December 21, 2009 9:39 am

Open Forum answers III

As I get ready for the return of practice, here’s the third set of Open Forum questions and answers…

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WWAMD asked: “Will the Kings ever give out game used sticks at the end of the game instead of the generic ones, and did they switch to generic ones because of the Anaheim incident?”

Answer: I believe, although I wouldn’t wager on it, that most teams give out “old” sticks that won’t be used again. Sticks are not a minor expense. It’s one of the reasons why the topic of players paying for their own equipment was (briefly) raised at the last GM meetings. And no, they didn’t switch anything because of the Anaheim thing. They did stop doing it altogether for one game, but then went back to it.

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Quisp asked: “My question: how do you interpret the rule book on this, and am I correct that the league, media and players seem not to understand what’s actually in the rule book?”

Answer: Yeah, this is one that gets really murky and that, frankly, I don’t think the league does a very good job of explaining. What you described in your question is my understanding of the situation, but because it’s not laid out very clearly, every situation seems to devolve into some guessing game. Did he blow the whistle? Did he intend to? Did he signal no-goal or just raise his hands to stop play? Does it matter? Is it reviewable? Too many questions. I think fans, and media, deserve to know right away what is happening, and not have to wait for some explanation a day later.

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Joe Grind asked: “So how much more rope does Purcell have with the coaching staff?”

Answer: Well, we will see what happens when everyone is back and healthy. With Smyth, Stoll and Simmonds out of the lineup, Purcell certainly wasn’t going anywhere. In terms of “rope,” what we’re really talking about here is power-play time. If the Kings can find six or seven forwards who are consistently better options than Purcell, that “rope” will get considerably shorter. But it’s not as though Purcell is in danger of going to the AHL. He would have to clear waivers, and most likely wouldn’t.

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Barrie G: “What, outside of the current injury issues, do you see as the key to them making a deep run in the playoffs? IS there any big “need” (or weakness) in your mind? Oh yeah, right now, being specific with the fare, Carl’s Jr. Big Carl or In N Out Double Double NOT animal style?”

1) Goaltending and special teams. Right now — and in the past two weeks or so — Jonathan Quick looks like a playoff-caliber goalie. On the other hand, he didn’t look that way for the first month of the season or so, and he’s never played an NHL playoff game, so it’s hard to predict how he would react. Maybe great, maybe not so great. On special teams, Detroit is the oddball here, but five of the six teams that had the worst penalty-kill percentage in the playoffs lost in the first round. Six of the worst seven power plays lost in the first round. 2) Clearly the In-N-Out, because I’m not a fan of grilled onions anyway. I think we’re going to need a Burger-off competition soon…

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MIK3Ysfv: “Rich, you are the man. Has DL ordered the minor league affiliates to play the same on-ice system as the Kings so the prospects don’t have to learn a new system upon entering the NHL? And we need more verbal opinions on the evaluation of Kings’ prospects. We get nothing more than raw numbers when trying to learn about the prospects. Any plans on improving the available information to we faithful? Thanks again, Rich.”

Answer: Well, we’re really only talking about one affiliate (Manchester), since I believe Ontario doesn’t have any Kings prospects at the moment. I have asked Dean Lombardi about this, informally, and he said that they do play the same basic system, although it’s not as though Terry Murray’s system is anything exotic or hard to grasp. I’ve already heard coaches from a couple teams (Columbus, Philadelphia) talk about his similar their styles are to the Kings. Well, I’ll do my best to keep up updates on prospects, but it’s not easy. They’re all over the continent, and a guy who is playing great this week might be awful next week, so it’s sort of tough to accurately keep track of them. You can look at guys who made the World Junior tean (Schenn, Kozun, Teubert and Jones) and know that they’re on the right track.

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OSE asked: “Just curious how do J.Johnson and D.Doughty get along inside the locker room and out. Both young players with so much talent.It seems as though most of the attention goes to Doughty with the press anyway. Love Johnsons’ grit Doughtys’ composer. Both have a wicked shot.”

Answer: I’m not really sure how to answer that, other than to say that they seem to get along fine. I don’t see them when they leave the rink, so I don’t know if they’re close friends, per se. I don’t really get that impression, but I could be wrong. I would suggest that most of the attention goes to Doughty because he’s playing a consistently strong game — although he still has hiccups here and there — while Johnson has been more up and down. Both of them do have great offensive potential, indeed.

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Lilcarp: “My question: have any of the articles that you’ve written for the LAKingsInsider been picked up and reprinted by any other news outlets in print or online? If not, is it possible that your employment with the Kings is interpreted as a sign that your coverage might not be unbiased (even though we the readers of this site know better)? Or was that never a goal of the Kings when the idea was proposed? I’d be interested in getting your thoughts on whether you believe this blog is working out the way the Kings were hoping.
2) You share a name with a British TV presenter (from the greatest car show ever) whose nickname is Hamster. Can we start calling you Hamster?”

Answers: 1) Stories/blogs can’t simply be “picked up and reprinted” by other outlets, whether they be newspapers or websites, without permission. The Associated Press is a business, to which media outlets subscribe — (pay money to) — in order to have the right to republish stories. The Kings have the sole right to publish my stories, unless they specifically grant that right to other outlets. I would suggest, although I don’t want to put words in their mouths, that the Kings’ goal is not to become a wire service but to drive traffic to the website and create a “one-stop shopping” place for Kings information. 2) You’re welcome to call me whatever you’d like, and I’m sure I’ve been called worse, but the “-ster” is not really a hockey nickname thing. They’re big on the “-er” and the “-y”/“-i”/“ie” it seems.

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john r. asked: “The call ups from Manchester have filled in rather seamlessly, how are the programs and coaching styles coordinated so that the players fit in so easily. Does someone oversee this coordination, and if so who, and how is it done? Thanks Rich.”

Answer: Sort of touched on this a few answers up, but yes, the styles are relatively similar. Remember also that when a player comes up from Manchester, with the notable recent exception of Corey Elkins, he’s not put into a situation where he’s going to have to play a lot of minutes in key roles. Players such as Moller and Parse started small and, if they progress well, can grow into bigger roles as they get more practice/game time with the Kings.

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Split asked: “Why doesn’t the NHL / Kings do more promotion for the community service that is done? Commercials during prime time showing the players performing community service would peak viewer’s interest in a player and then, ultimately the sport, as well as give promotion for the cause. This would seem to be what NBC should be interested in with the NHL and the Olympics on their network in a few months.”

Answer: I’ve never really thought about this, to be honest. I’m certainly not dismissing it as a quality thing to do, but I think what really is going to get widespread attention for players and teams is simply playing well and winning. There’s certainly a place for “He’s a great guy” story, but what really moves the needle is, “He’s a great player and a winner.”

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Tacks asked: “On the plane to games..do the same players sit with each other…do the coaches ever sit with players? …discuss hockey, discuss their play with them?”

Answer: Just to be upfront about this, as I was in the last open forum, plane trips are not a “reporting time” for me. It’s travel time, and private time, for everyone involved. I’m not trying to dodge your question. It just becomes a slippery slope in terms of “What did you see on the plane?” I understand why that’s fascinating to some, but it’s beyond the scope of my described job. I am, however, planning a story in the near future about what it takes to pull together a road trip, from the staff side of things.

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