Continuing with the open forum, here’s the sixth set of questions and answers…
Steve asked: After reading your interview with Leiweke, do you think Terry Murray played Quick more because they (Murray and Lombardi) had to make the playoffs to keep their jobs? It seems to me they had plenty of opportunities to rest Quick and play Ersberg but decided to go with Quick instead. Granted he got us in the playoffs but he was not sharp at all since the Olympic break/baby arrival and looked like he wore down.
Answer: It’s a fair question, and a very interesting one, but I would tend to think that the reason you saw Quick so much — despite what Murray said in the interview the other day — is that Murray didn’t have much faith in Ersberg and he knew, because of management’s slow-build plan with the other guy, that the chances of Bernier being recalled long-term were slim. The Kings were first in the West in late December, then slid. If they had stayed higher, I tend to think you would have seen Ersberg more, and seen Quick rested, but it didn’t work out that way. For the Kings not to make the playoffs this season would have been devastating for everyone, not just for Murray, but there’s also a little bit of hindsight involved here. It’s easy to criticize now — and believe me, I’m there with you — but did you really know, coming out of the Olympics, after he had basically been able to sit and rest for two weeks (with some practice work in Vancouver), that Quick’s play would dip so much? Maybe you did, and credit to you if you did, but it surprised me.
Andrew asked: Rich, do you ski?
Answer: I have, but not in about three years, and not particularly well.
number 6 asked: I wasn’t going to ask a question, but as Michael Cammellari just scored two goals in a minute and a half in a must win game, given the problems the kings had finishing, any regret in not having resigned him. This is a bit of an old story for the Kings (it’s an unfortunate piggy back with game six), the team not being able to score and Cammellari coming up very big.
So that’s my question. Do you think DL or the Kings have any regret in having let him go and what do you think they will do to address the problem of finishing 5 on 5?
Answer: Not at all. Cammalleri wanted $6 million a year and there were fairly loud rumblings that he wasn’t so great in the locker room. That’s a bad combination.
Ziggy33 asked: Given the kings depth at defense and in goal in the farm system, do you think dean will draft some top end offensive prospects in the draft? Or do you think dean sticks with his “you can never have enough young dmen” motto? Does having the draft in la put pressure on the kings to pick a high profile player?
Answer: All things being equal, I think they’d like to grab a high-end offensive player, but remember that right now, they’re sitting in the No. 22 spot in the draft. That’s quite a bit different from the 4-2-5 that they’ve had in the past three years, where you’re essentially guaranteed a top-level player no matter which direction you go in. To be honest, I’m not yet totally familiar with the level of depth in this draft, but in general, when you get to the lower parts of the first round, there are rarely “can’t-miss” players left on the board.
Marko asked: Rich – at start of season Davis Drewieski was the bomb – written up in Hockey News, etc – after his injury healed, couldn’t figure out why he didn’t get his spot back, clearly they had no confidence in Harrold, and I lost count how many bad passes Jones made in the playoffs, just brutal. Can you give us the true story on DD?
Answer: I’ll cut and paste from a previous, similar question: “In the eyes of the coaching staff, it was a confidence issue. They liked Drewiske’s potential, but they believe that for a player his size (6-foot-2, 222 pounds), he plays too much of a passive, reactive style, rather than really getting after guys with a physical game. Terry Murray theorized this season that because Drewiske played his college hockey (at Wisconsin) on a rink that was bigger than NHL size, perhaps he adjusted to playing more of a “contain” game on defense. I don’t know if that’s a good reason or not, but it’s interesting.”
Dominick asked: 1. Where do you stand on people who come on here just to try and bait other fans?
2. Why is it O.K. for a poster to come here and insult a player,but when people respond to them,in the same manner,their posts get deleted?
3. Is there a chance that if Manchester goes all the way,you could take a trip up there on the Kings dime?
4. You had some time off for personal reasons,and Kingsfans showed some overwhelming support.Did that have any kind of effect on you personally,or were you too caught up,at the time,to realize what was going on?
5. I’ve been asking for about 3 months now,wether or not you were going to keep working during the summer.Why did you wait so long to make an announcement?
Answers: 1) I’m absolutely against it, but it’s a very difficult thing to determine. Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t necessarily mean they’re trying to “bait” you, but there are very clear examples of it that I have taken care of during the season. 2) Because players and coaches are public figures, and because I’m here to write about them and you’re here (presumably) to discuss them. If someone posts an opinion, about a player and a coach, that you disagree with, it’s perfectly acceptable (and encouraged) for you to present a counter-argument. It’s not, however, permissible for you to insult that person simply because he or she holds an opinion that you disagree with. 3) I haven’t heard anything about that possibility. I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to it, but I don’t know that it’s even been discussed. 4) I’ve been doing this, for one outlet or anyone, for more than three years now, and I’m always overwhelmed and appreciative of the support of the fans and readers. It’s amazing to me, but always very appreciated. So yes, I never take that for granted and it’s always much appreciated. 5) Honestly, I didn’t know that I needed to make an announcement. One mistake I make is probably in presuming that people were familiar with the Daily News blog. I understand, now, that a lot of people weren’t. But there wasn’t even a thought, at any point, that I would stop working in the summer, so that’s probably why it didn’t even occur to me to address it.
bbb7 asked: Is it true that TM was having Smyth, Kopi and Simmer come in on the same day for their exit interviews and then decided to drop Simmer to the 3rd day and have Williams interview in his place? Is there going to be a coach for Heidi next season so she knows not to wear red to Detroit games and stops wishing ‘good luck’ to the opposing teams’ players after between-period interviews? Can we have fan voting on who should be in shootouts instead of TM’s picks? Can we have a limit imposed on how many times a particular Miller Lite commercial can be shown during one season? Or how many times “THATS A LOW PRICE!”?
Answers: 1) Yes, but then two-thirds of the way through the interview, he called Simmonds back in. Crazy day. 2) Yeah, I don’t think you’ll see that red sweater for Detroit games again, but really, wishing a player good luck isn’t the end of the world. She’s doing a job, not rooting for the Kings. I personally don’t wish any player “good luck,” but that doesn’t bother me. 3) Probably not, but the Kings did have 10 shootout wins, the second-highest total in the NHL. 4) I feel your pain there. I was watching a playoff game on TV the other night and I must have seen the same commercial eight times.
BernierNextRoy asked: 1.) Does management regret not getting a serviceable backup at the deadline to spell Quick? 2.) What’s the “plan” now for Bernier once he finishes up in Manchester? What are the chances he takes over the #1 spot for next season. 3.) What are the chances of us getting Kovie? Can we squeeze him into Deans plan? 4.) As for the burger wars, I would like to introduce the Habit. Thoughts?
Answers: 1) I really don’t think so. Who was out there who would have been better than Ersberg? And if there was a stronger goalie available, would you have wanted to give up a first- or second-round pick for a goalie who was going to play five or six games? Honestly, I wouldn’t. 2) I don’t think the odds are great that he comes into training camp and wins the No. 1 job outright, but I suppose it wouldn’t be the most shocking thing in the world. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if he came in next season and started 20 games. For now, Quick is the No. 1 goalie. 3) Again, I’ll cut and paste from 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. 4) Yeah, I’ve heard great things. Thanks for the suggestion!
Jeff asked: What is your favorite moment or fondest memory of the season? Whether it was mgmt, the players, travel, the job, fans, what surprised you the most this season?
Answers: 1) I’m really a one-tick pony on this kind of stuff, because I’m such a Chicago honk, but being able to get a free trip to Chicago is always a highlight for me! Getting to experience the Hall of Fame ceremony, and visiting the Hall, was a huge highlight. It was a lot of fun to be able to walk around, the morning of the ceremony, and see all the exhibits, and it was a lot of fun to spend time with Luc Robitaille and his family and friends. 2) I answered a bit earlier, but I’ll say it’s been hard for me to be surprised by a lot, because I’ve been around the team and hockey quite a bit in the past. The one thing that grabbed me was the amount of work and preparation that the broadcasters do. They’re only on the air three hours a night, but there are a lot of hours and days that go into making each of those games look/sound good.
doughtyfan_08 asked: wat happens next? do the guys go off on their own vacations then get called when training camp starts? do the players see eachother in the off season?
Answer: As far as the established NHL players, yes, they have no official obligations — other that perhaps personal appearances, that sort of thing — until training camp opens in the second week in September. Now, increasingly, players will organize, among themselves, on- and off-ice workouts in the summer. Most everyone, I would think, will take a few weeks to let their bodies recover right now, and then in June or July, they’ll start gearing up again. Guys who live, year-round, in the Southern California area will work out at the rink in El Segundo. If you’re there at some point this summer, you might see a handful of Kings on the ice, perhaps even joined by players from other teams who live in the L.A. area. As for players socializing, that’s pretty much up to them.
Carol Vadnais asked: 1) Which prospects have the best chance of making the big club and, thus, allow Lombardi the flexibility to fill other pressing boxes via trade or in free agency? 2) Do you think it is possible that, if after training camp and Bernier is named the starter, Quick would accept a backup position or would Lombardi have to trade him? If yes, think Lombardi would anticipate such a “controversy” or “disruption” and pre-emptively trade Quick?
Answers: 1) Again, in no particular order, I would say Bernier, Voynov, Hickey, Muzzin, Moller, Loktionov and Schenn. I have no way of ranking their chances of making the team, other than a flat-out guess, until I at least see them in development camp. 2) That’s quite a wild hypothetical there. First, in that new three-year contract that he signed this season, unless it was written in that he was the power to not “accept” a certain role — and probably not, on that one — I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a say in the matter. Beyond that, in general, I don’t think any NHL GM worth his salt is in the business of trading every player with wounded feelings. Three-fourths of the league would have been traded at some point.
Lentz asked: Rich, who has the inside track on the defensive corps…Vornov or Hickey? What’s the toughest thing about the travel?
Answers: 1) Voynov, based simply on the fact that he’s been healthy, playing and, from what I understand, playing relatively well. Hickey just can’t stay healthy long enough to get any momentum going for himself. 2) Well, I should say that the travel, relative to folks who have to fly commercial on a regular basis, is not at all difficult, and I’m certainly not complaining about it. But if I have to pick one thing, it’s the hours, flying from one city to the next. When you figure that a game usually ends a little after 10 local time, then you might get to the airport at 11 and fly at 11:30 and, depending on where you’re going and a possible time-zone change, get to the next city anywhere from 1 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. and bus to the hotel. I’m more of a night person than a morning person, so it doesn’t bother me that much, but on a long road trip, those nights can add up.
Leo4kings: Rich, I truly thank you for doing such fantastic job all year around and giving the site and us fans, a place to vent. As far my question, there is no doubt I think in anyone’s mind that this team needs at least one true sniper, 2 more solid defensmen and couple of gunes(I don’t put clune in that category) in oreder to turn the page if we keep our core players. To me that’s 5 positions we need to address this off season. I need to know ur take on these specific needs and whether u agree or not? Thank you again Rich.
Answer: Well, in general I agree with your “wish list,” if you’d like to call it that, but I might encourage you to remember that there’s a salary cap now, and there’s also 29 other teams out there looking to fill needs. How many “true snipers” are out there? How much are they going to cost? How many “solid defensemen” are out there and how much are they going to cost? When you factor in that Lombardi will be looking at potential long-term extensions for Doughty, Simmonds and Johnson, you have to be very careful with how much money you’re throwing around, and to whom. Ideally, yes, I think the Kings need one more top scoring winger and one more top-four defenseman. If they can get those two pieces this summer, I think it will be a success.