August 1, 2012 2:30 pm

Forum answers IX

We’re entering the home stretch on the “Open Forum” questions and answers. I believe I have now hit on all the main questions that had remained unanswered, but I will sweep through the other posts and see if there are any relevant questions that I can answer. So we’ll get to 10 parts, which might be a record!

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CB14 asked: Hey Rich, not sure if this has been asked yet, but has Dean said anything about his plans for Kevin Westgarth? Since all the Kings who played in the playoffs are coming back, there doesn’t appear to be room for Westy on the 23 man roster. Also, Darryl Sutter didn’t seem to have much use for him.

Answer: Westgarth is in the same position as a handful of other players. He’s going to be in for a very interesting training camp. There are no guarantees for him. On the positive side, for Westgarth, he’s the only real “heavyweight’’ in the organization. On the negative side, for Westgarth, Darryl Sutter didn’t seem to share Terry Murray’s philosophy in terms of the need for a heavyweight. Murray thought Westgarth’s presence was necessary in almost every game. Sutter likes to roll four lines, and it definitely didn’t seem as though he trusted Westgarth to play 8-10 minutes per game. It will be very interesting and difficult to predict.

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McCheese asked: Rich, will there be a consolidated list of the commemorative videos, books, etc re-capping the season that are referenced constantly? There seems to be some great stuff in the works and it would be nice to have a list of what you know about!

Answer: At this point, all I know about is the official NHL DVD, the soft-cover book put out by the Los Angeles Times and some other softcover book, of unknown origin (one that apparently misspelled a player’s name and liberally lifted many of the quotes I published.) Coming up will be the Kings’ official hardcover commemorative book. Included in that will be some “extras’’ still to be finalized.

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kingbosted asked: Thanks Rich, for all you do, especially in this longer Stanley Cup-winning season for the Kings. My question is about Dave Taylor. I know you had a picture from Bob Miller’s time with the Cup and Dave was there with Jim Fox and others, but has anyone been able to get him to comment on this Cup run? I know he’s with the Blues now but it would be great to get his thoughts, unless you have some already from him or others surrounding the team.

Answer: When the Kings reached the Western Conference Finals, I reached out to Dave to ask him about his thoughts on the Kings. He quickly, and very politely, responded that because of his employment with the Blues, he didn’t feel it was proper to talk about the Kings. Within a couple weeks, he was doing several interviews about the Kings. I have a great relationship with Dave, so I didn’t/don’t take his choice personally, but I don’t know why he chose to talk when he did. I believe a search of the archives will reveal a nice NHL.com piece on Dave and his contributions to building the Kings.

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rogiesbackup asked: Wondering if this site can number the post and or replies so that the blogger can find their threads or responds easier by making a mental note what number their thread is so it’s easier to find. I’ve seen the blog up 1000 bloggers and its hard to find my own post and if anybody responded to it.

Answer: I’m having a tough time getting a mental image of exactly what you’re asking for, but my suggestion would be to simply search for your name within a page. On a Mac, it would command-F, and then type in your name to see all of the references. I’m not aware of any way by which comments could be numbered.

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Buster asked: I was wondering how Nick Ebert could have fallen from a 1st round certainty to Mr. Irrelevant of the draft. I thought that he might fall a round or two, but SIX? How the heck did the Kings know he was still there for the picking?

Answer: Well, remember that a “first-round certainty’’ is only in the eyes of the beholder. Certainly he was a well-regarded prospect at one point, but that doesn’t mean that all 30 teams held him in the same esteem. Players can fall quickly, and when they are 17-20 years old, opinions of them can shift dramatically. In terms of the Kings picking him, that’s why scouts spend countless hours on the road, and that’s why folks such as Mike Futa and Mark Yannetti spend so much time making comprehensive lists. They drill for weeks, going over different scenarios and situations. The worst thing a scouting director can be is unprepared.

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KC23 asked: What do you like better about doing this blog than doing the old sports page paper? I think I already know what you don’t like about doing the blog … moderation. Who do you consider the most under-rated King. Which rookie is likely to be the most impressive this pre-season?

Answers: 1) A lot of things. The immediacy of it is great, as is the interaction with readers. That’s one thing you never used to get at a newspaper. Beyond that, it’s just a general ability to tell a story the way it should be told. Newspapers, by nature, are very formulaic. They’re built around deadlines and column inches. Doing things online allows for much more freedom and creativity. 2) That’s hard to answer, because whose standards are we talking about? If I say Justin Williams, there might be 60 percent of people who don’t consider him underrated at all. Anze Kopitar is underrated league-wide, but certainly not among Kings fans who watch him regularly. 3) I have no idea. That depends entirely on how they come into camp, in terms of mindset and preparation. Every single one of them has the potential to be impressive if they’re handling themselves the proper way. A guy like Toffoli will probably get the best opportunity to make an impression.

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Catcherman asked: What, specifically, gets players kicked out of the faceoff circle, and why is it happening more often than it used to?

Answer: It can be any number of things, but it usually centers around the placement of the stick and the timing of its placement. Even things such as head, feet and body placement can cause a linesman to give someone the hook, and it’s very subjective in terms of each linesman’s tolerance level.

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Mike Blazenski asked: Will Suter change the captain and alternate captains of the team? Brown, Kopitar and Green were all Murray picks.

Answer: I would be beyond stunned if any leadership changed after a Stanley Cup championship.

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LT21 asked: Why are the Kings signing so many defensemen? It seems we had a solid defense so it is confusing to see all the defensive additions in the off season.

Answer: I’m not certain to whom you are referring. Unless I missed something, the only defenseman brought in this summer was Andrew Bodnarchuk, and he is (potentially) a replacement for previous Manchester defenseman Patrick Mullen.

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Marty4Ever asked: Rich, I would like to get a DVD of season highlights, the playoffs, and/or the SC Final games. Are the Kings going to market any recordings? Also, if they do, would you please suggest adding Game #7 vs Toronto in 1993? And, if I were to really get my way on this, I’d like to see highlights of The Great One and McSorley as well. I closely watched the interview with Marty regarding the “stick.” However, nobody has said just how “far” that stick had violated regulations. I’d like to know. Especially if there’s any possibility the stick may have been altered w/o Kings’ staff knowing it occurred. Did DL hire additional security to guard Kings equipment during SC playoff run?

Answers: 1) Sunds like you’re looking for more of a history DVD than a season DVD. The NHL has already released its Stanley Cup Finals DVD, which includes a ton of season/playoff highlights, but there probably won’t be anything beyond that unless there’s some type of KingsVision DVD. If you’re looking for full games, I would suggest iTunes. For historical-type videos, KingsVision on LAKings.com is a good resource. 2) I don’t know the exact measurement off the top of my had. I would guess about a quarter-inch. 3) No.

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Martin Hoffmann asked: The 3rd line becomes Gagne, Stoll, and who else?? Lewis does not have the offensive skills to be a 3rd line winger. We need someone Doan-like. The Kings need to get someone in before training camp. I see Elkins as part of the active roster now, is he a possibility? A forth line of King-Lewis-Nolan would be terrific!!! This 3rd line right wing problem is the most serious problem the Kings forwards have.

Answer: I would caution you to be a little careful of terms of over-emphasizing offense and de-emphasizing defense. If you’re asking for a 20-goal scorer to be put on a third line, well, I understand the sentiment but that’s asking a lot. If I’m the Kings, I don’t have any problem with a Gagne/King-Stoll-Lewis third line. Yes, Lewis’ offensive potential is limited, but he plays a very strong 200-foot game. Don’t forget whose ridiculously effective backchecking caused a turnover in Game 5 against Vancouver, and the subsequent series-clinching goal. It was Lewis. There’s nothing wrong with two strong scoring lines, a “stopper’’ third line with some scoring ability (Gagne/King and Stoll) and an energy fourth line. Defense is always going to be the Kings’ hallmark.

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Buster asked: I wonder if the Kings will ber doing a “We Are the Champions” recording a la the Big Blue Wrecking Crew a while back, and who would be the main singers for this if it did happen?

Answer: Let’s hope not. Nobody is going to want to see that in 20 years…

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Mudfish4 asked: With all the news about crazy long, front-loaded contracts, bonuses, NTC’s, etc, my question goes back to when Jack Johnson negotiated his own contract. Is this something that is generally frowned upon by the NHLPA, other players, etc? Rich, do you ever hear any players, agents, media talking about it or does it not come up often since it doesn’t happen often? Do you feel players negotiating their own contracts is a good thing or bad thing?

Answer: Without question, the group of people who would frown upon that most is agents. When an agent negotiates a contract, he has one eye on that contract and one eye on the next contract. Meaning, for instance, when agent Don Meehan was holding the Kings’ feet to the fire about Drew Doughty, it wasn’t just about Doughty. It was about setting a new financial standard for top 21-year-old defensemen, so that when the next top 21-year-old defenseman comes along, there is a standard set and agents can try to push the monetary bar even higher. It’s almost an unspoken collusion between agents. They’re all working toward the same thing, to push salaries higher and higher. So when a player negotiates his own contract, and particularly when that player agrees to a contract that is (presumed to be) below value, it messes up the system. I personally don’t think it’s a bad thing at all. When players let their agents take control, the process becomes more about the agent and less about the player and the team. Even a player such as Jonathan Quick made things easy. He and the Kings quickly found common ground and he agreed to a deal. No drama.

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Pobo asked: How are the Doughty negotiations going? Will he be signed by training camp? Do you think Kovalchuk is going to sign with New Jersey, or here?

Answer: Hard to say, but I’m pretty sure Jason Allison will be back before Christmas.

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