Continuing on, here’s the fifth set of “Open Forum” questions and answers…
Decker asked: I’m sure covering this year’s team was a tremendous experience for you, both personally and professionally. What are your top 2-3 experiences/memories from these past few months that you’ll carry with you forever (the good or the bad)? I’m sure there are tons, but I’d love to hear what the experience was like for you as an insider and as a journalist.
Answer: Wow, really good question, and I’m actually glad that you asked. Going through this whole playoff run was sort of a blur, so it’s good to take time to kind of go back through those memories. I don’t know if I could rank them necessarily, but I’ll throw out a few (perhaps chronologically). The first is just the fan reaction to the win. I think I posted this before, but throughout Game 6, there was a fan in the last row of Staples Center who, for nearly the entire game, stood with his hands on top of his bald head. I couldn’t tell you exactly what his emotions were, but he seemed to be so nervous/excited that he could barely contain himself. Then, at the final horn, he jumped up and down and hugged his friend/neighbor. I got to ride down on the elevator with Bob Miller and see him right after the win. I got to be on the ice and see all the families and friends enjoy the win. I got to go to the after-party and see Bob, Jim and Nick enjoy the Cup (I don’t know where Daryl was). I got to go to the “Jimmy Kimmel Live!’’ taping with some very tired/hungover players. The parade will always stand out. It was probably the most joyous, positive thing I’ve ever seen. So many happy people, all getting along and having a great time and celebrating. The noise was unreal. To be able to experience, and chronicle, all of those things was so memorable and enjoyable.
BringbackButchGoring asked: Do you have any knowledge of whether the players read this blog at all, and if they do, do they mostly just laugh at how idiotic we are? Also curious if DL has ever taken even one suggestion from any of the experts on this board. I would ask if DS ever read this but I think we all know the answer to that question…
Answer: I believe I gave an answer earlier as to players reading the blog. As for Lombardi implementing any suggestions, I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but I seriously, seriously doubt it. From time to time, we will ask me about reaction to certain news/topics, but I highly doubt that an NHL general manager is ever being guided by a blog.
Joey Drillings asked: You get a ring? Day with the cup? Is the NHL DVD different than the one the Kings put out? Who is closer Toffoli or Andreoff? Martin Jones ready?
Answer: No; no; yes; it’s close, and might depend on whether the Kings needed a second-line player (Toffoli) or third- or fourth-line player (Andreoff); and maybe, but only for a very limited backup role.
Duncanz asked: • Is there a question or questions you wish you were ever asked, apart from, “Mr Hammond, this is ESPN here, would you be interested in …. ?, or “Have you room in your garage for this complimentary pristine Porshe?” ?
Answer: Maybe, “What time could we give you the keys to your complimentary beach-front house, in front of which you can park your complimentary pristine Porsche?’’
Donald_S asked: You’ve mentioned that it is a real treat being with Bob and Jim on the road. Can you share a few anecdotes about what has made it so special?
Answer: They’re just great people to be around, as are Nick and Daryl. It’s hard to share specific anecdotes. It’s like when you try to tell a story to people, and they don’t really think it’s funny/interesting because they weren’t there. Those are four guys who have essentially known each other for 30 years, so I’m very grateful that they have accepted me and consider me part of the gang. One thing that people probably don’t know about Bob is that he has an amazing sense of comedic timing and delivery. Even after all these years, he will still occasionally fool me. He will start off with a quick, “One time, I was…’’ and then after about 10 seconds, you realize that he got you, and that he’s setting up a joke. Jim is a great debater and can carry on a knowledgeable, fun conversation about just about any topic.
Bruce asked: What is the KHL contract status of Maxim Kitsyn? Any chance he could play in Manchester this coming season? Thanks and enjoy some time off Rich!
Answer: I believe he was one more season remaining on his KHL contract, so no, the chances of him going to the AHL aren’t very good.
deepsea_drumz asked: How long is Darryl Sutter’s contract for?
Answer: Per Kings rules, the coach cannot have a contract that goes longer than the general manager’s contract, so both Dean Lombardi and Sutter are up after next season. There is, however, some type of protection involved in case there is a lockout. The particulars of this have not been fully explained to me, but I know it exists.
KINGFANX18 asked: Don’t you think we can add a defensemen to this team? for example Mike Green that rejected the washington capitals? I think he would make a fine player and we need to bump up our defense.
Answer: You can always upgrade any part of a team. To say the Kings “need to bump up’’ the defense? Wow. There are a lot of teams that would love to have the Kings’ group of defensemen. Perhaps 29 other teams, in fact. There will be a time, most likely, when the Kings need to make some moves on defense, in the coming years when players such as Willie Mitchell and Rob Scuderi eventually retire/move on. I can’t imagine the Kings would, or would want to, change any part of their defense right now.
JohnD asked: Rich – When will you start dressing more professionally? Whenever I see you on camera, you look too casual.
Answer: Well, now I’ve heard everything.
NMKingsFan asked: Rich– I have always wanted to know. In the past, has there been information you have been privy to or seen being so close to the team, that you couldn’t report to us fans. What I am refering to is like injuries or imminent trades or certain players not getting along. Any bones you can throw us now that time has passed?
Answer: Sorry I can’t help on this. Any information that was not publishable in January or February doesn’t automatically become publishable in July. If, at some point, players/coaches/etc. want to say things on the record that they previously didn’t want in public, then such things can come out. Beyond that, I’m never going to throw someone under the bus just because six months have passed.
Gary Livingston asked: I was wondering how many championship teams in any of the four major sports have come back fully intact without even one player leaving the line up during the offseason? I know Bernier may disrupt the Kings being one of those teams to do that but, I’m still curious how frequent this is.
Answer: Yes, this is a great question. I don’t know the answer, and I haven’t had time to do the research, but I’d love to know the answer. My best guess is that it is extremely rare in any sport in the era of free agency. Given the large size of rosters in football and (to a lesser extent) baseball, I’d have to think it hasn’t happen in either of those sports in several decades, at least. Basketball is possible, since teams only carry roughly 15 players, but even so, I don’t remember one in recent years. My guess is that if you went back to the 1960s, or maybe early 70s, you might find one. I’d be surprised if there has been one in the last 30 years. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that I’d be surprised.
paige asked: Hey Rich, You do amazing work. It floors me to think how much time and professionalism you put into this job. We readers appreciate it very much. Can you tell us something you know we don’t don’t know about the team or any players? And what about you? What is something that even those who know you don’t know about you (I triple dare you to answer that last one because I bet you instinctively run screaming from personal disclosure on this blog). And finally, none of us readers will ever get to be as close to a stanley cup run as you now have been. And it was a crazy season with the highest high and the lowest low. What was the best/worst/most memorable part of it for you? Thanks again for all your hard work in keeping the fans plugged in.
Answer: Those are some very kind words. Thank you. In terms of sharing things that people don’t know about players, wow, that’s tough, because there’s such a wide spectrum here. Some people know a lot about players and some people know very little. I’d be curious to know what percentage of people knew that Kevin Westgarth is married to Bill Cowher’s daughter. As for me, I don’t mind sharing things but the blog isn’t really about me. I’ll drop in some personal tidbits/opinions at time but for the most part, my life really isn’t all that exciting. Every season has it’s own ups and downs. To say that there is a “worst’’ part would be stupid on my part. Even when the job is tiring and frustrating at times, it’s still a great experience. The best part? Wow, that’s tough. The Stanley Cup Finals are stil kind of a blur that all runs together. One day, I’ll sort out the individual memories. Going to Europe was certainly a highlight, because I had never been overseas. I’ll carry the beauty of Stockholm with me for a long time.