This is Rob Blake’s ninth NHL trade deadline since joining the Los Angeles Kings front office back in 2013.

Those early years were spent approaching the trade deadline as championship team buyers. The last few years, as rebuilding sellers.

Lots to learn from in all those deadlines.

“Well I sure probably enjoyed the first three or four better than the last few,” the Kings GM began with a chuckle Wednesday in an interview with The Athletic.

“It was a different mindset going into those deadlines (2013-16),” Blake added. “At that time we were still holding onto the championships and trying to find the missing piece or whatever could put you over the hump.”

Blake took over as GM from Dean Lombardi in April 2017 and has overseen a methodical rebuild framed around Cup-winning holdovers Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick. Which has meant selling deadlines, which were necessary but hardly enjoyable.

“The past few deadlines, at least three of them here, the main focus was years down the road,” said Blake. “We had some good players, we knew we had to move some pieces out, some UFAs, and different things like that.”

Those days appear over. Whether the Kings end up making the playoffs or not this season, they’re in the thick of the postseason race. They’ve taken a step as an organization this season, playing some very good hockey.