I see that the questions are coming fast and furious, so here’s the second set of Open Forum questions and answers…
LAKingsFan26 asked: Rich, my apologies if this has already been asked. Do you know in the 43 years of the teams existence if they had ever had an undefeated road trip (min 4 games) before? I have been a fan since the early 1980’s and don’t recall such an accomplishment.
Answer: Your memory serves you well! That was the first perfect Kings road trip of more than four games. They have also won seven consecutive road games, one short of the franchise record set in 1974-75.
Matt R: That leads me to something i’ve been wondering about. Do any of the other NHL teams have games that aren’t televised?
Answer: Oh, yes. Most teams do not have every game televised. The teams that have partnerships with networks — the Rangers and MSG, for instance — have every game televised, but I would estimate that the Kings, with 65 games televised, are certainly in the upper half in terms of number of games televised.
JJ4Pres asked: Do you think the acquisition of say Ilya Kovalchuk may stunt the progress of other players and teamates could fall into the trap of depending on one person to score versus an overall team scoring as we are witnessing lately?
Answer: No, I don’t think so at all. If anything, having that big “target” — in terms of the perspective of opposing teams — helps free up ice for other players.
PaulCat asked: 1) What kind of vibe do you get from this team? They are obviously close and I wonder if you have picked up on any tension with all this trade talk and whether you think messing with this chemistry right now is a good idea. 2) There has been a lot of talk about Quick and Bernier really seems to be living up to expectations. What is the future here? Is it realistic to have both these guys stay with the Kings? I can see at least a year of having Quick and Bernier on the roster with Quick as the number 1 and Bernier getting into 30 games or so but that can’t last long can’t it?
Answers: 1) My experience, from any sport/team that I’ve covered, is that “chemistry” is great during a winning streak and bad during a losing streak. I think it’s high on the list of the most overused phrases in sports. It’s a nice catch-word for “we’re playing well.” I do think that this is a close group of players, but if a player walks in the door who improves the team’s chances of winning, he will be accepted in a heart beat. 2) It’s realistic in the short term, but probably not hte long term. I think the scenario you wrote is definitely plausible, although I’m not sure I would see Quick sitting for 30 games. Maybe 20. Eventually, whether it’s one month from now or two years from now, it’s going to be a very delicate decision. Which goalie will the Kings stake their future to, and will it be the correct one?
Belexes: I mentioned this a month ago and got thrashed by the locals, but here goes. I believe Night Train should seriously consider losing the shield. That way he wouldn’t feel obliged to drop his helmet with his gloves, giving him more protection against a head vs. ice collision while being wrestled down. It would also allow him to be more spontaneous, without having to worry about the “visor rule” while defending teamates. What are your thoughts?
Answer: No, I don’t necessarily agree. If a player feels more comfortable wearing a visor, I would never encourage him to take it off. I don’t think Simmonds’ visor prevents him from “mixing it up” at all. It takes two seconds to toss off the helmet — which almost always comes off during a fight anyway — and in 1 1/2 seasons, the visor had never been an issue before this weekend.
Matt George asked: What possible advantage does GM Waddell get by not allowing teams to negotiate an extension with Kovalchuck? I can only surmise one, that Kovalchuck has every intention of playing in the KHL next year and revealing that would obviously lower his trade value (if not kill it altogether). Am I wrong on this?
Answer: I don’t think you’re totally off base about the KHL, but I think there’s one more reason. If Waddell allowed teams to negotiate, the power would move from him to the agent. Suddenly, the agent would be able to dictate Kovalchuk’s destination, and that could significantly impact Waddell’s ability to get good returns. Either way, Waddell isn’t in a particularly good spot, but apparently he thinks this is the best way to go with it.
kingswings asked: Rich — apologies if this has been answered before, but I’m still confused about Patrick O’Sullivan’s citizenship. Up until he was traded to Edmonton, his birthplace was always listed as North Carolina. Once he was traded to Edmonton, and as late as last week, his birthplace is listed as Toronto, Ontario. I understand dual citizenship, but he couldn’t have been born in two different places. He’s played for the US in international competition, so I’m just wondering if you can enlighten me?
Answer: It’s my understanding that O’Sullivan was born in Toronto and raised in North Carolina, and that any references to him being born in North Carolina were incorrect.
Larry Green asked: As i just about drove off the road yesterday while listening to the incredible ending of the Devils game, Nick Nickson mentioned Bernier’s second shutout in two days. That led me to comment to my Brother in Law (not a big hockey guy from Oregon) that I could see Bernier plus JJ for Ilya being a viable trade. His response was shy mess with the enormous chemistry that seems to exist on the King right now. Interesting point….thoughts?
Answer: My thoughts? Way, way too much for a rental player, even one of the best rental players imaginable.
McPuck asked: Did you see Don Waddell and Dean or Ron Hextall talk with each other at the New Jersey game? If not do you know if they met?
Answer: No, I did not see them talking but I don’t know if they met or not. If you ask me, I think it was skillful posturing on Waddell’s part. Every GM has a cell phone and a TV. If Waddell wants to talk to a GM or scout, he can do it by ways other than showing up at a game in the New York market. Waddell isn’t dumb. He probably knew that by showing up, it would fan the flames of Kings-Atlanta talk — hello, Internet rumors! — and potentially get other GMs jumping.
tullskull asked: Also, do the kings ever address the mental side of the sport? By this, I mean do they use sport psychology, positive mental attitude counseling, etc?
Answer: No, I’m not aware of anything along those lines, at least not as a team.
WTFK asked: We’re all glad to see Quick playing well, and the team supporting him well, but with that comes the fact that Ersberg, who TM now claims to have faith in, has been squeezed out of a few opportunities to play. Do you think Ersberg will suddenly get a lot of opportunities down the stretch, or do you think TM is going to try to use Quick’s Olympic break (providing he doesn’t actually play) as a chance to rest him?
Answer: The latter. Unless Quick’s play takes a significant dip, or unless he suddenly decides he wants some rest (highly unlikely, given his competitive nature), I don’t think you’re going to see a significant change in the way the goalies are handled. The West race, almost certainly, is going to come down to the very end, whether it’s for a playoff spot or for playoff positioning, and Quick seems to enjoy playing a lot. As Ranford pointed out the other day, the Olympics will give Quick a mental rest, if not a physical one. I don’t think the goalie play has changed Lombardi’s thoughts on trading one. It would be a big mistake to do that. I know many people are excited about Quick, but he still hasn’t made it through a full season as a No. 1 and he still hasn’t played in a single playoff game. Going forward, this is the biggest decision Lombardi faces. It’s not time to make it yet.
MrMach5 asked: Why does our power play suck? Our 5 on 3 sucks and the 5 on 4 isn’t that much better. The Kings are playing great and I don’t want to take anything away from that but in the playoffs we are going to need to score power play goals.
Answer: The Kings’ power play, entering today’s games, is ranked No. 9 in the NHL in efficiency. That’s not exactly terrible.
Macdup asked: Do the Kings have a nutritionist that provides meals for the players? I saw a story out of Vancouver that Canucks have one and it looked like a good idea. Please do not report back that they hired Kopi’s Grandma to make pancakes! haha
Answer: No, not specifically. The strength and conditioning coach monitors meals and liquids in general, but team meals are either provided by hotel catering or a catering company that provides meals for the flights.
oldthunder asked: Rich, a few weeks back you mentioned something about a few kings players reading the blog. Have more of them looked in to see what us fans are saying? If so, who reads it now? Secondly have you thought about doing a live blog with a kings player or DL or TM? It would be great to do a live chat with some of the players every few weeks.
Answer: I really don’t know if any more players read now. Nobody has particularly mentioned anything to me. And yes, we have looked into the idea of doing live blogs. Lombardi…probably not, because two questions would take 45 minutes, but Murray and the players, yes, the potential is there for that.
Bob Bobson asked: 1) Are you just as surprised as I was about the blockbuster “hockey” trades Burke was able to pull off ? Don’t see too many of those nowadays. 2) How many of the NHL team blogs listed on the right do you follow ? 3) The Kings seem to be so focused on winning right now but do you sense any concern from the players about whether they will be traded ? 4) Do you think the “dominoes will start to fall” now that Burke made his trades ? Or do you think that was more of an exception to the current trade environment ?
Answers: 1) The Calgary trade, yes. The Anaheim trade, not so much, because it wasn’t too hard to see that one coming. But the Calgary trade, I think, shows how much desperation can accomplish. Burke wanted to make a big splash, and Calgary basically thought it needed to do something big, with its season starting to circle the drain. 2) I follow the blogs of the Pacific Division teams pretty closely. The others, I will check them out in the days leading up to Kings games against those particular teams. I read the Puck Daddy Yahoo blog a lot. 3) No more than usual. Every year, around this time, players will start wondering what will happen with the trade deadline. Most of them know better than to pay attention to the Internet rumor-mongering. 4) I tend to think it’s unrelated to the rest of the stuff. Certainly, Phaneuf was a big name on the market, but I tend to think the talks will be big during the break, and then the trades will come after that.
Mark C asked: Any movement on an iPhone app for the Blog?
Answer: That one is a little out of my hands, but last I heard, they were trying to make smartphone versions of all the Kings-related sites.