Sunday, June 1, 2008
Lubomir Visnovsky played in all 82 games this season tallying 8 goals and 33 assists for 41 points. He ended at a -18 and had 34 PIM (although I'm going to count that as 24 since he received that errant 10-misconduct at the end of the season against the Ducks). Lubo definitely had an off year evidenced by the fact that in the 06-07 season he ended with 58 points and at a +1.
(AP)Rob Blake in 5-on-5 play and was the point man on the 1st PP unit. I can't really remember who he was paired with for part of the middle of the season (can someone help me out here?), but by the end he was helping Peter Harrold on the blueline. During the time when the Kings were realistically still in contention of making the post-season, my trust in Lubo fell off. I couldn't trust him to make that pass out; I just wasn't feeling it. But as the season continued, I realized that it wasn't 100% his fault so my not trusting him with the puck really wasn't justified. At the end of the season, I was glad for his presence on the blueline because the roster had definitely thinned out by then.
I thought that his being a puck-moving defenseman was relied on a little too much because there were times when everyone had already left the zone waiting for his pass out. But this lack of support proved to be the killer when an opposing player would put pressure on him and strip him of the puck leaving the Kings goaltender (whoever it was at that time) to face a breakaway. But you could argue that if he was a great player, he'd be able to make that pass without a problem. Yet, on the other hand, what does it say when the opposing player has enough confidence to apply that kind of forechecking pressure on Lubo.
It was no secret that he was putting a lot of pressure on himself to perform and one could argue that his contract extension was weighing heavily on him as well. I could also point out that no one really earned their paycheck this year except for Alexander Frolov, Dustin Brown, and those still on their entry-level contracts.
After the NHL regular season ended, he traveled up to Halifax/Quebec City for the 2008 World Championships and joined the Slovakian team. While he was there he faced only one Kings teammate, Anze Kopitar (Slovenia). In the end, Lubo helped Slovakia escape Relegation, and he ended the tournament playing 5 games getting 2 goals, 7 assists, and +5.
Next season he will be starting his new 5-year contract, which is front-loaded with $7 million coming in the first year. This will be more than anyone was making this past season. There is really no other option than for him to put this last season behind him and get back on the ball.