I promised I wouldn’t forget about the open forum questions, so here’s the fifth set of questions and answers…
TrueKingFan asked: Noticed Hickey isn’t playing for Manchester. Is he hurt again?
Answer: Yes. Last update I heard was that he had an ankle sprain.
Kevin Y asked: 1) When do the Kings expect to be “active”? By that, I mean can we expect some potential movement at the Draft, or will we have to wait until July 1? 2) What does DL feel the Kings’ biggest needs are for the offseason. Kovalchuk (at the right place) and potentially Marleau could be good fits, but are these players the Kings have interest in? 3) How many points do you think the Kings will finish with next year? 4) Does Drew Doughty have any ‘bonuses’ in his contract for winning the Norris Trophy? (Not sure NHL contracts have incentive bonuses).
Answers: 1) I don’t think there’s any clock or timetable on it. I’m certain that trade options will be discussed leading up to the draft, and I don’t think there’s anything that would prevent the Kings from making a deal at the draft if it was the right one. 2) I’m sure there’s interest in both of those players, on the Kings’ behalf, but there’s going to be a lot of teams interested in those two players, and it’s not yet know what the salary range for them will be. 3) Wow…I think I’ll at least need to see the Kings’ roster, and the rosters of the other 14 Western Conference teams, before I can start making guesses there. 4) I don’t know specifically about the bonus, but yes, I’d feel very safe saying that Doughty’s contract has a bonus that kicks in if he wins the Norris. He might even have received a bonus for being a finalist.
Barrie G asked: In your opinion will the Kings go after Kovalchuk?
What are your thoughts about him personally and how he might fit into our current lineup with the projected additions and subtractions? Is it a good move for us?
And if not him, who? Because we definitely need a some more firepower up front.
Will we add from within or go out and get someone to fill the shoes of Randy “The Experiment Gone Bad” Jones and possible departures like OD?
I think someone else mentioned it but where is Ersberg going or what will happen to him because I think it is pretty obvious Bernier is ready to one of the two goalies here in LA along with Quick.
We know In N Out and Tommy’s constantly duke it out for supremacy in your stomach but what about a good sit down burger?
I hear the Buffalo Fire Department (AKA BFD) is a up and comer in the burger scene.
Answers: 1) Well, the term “go after” is always sort of vague. It’s like Lombardi said in the last GM breakfast, to a fan. How much do you want to spend? How many years do you want to give him? He already turned down a seven-year, $70-million contract, so if that’s his starting point, I don’t think there will be much “going after.” If he’s willing to go lower than that, the Kings’ interest will rise. It would be silly for me to say that adding a 40-goal scorer would be a bad thing for a team, especially one that still has 5-on-5 issues. Marleau’s name is another you will probably hear. Other than that, I don’t see a lot of obvious potential fits on the free-agent market, but that’s when you start looking at trades, and those are impossible to predict. 2) That probably depends entirely on how ready those prospects are. I tend to think the Kings will probably add one defenseman from outside and try to bring along one of the prospects. Who’s ready? Voynov? Hickey? Muzzin? Martinez? Someone else? Developmental camp, and training camp, will be huge times for those guys. 3) Ersberg is still under contract for one more season. Is it possible he would be included as a piece in a bigger trade? Is it possible he might play in Europe? Neither of those things would stun me at this point. 4) I’ve yet to try BFD, or The Counter. I still miss Fuddruckers.
bob asked: I would like to know why Bernier wasn’t considered being brought up during the 1st round. Quick started strong, but by games 3 and 4, it was clear he lost his confidence. The Kings had no problem bringing up Bernier when they were on the verge of missing out of the playoffs, so why wasn’t he brought up during the playoffs?
Answer: I guess I have a few issues with the question. One, when were the Kings “on the verge” of missing the playoffs? My memory might be faulty, but I never remember them being fewer than four points ahead of the ninth-place team, or being in eighth for more than about two days. Two, Bernier was called up late in the season because the Kings said Erik Ersberg strained his back and was determined to be unavailable. Beyond that, I’ll cut and paste from a previous answer: “I’d say management was very clear and consistent, from the start of this season, that Bernier’s path was to stay in Manchester for an entire AHL season, win and thrive. My thoughts on that are, while it might have been better in the short term for Bernier to come up for the playoffs, it also might have been devastating. What would happen if he thrived? Would the Kings win the Stanley Cup? Probably not. Would it destroy Jonathan Quick’s confidence? Probably. And what if Bernier fell on his face in the playoffs? Then you’ve just potentially (mentally) killed both of your goalies.
Scot asked: This question has maybe been asked before, but I was curious.. Have you become pals with any of the players? Any players you have hung out with at all, or maybe went to coffee with on the road? You seem like a very easy guy to have around and talk to, I could easily see players willing to hang out with you. Or is it completely a professional, separate relationship? If I had to guess, I could see you and Matt Greene going out for a beer. Although I don’t know if any players could put away a 6-pack as quickly as he could.
Answer: No, I don’t spend any “social” time with the players. It’s just better that way. I’m not a part of their team, and I’m appreciative of the professional way that they treat me and I wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that. They’re very friendly guys, and I’m glad to chat with guys if we’re on the same elevator or waiting in line for coffee, or something like that, but the reporter/athlete relationship is much better off without socializing away from the rink.
Jeff asked: Whether it be the job, the team, the travel, what surprised you the most this season?
Answer: Not that much, because I’d been through it, to a lesser extent, with the paper before, in terms of covering a season, being on the road, etc. A couple things, though. I mentioned this one earlier, but the hours the players have to put in. Again, I know they’re very well compensated for what they do, but there are a lot of flights that get in a 2 a.m., followed by a morning practice or even a game the next day. If I’m tired the next day, and I haven’t taken one stride on the ice, I know they must be tired. Also, I was impressed by the work and hours put in by the broadcasters and their production team. It might only be three hours on the air, but there is a lot of work that goes into making those three hours look/sound good.
Marc Nathan asked: I had a long talk with a former NHL employee, who I have been friendly with for decades. He and I opined on the Terry Murray use of coming up with new line combinations from training camp through the last game of the playoffs. While we both acknowledge that in the post lock-down NHL, this is more common than in decades past, TM’s juggling was beyond the call of normalcy. So, my question is, in private “exit interviews” with management that does NOT include the coaching staff, (meaning DL, Hextall, et al.) do Kings forwards come forward and actually say, “Hey, I could have done better if I had just played with X and Y and not been shifted around every 3rd period” or do they just suck it up, and go with the “Coach got us to the playoffs as a team for the first time in eight years, so praise Terry Murray.” I’m really curious to know your take, and of course, without naming names, if you HAPPEN to hear some rumblings from the players. (A “competing” blogger, who has also been my friend for the better part of a decade, swears that the players don’t like certain players and that he receives texts from them about stuff like that all the time. Personally, I think he’s delusional, as much as I love him and value our friendship, I have a hard time believing that at any given moment, (hypothetically) Rich Hammond (or competing blogger) looks at his cell phone and sees a text from Jack Johnson saying “I don’t like Davis Drewiske.” LOL. So… your take on the real skinny about constant juggling in the Kings circus that is forwards.
Answer: The short answer is, it probably bothers some guys more than others, and it probably depends a lot on what role they’re being put into. If I’m Brad Richardson — and I’m using this as a totally hypothetical example — I probably don’t mind “juggling” if I’m being moved up to play with Wayne Simmonds and Anze Kopitar, and I probably do mind “jugging” if I’m playing with Raitis Ivanans and Jeff Halpern. So I think, more than players being frequently moved around, they’re much more concerned with the way they’re being used. Between 5-on-5, power play and penalty kill, there’s really no reason why a player shouldn’t feel comfortable playing alongside any other player. Maybe there are issues of “fit,” as in, I’m a sniper and you’re putting me with guys who don’t pass the puck, but again, that’s more about the “quality” of a change than the frequency of the changes. In this case, I will use Richardson as a real-world example. In his exit meeting last year, he flat-out told Murray that he hadn’t been used the right way. Not “I was moved around too much,” but “You didn’t use me correctly.” I think there’s a difference there. I think complaints about frequent line changes are overrated, because on the flip side, if a coach didn’t try to make enough changes, he would get slammed for that, too. The only risk you run, as a coach, in making frequent changes is creating a sense of panic. It does surprise me a bit that Murray, such an even-keel coach in every other way, is so quick on the draw. As for the other thing, yeah, I have zero comment on that my friend.
JeffA asked: The big question in my mind is what do we do about the goalie situation? You’ve got three guys in the mix, none of whom are, IMO, the answer: 1) Quick. Pretty much proved in this series that he’s not the number one goalie we need. Even with Luongo playing sub-par we still got out-goaltended. 2) Ersberg. Clearly there’s no faith in EE. That’s why Quick played so many minutes and even started back-to-back games regularly. Ersberg is not part of the future. 3) Bernier. There’s nothing else for him to do in Manchester. So what’s the plan? Use Bernier and Quick as your #1/#2?
Answer: Yes. Unless someone has a particularly amazing/terrible training camp, I think it’s reasonable to assume that will be the plan.
jammer06 asked: What kind of traffic did you see on this site especially the difference between regular season and playoffs? Did anyone track the ip info to see where the out of town traffic is? Just curious tell us what you can since I know some of it has to stay secret
Answer: The traffic was huge during the playoffs, to the point that the server could’t handle it and we had to move. I’ve yet to see the exact numbers, but I know it was big. I’m sure there was a lot of out of town traffic, since the Kings were playing Vancouver, and judging by the comments I know there’s a significant amount of traffic, already, that comes from outside the Southern California area.
EncinoMan asked: I remember the talk last year around this time was about how the Kings would be able to take advantage of teams that needed to dump salary to get under the salary cap, by getting quality players at a cheaper trade value. I think maybe Ryan Smith being one if those. My question is, has that time come and gone, or is there opportunity for that again?
Answer: Yes, and that’s part of the reason I’ve been encouraging readers to not just focus on free agency this summer. I do think, though, that the Kings’ window for that type of thing is closing, simply because they’re rapidly reaching the point at which they’re going to have to start re-signing some of these young guys (Doughty, Simmonds, etc.) to new contracts. They can’t tie up all of their money in free-agent and trade acquisitions, and leave themselves handcuffed if Doughty wants a seven-year contract and they’re up against it on the cap.
El Guapo asked: 1. Why do you think the Sedins and Samuelsson were never targeted for (clean) physical play during the series? Seems like Demitra took some big hits but those guys that scorched us hardly any. Could have helped to make ‘em a little black and blue. 2. After Richardson’s breakout season, where could you see him fitting next year? 3. If Calgary blows up its franchise, any chance Iginla could be on the market? 4. From your understanding, does management recognize our glaring lack of team speed? 5. Did you feel Clune did his job as an agitator / pest? I saw him yapping a bit, but few pushes / shoves / face washes / etc. The Canucks certainly never seemed riled up by him. Can he improve and/or what about Clifford (could he be NHL-ready next season) or someone else? 6. Read between TM’s comments about JJ and DD, and it seems there may have been a bit of competition between the two young stud dmen earlier on. Did you see any evidence of that, and to what would you attribute its seeming resolution? 7. Any residual bad feelings, do you think, from DL’s comments about Michigan that might make re-signing JJ difficult? 8. How does Doughty stay so amazingly level-headed among the incredible amount of fanfare he’s receiving at such a young age? Kind of belies the spoiled, arrogant kid superstar stereotype- and is really impressive. 9. Which prospects do you think will have the best shot to stick next season- Schenn, Loktionov, Voynov, etc? 10. What’s your overall feeling for your first year in this capacity, and what would you like to do differently next season?
Answers: 1) I’ve seen this before…do people really think it never occurred to anyone to try to hit the Sedins? The best players are the best players for a reason. They know what to do, where to go and, perhaps most importantly, where not to go. And you can’t hit what you can’t catch, which was a problem for the Kings in general against the Canucks. 2) Probably the same type of role, a utility guy who can fill in a lot of different spots depending on need. He seems to particularly play well with Wayne Simmonds. 3) I think it’s been fairly public that Iginla might be open to a trade if Calgary decides to go through a major restructuring, yes. 4) Well, you’re taking your opinion and calling it a “glaring” weakness, so it’s not quite asking them if they recognize that the sky is blue. I don’t think that team speed is the single reason the Kings are sitting home today. 5) Clune was in 14 regular-season games and four playoff games. I’m going to need to see a little more of him in order to make that determination complete, but it certainly looked like he did his job to me. He was going after it in warmups, even. Again, that wouldn’t be my biggest concern, but a guy like Clifford fits under that same category as Clune, yes. 6) Well, I’m not going to talk about how to “resolve” this theoretic feud, because I don’t believe it exists. What Terry Murray was saying is that they were being too competitive on the ice, each trying to do too much out there. I would think that’s not uncommon for two guys with high skill level, particularly two young guys. You see it all the time in basketball, with guys who want the ball. It doesn’t mean they dislike each other. It means they want the ball. 7) No, that’s played out. I’ve seen Lombardi and Johnson speaking several times since then. 8) Yes, I agree. It’s very easy for a young player, particularly one playing in Los Angeles, to have his head swell. You see it much less in hockey, though, than you do in other sports, do it doesn’t surprise me that much. As Terry Murray said, it’s a credit to his parents for giving him a good base in life. 9) Have answered this a few times now, but I would add Moller, Hickey and Muzzin to your list of potentials as well. 10) The first year was great, everything I hoped it would be. There are things I can improve upon, in terms of regular features and integrating more pictures, videos, podcasts, etc.
Garrett asked: How is it that Doughty, Schenn, and Hickey have such high cap hits next year? I was under the impression that rookie contracts top out at 300K per year for the first 3 season (plus any bonuses?.
Answer: The bonuses that young players have written into their entry-level contracts must be included when the salary cap is calculated at the start of the season. The three guys you mentioned are high first-round picks, so their level of bonuses is quite high.
Chris asked: There’s a lot of speculation about Kovalchuk coming to LA, is it pure speculation does Lombardi have legitimate interest in him?
Answer: I’ll cut and paste a previous answer: “Well, the term “go after” is always sort of vague. It’s like Lombardi said in the last GM breakfast, to a fan. How much do you want to spend? How many years do you want to give him? He already turned down a seven-year, $70-million contract, so if that’s his starting point, I don’t think there will be much “going after.” If he’s willing to go lower than that, the Kings’ interest will rise.”