When Jim Fox comes down with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, he’s probably going to send me the doctor’s bill and I’m probably going to have to solicit donations from you loyal readers. Just kidding, but Jim went above and beyond the call of duty in an amazing way today. I selected for him what I hoped was a good sampling of questions, hoping that he would answer a handful of them. What I got back from him in return was INCREDIBLE. He answered so many questions, and in such great detail, that I’m going to have to break it up into four parts. So I want to issue a public thanks to Jim, for taking the time to do this, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Here’s part one:
From Marc Nathan: Jim, Long time fan, (as you know.) Can you take us back to your rookie season (my favorite Kings season, personally) and tell us about some of your first NHL memories (on and off the ice 🙂 )
Jim Fox: My 1st year was difficult for me, because I thought as a big wheel coming out of junior, things would go smoother than they did…I ended sitting out 10 games or so due to coaches decision, so that was very disappointing…I remember seeing the Triple Crown line the 1st day of training
camp…wow they were good…we ended up with the best road record in the NHL that year…Bob Berry
was a coach who knew how to bring a group of guys together and it was a great feeling to play in road buildings and know we were going to win…Chicago Stadium…enough said…Boston Garden…as a Bobby Orr fan growing up…amazing feeling…
Off the ice…after a home game against Boston, we ended up at a few local establishments in Manhattan Beach after the game…my roommates (Larry Murphy and Greg Terrion) had an apartment down by the water…when we got home it was a little late so we weren’t expecting anything…when we got there and went into our own apartment, it was full of people, people all over the place…how in the heck did they get in?…and among the crowd was the entire Boston Bruins team…they were there to party and it was okay with us…I don’t know if that “stuff” happens anymore…it sure was fun…
From Scott: What is the secret behind the best hair in Southern California? C’mon, Jim, what products are you using?
Jim Fox: I used to use a lot of “goo”…don’t really know the brand…as I get older, I try to keep it as low maintenance as possible…last year, basically went “commando”, no “goo” at all…this coming year, not sure what’s going to happen, although I think I’m going to be using something again…that darn “head-set” hair…it’s tough to control…
From Jonny: Jim, Do you think it would make any sense to bring in a guy like Raycroft? How confident are you in LaBarbera’s abilities? Thanks.
Jim Fox: No doubt the #1 priority is getting the goaltending situation figured out…I think, that unless you can get to “the next level”, I wouldn’t do anything as far as bringing someone in…getting to that level is difficult…I don’t think a guy like Raycroft has the proven credentials that would get to the next level of goaltender…
I assume that Jason is the #1 candidate to be the #1 guy…unlike last year, when the roles were more defined going into camp, it’s up for grabs…Jason is still unproven, so that is a concern, but I know that the Kings players are confident in him, and that is half the battle…
1) There was an article about Bob Miller in the Press Telegram. In it, Bob was quoted as saying, “”I want to congratulate the Anaheim Ducks for winning the Stanley Cup. But that said, I’m jealous, I’m envious, I suspect I’m even sulking a bit. I always wanted the Ducks to win a Stanley Cup after the Kings did.” Bob’s always a class act but one has to feel that he shared the same amount of envy and heartbreak shared amongst the Kings fans to see Anaheim win the cup after having ended the Kings 40th Cup-less season. How did you feel after The Ducks etched their place in history?
2) In a game that The Kings played in Florida where they routed the Panthers. You stated that things were fun around Los Angeles these times. You did clear the statement by saying that it did not seem that way by the Kings’ losing record, but you stated that the youth of the team and the direction of the organization was exciting to see. What’s most exciting?
3) Do you have any particular favorite game of the past season? Any memorable ones?
4) Out of the Kings’ current roster (Cammalleri included, (wink!)), who reminds you most of the way you used to play the game?
5) Why do you feel Sean Avery has thrived so much in New York in contrast to his play in Los Angeles?
6) London. Excited for the game or Nervous for the travel? Aren’t you glad you’re not a player anymore?
7) Finally, most memorable Kings game that you and Bob called?
1. All I can say is that the Ducks winning “HURTS”…great team…but it “HURTS”
2. Not sure what you’re alluding to regarding the game vs. Florida…we did not televise that game last year…I was interviewed by Florida TV and was asked about our group of young players…I think that is what I was referring too…Kopitar…Brown…Cammalleri…Frolov etc.
4. I think I compare to Ladislav Nagy…offensive minded…quick…like to pass…I wish I had Cammalleri’s shot…oh well…
5. I think Sean had such a positive impact on the Rangers for a few reasons: 1. Energy was what the Rangers needed…their dressing room make-up was missing a little “zing” and Sean certainly brings that. 2. The “baggage” was adding up in L.A. and he was able to go to New York with a clean slate…also, we all knew that if he could focus and stay away from negatives, he is a pretty darn good player… 3. He had Brendan Shanahan as a teammate…they knew each other from their Detroit days and Shanny was able to guide Sean a little…I think that helped a lot…
6. London is exciting because of the “uniqueness”…travel logistics are a big concern…teams that have made long trips in the past have struggled at some point due to the catching up you have to do…travel is not as big a concern as it was under a more balanced schedule…something to think about when debating the “balanced vs. unbalanced” schedule…the Ducks were the 1st Pacific time zone team to win the Stanley Cup in NHL history…they are a great team, but I do believe that having it ‘easier’ due to the unbalanced schedule, helped go a long way…west teams will always have it tougher, but it sure helps the competitiveness of the western teams when the travel is held in check by playing so much against your own division and conference…I know that there are other parts to this debate…seeing teams too much…not seeing all the star players every year etc…but when taking about the ability to compete as a “fresher” team because you have less travel…it does make a difference.
7. Most memorable game as a broadcaster…Game 7 @ Toronto, 1993…what an atmosphere inside Maple Leaf Gardens…it was the final game of the “most physical” series I have ever seen… As far as Bob goes…there are 4 or 5 times every year where after the game I just say to him…that was great…I have the best seat in the house because I get to listen to Bob call it…his energy is fantastic and it is always appropriate for the given situation…he respects both teams and he respects great hockey.
From Brian: First, thank you so much for doing this for the fans. My question is this……….how has the game changed (on the ice) between now and the time you played?
Jim Fox: The game has changed in so many ways…the most basic difference is that when I played it was more of a “north/south” game…now there is so much lateral movement…now when teams get the puck and go on attack, they are all over the place…when I played it was mostly, stay on your own wing…same for defensive responsibilities…cover your side of the ice…now, your position dictates where you start when the puck is dropped…after that, there is so much more movement.
The European influence has been huge…they bring a higher overall skill level, even when you are talking about defensive minded players.
The biggest difference is the level of goaltending…goaltenders today are so much more effective, as a group, than they were in the 80’s…goalies are both efficient (play the percentages) and athletic…their understanding of the game has grown so much…it used to be, stop the puck and that’s about it…now they know a lot about the tactics their team is using and how that effects where the shots are coming from.
The game today is more exciting than it was 5 or 6 years ago (Trap), but I don’t think we will see the offensive numbers that we had in the 80’s because the goalies are that much better.
From HockeyOnly: Jim, why would the Kings even think about bringing in another goaltender, unless they are going to move someone like maybe Detective Cloutier, I think it could do the same damage that having Hasek around when Emery was trying to get his confidence in goal, that is if you have the Detective, Raycroft and Labs.
Jim Fox: Moving Cloutier would be almost impossible…especially at the beginning of the season…he will have to come in a play well for a long period of time before there will be much interest in him (unless financials become an issue for the acquiring team)…I’m for giving Jason a chance to earn the #1 spot…if that doesn’t work, then look to do something…that leaves Dan out of the mix for now…he will be given the chance to play, but he has to prove a lot to his teammates before he will be tagged the #1 guy…if it has to do anything with effort, I know Dan will give it everything, but positive results are what he needs more than anything…that would lead to regaining the team’s confidence…that is almost more important than numbers, but they go hand-in-hand…Raycroft is more proven than Jason, no doubt…I would just like to see Jason finally get his shot.
From Pete: Hi Jim, Were you as shocked as we were when DL selected Hickey with the 4th pick, or were there whispers thru the organization that a “surprise” was imminent? And can you comment on some of the other players the Kings selected this year.
Jim Fox: Was I surprised?…I would have to say, like most people, I follow the draft publications, so it was a bit of a surprise…I don’t spend a lot of time on the amateur players, so my knowledge in that area is as good as yours…I do know that they watched Hickey for a long time…it came down to potential “top end skill”…watching tape and seeing Hickey at the prospect camp, it is easy to see what they liked…he is a fluid skater and moves real well out there.
From Chris: Hi Jim, We all know about Dean Lombardi’s previous GM stint with San Jose. Based on the Sharks’ depth of home-grown NHLers, it seems he was especially successful in scouting and developing young players. The 2007 entry draft was the first draft where Dean Lombardi and his amateur scouts had a full year behind them as part of the Kings organization to watch young players, evaluate their talent, and make some picks based on all their hard work. From what you’ve seen & heard so far, what’s your take on Lombardi & Co.’s ability to sniff out players that will blossom into bona-fide NHLers? What sort of player does he seem to have a preference for? Do any of this year’s picks especially intrigue you? Can enough be said about Lombardi’s passion for scouting and developing young players? Thanks!
Jim Fox: Dean Lombardi certainly has a positive track record when it comes to scouting and developing players…the developing part is very interesting to me…the 1st time I met Dean, he told me that the development part might be the most important part…he used the example of a player that ends up being a solid NHL’er or star after he was a low pick..Dean thought that the development of the player by the organization had as much to do with the success than the scout who “found a diamond in the rough”.
As I have mentioned before, as far as amateur players go, I don’t know much about them…I do believe that Dean puts a high premium on character and how a player interacts with teammates and coaches…after the top picks,..that becomes even more important.
From KINGSFAN: When did it hit you that Kopitar was a special player, and a cornerstone of the King’s franchise?
Jim Fox: It was apparent to me that Kopitar had something special when I saw him at the prospect camp 2 years ago…the year after he was drafted, but elected to play one more year in Sweden…he had a breakaway (may have been a penalty shot)…he had a move that exuded skill and talent…I though then that he could make the Kings if he wanted to stay…along with all of the individual moments we can remember about Anze last season, his consistency was what really proven he belonged…night after night, he was the guy leading…I asked Anze what he thought he would have to improve going into year two, his answer wasn’t specific…he just said that he wants to be ” the guy” when the game is on the line…that’s a great answer.
From Mark: Foxy! Knowing that you started out well in your rookie season, what secret did you pass down to Luc when he arrived?
Jim Fox: I really didn’t pass on anything specific to Luc…he didn’t need much help…he had overcome doubts about his skating for a while, before he joined the Kings, so he knew what it took…I always tried to emphasize how important it was to enjoy your time in the NHL…due to a few bad breaks with injuries, my career didn’t last as long as would have liked and I tried to make sure that Luc took nothing for granted…I learned very quickly that I was only supporting something Luc already understood…his passion for the game may have been his most important “talent.”