August 2, 2012 9:00 am

Forum answers X

I attempted to go through and pluck as many remaining questions as possible, while avoiding duplicates. Thanks to all for the great questions!

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jonbb11asked: Hey can anyone answer what NHL team Rich actually roots for?

Answer: It’s fascinating how the comments to this question went off in a completely incorrect direction, and then how that incorrect direction became accepted as fact, and then how I got criticized for that incorrect direction. Sadly, I think that’s an increasingly relevant commentary on the way people consume and believe news today, but that’s a different rant. I love hockey and I’m not a Kings fan, nor do I have a favorite team. I love pizza and I don’t exclusively eat Domino’s, either. I’ve been in daily print journalism since 1995 and I’ve covered dozens of teams. I’m not a fan of all of them. That would be rather absurd. I’ve answered this question honestly for five years, the same way, every time, but some people don’t believe it so I’ve stopped arguing for the most part, but I hope this clarifies things.

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Robyn asked: If the Kings do happen to sign Shane Doan, where do you think he’d fit best? And could we use another captain or do you think we might run into the problem of too many caps, not enough mates?

Answer: Doan would fit in fine on any of the first three lines, as I think his skills are adaptable enough to fill any number of rules. A leader doesn’t have to wear a letter on his jersey. Mike Richards, Rob Scuderi, Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and the like are leaders, but they don’t wear letters. It’s a symbol and doesn’t mean much in terms of the locker-room dynamic. What all of those players — and also Doan — bring is a great attitude and work ethic. You can never have too many of those players. If you have players with egos who want to be recognized as “the boss,’’ then you might run into problems, but I certainly don’t get that sense with Doan or with any of the Kings’ current captains.

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JJ asked: I am curious if serving as your own editor on the blog has changed your writing, if at all, from when you had an editor at the newspaper? for example, do you enjoy the freedom of being able to write whatever you want? is it more pressure because you have to constantly provide all of the material? have you felt more comfortable editorializing and adding humor as the years have gone by? those kinds of things…

Answer: I don’t think it’s changed the writing, but it has definitely changed the way I do the job. I was fortunate to have some great, very supportive editors at the Daily News, so I don’t feel as though I was ever restricted before, but certainly now, in terms of storylines, features, etc., I have the freedom to explore any topic I wish. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes it’s a bad thing. Sometimes you need someone to tell you, “Well, actually, that’s not a very interesting idea.’’ So there is some value in having an editor. There’s also some value to having a backup on the beat, who can give you a day off every now and then. As for editorializing and humor, I try to be careful there. I try to add it when I feel it’s appropriate, but I will always feel as though passing along information is the most important thing. In general, I don’t talk just to hear the sound of my own voice, and I don’t write just because I think people should read my opinions. If you want opinions, you can go anywhere. And I’m not knocking that, because it serves a great purpose, but I would rather have people giving their own opinions, rather than talking about my opinion. Humor is a different story. I can’t help but be a smart-ass sometimes.

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Mikey asked: Its interesting to me, and im sure to others, what goes on behind the scenes. We’ve all seen the 24/7s, and Kings Vision videos. Can you give us a break down of your every day routine during the regular/play-off season? What is the most gratifying part of your job? Also, does munters offer products and services to residential properties?

Answer: Thanks for the interest in my job. It’s a tough question to answer because it varies from day to day so much. I’ll take you through the Game 6 day, for one example. I did a little work that morning, then carpooled with Daryl Evans to the morning skate at Staples Center. After that I came home, had lunch, wrote a couple blog items then got ready and went back to Staples around 2:30 p.m. I had dinner there, talked to people at the arena, covered the game, covered the celebration, went to the after-party, got home around 3, slept for five hours, got up and started working again. No two days are exactly the same. You never know when news will break or when someone will return a call. My mindset is basically, if I’m awake, I’m working, and whatever happens during the day kind of dictates the rest of it.

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carol vadnais asked: I’m uncler about the whole Bernier situation. He has asked to be traded. He can see the writing on the wall vis a vis playing time. Will he be a distrction if a trade demand is not met? How long can Lombardi wait? Will it be a Smythe situation where he just forces a trade? Does Lombardi wait til a contender loses their goalie and then pounces? What are you hearing and,if he is moved, can you rank how the Kings view their netminders in the organization?

Answer: Bernier asked to be traded (if possible) before last season’s trade deadline. Would you say he was a distraction for the team from January through mid-June? I wouldn’t. So, I don’t see any scenario in which the backup goalie of a championship team would become a “distraction.’’ There really isn’t any comparable to Ryan Smyth at all. The fact is, there was a very good chance that the Kings would have bought out Smyth’s contract if they didn’t trade him. Getting his massive salary off the books was not a bad thing at all. The problem with Smyth is that he only wanted to be traded to one of two teams: Calgary or Edmonton. He forced Lombardi’s hand by letting the Flames and Oilers know that he had no other options. That was rough. I don’t think Lombardi feels any extra pressure to make a move. OK, maybe 10 percent more than usual, but he’s not going to make a panicked move just to placate a 23-year-old goalie with 48 games of NHL experience. If Bernier were to move in the short term, the most likely candidate for promotion would be Martin Jones, but the Kings aren’t totally convinced that he’s ready to handle that role just yet.

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Kings king asked: Rich, many times under the coaching of Terry Murray I felt the kings were not prepared to play the game that night. Now under sutter it seems to be well known he came in and changed their preparation. I’m really curious to know just what changed or what you saw changed in each players prep.

Answer: Well, there’s no way I could tell you how every single player changed, but there was definitely a change in tone overall. I’ll tell you one thing I noticed, and I can’t remember if this made it to the blog before but I believe it did. One thing that occured to me in hindsight was the intensity in practice. Murray would start out each practice standing in front of a whiteboard with players, and he would diagram all the drills with players. They would stand there for several minutes, and it was clear that some of them would get antsy and have their attention start to wane a bit. That wasn’t the case under Sutter. He cracked the whip in practice and sometimes didn’t even diagram a play at all, especially in the beginning. He wanted work and intensity, and I think that helped set the tone. I know that wasn’t the specific answer to your question, but hopefully it gives a broad sense.

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Ed: Let’s say that Rich Hammond gets a day with the Stanley Cup. What would be your plans with the Cup? Wrigley Field? In-n-out?

Answer: Given the history here, I think at least part of the day would have to be spent at Tommy’s, with everyone eating chili-cheese fries from the bowl, right?

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Cruiznblue asked: So what are you a fan of rich?…if not the kings…

Answer: My college, the Cubs and the Galaxy. That’s pretty much it, in terms of individual teams.

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luc20rules asked: Rich, Are players allowed to workout at the Teams training facility if there is a lockout? Also, I know the Kings run several promotions for charities throughout the season not to mention the silent auction and the kiosk selling Game Used Jerseys at every home game. Do you think the team and players might get together and do something for charities even if there is a lockout or strike? I have no doubt Brown and other players as well as Execs like Luc will still do things on their own, but I think it would be a nice showing if they did something together. I suppose the main thing is to just hope there is no lockout and we have a full season or very close to it.

Answer: Players would be allowed to rent ice time, as individuals or as a group, the same way that you could call a rink and buy time for a birthday party, etc. In the event of a lockout, there could be zero team-sponsored events or contact. There’s no way that any Kings players would be able to do any type of charity event with the Kings organization. On the other hand, if memory serves correctly, during the 1994-95 lockout, some players did band together to do some charity games. That would be a possibility, but not under the umbrella of the NHL or any of its teams.

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Helvetica asked: Hey Rich, reading through these forum answer posts i wanted to say I really appreciate your willingness and ability to remain as impartial as possible when it comes to covering the Kings. I wanted to ask, if your still answering questions, whether you are doing all of this alone or if you have a small staff helping you out with coverage and the site and all that? How big of a job is this whole process for you? Can you elaborate on how much work is involved? Any people who help you out that we should thank as well?

Answer: Thanks very much for the kind words. In terms of “staff,’’ I’m pretty much a one-man band. Hopefully some things are obvious, such as that I’m not involved in shooting/producing the KingsVision videos, and that I don’t write some of the NHL.com stories that I link to (they have bylines on them) or shoot some of the pictures, but essentially everything else on the site is my work. How big is the process? It’s hard to describe, honestly. It’s definitely not a 9-to-5 job. With the exception of Christmas Day and perhaps one or two other holidays, there’s not a single day when I don’t do some type of work. Sometimes it’s 90 minutes, sometimes it’s 12 hours. It just depends on the schedule, the day and what’s going on. In terms of people you should thank, there are a lot of people who help make my job easier. In terms of content, the KingsVision guys do an excellent job. Dewayne Hankins, the Kings’ digital-media guru, is a big help to me behind the scenes in terms of keeping things running smoothly from a technological standpoint.

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2hitnik asked: Do you see a delay in the start of the season as a benefit to the Kings and Devils? Or maybe not a benefit, but it at lease reduces the detriment of playing so deep into the season.

Answer: Good point. I hadn’t thought of it that way. When you consider that the “Stanley Cup hangover’’ usually hits teams at the start of the season, a delay might not be the worst thing for the Kings. Everyone would be off-schedule a bit, and it would stand to reason that the Kings might be on more equal footing. That’s hard to judge, but it’s a very interesting theory and it might hold some water.

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Todd asked: Rich, How many games do you think Bernier will start in goal this season? I would think the Kings would like to see Quick with a little less workload after what he did and they would also like to showcase Bernier a little bit more as well. I’d guess 20-25?

Answer: Sutter’s history indicates that he’s not shy about giving a lot of games to his No. 1 goalie. In Calgary, Miikka Kiprusoff once played 74 games under Sutter. In San Jose, Evgeni Nabokov was almost always in the high 60s in terms of games played. Based on that, if Quick started fewer than 65 games, I’d be surprised. Fans (and some media) love the word “showcase.’’ I tend to think the entire concept is massively overstated.

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KHenry14 asked: Rich, can you speak a bit about the Kings philosphy regarding their healthy scratches? Poor Davis Drewiske plays in all of 9 games last year, and is a scratch for all the others. What’s the point of keeping a guy around who you will never play? Obviously you need to carry a back up D-man, but had one of the teams backline guys gotten hurt, how productive could Davis have been not having played for five months? Westgarth is a bit different since his particular “skill” is not much desired by Coach Sutter. But Richardson will likely get some time on the ice since he’s fairly versatile, but jeez, you had to feel sorry for Drewiske and Westy for coming to practice all those days with no hope of playing. So, why keep guys like that around?

Answer: I’m really not clear about your question. In one sentence, you ask why a team would keep around a guy who will “never play,’’ but in the next sentence you say, “Obviously you need to carry a back-up D-man.’’ So, yes, I agree with you. You need to carry a back-up D-man. I don’t really know how to answer the question. The Kings had a rather extraordinary run of success this season in terms of keeping their three regular stay-at-home defensemen (Mitchell, Scuderi, Greene) healthy. If one of them had been out for an extended period, Drewiske would have played. They weren’t, so he didn’t. He’s the seventh defenseman on the team. Somebody has to fill that role, and I can assure you that there are hundreds of defensemen out there who would die to be the seventh defenseman on a strong team, to work hard in practice and be ready in the event that the team needs a player. But again, I really don’t know how to answer, “Why keep guys like that around?’’ A team would be horribly unwise to only keep 20 players on the active roster. If a guy gets hurt at the morning skate, what are you going to do?

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Mars asked: I do have a question. Does it bug you when fans referr to themselves as part of the team? Such as we won. We have the cup, etc. I know I do it, and I am not ashamed of it either.

Answer: You know, it really doesn’t bother me. I get it. People get heavily invested in their teams and spent countless hours and dollars in support. I understand that feeling of community. It might not make sense rationally, but emotionally it makes a lot of sense.

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DEH asked: Hi Rich, every once and a while I hear that the league wants to make the game more offense orientated, do you know if this a topic that has come up in the labor talks? What are your thoughts on making the game more offense orientated? Personally I like tight defensive games, but according to the league I would be the minority. Any predicted changes such making the goal larger by a few inches or using a wider rink like the European game?

Answer: It seems as though everything that is done in the name of increasing scoring eventually finds a counter-balance. After the lockout, the NHL took out the red line and cracked down on obstruction. Well, eventually coaches found a way to adjust defensively, and slowly referees started to get less strict on those obstruction calls. I have a feeling that no matter what rules/changes come into place, eventually a smart coach would find a way to stifle them. Making the net wider/taller might be one that is adjustment-proof, though. That would be interesting. I used to think that making the rink wider would make a difference, but Jim Fox convinced me that teams, defensively, would simply “pack the middle’’ and let teams have as much space as they wanted on the perimeter. I’m not sure that would help.

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Maury asked: I wonder if Bernier will get his name on the cup? Based on above it appears not. I thought in some of the games when we had large leads DS could have put him (Bernier) in near the end of the game for that purpose.

Answer: Yes, he will. He was on the active roster for all 82 regular-season games and 20 playoff games.

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Tyler asked: A few questions for you: (1)It seems like each year you make more and more tv appearances during intermission, etc. Do you feel comfortable now in front of the camera or are there still butterflies right before you go on? (2) How often do you dream about drinking Tommy’s chili from the Stanley Cup? (3) Who drives the car in the Kings’ organization that you covet the most and what type of car is it? (4) What are your top three steakhouses? (5) Personality-wise, which player is the most different from the interviews we see on tv? (6) If Drew Doughty took the SAT right now, what do you think his score would be? (7) Have you ever wanted to plug your nose in the locker room while doing an interview? (8) How have social networking sites changed your industry? Do you view them as a helpmate or a hindrance?

Answers: 1) Actually, I’ve been doing fewer TV appearances, but I’m glad to do them when asked. And to answer your question, there’s no doubt that the more you do it, the more comfortable you feel. Jim Fox makes things very easy as well. With him, it’s more like a conversation, and over time you forget that you’re on TV (although it’s still important to look at the camera). 2) I can’t say I’ve ever dreamed of it, but it would be funny, for sure. 3) I’d pretty much take any of them, except maybe Matt Greene’s Jeep. 4) Wow. We went to Bern’s Steak House in Tampa last season, and that was life-changing. Ruth’s Chris is 1A and 1B with Bern’s. Then I’ll go off the board and pick a Brazilian steakhouse, such as Fogo de Chao. 5) Probably Rob Scuderi. He has a very good sense of humor that’s probably not publicly seen. 6) Doughty is, uh, very intelligent on the ice. 7) Yes, at the start of every season. The first day of training camp is brutal. Then you adjust to it. 8) I view social-media sites, themselves, as helpful and very interesting in terms of finding ways to distribute news. I view certain people who use (and abuse) social-media sites, often under the guise of “reporting,’’ to be an enormous hindrance, not only to myself but to everyone.

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Lake Forest asked: Rich, are you a coffee or tea guy? We are dying to know.

Answer: Coffee. Often.

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jom asked: Just a quick question on a follow-up to the Legends night: Wasn’t Daryl Evans’ Legend night originally scheduled to be for Bob Pulford? I could swear the Kings announced Pulford for a Legends night. Maybe it wasn’t replaced by Daryl but still….???

Answer: Pulford had a “Legends Night’’ the previous year.

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Shakes asked: Rich as a road warrior what is your favorite American hockey city in terms of fans and enjoyinging the city (and you’re not allowed to say Nashville)

Answer: Well, since you later amended to say non-Original 6 American city, I’d have to say St. Paul. It’s a great hockey environment with one of my favorite arenas and some really nice people.

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TheAcaciaStrain asked: Where can we as fans purchase or somehow acquire the playoff games? I have found the Stanley Cup Final Games on Youtube and maybe one from each series. We’re celebrating the Kings 16 wins in the playoffs it would be nice to have each one on DVD or video file or something because each one was so memorable in it’s own right. Do you know where we could get the full entire games from the playoffs, including Vancouver, stl, phx, etc…? Thanks again Rich.

Answer: All of the Stanley Cup Final games are available on iTunes for $1.99 each. Search for “2012 Stanley Cup Final.’’ As for the first three rounds, I don’t believe they are available for purchase. NHL Network periodically shows games from throughout the playoffs, so keep an eye open there.

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Reality asked: Is their any inclination, now that the Kings have won the Stanley Cup, that Bob Miller might consider retirement sooner than he had before?

Answer: Bob has one more season remaining on his current contract. My understanding is that his plan remains the same: to do one more season and then reevaluate with his family.

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likid asked: In the middle of last season, when everything went wrong and Kopi was in the middle of his usual slump, was there any concern within organisation about Kopitar ability to be no.1 C of Stanley cup champion team and maybe even any thoughts within organisation about any trade involving Kopitar?

Answer: No.

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