After deciding to undertake Manchester Monarchs Insider, I’ve been faced with one repeated question from my bosses, from my colleagues in the press box, and from a friend or two.
There’s a combination of reasons, the most important being “Because it would be fun!” But, unfortunately, the Kings don’t pay for their beat writer to fly across the country to take part in 50/50 drawings and eat press box popcorn. More importantly, there’s the desire to get a firsthand sense of the club’s developmental process, to continue to build relationships with the team’s hockey operations and coaches Mark Morris and Freddy Meyer, and to watch the players I’ve seen in developmental camp and training camp utilize their instruction in game settings. Underneath that, there’s also the desire to continue to provide unique content during a weekend when the Los Angeles Kings won’t be playing, but 27 National Hockey League teams will be.
There has also been this sentimentalized depiction of the city affectionately known as “Manch,” where current Kings lived together and shared life experiences in their transformation into becoming professionals out of their junior and college hockey bubbles. “You’re going to Manch!?” Jake Muzzin yelled out in the dressing room last week when I told him of my plans, and it almost feels misleading to not capitalize every word and add three exclamation points, given his projected excitement.
Though I’ve never visited, I do get the feeling that Manchester seems like the perfect medium-sized hockey city where there exists a bond between the players, the front office, and the fans in an area where hockey occupies a wider slice of sports space than it does in California. It’s not San Antonio or Charlotte, where there exist countless indoor and outdoor opportunities through all 12 months of the year and the hockey team is clearly the second tenant in its own cavernous building. And Manchester is not Bridgeport or Providence, I-95 corridor cities that make up the prolonged string of eastern seaboard urbanization. I’ve had friends play in Norfolk, where they lived three blocks from the beach in a relaxed mid-sized southern city, and in Glens Falls, a place that can resemble wintry small-town Americana.
I can’t speak to whether Manchester is the most appropriate American Hockey League-sized market, but judging from the team’s fandom, the endearing nostalgia that it conjures up in those who have played there and retain close ties with the staff, it does seem like the perfect setting to host this project.
The Monarchs play host to the Providence Bruins on Saturday at 7:00 ET and the Albany Devils at 3:00 ET on Sunday. Coverage, beginning with Good morning, Manchester, will continue tomorrow morning.
Welcome to Manchester Monarchs Insider.