Kicking off the “Open Forum” answers, here’s the first set. We’ll see how many I can get through today…
deadcatbounce asked: Hi, Rich! Just wondering what your take on the Evgeni Nabakov situation is. Do you think he’ll eventually report to the NYI so he doesn’t have to be stuck on the island all of next season? Thought I heard that he can’t be traded, either, but is there any way he can waive his NMC and maybe they can work something out with the Wings in the end? Thanks.
Answer: Isn’t it a fascinating situation? Well, there are a couple things that could happen. I don’t see him reporting to the Islanders. He doesn’t seem to have any interest in them at all. So, either he stays out of the NHL or the Islanders work out some type of trade, but even if Nabokov agrees to waive his no-trade clause, he would have to go through waivers again, so once again it would be a crapshoot as to where he would end up. I’d have to say the odds are that he just won’t be in the NHL any time soon.
Goring 19 asked: Hey Rich, how many suitcases you gonna need for this upcoming road trip? Also, can you get Heidi to answer some questions on here sometime? She’s prettier than you.
Answer: I do believe that your second question/point would be absolutely unanimous… A summer “Open Forum” with Heidi? Not a bad idea at all, although I know she does a very good job of communicating through her Facebook and Twitter accounts, so I’m sure she would be more than happy to answer your questions there at any time. As for the first point, the upcoming road trip really isn’t that bad. A lot of people are throwing around the phrase “10-game road trip,” but it’s not. It’s a three-game trip, and then we’ll be home for three full days before flying out to Washington. Then, after the Islanders game, we’ll be home for three days before the game at Anaheim. Clean laundry, not the suitcases, will be the most important factor here.
Rob M. asked: How many times has the Toronto war room turned over on ice calls this year and last year? It seems that the “burden of proof” is much higher this than last to over turn a call.
Answer: I don’t have the numbers on that, but obviously the Hanzal goal has remained a strong topic of conversation in the past week. One point that was made, and I don’t disagree with it, is that Toronto might tend to stick with the on-ice call, in order to avoid “embarrassing” the on-ice officials. I put embarrassing in quote marks, because I think that’s fairly ridiculous, if, in fact, it takes place, either purposely or subconsciously. If they’re going to pay all that money, and use all that manpower, on video review, the focus should be on correct calls, not hurt feelings. I’m not trying to suggest anything. I’m just putting that out there as a general statement.
Vahe asked: Do you think Justin Azevedo will ever make the big club? Or is he a career AHLer? I think he would be a great spark plug in the lineup.
Answer: Putting the word “ever” in there makes it a very difficult question to answer. I’d be lying if I said I had the definitive answer to that question. I’ll say this much, though. There hasn’t been a lot, yet, at the AHL level to suggest that Azevedo is going to break through any time soon. I’m not, at all, saying that smaller players can’t make the NHL. Clearly that’s not true. What I am saying is that in order to make it, they usually have to fill one of a couple specific roles. They have to be either the hard-nosed, fearless grinders, or they have to be in the “sniper” category. So far, based on what I know, Azevedo hasn’t clearly stamped himself as either, and given that there’s a big jump in skill, from the AHL to the NHL, he’s going to have to be more of an impact player at that level before he even gets a sniff at the NHL. That said, he’s a 22-year-old sixth-round pick. He still has plenty of room, and time, to raise his profile.
RabidZiggy asked: Hey Rich, a two-parter here, but related. 1.) If Loktionov keeps performing well, what happens when Sturm comes back from injury? I think Deano will send Lokti down either way rather than risk someone on the waiver wire. 2.)What about Parse? Assuming he can play again this season, does someone get send down? Thanks again for all you do with the blog!
Answers: As you might have seen a couple days ago, I asked Terry Murray this question, and he said it hasn’t even been a topic of discussion yet. I believe him, at least in terms of a serious discussion. Given how quickly guys can get hurt, and fall into slumps. etc., it’s very difficult to plan for something weeks, or even days, in advance. I think, to a large extent, Loktionov might hold his short-term future in his own hands. He looked very strong against Boston, but I thought he got exposed a little bit in a very intense game against a physical San Jose team. How he responds in the next handful of games could decide his fate. As for Parse, that’s getting way ahead of ourselves. Almost certainly, by the time he comes back, we’ll have reached the point in the season at which there is no roster limit, so he could simply be added back to the roster.
DanD asked: The kings seemed to have taken a step backwards this season. Jonathan Quick has been shaky and inconsistent and Bernier is still trying to figure things out. Have you noticed anything in particular, in practice, that Bill Ranford has been trying to work on with the goaltenders in an attempt to sort of calm them down and get them back on their game?
Answer: Well, Ranford is the goaltending coach for the entire organization, essentially, so I would estimate that he only spends half of his time (probably less, actually) dealing with the Kings’ goalies face-to-face. They have very frequent conversations, though, and there’s plenty of video review that Ranford goes over with the goalies. So the bulk of the work would be done in the video room, rather than working out things on the ice. To the extent that goalies work things out in practice, assistant coaches put a lot of shots on the goalies in order to work on things such as rebound control, glove work, etc.
puckbob asked: I really like the way Kyle Clifford plays- all out but not out of control, no fear, great attitude. What kind of contract does he have? Will the Kings sign him to a 2 or 3 year deal. I think he’s got what it takes to be an important part of our team. thanx Rich
Answer: As Quisp points out, Clifford will have two additional seasons, after this one, on his entry-level contract before he reaches restricted free-agent status, so you’re not likely to see a new contract for Clifford until at least the summer of 2012.
lionel asked: i have a question, just wondering if you knew(or can find out) the song they play during the stars of the game? My other question is what are hey going to do with Andrei Loktionov, because everybody is starting to get healthy.
Answer: I did my best to answer the Loktionov question above and, as Eric points out, the music played during the announcement of the “stars” is a riff from the song “Fix You” by Coldplay.
HockeyFan asked: As always great job. Are you the only one in the NHL with your position with a hockey club? If so you are really setting the bar high! I think Scuderi is the bonb.I think he is the backbone of the defense. Is he a vocal leader in the clubhouse or does he just do his thing on the ice?
Answer: First, thanks for the kind words, and thanks to everyone who is always so gracious with similar sentiments. To my knowledge, my position is still unique in terms of pro sports. Many other teams have hired website reporters, but to my knowledge, none of them have full editorial control of their content. Interesting point about Scuderi… Terry Murray made the point, last season, of mentioning that he was surprised at how vocal Scuderi is in the locker room. For the most part, he’s a soft-spoken, unassuming guy, and at no point is he a guy who screams and gets in someone’s face, but from what I know, if there’s something to be said in the locker room, Scuderi isn’t afraid to speak up. In my experiences, he’s very measured and often very analytical with his comments.
PaulHB asked: Thanks as always for doing this Rich. Where do you think Kopitar will be picked in the All Star fantasy draft and which team do you think will pick him?
Answer: I would think he will be picked somewhere in the middle rounds. He’s probably going to suffer a bit because the two captains come from Detroit and Carolina. Yes, Detroit is in the Western Conference, so Nicklas Lidstrom plays Kopitar four times a year, but Detroit is the most Eastern of the Western Conference teams, so you’d have to think that Lidstrom’s familiarity with Kopitar isn’t as high as, say, a player from Phoenix or San Jose. In fact, if you saw the note a few days ago, Phoenix’s Shane Doan specifically mentioned Kopitar as a player he would pick higher than many people would expect. If I had to guess, I’d say Lidstrom will pick him, mostly because of that familiarity that I just mentioned.
Brian M asked: Hi Rich, I’m hoping that Dean can swing a deal to upgrade our offense at the deadline. Failing that do you think we have a chance of acquiring Zack Parise? I know he will be a RFA and unles signed will become a UFA the following year. Do you think he would be a player that would be worth looking into a trade whether it be players and or draft picks if he becomes available? Thanks for all you do. Brian M
Answer: I honestly don’t think there’s any chance the Devils will let Parise walk. I know the Devils are likely to be in a salary-cap bind at some point, but I think they’re far more likely to follow a variation of the Chicago model, where the Blackhawks identified their core players and jettisoned a lot of the complementary guys. As for Parise becoming a UFA if he doesn’t sign, I’m guessing what you mean is that if he only signs a one-year contract this summer. In that case, if he does become a UFA in 2012, and the Kings have the cap room at that point, certainly I think they’d take a long look, but I don’t think it’s very likely that it will come to that.