Open Forum answers I

Please feel free to keep asking the questions, and I’ll start answering them with this first set…

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Stop the Puck asked: Rich would it be possible to get a full-blown injury report around the time of the olympics? And also do you think Quick has passed Thomas as USAs #2?

Answers: 1) Yes, actually I think that post-Olympic time would probably be appropriate to update those long-term injuries. I know there’s a lot of eagerness out there about Williams, Loktionov and Hickey, in paticular, but please remember that they have VERY long-term injuries. In each case, you’re probably looking at late March/early April, and we’ve just barely passed into February. At this point, there’s not much to say until doctors allow them to do more. There’s still a good chance that all three of those guys will be shut down for the season. 2) It’s hard for me to say but, wow, based on what I’ve seen of Quick, and the two recent games I saw from Thomas, I’d go with Quick. That’s just me, though.

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R.E.M. Murray asked: Do you know if there is anything more to Atlanta GM Waddell attending the LA-NJ game last night?

Answer: Anything more to it? As in? Don sat in his seat on press row, next to Dave Taylor, coincidentally enough. Dean Lombardi sat in his booth with other Kings management folks. I’m not sure what else there is to say, frankly. Waddell being at that game, very likely, did little if anything to further any Kovalchuk talk. GMs can talk on cell phones any day of the week, and scouting staffs are so strong that it’s doubtful there was any wisdom gained.

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R.E.M. Murray asked: Is it just me or is there a common feeling out there that the Kings may hit the wall Tuesday night after such a successful road trip?

Answer: That’s a real concern. Not so much that they would “hit the wall,” but that they might ease up, coming home after that long road trip. It’s hard to play on the road, but in some ways it’s easier to have that tough mindset. It’s cold outside, the fans are against you, etc., and it’s easier to pull together. Terry Murray has said it…the Kings need to bring that “road mentality” to home games.

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Carol Vadnais asked: I’m wondering if we will see Bernier this season. I realize that they want him to have playoff experience in the minors, but is that really more beneficial than playoff-run experience this season?

Answer: There’s no perfect answer to that question. The goal, from the start, has been to have Bernier play a full season in the AHL, thrive, lead his team to the playoffs and have an extended playoff run. So far, that’s exactly what he’s doing. The goal, in the NHL, was to have Jonathan Quick play a full complement as the unquestioned No. 1 goalie. So far, for the most part, that’s exactly what he has done. I don’t see a reason to deviate from that simply because Quick has played a lot of games. Brodeur is 37 years old and he’s going to play close to 80 games, plus Olympics! I don’t think it’s worth changing the plan simply to get Bernier two or three games down the stretch.

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3bcrown asked: Really weird question about team chemistry since it’s been a hot topic. Remember that huge hit that JMFJ layed Smyth out with in Colorado? Was anything ever said between them or animosity between them now they are teammates?

Answer: I don’t think it’s a weird question at all. It’s a good question, but at this point it’s clearly water under the bridge. Johnson’s hit on Smyth was brutal, but completely legal, so I imagine Smyth’s only comment to Johnson was to urge him to keep doing it, now that Smyth isn’t his target anymore…

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Oz asked: I hate to rumor monger but on THN, a reputable source, in talking about the impending sale of Tampa, there was mention the Kings were also talking to them about Lecavalier,but the asking price was too high at the moment, very similar the Thrashers talks. Have you heard anything on that front?

Answer: Honestly, I don’t know how to answer that. The Lecavalier stuff is very old, going back to last summer, and there’s nothing new there that I know of. The Kovalchuk stuff, it’s just happening as it happens. As I said the other day, there’s been one offer and one counter, and that’s it.

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Pumpernicholl asked: Rich, at the end of a trip how long does it take typically from the final horn at the end of a game to the moment when the team is stepping on the plane to fly home?

Answer: Sort of depends on how far away the airport is from the arena. The bus typically leaves the arena about 30-35 minutes after the final horn. Some airports are really close and others are quite far.

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Dayman asked: will you be in Vancouver at all for the Olympics?

Answer: Unfortunately, no. Olympic media credentials typically have to be secured years in advance. I know the Kings tried to get me a credential, but I also know, from my years at newspapers, that it’s a very rigid process. The Kings, though, have some great plans to let fans keep track of how the Kings players are doing.

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Good2bKings asked: What does Dean Lomardi mean when he says he’ll look to “improve” the Kings? Did I read somewhere that DL won’t simply look for “upgrades?” What does that mean? With out dropping names, what type of “improvement” do you think Kings fans can expect?

Answer: Well, when Lombardi says he will look to improve the Kings, I assume he means just that, that he will look for trades that will improve the roster, in the short term and/or the long term. I’m not sure what quote you’re referencing on “upgrades,” so I can’t really comment on that. I think it’s safe to say that the Kings, either now or during the summer, would be looking for one “impact” player up front and on defense. As the song says, though, you can’t always get what you want.

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gboi asked: Any updates on Williams’ broken leg? After the olympic break he will have had 8 weeks to recover if I am not mistaken? Can fans expect him back in March sometime?

Answer: No real update. It’s barely been a month. I wouldn’t necessarily say that you can expect him back in March, or even April. He tore up his leg real good (bad). Even if it is healed, remember that there are major conditioning issues. Some people were all over Handzus, two years ago, and Williams, last year, for their play while first coming back from injuries. The idea that the Kings would put Williams out there (if healthy) for a playoff run (or the playoffs) after four months away from the game…I wouldn’t bet the farm on that.

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koho asked: Rich, is flying with the team mandatory for you or just convenience and would you get fined for missing a team flight or do you come and go as you please as long as you make the game?

Answer: I don’t know if I would get fined for missing a flight. If there was ever a situation in which I needed to take a commercial flight, either for work or personal reasons, it would certainly be cleared with the team first. There’s no economic or time-efficiency reason for me to not fly with the team. To vary from that would mean me paying a lot of money to travel commercially, and that just doesn’t make sense, save for an emergency-type situation.

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Skebo asked: Is there really not going to be TV coverage for the Phoenix game the last week of the season on 4/8? This will likely be a extremely critical game, with the Kings fighting for a playoff spot with Phoenix.

Answer: As of now, that’s not scheduled to be a TV game. TWo things: One, I know that, last season, there was talk of adding TV games late in the season if the Kings were still in the playoff race. Two, while that might be a possibility, I don’t know that it has been discussed this season.

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BringBackTheShieldJersey asked: Hey Rich, what was story behind why DaviS Drewiske didn’t play against NJ? TM said a few times that was the plan; he sat Ivanans(!) to allow Purcell to play (since he c/would play more minutes than Ivanans) in the back-to-back. Did they hold him out because of an impending trade

Answer: Yes! Drewiske for Kovalchuk, straight up! I believe the reason there, for Drewiske’s absence, was Jack Johnson. The Kings weren’t 100 percent confident that Johnson could make it through the game. To put another defenseman — Drewiske — out there, who hadn’t played a game in forever, would double the risk. Peter Harrold was there as a backup, but from my perspective, that’s why Drewiske stayed out.

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