The seventh set of open forum questions and answers…
JWR asked: Are you planning to attend Frozen Fury in Vegas on Oct 1st?
Answer: I believe so, but I don’t know what my travel situation is just yet for that time period. The team is scheduled to leave for Europe after that game, so I don’t know what my schedule is going to be like just yet.
Cricket asked: Parse missed basically all of last season and no one has seen Gagne play yet, but I’m still curious if you have any “gut feelings” or thoughts about these players for the following season. Specifically, do you have an opinion if the team is stronger with Gagne over Smyth? At least on paper? As a fan it’s easy to pencil Clifford in as the 3rd line LW, and it also seems conceivable that Richardson could take Simmonds’ spot as RW. But I would think that Clifford, Lewis, Richardson (and sometimes Westgarth) would be an incredible 4th line. If Parse were to have a good camp and get the 3rd line spot alongside Stoll, then considering who plays the right side the lineup starts to look intensely deep with the real possibility for true, balanced scoring. Any thoughts on Parse vs. Clifford? Richardson as a 4th line player?
Answer: I don’t necessarily have any gut feelings, other than that when Gagne is healthy, he’s proven to be a consistent 30- to 35-goal scorer, and at this point in his career, Smyth is more like a 20- to 25-goal scorer. So I just look at it based on numbers, and if Gagne can stay healthy he should be an upgrade. Big “if,” of course. In terms of the third and fourth lines, I’m not sure it matters that much. Media and fans get caught up in “numbering” lines more than coaches and players do. In the past couple years, the Handzus line had clearly been designated/defined as the third line, the defensive stopper line. Now, with Kopitar and Richards down the middle on the first two lines, the need for that changes a little bit. With the possible exception of Westgarth, all of the players you mention would seem to have the ability to give at least 10 quality minutes of ice time per night, so I’m sure there will be plenty of flexibility there.
deadcatbounce asked: Rich, thanks for all your hard work on behalf of all us fans. I just wanted to know if you could someday do a Q&A with Nick and/or Daryl because I don’t think you’ve ever done one with either before and it would be nice to hear their thoughts about the team and to learn more about them as individuals. Enjoy your well-deserved vacation. Just as a suggestion while you’re away, you may want to leave us with a few threads that we could post to because when you left last summer things got really crazy and I remember a few threads with over 1,000 posts, which made actually reading them quite unwieldy.
Answer: Good idea on the Q&A. Nick, like Jim Fox, is on a nice vacation right now. Daryl is always around working and does a great job with the KingsVision interviews as well.
Andrew asked: Any chance there will be an LAKingsInsider iPhone/Android app in the future? Any talks on it?
Question: Haven’t gotten into that discussion yet, because we’re working on revamping some other things, but I think that would be a great idea.
LB asked: Rich, based on what you’ve seen and heard…what one prospect that wasn’t on the team last year would you predict to make the team in October ?
Answer: I understand the sentiment, but predicting at this point is little more than a guess. It depends almost entirely on how the players look at training camp, so your guess would absolutely be as good as mine. Since I’m following the idea that Loktionov would probably have the best chance, among forwards, to make the roster — and since he played last season — to follow your question I’d pick Voynov.
King Cobra asked: Do you think the Kings would be a better team now if they would have successfully signed Kovulchuk last summer to the contract we offered him?
Answer: Impossible to say, but if you look at it this way, New Jersey had 103 points in 2009-10, signed Kovalchuk, then went to 81 points. Is he entirely to blame for that? No, of course not, but didn’t most people expect the Devils’ point total to go up, not down, with Kovalchuk?
Davhalt asked: How do the Kings players and staff view opening the season in Europe again? As far as I know, only the Kings and the Rangers (who will also be over there again this year) are the only teams to go twice in the last five years. I know AEG and their arena deals are part of that reason, but it seems there are quite a few other teams with the same “middle of the pack” name recognition in Europe (ie. not Detroit/Montreal/Boston/Toronto which are highly known)that could have gone instead of the Kings. Any insight in how that is decided?
Answer: The Ducks also went in 2007, so that’s a third team that will have gone twice in five years (at least, as I haven’t checked to see if there are others). I really don’t know how the league picks the teams. This year, I know they had an initial “invited” list of six teams, and after talks/negotiations, two got dropped. AEG’s involvement with those arenas certainly plays into it. As for the players and staff, I really don’t think they care that much. For one, few of them were around in 2007. Also, you’d probably be surprised how adaptable the players and staff are (not just the Kings, actually, but all pro athletes). When you get into that lifestyle, with all that travel, you just kind of go with the flow. The challenge will be more of a physiological one, to make sure the players’ bodies are ready to keep going when the trip ends, and that there’s little lag time.
LA Kings asked: What is the skinny with Voynov? He had such glowing reports coming over from Russia. He seems to have nice stats down in Manchester but don’t really hear much about him coming up to the Kings. I hear his name mentioned more in trade rumors. Is there something in his game holding him back?
Answer: The “something” that would be holding him back has a few names. They are, in no particular order, Doughty, Johnson, Scuderi, Mitchell, Greene, Martinez and Drewiske. When you have good prospects and they’re not being pushed to the NHL before their time, that’s a good thing. Martinez got the call last November, when the Kings needed a defenseman, and Martinez had been playing well but Voynov also got a bit of a late start to the season because of a shoulder injury. If Martinez had not fared well, it’s no stretch to say that Voynov might have got a shot in the NHL last season, but credit Martinez for holding down that spot. I would suspect that Voynov will be given a long look for a spot at camp. The only question is, do the Kings want a young guy sitting regularly as a healthy scratch? Can they rotate him in? Those are questions to be answered.
BrokeKingsFan asked: Q: What happens to RFA’s if they do not have a contract signed by the start of the season? whats the options for the team and/or player at that point? Q: What is your take on Winnipeg being back in the NHL? Do you believe that it will make a huge difference in the Confrences/divisions with the re-alignment? Does any team/divison maybe benefit from it?
Answers: 1) Well, they’re essentially holdouts. If they don’t sign a contract with their current team, or sign an offer sheet from another team, then they sit and watch hockey like the rest of us. 2) It seems the NHL is still mulling its options for 2012-13. It could be very minor (shifting one or two teams) or very major (six divisions to four). Nobody is quite certain yet. As for who benefits, I mentioned this in response to a previous question, and while I don’t intend for it to sound like West Coast sour grapes, the East basically benefits in any scenario. When you’ve got that many teams grouped in the same corner of the continent, they’re always going to “win” the travel battle. That’s just geography, and there’s probably not much the NHL can do about that.
MonarchsFan asked: Hi Rich- I got to quite a few Monarchs games the past couple of years- Andrew Campbell seems to just get better and better and in fact was the Monarchs go to shut down D-man last year. Do you seem him get a shot this year in LA? When coaches/asst coaches are interviewed in Manch they have nothing but positive to say about “Soupy”. Thanks
Answer: Sure, he’s doing fine for his age and experience, but I’d refer you to the answer about Voynov a couple questions up. When you ask if I see him getting a shot in L.A., well, that’s tough because who is he replacing? What the Kings are trying to do is emulate the Detroit Red Wings model, in which veteran players give the team a few good years, move on and are replaced, seamlessly and often internally, by players who have paid their dues within the system, are ready, and haven’t been pushed to the NHL before their time. The Kings aren’t there yet, of course, but that’s what they’re shooting for. Believe me, you’d rather have prospects forced to wait a couple years than have them forced into action before their time.