We’ll get started with the first set of questions and answers tonight. Thanks for all the good questions so far. Feel free to keep asking…
Matt R asked: Tell me that after seeing the Kings win games two and three that you don’t feel just a little emotionally invested in the team! I know it’s more fun to cover a winning team, but you’ve got to feel something…just a bit? Come on, it’s ok, you can admit it! Just thought I’d try!
Answer: They are good guys, and I’m happy for them if they win, on an individual level, but honestly, if I became a fan of every team I ever covered, I’d be a Dodgers, Lakers, Clippers, Angels, USC, UCLA, Galaxy, Avengers (they don’t even exist anymore) and, that’s right, Ducks fan, not to mention about 200 high schools. I think I’ve said it before on the blog…but maybe I haven’t. You don’t want a “fan” covering your team. Fans get emotionally invested and don’t report objectively. That’s why I would never want to regularly cover a team that I cheer for.
`11 Cup Winners asked: It seems to me that the Canucks pushed the Kings around and the Kings never responded with the type of intensity that they needed to in my eyes. With that being said, I remember Lombardi saying that Murray was the coach to develop a young team but not the coach to win the Cup with; will Murray be on the hot seat next year? Will Frolov be back? Does OD retire? Finally, did you notice the difference between Bernier’s and Quick’s body language on and off the ice? Thanks Rich, you da man!
Answers: 1) Whoa, when did Lombardi say that? You’re going to have to give me a source for that quote before I answer that part of the question, because I don’t remember hearing anything along those lines. But no, I don’t consider him to be on the hot seat. 2) Frolov’s return depends entirely on two things: how much money he’s going to ask for, and what else is out there. If he’s going to ask for $5 million, as had been rumored, then no. 3) No, not by his own choice, I don’t believe. We’ll have to see how much of a market there is for him on July 1. 4) Well, I saw Quick about 70 times and I saw Bernier three times, so that’s not really enough to make judgments on them. Based on what I know of them, Quick probably has more of a fiery, competitive attitude while Bernier is a little more even-keel.
Kevin asked: What happens with Ersberg? Trade? Buyout? Manchester?
Answer: I seriously doubt a buyout. A trade is possible, perhaps, if he’s part of a trade package, but I doubt he would get traded straight-up, even for a draft pick. Honestly, if it looks as though he’s going to Manchester, and he knows it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he just goes back to Europe.
Lv is the way asked: my only question would be for management.. What was behind the choice of not calling up Jonathan Bernier..? And any idea of who they may target via free agency..?
Answer: I’d say management was very clear and consistent, from the start of this season, that Bernier’s path was to stay in Manchester for an entire AHL season, win and thrive. My thoughts on that are, while it might have been better in the short term for Bernier to come up for the playoffs, it also might have been devastating. What would happen if he thrived? Would the Kings win the Stanley Cup? Probably not. Would it destroy Jonathan Quick’s confidence? Probably. And what if Bernier fell on his face in the playoffs? Then you’ve just potentially (mentally) killed both of your goalies. 2) No real idea on names, but I would urge you not to look so much at free agency. Remember that Smyth, Williams, Stoll and Greene — all big acquisitions — came via trade, not free agency. In general, I’d say they’re looking at a top winger and a top-four defenseman.
fuzzerson asked: So do the kings want to sign Frolov or let him go? 3 Years 3.5, no more.
Answer: Well, if you’re the Kings, and that’s the number you’re holding to, I’d be surprised if you see him in your uniform next season. Remember, as with Kovalchuk, the KHL looms.
cry Baby asked: Where do you feel the Kings went wrong in the playoffs? I too feel the team lacked team toughness physical/mental areas. How might that be addressed in the off season?
Answer: With all respect to question, I have to laugh a little when it’s suggested that hockey players lack “toughness.” I’m not sure how anyone could watch a hockey game, or even a practice, up close and question the toughness of any player. What I think you’re trying to say, and if you are, I’d agree with you, is that the Kings often are not assertive enough. The toughness is there, but you have to bring it out of yourself from the opening faceoff, and I think that’s where the Kings often went wrong this season, not only in the playoffs. But especially in the playoffs, you have to be the team that comes out, in the first five minutes, and says, “This is our game, and we’re going to dictate it.” Too often — and Terry Murray acknowledged this at different times — the Kings were the team that sat back and waited to see how things were going to go. To me, that’s a mental thing, not a physical team. If you saw the first period of Game 6, that was a Kings team that was flying all over the ice, hitting and shooting and skating. By the third period, they sort of stopped and watched. Regardless of whether it’s the players’ or coaches’ responsibility — or both — that needs to change. Some players in the system — an intense guy like Clifford comes to mind — might be able to help address that.
Sebastian asked: Rich, who’s your team for this summer’s World Cup in South Africa?
Answer: Who am I cheering for, or who do I think will win? I’ll pull for the United States, but I’m thinking Spain might have the discipline to pull it off.
Brian asked: I was wondering what happened to Drewiskie this year. He looked very good towards the end of last year and until his injury this year. With Jones and then Harrold (who was rusty because Murray stubbornly refused to sit Jones during the season) being huge liabilities in the playoffs, it would have been nice to have Drewiskie on top of his game. Was it a confidence or health issue with Drewiskie?
Answer: In the eyes of the coaching staff, it was a confidence issue. They liked Drewiske’s potential, but they believe that for a player his size (6-foot-2, 222 pounds), he plays too much of a passive, reactive style, rather than really getting after guys with a physical game. Terry Murray theorized this season that because Drewiske played his college hockey (at Wisconsin) on a rink that was bigger than NHL size, perhaps he adjusted to playing more of a “contain” game on defense. I don’t know if that’s a good reason or not, but it’s interesting.
Donald_S asked: It would be interesting to see a calendar of upcoming events for the summer, i.e. exit interviews, free agency signing period, awards, start of camps, etc., so we know what to look forward to.
Answer: They haven’t set a date for exit interviews yet, but there is media availability for players and coaches tomorrow. I’m not sure if those are exit interviews or just a “clean out the locker” day. After that, the NHL awards will be handed out June 23, the draft is June 25-26 at Staples Center, the free-agent signing period starts on July 1 and teams will typically start opening training camp around 10-12 days into September.
Kings562 asked: I had an opportunity to meet Rich outside of Staples just before the end of the regular season. He is a very genuine and sincere person. Very friendly and happy to answer a couple of questions for me. I appreciate the time you took to speak with me. I look forward to seeing and speaking to you again in the future. At the risk of sounding redundant, I appreciate all you do with the blog. Very informative. I appreciate your neutrality and objectiveness. Have a Great off season. Have you heard anything about Hockey Fest dates?
Answer: Thanks very much! I really appreciate your kind words. I haven’t heard any dates for Hockey Fest this year, but I believe they’re happy with the approximate time it was last year (late August) so I would presume it will be around that time again, a couple weeks before the start of training camp.
Jason asked: 1. What are the chances of Bernier & Quick rotating next year or do you think it will be like in San Jose a few years back when they had Nabakov, Kippursoff, & Toskala. They traded away their second best goalie & kept their third as a back-up — So who’s most likely to be moved Quick/Bernier or Ersberg? 2. Do you foresee the Kings signing both Doughty & Johnson to long term deals?
Answers: 1) If by “rotating,” you mean a 50-50 split of games, then no, I don’t see that. I could see Bernier coming in and playing 20 games next season, somewhere in that neighborhood. As for the San Jose comparisons, I understand the anxiety, on the part of some, to have this goalie situation resolved, but again, it’s just…too…soon. If you want to make the comparison, Ersberg certainly isn’t the goalie I would put in that “Toskala” spot. It would be Zatkoff, who hasn’t even been in an NHL game. At the time San Jose traded Kiprsusoff, Nabokov had played 199 NHL games over four seasons. Kiprusoff had played 47 games over three seasons. They were 28 and 27 years old. For the Kings right now, Quick has played 119 games over two seasons and Bernier has played seven games over two seasons. They’re 24 and 21 years old. If Dean Lombardi is going to be patient with this, the way he’s been patient with everything else, it’s way too soon. Things could, and should, be a lot clearer 12 months from now. 2) Doughty, yes. Johnson, I’m not certain. Of the two, I think it’s far more likely that Johnson might want to test the market.