Kings continue making history

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Kings continue making history

Wednesday marks a day in Los Angeles Kings' history that has never been experienced before--knowing their team can win the Stanley Cup by solidifying just one more win.

On the organization's 45th birthday, the Kings will take the ice, battling to close out a Stanley Cup Final as they face the New Jersey Devils at the Staples Center. Sixty good minutes of hockey can change the team's and league's history forever.

Injuries, a coaching change, contract negotiations, trade rumors, and a lack of offensive ability are just a few circumstances that ailed the Kings throughout the regular season. But under head coach Darryl Sutter, the team found the chemistry that had been buried away as they continue shocking the hockey world.

Los Angeles began making franchise history in their first round against Vancouver when they were up 3-0 in the series, a lead they had never obtained in the playoffs.

Throughout their postseason run, the Kings have gone 10-0 on the road and have only dropped two at home--both Game 4 in the first and third rounds against the Canucks and Coyotes. They're the only eighth seeded team in NHL history to eliminate the first and second seeded teams in their conference.

The only other team in NHL history to defeat the top three conference teams in the postseason is the 2004 Flames, who were also coached under Sutter. I wouldn't call that a coincidence.

As tonight's matchup rolls around, the Kings have the opportunity to continue making history. Their current 15-2 record has only been matched one other time, and with Jonathan Quick in net, anything is possible.

The only other team to win a Game 4 Stanley Cup Final at home is the Anaheim Ducks, who took the honor in 2007. If the Kings were to do the same tonight, they'd tie the Edmonton Oilers' 16-2 playoff run in 1988.

But Los Angeles continues to think about the series one game at a time, rather than getting caught up in statistics.

Mark Buehrle 'floored' White Sox will retire his number

Mark Buehrle 'floored' White Sox will retire his number

GLENDALE, Ariz. — He's a little nervous now that he has a speech to make, but Mark Buehrle is enjoying life and has no regrets about retiring from baseball.

Addressing the media for the first time since his final game on Oct. 4, 2015, Buehrle said Friday he's right where he wants to be — at home with his family. Buehrle determined 3-4 years ago he would retire after his contract expired to spend more time with his wife and kids. The pitcher, who will have his number 56 retired by the White Sox on June 24, said he didn't announce his decision to step away because he hoped to do so with much fanfare.

"I knew I was done, that I didn't have the drive any more," Buehrle said on a conference call. "I think a big part of it was missing the family, they weren't up in Toronto the whole season and I think that just kind of drained on me. The reason I didn't say anything — I didn't want all the attention. I've always told people I was a young guy that came into the big leagues unknown. Kind of snuck into the big leagues and I wanted to kind of sneak my way out. That's why I haven't said anything, I haven't talked to anybody, I just kind of let it go. Hopefully one day it was just kind of got forgotten and five years down the road, ‘Where's that Buehrle guy? Is he still around?'"

Buehrle, who won 161 games and completed 200 innings in 11 straight seasons with the White Sox, has spent the past year-plus on his Missouri farm with his wife, Jamie, and two children, "doing what I've been wanting to do for 20 years," he said. 

While he misses teammates and life in the clubhouse, Buehrle is at peace with his decision to retire after 16 seasons. He discovered when watching games last season that he didn't miss playing as much as he expected.

Buehrle joked that he doesn't want many former teammates to attend the ceremony because it means he'd have to speak in front of a larger audience. He promises to keep his speech brief, similar to the way he pitched. The left-hander even joked that he offered to allow his son to make the speech in his stead.

[RELATED: Ranking the five best games Mark Buehrle pitched with the White Sox]

Even though he's one of the most popular players in club history, Buehrle was surprised last month when the White Sox informed him of their plans. He'll be the 12th player to have his number retired by the White Sox.

"I was blown away and floored by it," Buehrle said. "It's obviously a great honor. It's something you don't really intend to happen or you don't play for that reason. You just go out there and play. I had a long, successful career there in Chicago. I just tried to do everything right and that's how I was kind of raised and how I went about it. Jerry (Reinsdorf) is kind enough to come with this offer about retiring my jersey. I really don't know.

"I've been joking around with friends saying my jersey is going to be up there next to Frank Thomas. I grew up watching this guy. It doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem like it belongs up there next to his.

"I'm going to be up there with all those numbers and it doesn't seem right, like that's where I belong. I just did what I was supposed to do, had fun with it and lived every day like it was my last. Now my number is going to be up there. I haven't really soaked everything in. It just doesn't make sense right now."

Cubs invest in bullpen and sign Pedro Strop to contract extension

Cubs invest in bullpen and sign Pedro Strop to contract extension

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs invested in their bullpen and clubhouse on Friday, finalizing an extension with Pedro Strop before the start of Cactus League games.

The Cubs and Strop's camp kept negotiating after avoiding an arbitration hearing with a $5.5 million settlement for 2017 before camp opened in Arizona.

Strop — one of the National League's best setup guys and most popular players in the clubhouse — will earn $5.85 million in 2018 instead of testing the free-agent market. The Cubs now hold a $6.25 million club option for 2019 (or a $500,000 buyout).