Dustin Penner was living the life, playing on a line with his running mates Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and their future looked incredibly bright with the Ducks.
How many Stanley Cups would the kids win together? One, two … three?
Penner, Getzlaf and Perry combined to help win a Cup in 2007. And now Penner is poised to win one without them as the Kings hold a three-games-to-two lead in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final against the New Jersey Devils. Game 6 was played Monday night at Staples Center.
After the Ducks won the Cup, Penner signed a five-year, $21.25-million offer sheet with the Edmonton Oilers in the off-season. He was traded from Edmonton to the Kings in February 2011.
Penner scored the series-clinching goal for the Kings against the Coyotes in the Western Conference final and one of the congratulatory text messages was from none other than Getzlaf.
Five years ago, Penner didn't have to deal with questions about not closing out an opponent in an elimination game after the first couple of attempts. In 2007, the Ducks beat Ottawa in five games, winning the Stanley Cup on home ice in Anaheim on the first crack.
Over and done.
The Kings have had two shots at it and lost tight games on both occasions to the Devils, in Game 4 and Game 5. If required, Game 7 would be in Newark, N.J., on Wednesday.
Penner was asked whether the cushion of a Game 7 was in the back of his mind.
"That's way, way back there," he said after the morning skate.
A lot of the questions in the morning were about what the Kings had learned from Game 4. Some of them admitted to being nervous and distracted about a possible looming celebration.
"We're a little more relaxed in here, and I hope that turns into more focus and more preparation in getting yourself ready to go," said captain Dustin Brown, who has one assist in the first five games of the Final. "We need a good start.
"There's a lot excitement in the situation being what it is. But for me personally, I'm much more calm today, not thinking about as many things. And I would say that's probably the same for most guys."
Kings center Jarret Stoll played in a Game 7 for the Stanley Cup in 2006, when he was with Edmonton. The Carolina Hurricanes, playing at home, beat the Oilers, 3-1.
Stoll talked about the mind-set going into an elimination game.
"It changes a little bit," he said. "There are certain thoughts, what you think about, what you don't think about. You've just got to come to the rink and worry about playing the game, not worry about anything else outside of the dressing room, outside of the rink."