that position so we'd better be able to accept it. We had quite a lot of turnover -- seven or eight guys are gone -- and the ones that are still here are fortunate we have a chance to turn that around this season."
Blake stayed, signing a one-year contract in June. Patrick Marleau stayed but was stripped of the captaincy, which was given to Blake. Blake wore the "C" twice as a King -- the first time from 1996-97 until his plan to test free agency led the Kings to trade him to Colorado in February 2001. He returned to the Kings in 2006 and was appointed their captain again for the 2007-08 season, a term that ended when he signed with the Sharks as a free agent.
"The captaincy rules have changed a lot since I've been in the league," said Blake, who will be 40 in December. "It used to be that the captain was the only player who would go in and talk to the coach. Now, there are more leadership groups that include young guys because those young guys are so important."
Though many Kings fans remain bitter over his two departures from L.A. and boo him at Staples Center, he admires the Kings' young players and the strategy put in place by General Manager Dean Lombardi.
"I really like what they've done and the way they've done things," Blake said. "I've been in L.A. most of my career and I've seen teams go this way and then someone comes up with another plan and they go a different direction. They've finally allowed Dean to continue with a plan. . . .
"They have a very solid lineup and they've been built the right way, around a young nucleus."