Trying to answer as many as I can today! Here’s the fifth set of questions and answers…
King John asked: Will TM get Scott Parse into a game again, perhaps on the 4th line with Richardson and Clune? Is Halpern a guarantee to play every game?
Answer: It’s certainly possible, yes, and I don’t think Halpern is guaranteed to play in every game. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Clune-Richardson-Parse at some point, but Halpern would have to become a “negative” player in Murray’s eyes, and I don’t think we’re at that point right now.
ducksuck asked: also not sure if anyone asked already but what do the Kings RFA’s look like with guys on the team and minor league players? And do you think the kings will resign a guy like Piskula or let him go and make room for other young guys like Teubert?
Answers: RFAs on the team are Clune, Parse and Richardson. Prospect RFAs are Lewis, Cliche, Elkins, Piskula, Gauthier and Bagnall. It’s fair to say that players such as Piskula and Gauthier find themselves on the bubble, in terms of the Kings’ desire to resign them versus making room for another player. Of course, that worked out pretty well for Matt Moulson!
272727 asked: What is your prediction about Doughty “long term” contract? Cap hit and years?
Answer: That goes toward one of management’s favorite terms — “comparables” — and there aren’t a lot of 20-year-old defenseman who are already being talked about in Norris Trophy territory. Duncan Keith got 13 years and $72 million. I don’t know whether the Kings — or Doughty, for that matter — would want to go that “long term,” but that’s probably as close to a comparable as you’re going to get right now.
Alen asked: Hey Rich, My main question is about faceoffs. I have noticed a few times this year with minimal amount of time left in the period (5 seconds and less) in non icing situations that Kopitar has been taking faceoffs in the defensive zone. We all know Kopitar isn’t the best guy in the circle and even if he does win the faceoff he isn’t going to go the other way and score within 5 seconds. Why do you think it is that Kopitar is put in these situations instead of Zeus or Stoll? Just doesn’t seem very logical to me. Is this just another TM move to teach a young guy like Kopitar to be more successful in situations like this?
More about faceoffs in the Predators game. I noticed Richardson was moved up to the second line towards the midpoint of the 3rd period. Was this due to a Stoll injury or TM just didn’t like what he was seeing? Nashville did ice the puck a few times on consecutive occasions and even Jim Fox pointed out that the way you neutralize this is by winning an offensive zone faceoff. Unfortunately Richardson did not do this and the last icing that led to a faceoff was one that Richardson lost again and Preds went the other way and scored right after. I was just wondering what you thought TM’s logic was behind this.
Answers: 1) Good question, and to be honest I don’t have the exact answer. It would be interesting to look, though, at a single example and break down the scenario. The one that jumps to mind is the late-period goal in Calgary. I would be curious to recall the circumstances there. Had Stoll or Handzus — or both, since they had been playing together for a while — just come off a long shift? Had one, or both, been struggling in the circle? Had Kopitar been doing exceedingly well? All things being equal, I would think the Kings would want Stoll or Handzus taking those draws (as they seem to do late in tight games) but perhaps there are other factors? 2) I used to put a lot of focus on things like that, but coaches have a tendency to change up lines in the third period, when they’re losing, so much that I sort of stopped asking. It’s almost always pleasure with one player or displeasure with another, but it rarely carries over to the next game. If it does, that’s a real sign that a coach thinks a change is needed.
Busted asked: Do you like movies about gladiators? All right, now that Peter Graves tribute question is off my chest we’ll get to the real question. Who would you list as the all-time Kings fastest and slowest players in Kings history and how would they rank by position (goalies included – from the All-Quick to the All-Slower Than Concrete Team)?
Answer: What’s our vector, Victor? Wow, that’s almost impossible for me to answer. I’ve only covered the team for about 10 years, so that would be a much better question for Bob Miller or Nick Nickson probably. It’s interesting though, because I think there’s a difference between quick and fast. Some players skate fast, but they’re not necessarily the quickest to get to a loose puck in the corner. I think of Luc Robitaille as being a slow skater, but if there was a loose puck five feet away, Robitaille would be on it. Derek Armstrong is a great guy, but he wasn’t exactly the fleetest afoot.
KingPioneer asked: After every goal, they put a piece of white tape around the puck and write the numbers of the goal scorer and assists. Then the pucks sit int he Kings penalty box. Do you know why they do this and what they end up doing with the pucks? What happens if a guy scores his first goal and wants to keep the puck? I know they let him but do they put a fake puck in for the penalty box for scoring purposes. Thanks
Answer: I’m not sure why they keep every puck, although I would presume that they keep them in case there’s some type of “history” tied to them that isn’t immediately obvious (for instance, it’s goal No. 5,000,000 in league history or something). Regardless, in the case of a player’s first goal or assist, the player definitely gets the puck. Or, for instance, when Anze Kopitar scored his 100th goal of his career, he got the puck. I’ve always wondered what would happen if milestones collided, like if a player’s 100th goal was also the first career point for another player. Who gets the puck? Maybe they flip for it.
Ed asked: Wha aare your feelings towards the Milton Bradley situation? Do you see any similiarity with the Dan Cloutier situation with the Kings?
Answer: Milton Bradley. Ouch. You really know how to hurt a guy, Ed. Ha! Not really similar at all though, I don’t think. Cloutier was hurt and didn’t perform well. Yes, there was the famous “Motel 8” incident, but Cloutier wasn’t really a problem in the dressing room. Bradley is two forks short of a dinner set.
MacSwede asked: 1. Do you know if DL was close to bring in another puck moving defenseman at the trading deadline?
2. Do you think that DL will sign Kovalchuk if he demands the maximum salary?
3. Do you think DL thinks now is the time to act. I mean, if not Kovalchuk, then maybe trade for another high scoring forward, maybe trade some prospects and picks. Or do you think that DL thinks it is not time yet, and wants to develop the prospects further and just stick with what we have?
4. What would you do? (in above questions)
5. If Bernier is our second goalie next year, and he plays extremly well and gets more and more icetime, do you think this might harm Quick in some way? Can this situation harm both goalies?
6. Do you think Ersberg will still be a Kings next year (or a monarch at least)? Personally, I think that he will return to Sweden and play for HV71 in my hometown, because their current goalie (Stefan Liv, former Detroit prospect) is going to KHL.
Answers: 1) I wouldn’t really say “close.” There would have been interest in Hamhuis, but he wasn’t really available. Other than that, the Kings didn’t really see anyone who fit, at least not for a reasonable price.
2) The maximum, as in 20 percent of the cap? No, I really don’t.
3) I hate to sound like I’m echoing Lombardi here, but I think it depends on the “fit.” Ryan Smyth was a good fit last year, so they pulled the trigger on that. Lombardi isn’t going to make a move for a “big gun” just for the sake of making a move. In Lombardi’s view, the worst thing he can do is trade the farm for a big player and have it turn out to be the wrong player. That’s worse than doing nothing at all.
4) If the price fits within the structure — in terms of having enough to resign Doughty, Johnson, Quick, etc. — I would give Kovalchuk a substantial amount of money. He’s a rare player who has the ability to single-handedly change a game. But I wouldn’t do it if it meant risking losing Doughty, for instance. Patrick Marleau isn’t a bad fallback option.
5) It will only harm them if they let it harm them. If they take it as a challenge, they could both be better. They were head-to-head last year in Manchester, and there didn’t seem to be any problems, other than Bernier admitting that he sulked because he wasn’t in the NHL.
6) If I had to bet at this point, I think odds are that it will be Quick and Bernier in the NHL next season. Thanks for the tip on Liv. Perhaps that would indeed interest Ersberg.
Noble Savage: What does TM think can be done by his coaching staff to prevent sluggish starts to games? Does he think it is a players only issue, or is there something he could do? Also, does Coach Murray think his current system is built for success in the postseason though it seems to be ineffective against teams like Nashville, Vancouver and Calgary? Or is this just a failure of execution rather than systematic?
Answers: 1) Players and coaches have agreed that it’s a player issue, that players need to come prepared to play. There’s only so much a coach can do. He can’t go out and skate them before a game — I mean a practice, not warmups — and there’s only so many motivational tools a coach can pull out. 2) I’m certain that Murray would tell you his system is just fine. I would tend to think it’s like football. If you run your system (plays) better than the other team runs its system, you’re going to win.
Paul from Oxnard asked: I think the fans would all agree that we don’t want the Kings to play Nashville in the playoffs. :< Are there any teams in the west that you think are really bad match-ups for the Kings? Which teams do you think are the best match-ups for them? Answer: The Vancouver games struck me as games that really frustrated the Kings. It seemed as though Luongo made some big saves early and the Kings had the feeling of, ``We're not beating this guy tonight.'' Of course, a lot of teams probably feel that. Other than Vancouver and Nashville, I'm not sure it matters a ton. Chicago would be a tough opponent, but the Kings have played well against San Jose and Phoenix. Haven't seen enough of Colorado yet to judge.