THE RETURN OF THE KINGS
-Brian O’Neill was signed to a two-year contract. A 25-year-old Yale grad, O’Neill was originally signed to a one-year entry level contract in 2012, re-upped as an RFA one year ago, and has now re-signed for two years after having led Manchester in goals with 26 and Manchester forwards with a plus-31 rating. Having chatted with Kings hockey ops late in the regular season about the quick, 5-foot-8 forward who more than tripled his point production from 2012-13, I know the team was encouraged by leadership he has shown and the smarts with which he has played the game, and Manchester coach Mark Morris has previously complemented O’Neill’s work ethic. The former Bulldog suffered a broken leg late in the regular season and is not participating in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
-Speaking of the AHL postseason, the Monarchs are in a hole and will need to win both games this weekend to lengthen their season. As a one-seed, Manchester drew the eighth-seeded Norfolk Admirals, the Anaheim Ducks’ top affiliate. It’s not quite the AHL’s Freeway Faceoff; because of flights necessitated due to the distance between the two teams, and based on building availability, the Monarchs hosted the first two games before traveling to coastal Virginia for the next three. After splitting Games 1 and 2 in New Hampshire, Maxime Sauve of the Admirals provided a dagger 14:51 into overtime on a night that John Gibson stopped all 35 shots in a 1-0 Norfolk squeaker. Should the Monarchs win Game 4 tonight (4:30 p.m. PT), the teams will face off in a win-or-go-home Game 5 at the Norfolk Scope on Saturday (4:15 p.m. PT). Through three games, a total of eight goals have been scored. You can listen to Ken Cail’s call here.
-Because of the shift to national broadcasts for the second round, Bob Miller and Jim Fox’s account of Kings hockey will not be broadcast in the form of play by play and color commentary. Instead, the two – along with Sean O’Donnell, Patrick O’Neal and Alex Curry, and Ducks broadcasters John Ahlers, Brian Hayward, Mark Rogondino and Kent French – will host Freeway Face-off Live, a post-game show with reports, interviews, analysis and insight immediately following each game. These shows will be broadcast on FOX Sports West and Prime Ticket; a more detailed announcement will be made later today about the channels that will host the show on the respective nights. I’ll also chip in with some post-game reporting for Game 1.