Open Forum answers IV

Here’s the fourth set of questions and answers…

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deadcatbounce asked: Rich, I was just curious about, in your professional career covering sports, who has been your best and worst interviews and why (hockey or otherwise)? Thanks in advance.

Answer: Wow, “best” is very, very tough, mostly because I could take it in a couple different directions. Most fun? Most informative? Most memorable? It’s going to be hard to beat the linguistic experience of interviewing Rickey Henderson. The most memorable interview I did was for a story on former Dodgers outfielder Sweet Lou Johnson, who got his World Series ring back after he lost it in a botched cocaine deal. Worst? That isn’t even close. Former Dodgers pitcher Kevin Brown, by a country mile.

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Ziggy Stardust asked: Rich, do you believe that Dean Lombardi is willing to give up assets for a rental who will only be here for a short duration? Or, is Dean looking to make a deal similar to the Williams trade, where he obtains a player who is signed beyond this season? It seems as though the most attractive names on the market (Kovalchuk, Whitney, Ponikarovsky, etc.) are all short term solutions. Also, if the Kings are to go after another defenseman, what type of player will the Kings pursue? A puck mover or a crushing stay-at-home type? It seems like another physical presence could help, but, the Kings could also use help moving the puck faster out of their zone. Someone like Kaberle can help the special teams…

Answer: 1) I think, for the first time during his stint with the Kings, Lombardi would consider giving up assets for a rental. It’s still ideal to get a Justin Williams type, a guy with a couple years under contract, but if there’s a rental who would be a good fit, Lombardi will look at it. I don’t think, however, that he would give up the farm for a rental. 2) Good question on the D-man. I think they would lean toward a puck-mover, but not a guy who is going to expose them in their own end. Between Scuderi, Greene and (potentially) Drewiske, that’s a fairly solid trio. You’re probably not going to find Doughty or Johnson type skill out there, but perhaps a guy who fits in between.

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GreyPaws asked: I see Kopi turn around and say something to the wingers and d-men at the start of the period before the puck is dropped. What is he saying to them? Is it always the same thing or does he mix it up?

Answer: No idea on that one. I would assume it has something to do with positioning, as far as winning the faceoff.

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Jerry Mitchell asked: It seems to me a team can’t have two number one goaltenders. So if Quick proves himself a number 1 and Bernier comes up and proves himself a number 1, isn’t it likely one is moved?

Answer: Yes, I would agree that in the long term, a team can’t (and shouldn’t) keep two No. 1 goaltenders. But in terms of the Kings, that’s still a bit down the road. Again, Quick is only two-thirds of his way through his first NHL season. Bernier has four NHL games. It’s far too early to say that either, let alone both, is a true No. 1 goalie. But as far as the premise of your question, yes, I agree.

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RealDrew asked: 1) I know it’s a different experience when you are reporting for a team, but are you enjoying the Kings success this year? 2) Are you secretly a fan of another team (if it’s the Ducks I’d advise you to plead the fifth)? 3) What pieces need to be added for the Kings to become real cup contender? 4) In two years who do you think will be playing goaltender for the Kings? 5) Which King player do you enjoy interviewing the most?

Answers: 1) Most importantly, I enjoy what I do. It’s a remarkably fun job and I haven’t regretted it for a second. Second, it’s sort of how I answered a previous question. I “enjoy” it in the sense that it’s a compelling team to cover right now. Covering a bad team — hi, Clippers — every single year is no fun at all. So in that sense, yes. 2) No, I’m really not. I have allegiances in college football and Major League Baseball, but I’m neutral in everything else. 3) One top-six forward, one top-four defenseman and a top-flight goalie (something Quick or Bernier could develop into). 4) Wow, tough. I think it’s Bernier. 5) Current Kings? Tough call, but Jarret Stoll probably provides the best insight, overall.

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Berniernextroy asked: Rich can you see the Kings trading for either Ty Conklin, Manny Legace, Biron? A veteran with some playoff experience to have that insurance in case something happens with Quick. I wouldn’t trust Ersberg in important games since has only started 5 games, and Quick is on pace to start about 70 games.

Answer: No. If the Kings were concerned that goaltending was going to keep them out of the playoffs, they have one of the best young goalies in hockey down in Manchester, and they would very quickly call him up — even knowing that the plan is to let him thrive down there. Unless one of those teams wants to give up a goalie for a fifth-round pick, I see no wisdom in the Kings giving up any assets for a goalie.

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puckbabe asked: My question is about you Rich. How are you adjusting to being on TV? What’s it like on the road with the team and what do you do being away all the time? How much are you loving this job. How many hours a day do you spend doing this job, seems like I see something new no matter when I log on. What/who’s been your favorite interview/story? I know we all love and appreciate your work and this blog.

Answers: 1) The TV segments go so fast. They’re usually three minutes or so, but they seem to go by in 15 seconds. Jim is a big help. 2) I’ve been on the road before, covering baseball, basketball and hockey. Managing sleep is important, and there isn’t as much down time as you might suspect. I try to go out for walks and see the cities. 3) It really is fun. I’m enjoying it every bit as much as I had hoped. 4) I honestly try not to think about the hours. I will go back and forth with the work throughout the day, taking breaks for meals etc. 5) The most memorable story of the season has probably been Luc Robitaille’s Hall of Fame induction. It was amazing to be able to track his career, from talking to his parents, his friends, his teammates and then seeing it all come together at the ceremony. Thanks for the kind words as well.

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Coppper10-8 asked: By the short looks we’ve had during Kings broadcasts, i.e. when the players’ dads went to the PHX game, the Kings use a charter aircraft (Boeing 737) for road trips. Does the aircraft have any special type of/VIP layout? Anyone else gets to travel that way besides the team/support staff/announcers/yourself? Does the flight crew/cabin staff go to the games? Is the aircraft theirs (the Kings) for the entire season? Beats flying “the friendly skies” of United!

Answer: I’m afraid I’m not going to be able to answer your question well, if only because I don’t know much about aviation! It is a charter flight, but I wouldn’t say there’s any type of VIP layout. Just your standard rows of seats with one aisle. The entire traveling party is on the plane, which is players, management, coaches, support staff and media. I honestly don’t know if the crew goes to any of the games, but I doubt it because they have to have the plane ready very quickly after the game. And no, it’s not the same plane. So far this season we’ve probably had five different planes.

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Matt R asked: More of an idea than a question. I was wondering if it would be possible for you to do a feature on Bob and/or Jim and how they prepare for upcoming games. Also, I’d like to know more about their setup while calling games. Do they have a computer screen in front of them that tells them who is on the ice or are they just so good that they know every player all the time? That sort of thing. Would this perhaps be something that would lend itself better to a Heidi Kings Vision segment or something?

Answer: A fantastic idea, no doubt! You’re right, it might lend itself better to video, or perhaps some type of print/video combo. I’ll talk to some folks about that. It’s a great idea.

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kozak asked: the coaching staff seems to be in a quandry about what to do with Moeller. he starts on the 4th line due to lack of centers but seems to move up a line and play wing when Parse / Purcell don’t play the system. Management has already said that they envision him as a winger so is playing him at center right now the best thing for him? I know you don’t like to address rumors but do you think it’s possible for DL to get a 4th line cneter so Oscar can move up and play wing on another line?

Answer: I don’t think it’s so much about Moller as it is about the guys he is having to replace during games. For the most part, the reason Moller has been bumped up is because the player he’s replacing — either Parse or Purcell of late — hasn’t been getting the job done. The Kings have fourth-line centers they could bring up (Cliche and Elkins, to name two), so if you’re talking about bringing in a player, it would more likely be someone who could fill that third-line roll, so that Terry Murray doesn’t feel the need to play “musical lines” during the game. Moller has been doing fine, but it’s not as though he’s really forcing himself into that position, at least not yet. It’s more that he’s being forced into it.

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kluk68 asked: 1. DL in one of the interviews said that he is looking for the three players to improve this team. What do you think these players should be (forward, defense or goalie)?
2. As of right now we are playoff team, but when do you think we will become contender team? Or should I say based on our young player’s development how long do you think it will take to become a contender? And if there is anything else in this transaction other then become more mature, confident and adding those three players which I mention before?

Answers: 1) I didn’t see the interview you’re talking about, so it’s a little hard for me to reference it. My understanding has been that the Kings need two more “impact” players, one winger and one defenseman, in order to have the long-term framework in place. I suspect that the third position Lombardi might have been referencing would be one of the young centers, either Schenn or Loktionov, filling a spot. 2) Well, there’s so much parity in the NHL that just getting into the playoffs makes you a “contender.” Really, when you look at this season, which teams would you clearly identify as “contenders”? San Jose? Chicago? Washington? There aren’t many. The key is to get yourself in a position to be a playoff team every season, then be as prepared as you can for the crapshoot that is the postseason. The maturity and development that you speak of, that’s the key to being a perennial playoff team.

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