To the surprise of no one, it was announced that Los Angeles Kings goalie Cal Petersen cleared waiver Thursday morning and was assigned to the Ontario Reign.
The decision to send Petersen down came after the King's 9-8 loss to the Seattle Kraken, but the organization still has faith that Petersen will bounce back.
"We can get him (Petersen) into a situation where we can get him playing games, we believe he is a good goalie, and we believe he's going to come back here and help us," said general manager Rob Blake.
When discussing his conversation with Petersen on Wednesday Blake said:
"We believe you're going to be here with us moving forward, but we need to find a way to get you back to the way you're capable of and the way we feel you're capable of."
On sending Petersen down McLellan added:
"It's never good when that happens to an individual. It's not good for the individual and it's not good for the team. It's obviously a sign or signal of performance and one guy bares the brunt of it and he plays a big part of it. But we're all responsible for goals against average and save percentage and we haven't done sufficient enough job of protecting our goaltenders and helping them out. You can't play perfect and they have to make a big save every now and then but we can still do a better job of insulating them."
McLellan also added that they still have faith in Petersen. And, even though this decision wasn't made to send a message, it should send one.
"The individual is the most important thing right now and that's Cal Petersen," said McLellan. "He's a tremendous goaltender and an unreal human being and we care about him. And when I see we that's everybody, the training staff, the coaches, people in this room that work for this team and media members. We care about him and we want him back and he's going to get an opportunity to work on his game there (the AHL). He'll get lots of help, he'll get many reps and I wouldn't be surprised to see him back here and playing real sharp. Can it send a message to the team? It damn well should, because we share in that transaction."
Blake did mention the team is aware of the discrepancy between expected goals against and actual goals against. An issue caused mostly by the goalies. But, he did admit team defense hasn't been good enough and needs to improve.
Blake added that he doesn't see a trade as the best way to fix these issues.
"I don't think we're just going to trade just to do something. We're constantly looking at different solutions to go back to that consistency level, we've got to find that," said Blake.
When asked directly about trading for a goalie Blake added:
"I don't know."
It's hard to imagine the King's front office isn't at least entertaining the option of trading for a goalie. The tandem of Jonathan Quick and Petersen has been one of the worst in the league this season. And 25 games in, it could be catastrophic to wait much longer for a move. Maybe sending Petersen down is the kick in the backside this team needs to clean up their game, but if not, they're in big trouble. And they aren't in a position to wait until game 41 to make a move.
The King's can't afford to dig themselves into a big hole early in the season and persisting with sub-standard goaltending will dig that hole.
The addition of Tobias Bjornfot back into the lineup, giving the Kings three left-shot and three right-shot defensemen, might help. But it's hard to imagine Bjornfot solves all of their problems.
If it doesn't, Blake and the front office have to get aggressive. The answers don't appear to be within the organization right now, especially in goal.