Drew Doughty never hesitates to say what the rest of the Los Angeles Kings are thinking, and the star defenseman's mind was already on a third Stanley Cup title while his teammates celebrated their second on the ice behind him.
"Next year, we're going to want to win it again," Doughty said Friday night after the Kings' double-overtime, Cup-winning victory over the New York Rangers.
With two NHL championships in three years, the Kings are building a hockey dynasty in an unlikely place. Hollywood's team is hardly the most glamorous in the league, but the Kings' commitment to hard work, team defense and playoff excellence puts them in position to contend for years to come.
Los Angeles' core is mostly in its prime, a balanced collection of gritty veterans and promising young talent. The Kings have only three unrestricted free agents, including late-season acquisition Marian Gaborik.
What's more, they've built a culture of winning that got them through a grueling 26-game postseason run that included a 3-0 deficit against the Sharks in the first round, three consecutive seven-game series in the Western Conference playoffs, and three overtime games in the Cup finals.
The Kings are eager to do it all again when training camp opens in three months -- after an appropriate celebration, of course. They'll have a parade through downtown Los Angeles on Monday.
"We've got a special group here," goalie Jonathan Quick said. "We just finished four incredible difficult and exhausting rounds. These were probably the most tiring two months of hockey I've ever played. So we have a special group to be able to overcome everything we've been challenged with, and we just want to party now."
Indeed, the frequently humorless Quick broke out some sweet dance moves in the Kings' dressing room while they partied with the Cup on Friday night. After captain Dustin Brown carried the Stanley Cup into the room, coach Darryl Sutter took a long drink from the bowl while bubbly and beer sprayed all around him.
The Kings have an enviable leadership tandem in general manager Dean Lombardi and Sutter, two hockey lifers who finally claimed the ultimate prize in the back half of their careers -- and then did it again.
When Lombardi gets back to work, he'll likely make only small tweaks to his championship roster. Of the 24 players on the Kings' 2012 championship roster, 17 are still with the organization, and they've all bought into the Kings' wildly successful style.
Veteran defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell are unrestricted free agents, and Dwight King is a restricted free agent. The biggest question mark is Gaborik, who led the NHL postseason with 14 goals after arriving from Columbus in March.
The 32-year-old Slovak wing likely could command a hefty new contract. But after 13 seasons under the microscope in Minnesota, New York and Columbus, Gaborik seemed grateful to take a complementary role with the Kings.
The Kings also must evaluate center Mike Richards, whose offensive production has declined alarmingly from his earlier totals. While Sutter praises him as a key role player, Richards is making a lot of money for a glue guy -- an average of $5.75 million over the next six seasons.
The Kings won't lack rivals for their crown next season. Pacific Division champion Anaheim and perennial contender San Jose are poised to be good again. Dallas and Minnesota have made significant strides, and St. Louis can be a force.
But the Kings' biggest rival for the next few years is likely to be the Blackhawks. The Kings ousted the defending champions in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals on Alec Martinez's overtime goal.
"During the Olympics, I always thought, 'How are we going to beat Chicago?' " Sutter said. "Dean got Gaborik. We were able to put some kids in, go from there."
Canadiens: Coach Michel Therrien signed a four-year contract extension. Therrien has one year remaining on his contract before the extension starts.