We’ll kick off the Open Forum feedback with the first set of questions and answers. Many more to come…
Marc Nathan asked: obviously a disappointment, but last year, I flew to Manchester to catch later rounds of the AHL post-season, and had the pleasure of spending time chatting with Ron Hextall, Terry Murray and other Kings personnel. So, how do you feel the organization looks upon not being able to see Schenn, Voynov, Muzzin, Holloway, Hickey et al in further post-season games? I know it certainly helped Muzzin’s case last season to make the opening night roster having had so many organizational eyes upon him in the playoffs. Thoughts?
Answer: Definitely agree, for the reason you mentioned and also for another reason. It’s an obvious reason, but an important one. The Kings like those prospects to experience the intensity of the playoffs. Of course, the Calder Cup playoffs are a whole different animal than the Stanley Cup playoffs, but they still hold value. I think about the ability of a kid such as Tyler Toffoli to be able to experience pro-hockey playoffs for the first time, and just get a look and feel for what it’s about. Players like Trevor Lewis and Alec Martinez didn’t look out of place in the series against San Jose. You have to believe that, at least in part, they gained something from their AHL playoff experience last season. And that goes hand-in-hand with what you’re talking about. Front-office folks get to see how young players perform under more pressure, and that’s a good evaluation tool.
Robert Beck asked: Will the NHL FINALLY drop the rule that gives a point to the losing team in O.T.??
Answer: I go back and forth on this. It’s not so much the point for losing in overtime that bothers me. It’s the fact that wins, in general, seem to be devalued in the point system. I’d like to see three points go to the team that wins in regulation, and then some combination of one or two points based on overtime or shootout. I just think about the fact that a team can go 0-0-4 and get the same number of points as a team that goes 2-2-0 — and actually wins two games — and it doesn’t sit right with me. The elimination of shootout wins, in terms of the tiebreaker, was a good first step, but I think they need to take it further.
Jonathan asked: Rich – have you received confirmation from the Kings that the sweaters worn by the team will switch to the current 3rds as the “Home” jersey and a white variant as the “Away” jersey? I know you basically called it a “not so” secret but there has yet to be official word from the team.
Answer: Nothing definitive yet. At the end of last year — the 2010 calendar year, I mean — teams had to notify the league that they intended to change their jerseys for the 2011-12 season. What I heard most recently is that the Kings would go to the black/white jerseys as the primary jerseys, then use the current home jersey as a “third” jersey and, also, would have the option to wear the purple-and-gold jerseys at home three or four times, just like this season. To the best of my knowledge, that plan has not changed.
phil asked: Rich, what do you think will happen in terms of free agency: will Handzus and/or Ponikarovski be resigned, and what are the chances of the Kings signing Brad Richards?
Answer: Wow, Brad Richards fell all the way to the third question? You guys are slipping! First, I have no idea. Dean Lombardi doesn’t even know right now, and if he doesn’t know, you can bet your bank account that I don’t know. If you’re asking me for a reasonable guess, I would project that Handzus comes back on a short-term contract with a significant pay cut, Ponikarovsky does not come back and that the Kings are heavily involved in the bidding for Brad Richards. But at least two other heavy hitters — Toronto and the New York Rangers — are expected to be in the mix as well, so I wouldn’t label the Kings as the favorites going into that one. In this week’s interview session, Lombardi stuck to his familiar theme: he will look for an offensive upgrade if it’s the right fit and price. It’s fair to say that Richards would be at the top of the list, in terms of what the Kings need.
Berniernextroy asked: Hey Rich, the question I have here is, what’s it going to take for Bernier to be given a fair shot at the #1 Goaltender. When does Dean Lombardi have to make a decision on that, since it is pretty clear Bernier is not a backup in this league.
Answer: Well, I’m not sure what you mean by “fair shot.” How much your backup goalie plays generally depends on how well your No. 1 goalie plays, and unless you’re suggesting that Jonathan Quick was somehow less deserving of playing time, I’m not sure where the “fair shot” comes in. That said, it’s clear that, in the long term, the Kings won’t keep both Quick and Bernier. They’re both under contract for two more seasons, but it’s in the Kings’ best interests to identify which goalie they want to try to build around for the next decade and then use the other guy to help improve another position of need. Bernier got into 25 games this season, which is a good number, and coaches watch him closely every day in practice. They know what they’ve got, and they will continue to evaluate, to be certain.
IceGuy asked: With the success of the Clifford-Richardson-Simmonds line in the playoffs, what are the chances of them remaining as a cohesive unit next season?
I guess what I am wondering is will Terry Murray go back to his favoring big heavy vets rather than new blood? This points straight to the Schenn/Lokti question of getting a shot I’m afraid.
Answer: I’m following the first question, but not so much the second one. Is the suggestion that Murray would purposely shoo away more talented players in favor of “big heavy vets”? If it is, then no, I don’t agree with that. As to the Richardson line, yes, it looked good for a handful of games there, but let’s not go too crazy with it. In Game 6, the line was actually pretty dreadful, other than some decent forechecking later in the game. Richardson is kind of the swing player there. He has shown the ability to rise into a bigger role at times, but for the most part, over long stretches, he has looked most comfortable in a fourth-line role. So, I guess my answer would be, it’s sort of up to Richardson to show that he can hold that role for a significant period of time.
Kenny asked: Is there any reason why the kings are holding to kompon or are they looking into getting a different pp coach
Answer: Jamie Kompon is not a “power-play coach,” he’s an assistant coach to Terry Murray — who chooses his staff — and he’s under contract for two more seasons.
ULVkingsfan asked: My question is, in game 4, when Doughty and Nichol both took coincidental roughing minors in the second period, why was it 4 on 4? My understanding of the rule is that if both penalties are coincidental, then the resuming play is still 5 on 5, such as with fighting and possibly with other penalties as well. I am not sure if this only applies specifically to fighting, but since both penalties were coincidental, shouldn’t it have applied there as well?
Answer: The correct answer from “uclaemt” is: Several years ago the NHL changed the rule…if teams are even strength when the coincidental penalties are taken then I believe both teams skate short. This includes if teams are 4 vs 4 & coincidental penalties are taken you will see 3 vs 3. If there is a pp in progress and coincidental penalties are assessed then there is no change in on-ice numbers. That’s the easy explanation, after that it gets very complicated. Hope it helps.
Dominick asked: During games at home I like to watch and blog during the game. Recently I found a shot tracker that has added even more enjoyment during the games. Is there any way we could have something simular here? Also the outside boarders could use some pictures. Also, also, Are you planning a vacation during the summer? I seem to remember a camp or something you went to.
Answer: I’m guessing you might be referring to the shot tracker on NHL.com, which is indeed a nice feature, but no, there’s no way to embed it on the site or anything of that nature. My suggestion would be to have tabs going on your browser, so you can easily toggle back and forth. As for vacation, nothing significant, but a couple week- or two-week trips on the horizon, most likely. But I still remain available for any Kings-related news that might pop up during the summer.
KingsFan asked: In my personal opinion, I thought the quote of the season was from Rob Scuderi after Game 3 when he said, “We showed a lot of immaturity in our game.” I feel like he hit the nail on the head, and those two games really may have exposed some underlying mental problems with the team, and especially with the younger players. It’s just not that hard to dump the puck in on the zone-entry and forecheck like Coach Murray asks them to. I’m just curious: in your time spent with the players and coaches, do you feel like there is a certain amount of arrogance in the younger players, or at least some resistance to Coach Murray’s system?
Answer: Well, respectfully, when you say something like, “It’s just not that hard,” I’d have to ask what your reference point is. Is it the reference point of an NHL player in his early-to-mid 20s, playing on the biggest stage in the hockey world, with 18,000 fans screaming and five opponents breathing down his neck? In that case, it actually sounds quite difficult to me. So, in general, my opinion is that you’re reading far too much into what Scuderi said. I thought what he said was very simple, accurate and eloquent. It was a team that made mistakes at critical moments, and those mistakes, in the context of the game, were immature. From there, the Kings responded with a solid third period, won Game 5 in San Jose and took Game 6 to overtime. So, again, I think Scuderi’s quote was dead-on. The players had a period of immature play. I would not extrapolate, from that, that the team has “mental problems.”
MOSH asked: what are the chances of acquiring another power forward and who would they be?
Answer: In his interview this week, Dean Lombardi addressed the possibility of adding players via trade and/or free agency. His thoughts can be found here: