The second set of the “Open Forum” questions and answers follows…
Marc Nathan: Rich, at some point guys like Cliche and Clune (and to a lesser extent Campbell, Muzzin, Hickey) have to wonder if their chance at “the show” is ever going to happen (on a regular basis.) Do you see these guys, having re-signed with the Kings, “resigned” to a life of buses in the American League? How does their morale factor into the overall plan?
Answer: I definitely agree, but I think it’s different for each player. Some guys are more patient, some guys (as you said) might become “resigned’’ or comfortable, and other guys (such as Holloway and Moller) pull the cord on the parachute pretty quickly and jump to Europe. I have to believe the Kings (and any NHL team) are pretty honest with young players, in terms of their standing in the organization and how far from the NHL they are. Some of the guys that you mentioned were restricted free agents this summer, and the Kings thought enough of them to offer them qualifying offers. If nothing else, that suggests the Kings still value them and still think that, at some point, they could become NHL players. If I’m those players, though, how much patience do I have? It’s a good question but one, again, that can only be answered by the individual player. Morale is a good point. You don’t want older players being malcontents and hanging around young, more-impressionable players. I think the regular communication between coaches, management and players weeds that out to a large extent.
McDonalds asked: Hey Rich, You a fan yet?
Answer: Always. Tough year for the Cubs but I see positives so I’m hanging in there.
CaliforniaRoyalty asked: Thanks for this Rich! Do you know how the teams are selected for the opening games overseas? It can’t just be at random. Same with teams for the Winter Classic. How are they decided?
Answer: No, it’s definitely not random in either case, although the criteria would be different in each. The league has tried to spread around the Europe games, but there certainly seems to be a preference toward larger-market teams, as well as teams that have a larger number of European players. As for the Winter Classic, you have to — at least in the NHL’s mind — start with teams that play in cold-weather climates, so that lops off most of the West and South. Then I think they look at potential compelling matchups (Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs) and venues that would project well on television.
Utah Chris asked: Also, give us some more insight on the relationship of Bernie Nichols and the Kings? How has he changed from the first two years under McNall and prior to his trade? He seems mild and quite different than I remember and the hushed stories that came from unnamed media sources.
Answer: I hadn’t met Bernie until shortly before his “Legends Night,’’ so I’m not the person to ask in terms of how he might have changed. To the best of my understanding, he’s always been sort of a happy-go-lucky, good-natured free spirit, and that’s definitely the impression I got this season. He was always bouncing around, smiling and slapping people on the back. He was a lot of fun to have around.
QueenInVan asked: Any word on how badly Dustin Brown was injured, especially after the Phoenix series? Or any other player for that matter?
Answer: Just to reiterate, if it wasn’t clear before, if it didn’t involve surgery, you’re probably not going to hear about it. Everybody has something. Go into an NHL locker room after a game, and there are ice bags everywhere. Simon Gagne and Dustin Penner were the only players to have surgery, to my knowledge. Everything else was minor enough to have healed with time.
ForumGold asked: Hi Rich, Thanks for a wonderful year of coverage. What everone told me would NOT happen in my lifetime did. Any chance of having an edit feature so we could correct spelling errors or a statement after entering it?
Answer: Unfortunately, no, because it becomes problematic. It’s not a problem for 98 percent of people, but unfortunately, as usual, it’s the tiny minority who ruins it for everyone else. If people are allowed to edit posts after they’re approved/posted, they could be changed to say anything, that just opens a dangerous Pandora’s box. The commenting system will change (minimally) soon, so I’ll see if there’s any way to make an incremental change that might help.
John asked: After watching the NBC version of the finals game 6 (for the third time), I would like to ask you whether you think the NBC national broadcasters are biased in favor of east coast teams. Pierre McGuire comes to mind, especially. I watched the Canadian CBC broadcast and did not think there was any bias whatsoever. However, Pierre McGuire’s NBC comments (keep in mind, not his interviews with players, but his individual opinions) seem to lean heavily in favor of New Jersey. I believe Mike Emrick used to broadcast New Jersey’s games, but I thought his broadcast at least kept some semblance of objectivity. Actually, it seemed to me that NBC retired NHL players displayed more objectivity than non retired players. Considering your own background in mass media, do you think NBC displayed a bias in favor of the east coast and if so, what do you think can be done to weaken this bias?
Answer: I’ll preface this by saying that every single one of you probably watched more of the NBC and/or CBC broadcasts than I did. Remember that I’m in the press box, watching live, so my exposure to the national announcers was very limited. Based on what I did see/hear though — and I say this will all due respect — I believe the whole “bias’’ thing is overblown, or at least misdirected. Remember that most of you are accustomed to listening to Bob and Jim. Not only are they two of the best announcers in the business, but their entire jobs are spent around the Kings. Nobody knows the Kings better than Bob and Jim. So when they call Kings games, you’re getting all of the knowledge that they soak up by being around the team on a daily basis. They’re not “homers’’ (at all) but their call is geared toward Kings fans. When you get a national broadcast, Doc (and similar colleagues) isn’t calling a Kings-centered game. I noticed, in the chats, that whenever there was any type of New Jersey feature on TV, people complained of bias. It’s not bias, necessarily, as much as the fact that a national broadcast has to talk about both teams. Now, here’s where I will agree with those who talk about a “bias.’’ Because so many national games are East Coast-focused, it seems that the announcers are much more familiar and comfortable talking about those teams and players, because they see them much more often. It’s not a “We hate the Kings’’ thing so much as “We see the Devils 10 times a year and the Kings twice.’’ I don’t necessarily blame the announcers for that. Do they need to do more West Coast homework? Perhaps. I could buy that argument. But I don’t think it’s any type of inherent, premeditated bias against the Kings. The reality is that East Coast (particularly Northeast) teams draw better ratings, so it’s unlikely that NBC is going to change its broadcast strategy any time soon.
Louis Zypher asked: I’ve asked this before…but this is the “Open Forum” so here I go again……
Do you think there is any chance that we (the Insiders) can get a few minutes with the Cup during one of our suite events next season? Never been to one but I would jump on this in a heartbeat…..
I work 10h/days….it is impossible for me to stand in line for hours and hours at an appearance for a chance to get a pic with the Cup……so it would be so awesome if it could be arranged.
What do you think?
Answer: I have zero influence on where the Stanley Cup goes. And when I say zero influence, I don’t mean “little.’’ I mean, there’s nobody who has less influence than me. So, if the opportunity presented itself to do something like that at a suite event, I would absolutely jump at the chance, but it’s not something I can organize. I’m not even certain as to the schedule. It is completely booked for most of the summer, because of the player/coach visits, and then it goes for engraving and I actually don’t know how much access the Kings have to it once the next season starts. Very little, I believe. The Hockey Hall of Fame takes it all over. It’s not just going to be sitting in the Kings’ lobby from September until June. But again, if there’s an opportunity, you can bet I’d love nothing more than to do it.
kings of SB asked: 1.) Are there plans in the works for a season ticket holder event with the Stanley Cup this off-season or during the season? 2.) Are the photo’s on the Kings website below ever available for free download or even purchase?
Answers: 1) I have no idea, but if I hear of anything, I will certainly pass it along. 2) Most of the photos used there are Getty Images photos. Getty Images shoots the photos and the Kings have a contract with them. I believe — although I’m not positive about this — that Getty Images makes some photos available for purchase on its website. That might be something to check out.
Fritz asked: Are players compensated for waiving a “no trade”cause? I know on baseball players are sometimes (all the time?) bought out of no trade clauses but I never read about that happening in hockey.
Answer: I couldn’t give you an iron-clad answer, but I’ve definitely never heard of this happening. I’m not even certain that it would be allowed under the collective-bargaining agreement.