Where will Kings look for defensive heart?
The irony of Chuck Hayes' departure from the Kings is that a heart problem reportedly is the cause. And if ever there was a guy who plays basketball with heart, it's Hayes, who is highly valued because of his defensive prowess.
Most who play, coach or follow the game agree that although technique, certain physical features and stamina are key elements in an effective defender, desire, mental toughness and tenacity those things that add up to what we recognize in athletes as "heart" are equally important.
Hayes' failed physical, leading to his contract being voided Monday, hit Kings basketball president Geoff Petrie hard. One surmises Petrie's deepest concern is for Hayes' well-being.
But Petrie also knows the value of having a dogged defender in the starting lineup, one who can help change a team's character and, by example and force of will, help turn a soft team hard.
Many great teams had hard-core defenders. Think championship runs by the New York Knicks (yes, long ago), Detroit Pistons, Chicago Bulls, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers. Even the fine Kings teams of the late 1990s-early 2000s had an elite defender in Doug Christie.
Petrie was looking to Hayes to stiffen the defensive spine of his young team, giving it character on which to build perhaps something special.
Who steps up for the team now? Who will show some heart?
What to watch
NHL, Tampa Bay at Sharks, 7:30 p.m., CSNCA: It's the third game of the Sharks' six-game homestand.
Among the Kings players expected to get the most playing time, who is the best defender?
Vote above or leave your comments in the comments section; or go to www.sacbee.com/sports
Tuesday's poll results
Should the Kings retire Peja Stojakovic's No. 16 jersey?
Total votes: 437
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