Here’s the fifth set of the Open Forum questions and answers…
Questions: 1) Is Trevor Lewis still injured? 2) If God forbid Ryan Smyth is hurt, do they call someone up? If so, who do you think it would be? Clune? Moller? 3) Whatever happened to the Gretzky to LA deal? 4) How about the emergence of Brad Richardson? OK ok, I know he hasn’t put any points up, but he’s hustling on the PK and is playing very well when paired with Simmonds and even when he’s with Peter Harrold? Do you think Hextall still doesn’t feel like B-Rich is a good fit for this team or is that feeling long gone? 5) Before Ersberg’s win in Carolina, had he lost, do you believe that Jonathan Bernier would’ve gotten the call-up? If not, when do you think the Kings will see Bernier dressed in purple and silver?
Answers: 1) Yes, thanks to an astute reader, I’m aware that Lewis has been out with an injury for a couple games. I’m not yet aware of the extent. 2) I exchanged texts with Lombardi today and he said “not yet.” He happens to be on one of his fact-finding missions to Manchester right now. 3) Well, there was no “deal.” Lombardi basically said he would be interested in bringing Gretzky into the organization. Gretzky basically said, “Thanks for the offer.” That’s as far as it has gone. 4) Yeah, I’m with you on Richardson. He’s working hard. Hard work, by itself, isn’t enough to play in the NHL, but he seems to have found a niche there that he couldn’t find last season. 5) Remember, and this is tied to a previous question, you just can’t shuttle these goalies around. Ersberg is not waiver-exempt, so the Kings would have to be OK with the idea of losing him if they tried to send him down. Quick is playing well enough — not great, but well enough — that the Kings don’t yet need to wobble from their plan.
Question: Whats going on with Hickey down in Manchester? Is he still “trying too hard”? Or is there an injury? Also, how do Murray & the other big shots feel about some of our player’s chances of being on their respective Olympic teams?
Answer: Looks like Hickey might be having more problems, as he has been a healthy scratch a couple more times. This is a rough week for the Monarchs, schedule-wise, so when things calm down with them I will definitely talk to Mark Morris. As for the Olympics, Terry Murray talked last week about the great motivation they provide for players who are being considered, but I think he’s far more concerned about the Kings’ roster than who might be playing for Canada, etc. Lombardi is one of Brian Burke’s deputies for Team USA, so he’s not going to be saying anything publicly until Jan. 1.
Question: Rich, Quick is obviously not having as good a year as he did last year. His stats are pretty average at best, except for the W column, which can be attributed to the Kings scoring. What is keeping DL from calling up Bernier? Bernier is having a great start, and his confidence must be sky high right now. Can’t the Kings demote Ersberg and let Quick and Bernier battle for the number one spot? If the back up is playing 40% of the games, it’s not like he’s wasting his time rotting on the bench. What do you think?
Question: Again, the Kings just can’t “demote” Ersberg without the risk of losing him. Plus, by this point you’ve probably seen plenty examples of Lombardi’s “slow grow” approach to prospects. He could have brought up on the young defensemen as a 6/7 defenseman, but he thought it was better for them to play full time in Manchester. Now, you might look at both of those scenarios and say, “I don’t care if the Kings lose Ersberg of if Bernier plays 25 games instead of 60 games this season,” but Lombardi cares. As long as goaltending doesn’t start costing the Kings a significant number of games, I’d agree. What happens if Bernier comes up and falters? Then you burn his confidence and you’re still in goalie trouble. If it’s clear that goalie play is the thing keeping the Kings from the playoffs, then re-evaluate, quickly. (no pun intended)
Question: With Smyth out, do you think that Simmonds will get a shot at the top line again? Even thought Smyth is a left winger, that is. If not, how do you think the top line will look if Smyth continues to have problems?
Answer: I predict Frolov will play there! OK, I cheated. If that doesn’t work, well, then the Kings will have big problems, both with Frolov and on the first line. Maybe Scott Parse?
Question: Is everything going okay for Brownie’s child that was born premature? I don’t remember reading any followups last year after about a month or so…
Answer: I asked him about his son on the first day of training camp, and Brown said everything was good. I can’t remember if I wrote that on the old blog or not, but everything seems to be going well for the family.
Question: It would be interesting to find out what the players do when they get in so late and have a day off. Do they go home and sleep 12 hours like I would. Do they take a cat nap, get up and play with the kiddies and go to the gym. How long does it take them to recover from such a long road trip and get ready to play on Wednesday. Now that you have lived it, maybe you can shed some light.
Answer: Well, I’m sure everyone handles it differently. This one is about as tough as it gets, because of the long flight from Florida. Granted, I don’t play, so I can’t even begin to compare myself to the players, but I know that I got up around 9 and then was completely exhausted in the afternoon. Don’t forget about the support staff also. The team trainers and equipment guys never get a day off, because they have to be ready to go for tomorrow. They have it very tough.
Question: My question is what is the ratio of things you know to things you can report. What I mean is do you limit yourself to write only about the things you learn about during your “alloted time” to ask questions? Or if you hear about a mysterious lower body injury, do you know that the guy just sprained an ankle but have to report the “mysterious lower body injury”. I would be interested to hear how that works exactly and if the things you decide to report on are dictated by your own standards or by lakings etc.
Answer: It’s tough to put a ratio on it. It doesn’t really have anything to do with my new job. People tell you things in confidence and you don’t report them. It happens a lot, and it happened just as much with the paper as it did in this new job. The injuries thing is tricky, because there might only be three people who know, for certain, what the injury is: the player, the trainer and the coach. The trainer doesn’t talk, and the player and coach play the lower-body, upper-body game. If I see a guy get hit with a shot on his ankle, and he leaves the game, it’s not a mystery to say his ankle is hurt. But if it’s just a guy limping, it could be any number of things. Very rarely do I get “off the record” info about injuries. Those are well-kept secrets.
Questions: 1-Is Zatkoff more likely to get the call before Bernier since he has proven he can be sharp playing once a week? 2-Is the team gaining confidence in that they are winning, albeit only tweo games with Smyth and Scuderi being injured? 3-Randy Jones had to be good to get his Philly contract and bad to get waived. He seems to be a steal. Has he fit in as seemless as it seems?
Answers: 1) Well, I don’t see the Kings calling up a young goalie to fit in that scenario, not as a backup who is going to play once every 10 games. That was the idea of having Ersberg, to prevent those young guys from having to fill that role, and I don’t think that will change. But your theory is a good one, and it’s one of the reasons Murray cited in having Ersberg around, that ability to fill in after a long break. 2) Well, it’s only been one period without Smyth, but it was a pretty good period for the Kings. I think winning, regardless of who is in the lineup, builds confidence. 3) Well, there would probably be people who take issue with both of those statements, that he was worth the salary he got and that he got waived because he was bad. But he seems prepared to give the Kings what they’ve been looking for since the start of training camp: a left-shot defenseman who can move the puck and has a few years of experience. For the price, it’s hard to argue that it was a bad move.
Question: Has there been thought to create a LA Kings Insider app? By loading it, one can get constant updates from your blog via our cell phones. That’s especially handy when a computer isn’t available and when one is traveling or not at desk or home.. Should you go this route, I believe the Kings and you would be ahead of the game by pushing technology to update your readers and the faithful. Just an idea. Thoughts?
Answer: Everything you’re saying makes sense to me, but I’m so far removed from being an IT guy that I think the best thing for me to do is forward your question/request to the AEG tech folks and see what they can do. It sounds like a great idea to me.
Questions: I don’t know if anyone has posted this yet, but was the fight last night between Simmonds and McCardle the first fight in the NHL between two black players? I have never seen that before. Also, did you notice Bob Miller get a little choked up the other night when congratulating Luc on his entrance in the hall of fame? I love Bob Miller.
Answers: 1) Interesting question! If you took the time to go back through the hockeyfights.com website, you would probably get your answer. 2) Being in the press box, I don’t get to hear Bob and Jim’s call, but that’s a nice gesture by Bob. Bob got to wear his Hall of Fame jacket this week as well!