Open Forum answers V

Going back to the Open Forum, here’s the fifth set of questions and answers…

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SuperSonic420 asked: “Hey Rich, since your traveling with the team now, I was wondering whats your favorite road trip moment with the team , and also with Foxy and Miller? Thanks Rich!”

Answer: My favorite road-trip moment was probably the Phoenix trip with the players’ dads. That was a lot of fun for everyone. If you’ve seen the video on the Kings’ website — that reminds me, I need to find it and post it, actually — it was really a neat experience. Talking to Ryan Smyth about his dad, and the sacrifices he made to watch Ryan play, really brought it home. I can’t really think of any specific moments with the broadcast guys. I’ve been fortunate to share a lot of good meals and conversation with Bob, Jim, Nick, Daryl and the TV crew. Oh, we did take Bob to get his first-ever Wendy’s cheeseburger, in Florida.

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EASportsMgt asked: “When you are around the players, how often do you see their agents with them? On the road have you ever seen any of their agents hanging out before or after the games? What kind of plane does the team fly on? Is it always chartered by the same company?”

Answers: 1) I can’t say that it has NEVER happened, but I can say that I’ve never seen it happen this year. Then again, I don’t see the players before the game, and after the game, I’m more focused on my own work than what they’re doing. But to answer your question the best I can, I’ve never seen it. I did see Pat Brisson when the Penguins were in L.A., but he’s a local guy anyway. 2) It’s always chartered, but to be honest, I’m not sure about the company or the exact model/type of plane. There seem to be a couple different planes that are in use.

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AK47 asked: “1) How disappointed is Kings management in Teddy Purcell? I mean, other than what we’ve heard (Quotes, statement, etc.) what’s the feeling around the locker room on his case? (i.e. is he a popular guy in the room, lots of friends)? Cuz the guy is really on the verge of losing his spot and he can easily be replaced by one of those Manchester kid that have been playing their tails off (Elkins, Parse, Moller).. 2) Bernier, Bernier, Bernier. Do you really think he’s going to spend the whole year in Manchester or will he get called up? 3) Why did Martinez get called up and not Voynov? Same question for Clune, the guy made the team and he’s been putting up OK numbers in Manchester, but he never gets the call up? He’s the pest type player we’re missing 4) Are Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson good friends? I feel like JJ might be a little bit jealous of DD, bcuz he’s younger and getting all the praise while Jack Johnson probably feels like no one ever talks positive things about him. 5) Please tell me you’re hearing trade rumors, DL needs to be working that phone.

Answers: 1) There seem to be a few of these “What do they think of (Player X) in the room?” questions. It might help me if you gave an idea of what you think might be happening. I need a little context. I sort of get the impression that people think certain players are shunned, or laughed at, or something of the sort. They’re not. They’re just guys on a team. They talk to each other, make fun of each other, joke, play ping-pong, etc. There’s not a lot of soap-opera drama going on. 2) I don’t think he will get called up for any extended period of time unless Quick gets injured or his play severely goes in the tank. It wouldn’t stun me if Bernier got called up to get a start or two, just as a little pat on the back, but given that this scenario — so far — has worked out well for the Kings, I don’t see them changing it. 3) The Martinez call-up was for one game, and he had already played in the NHL, so that’s why he got the nod. Clune would have got the nod a few times, but he keeps getting hurt at the worst times. Segal has the edge for that spot right now. 4) I’m not sure how to answer that. It’s a hypothetical on top of a hypothetical. They seem to get along just fine, from everything I’ve ever seen. 5) Trade rumors? Kings? No, never! And I mean, those trade rumors are always so accurate, right? My advice would be to enjoy the product that’s on the ice right now. Trade rumors lead to ulcers.

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variable asked: “1. olympic future – many players have already spoken out about their allegiance and commitment to play in the olympic games in spite of the possibility that gary bettman/nhl might not want to continue to allow league participation and discontinue the winter break allotted for it…alex ovechkin has been the most outspoken among today’s current superstars… what are some of the current kings olympic hopefuls feelings regarding this…? will this become a major problem between the players association/nhl/ioc…? 2. with the risk of getting a bit ahead of myself, the kings are currently on pace to realistically secure a playoff spot…with quick playing so many minutes during the first half, is it more realistic for us to expect ersberg to get more games or is it truer that d.l. will try to get an experience backup as we draw closer to the probability of a post-season…?…or…perhaps…both…? 3. are the ducks and kings still wagering charitable donations to the winning team of the season series…?…and if you know, who’s giving what to who…(?) 4. has the nfl and nhl partnered up/shared info to address the concussion concerns of each sport…? both sports, of course, wear helmets, and even though the methodology of contact is different, the end results of such a collision are rendered virtually identical…is there anything being proposed…either equipment-wise or rule-wise (recent winter gm meetings) that you think we might see sooner than later…?”

Answers: 1) Ovechkin is the only big-name player I’ve seen really take a “line in the sand” approach, although I’m sure many of the Russians will echo his sentiments. I will say that I didn’t totally appreciate, until this year, how much the Olympics mean to the players. I don’t see it being a huge collective-bargaining issue though. 2) I’d have to agree with the first part of your question, the getting ahead of oneself. By the time the holiday break ends, the Kings could be only four points ahead of the ninth-place team. I must admit, I don’t understand the fascination with a “veteran backup goalie,” but I suppose it’s something that could be explored at the deadline. 3) Good question. I don’t remember hearing anything about that last year, do you? I don’t recall hearing anything, unless they’re just not publicizing it. 4) Well, the committee of GMs that was established at the last meetings, in Toronto, is supposed to come up with some recommendations on rules to be presented in March (I believe). Then you could see some action on rules in June, around the time of the draft. In hockey, it’s not so much concussions in particular, but the general risks of hits to the head and blindside hits.

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Contreras79 asked: “I guess im asking, do you ever hear “insider” info regarding trades, or does most your trade info come from Ottawa or Philadelphia as well? (Eklund..ugh) Also, whats the scoop on Heidi Androl? Not the DUI thing, i mean..you know..do you ever get to talk to her?”

Answers: 1) I get the impression that out of everyone, I’m the least interested in trade rumors. To me, it’s just the ultimate in tail-chasing, and 95 percent of the time, it’s a fruitless exercise. I certainly understand why fans want to know which players might be coming to their teams, but when you’re just fed an unending stream of rumors — the majority of which are probably made up at this point — what’s the point? 2) Yes, sometimes I even sit at her table at lunch!

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Chris asked: “What is your middle name? I’m curious…”

Answer: Juraj.

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Mark asked: “Hey Rich do you actually think their is a chance if atlanta decides to deal kovalchuk by the deadline kings will be bidders for him becasue rumors are kings have at least inquired about him.”

Answer: I suppose so, although I’m not sure how the Kings could have “inquired about him” since the Atlanta GM isn’t entertaining offers at the moment.

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4thliner asked: “I know you are a cubbies fan, and have mentioned that you are not really a fan of the kings…. with spending so much time around the franchise nowadays and the opportunity the kings have given you, (you have earned it of course), do you find yourself becoming a fan of the kings now even though you are a journalist? or can you not admit that in a public forum?”

Answer: No, I really don’t have any rooting interest in the Kings. Believe me, when it’s a tight game in the third period, I’m thinking, “How quickly can I update my game story? How am I going to get downstairs? Who am I going to talk to and what can I ask?” It’s a job. It’s an exciting, fun job, but it’s a job, and my focus is on doing that job the best I can, not on rooting for a team. That’s what I do on Saturday afternoons in the fall, and in the summer, at least until the Cubs are mathematically eliminated in August.

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jet asked: “Let me ask if you can find out if the Kings have the ability to block a ref from reffing their games, if they feel he has a personal bias. I am pretty sure one of the refs at the Flame game also did the Flame game in LA. I won’t get started down that path again.”

Answer: No, they can’t do that, and it would set a pretty bad precedent if teams starting doing that.

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badGoaltending asked: “ thanks for taking the time and answering Questions. My question is since we know how we’re doing so far; that we look playoff bound. What are your thoughts or insight on to what dean lombardi would at acquiring some depth on D or scoring firepower. What do you think will be a good move? etc.. backup goalie?, scoring?”

Answer: Based on the current construction of the team, and the way players are playing in their current roles, I think the clear need is for one more top-six winger. I thought so in July, I thought so in September and I still think so. Not even a superstar, necessarily, but a reliable scorer. Although I suppose it’s possible that if Frolov found some chemistry on the second line, and a player such as Parse could hold down that third-line spot, the problem might take care of itself.

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