November 18, 2009 9:28 am

Open forum answers VI

Before I head to the morning skate, here’s the sixth set of questions and answers.

By the way, I had a quick exchange with Dean Lombardi yesterday, asking him if anyone was coming up from Manchester. He said “not yet,” but noted that he’s there now to watch this next set of Monarchs games. Think there might be a couple guys there eager to make an impression on the GM?

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Question: Hockey players are know to be the most fan friendly of all the sports & the Kings certainly are about autographs & such. Have you noticed if they are the same on the road? Do they sign autographs at the hotel or the arena? Do fans even come out much to the hotel to seek their autographs? Thanks.

Answer: Yes, they’re very much the same on the road. In every city, there are at least a handful of people — either Kings fans or autograph seekers — outside the hotel, and players stop for autographs and photos before they get on the bus.

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Question: Do you believe Dean thinks we can win a cup with Terry Murray behind the bench? I love what TM has done with this team in the matter of reducing shots against and demanding defensive responsibility, but the anemic offense is certainly frustrating at times. TM has made great strides with this team, but do you see another coaching change before we can make a serious run at the cup?

Answer: Not to get away from the thrust of your question, but the “anemic” offense you speak of has generated 69 goals, third-most in the NHL. I certainly don’t think Lombardi is thinking about replacing Murray any time soon. Murray has led a team to the Stanley Cup Finals in his career, so he knows what that looks like. I know what you’re getting at, in terms of hiring a coach to “put a team over the top,” but that’s a difficult thing to predict, and it would have to come with some type of evidence that such a change is needed.

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Question: Ted Purcell, Alexander Frolov, Erik Ersberg, Davis Drewiske Rich, in your opinion… can you rank the players listed from least likely to finish the season with the Kings to most likely to finish the season with the Kings?

Answer: It’s just my opinion, but I would go: Purcell, Ersberg, Frolov, Drewiske at this moment.

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Questions: 1) Have you noticed any change in how the coaches/players have responded to you since you started covering the team full time? Is there more of a trust factor or willingness to be more open with you as time has gone along? 2) When you mention in your blog that TM or players met with the “media” after practice/games, just curious, whom does the “media” usually consist of, more specifically, from local coverage.

Anwers: 1) That’s a difficult thing to measure, and it probably varies from player to player, but in general I do think it’s to a reporter’s advantage to be around as much as possible. You see more, you hear more, and I think — again, in general — players respect you more when they see you putting that work in every day. I don’t think too much about it. Players have always treated me well, and I don’t notice a huge difference in that area. 2) It varies. At home games, Helene Elliott of the Times is typically the only local newspaper reporter, and there are a handful of bloggers/web reporters who regularly cover the team. At home practices, it’s typically myself, Helene or one of her colleagues, one or two of the broadcasters (usually Jim and/or Daryl) and a couple bloggers/web reporters. On the road, it’s myself and, almost always, the four broadcasters.

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Questions: 1) Who tends to sit next to who on plane trips? 2) What was the funniest off-ice player moment on the recent road trip? 3) I know it probably varies by goalie, but do players tend to talk much to Quick (or Easy E) between periods if they’re starting or do they just let them be 4) I feel that this year Brownie has a ton of hits but the number of “oh-no-you-didun’t” hits seems to have dropped. Is this a function of Brownie picking his spots more and not going for the big hit that gets him out of position?

Answers: 1) To be honest, I haven’t even looked, but I’ll use this occasion to say that the plane is strictly a non-reporting area. It’s the one thing I made clear, upfront, with the players. It’s their personal time, and it’s travel time, and it’s out of my respect for their privacy. 2) Well, it wasn’t off ice. It was practice time…Mark Hardy breaking his stick on the ice, going to retrieve a new one, apparently tripping and breaking the new stick, and then — in mock rage — slamming the stick against the boards several times before returning to the locker room for yet another stick. 3) Wow, having never been in the locker room during games, I really have no idea. I don’t think they would ignore them, per se. 4) Perhaps, and perhaps it’s an awareness from the other player as well. Plus, big hits look good on video, but, as you note, they’re not always the most effective play.

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Questions: 1) Although the Kings are winning right now, the PK and defensive side of the game has really slipped. Some of this could be due to a less than stellar season for Quick (so far at least) but do you sense Murray may try to re-focus the group on defense like he did last year, maybe at the expense of some of the newfound offense ? Even if the Kings don’t lose another game for the rest of the season, they will not get very far in the playoffs unless they pick up their defensive game again. 2) How is Ersberg handling the back-up situation so far ? 3) Any idea why Jim and/or Bob do not get picked for national Versus broadcasts ? 4) When you are on television, does Jim prep you for the questions he will ask or does he just throw them out there live to get a “real” reaction from you ? Are you feeling more comfortable on TV ?

Answers: 1) I agree that defense — and particularly penalty killing — is huge in the playoffs. Just from my amateur viewing, I don’t notice any more or less attention paid to special teams in practice. There are still drills, and a lot of video work. I would say that goalie play is a big part of it, but if you look at the numbers since those first few dreadful games, they haven’t been terrible. Not as good as last season, but not terrible. 2) Well, no goalie is going to be thrilled with it, but he’s been a pretty consistent guy. Says the right things, talks about taking advantage of opportunities. He hasn’t made it an issue, which is a relief for a coach. 3) I really don’t know how that works. I know Jim has done quite a bit of work for NHL Radio during the playoffs in recent years. 4) There’s not a “rehearsal,” but we will sit down and talk about which topics we want to discuss. Neither of us knows exactly what the other will say, but we know the parameters of the conversation. I do think I’m feeling more comfortable? It’s hard to not think too much. You want to say the correct things, but you’re also thinking, “Am I looking at the right thing?” “Am I talking too long?” That sort of thing. Jim has been a great guide.

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Questions: I’m curious about the strategy of the shootout. When it first came about, the visiting team went first. Now the home team gets to choose whether to go first or second, and in almost every instance it chooses to go first. On the surface, it seems like it would be an advantage to go second, kind of like in baseball where the home team gets the last at bat. Why do teams choose to shoot first? 2.Any chance the Kings redo their home or 3rd jersey to predominately purple? We’re the only team with purple in the color scheme, and so many teams have black. I still don’t like the current 3rd jersey.

Answers: 1) I would say it’s mostly about putting pressure on the other team. You want to put that first goal on the board and make the other team feel as though it’s in the hole right away. Of course, your skater has to score! It didn’t work out for Florida or Tampa. 2) I really don’t think you’re going to see another uniform for a while. The regular home uniform has quite a bit of purple in it, so I don’t know how much they would really add. I like the style of the black jersey, but I still don’t like the logo.

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Questions: 1.) Have you considered taking pictures of your new adventures in hockey? I realize certain things would be off-limits, but some behind the scenes snapshots may enrich the site. 2.) Have the Kings talked to you about possibly reporting on any Kings players that may play in the Olympics? 3.) Do you still sit with other reporters during games or is that area now off-limits? 4.) How has your perception of the team changed now that you travel with the players and coaches?

Answers: 1) What types of pictures would you be interested in? I’ve thought about doing stuff at practice, and that’s still a good possibility, but if you’re talking about pictures on the plane or at the hotel, that sort of thing, to me that’s crossing a privacy line that I’m really not interested in doing. There is one picture I want to get, and Marshall Dickerson, the Kings’ team-travel guru, said I should take it next time. The picture of the goalies, in full uniform, wedged into their seats on the bus. It doesn’t happen very often — only once so far — but it’s hysterical. 2) That will definitely happen, in some form. Not sure exactly how, but there will absolutely be full coverage of the players who are playing in the Olympics. 3) All reporters are in the press box, myself included. Since there are no other traveling reporters, it’s hard for me to determine whether I’m getting exactly the same seating as I would with a newspaper, but I’m still on “press row.” At Staples, I sit one seat to the right from where I previously sat. 4) Not sure exactly what you mean by perception. In what area? One thing that jumps to mind is just how long the season can be. At the end of a road trip, I’m tired, and I haven’t been on the ice for two seconds, so it gives me a greater appreciation of the way that players have to take care of themselves in order to make it through a season.

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Question: I read an interview with Voynov on Hockeys Future and it seems like mentally he is more than ready to make the jump to the NHL. Could you get some insight from TM where Voynov and Hickey sit respectively on the prospect depth chart. Right now it seems Slava is way ahead of Hickey in terms of development and NHL readiness.

Answer: That would definitely be a question for Lombardi, not Murray, and it’s a good question. Based on what we’re seeing from a couple thousand miles away, I’d have to agree with your assessment about Voynov being closer to the NHL right now.

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Question: Traveling with the teams a couple times now, do they make you room up with another kings staffer like the team does or do you get your own room? If so who is it?

Answer: I have my own room in the hotels.

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Question: http://www.mydamnchannel.com/RAMP/RAMP/30SecondsToMarsKingsandQueensRideThroughLA_3314.aspx So, aside from the fact that the song is called Kings And Queens, don’t you think this brand spankin’ new 30 Seconds To Mars video could be cut up and edited to be a fantastic intro at Staples. Much better than that punk version of When The Saints Go Marching In, with different words (This Is LA)… god that sucks!

Answer: It’s like you’re in the music industry or something! I’m not a big fan of the L.A. song either. It’s catchy but there’s not much to it. I’m good with Stompin’ Tom Connors and The Hockey Song. You should have heard the volume in Atlanta. I truly almost had to walk out of the press box during warmups to avoid the noise, and I’m not old!

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