Spotlight on: Blake

There’s been a lot of focus on the Kings’ young players, and rightfully so, but I wonder about what this season will bring for Rob Blake. Blake turns 38 in December and he’s coming off a season in which he had 34 points and a minus-26 rating, his worst numbers in a decade. Yet, he’s still a valued member of the defensive corps, a presumed tutor for Jack Johnson and a probable team captain. Should be an interesting season for Blake.

In purely hockey terms, Blake is still a contributor. Not a $6-million contributor, but an imposing body on the blue line with a strong shot who can contribute on the power play. Plus, even though his assist totals dipped last season, he has scored at least 13 goals in each of his last eight seasons, and no more than 19 goals. So the consistency is there, in terms of goal production.

Is he going to improve at this point? No. Is he a Norris Trophy candidate? No. Blake isn’t going to get any faster, even if he is healthier this season, and as he gets older, the number of mistakes will only increase. Is he overpaid? Yes, although Blake can “earn” a good portion of that big salary this season if he comes through for the Kings in other ways.

A lot has been made of the Blake-Johnson connection, but I’m not sure too much can be made of it. With the possible exception of Kopitar, no player means more to the Kings’ future than Jack Johnson. Coaching will play a big part in Johnson’s development, but he could also benefit greatly from the type of “big brother” support that Blake could lend. Johnson has talent, but he’s also young and needs to learn the lay of the land, in terms of what it means to be a NHL player. Blake, who has seen it all, can help guide Johnson through his first full season.

Is a Blake-Johnson on-ice pairing the best for the Kings? I’m not certain, and that’s why I don’t have Marc Crawford’s salary… But I think it’s an interesting topic to think about.

Will Blake be captain? It’s an interesting question. One would certainly assume so, since he preceded Norstrom in that role. Blake isn’t a rah-rah guy, but then again, neither was Norstrom. It’s fair to say he provides the same type of leadership, and anyone with a Norris Trophy on his resume commands respect. I believe Derek Armstrong is underrated as a team leader, but other than him I can’t think of another viable candidate other than Blake.

Your thoughts?

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  • JB

    Man seeing it all down in writing now makes it pretty clear why DL went out and got Preissing and Stuart.

    That’s a good question about whether too much is made about his expected role to help tutor Johnson. The one rap on Blake has always been that he gets drawn out of position looking for those big hits. Now when he lays a hit it’s usually momentum shifting, highlight reel material so you’ve got to take the good w/ the bad. But Johnson doesn’t need tips on hitting- he’s got that down.

    The bad +/- numbers can be attributed to goaltending. Heck Matty had his worst year too at -20. So if we get decent goaltending Blake should be able to get those numbers up this season. Perhaps his value to Johnson is showing that work ethic that has allowed him to play 16 years and guiding him so that he doesn’t end up in the box too often given his reputation for a bit of mean streak. Not a bad thing he just needs to know when it’s a good time to express it. Don’t want another Avery type guy taking dumb penalties w/ a 2 goal lead.

  • kingofdodgers

    It would be nice if he showed a little nastiness, but that part of his game seems to be long gone.

  • 24diving

    I really hope that Johnson does NOT get paired with Blake. That would leave a rookie with the resposibility to cover for the constant being out of position that has always been Blake’s tendancy. In his previous years with the Kings it was not as noticeable due to the great play of Norstrom covering for him. A big responsibility like this is not how you want a new player to start out, you want someone who will help him.

    As far as the captaincy, I would like to see Armstrong with that role. Blake had his time. Armstrong has several more years that he can lead the team before a younger player matures to take it over. Blake may very well be playing his last season

  • Darren

    I think this will be a better season for Blake. With the additions on D, he shouldn’t have to feel like he is THE MAN on defense anymore. He understands there aren’t many moments left in his career and he may make the best of them. He will still play the point on PP and may be a tough sob on PK. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out for him. I do see him wearing the C, next season will be someone elses turn. I’d like to see him paired on the PP with Johnson.

  • Danny Ingamells

    Rich-marvelous job you have done for us media hungry Kings fans who are tired of listening to AM 570 to any hint of what’s going on with the L.A. Kings.
    On Rob Blake- I disagree your future assesment and his worth. First, he came to a new team that was burdened with dinosaurs on the defensive end- and I am sure you will agree the Kings were a one line team- not to mention the kind of goalkeeping the Kings had. During his previous tenure with the Kings, Blake had conciderable forward to play with in Gretzky, Robitaille, Sandstrom and Granato to name a few. What he did last season is come to a rebuilding team, and the numbers he put up were somewhat understandable, concidering the Avalanche team he previously played for also had considerably good talent. So let’s wait and see before we say Blake is not worth his salary or that he will not put up decent numbers or he will only continue to decline.
    Thanks, Danny of Pasadena

  • CBGB

    I will never forgive Rob Blake for ripping the “C” off of his chest, esentially quitting the team and forcing Dave Taylor to trade him. I’m glad his 6 million comes off the books next season and I bid him a not-so-fond farewell.

    Therte’s been some light chatter about number being retired as a King. If this happens, I will quit being a Kings fan forever.

    You cannot reward a traitor, and in my opinion, Rob Blake is the epitome of traitor.

    He will not be missed by this Kings fan… mentor or not.

  • fourtunato

    Perhaps a video of Blake as a king would have been better than Blake as an Avalanche SCORING agains the Kings.

    Just a thought

  • Kingsfan27

    Dang CBGB!
    I would imagine you have the same amount of hatred for Robitaille??? How can someone be traitor when management isn’t going to give him a raise he rightfully deserved?
    Not to mention that he was traded. He was traded from one playoff team to another. Why didn’t DT hold on to him until after the playoffs, and maybe try to rework a contract?

    Yeah, I can see how much of a traitor he turned out to be….the nerve..signing with the very team that he turned his back on…the nerve…Damn him for wanting to come back and help us out.

  • KINGS17

    What does this season hold for Rob Blake?

    Hopefully a trade at the deadline that nets the Kings at least one good prospect or young NHLer.

    Should he be the captain?

    Hell no. Give it to Army. Please tell Lieweke that it is time to stop riding this guys jock and to forget about retiring his number. He is not as beloved as management thinks.

  • http://juno.com Martin Hoffmann

    RH & DL; Thanks for making me a Kings fan again! No more AEG shallow slogans and hidden payrolls!

    JJ & Blake are not a good combo, and why Boyle & Blake are a perfect fit:
    Boyle only signed a 2 year deal and needs to play with Blake in Blakes’ last season. Blake has slowed down and needs to be a defensive player only and teach Boyle the ropes. The Kings are in desperate need of a big “stay at home” pair ala Nordstrom and Miller of a few years ago. My defensive parings are then:
    JJ & Preissing: Preissing was +40 with Corvo, ditto with JJ. Puck movers perfecto.
    Stuart & Vis: Stuart protects Vis.; 2 cannons at the point.
    Boyle & Blake: 2 big, “stay at home D”, Pupil & Mentor.
    Extra: Modry; Cheap filler who may have a few points left in him.
    My forward lines:
    Brown-Kop.-Cammie: The Marque and his Minions.
    Nagy-Handz.-Fro: CZE Magic? Shoot Fro, shoot!
    Calder-Army.-Sully: Does Sully grow up?; C for Army!
    Moulson-Lewis-Zeiler: 3D Energy! Can Lewis win draws?
    Extras: Thornton & Ivanans play against their peers.
    Ditch Cloutier: Hasen’t played well in years and the other players have no confidence in him.
    Ditch Willsie: -20 last year in a defensive role!
    Goalie: Let DL, RH, and Crow sort this out—NOW!! Give Labarbera the first shot!
    If the Kings get decent goaltending, they should score 84-90 points and vie for a 7-8 playoff spot. I think DL has a 4 year contract; so the Kings will finish “rebuilding” next off-season and go deep into the playoffs in 2008-2009.

    So long from Chiang Mai; Thailand, that is!!

    Training camp here I come!!

    Martin

  • Goon Squad

    Are you seriously still on the “Blake is a traitor” kick? Dude, you don’t need to threaten to quit being a Kings fan, you already have. This is 2007, and Blake is absolutely an ESSENTIAL factor in the team’s success or lack thereof this year. If the Kings are going to be any good, they are going to need Blake. Deal with it. Hope for it. Applaud it.

    If he never plays another game, his jersey is going up in the rafters, and that’s a fact. Like him or not, he has already stated that he wants the captaincy. It’s going to happen. Oh, and by the way he didn’t quit the team, money (not Blake’s ego) forced DT to trade him, and he “ripped” the C off, because he felt disrespected. Remember, both Blake and DT were trying to leverage the media to gain fan support. Taylor did it first, Blake tried and it backfired. Does anyone still care?

  • Paul

    I was just as angry about Blake leaving as everyone else. But the blame can’t be placed solely on his shoulders.

    Could he have given the Kings a “home town discount” to stay here? Sure, and he probably offered to.

    But the Kings have always had the reputation of being cheap when it comes to keeping talent, and this situation was no different.

    Plus, you can’t blame the guy for wanting to go to the team he did so he could win a Stanley Cup. He knew, just like all of us, that he would never get that chance in LA.

    Where Blake regained a lot of respect in my eyes was when he came back. He could have easilly signed with a team that gave him a chance to win another cup, but instead he chose to come back to LA.

    When Blake retires, his number will be retired by the Kings, and it should be. He’s only 1 of the top 2 or 3 blue liners in Kings history.

    However, I do agree that he shouldn’t be captain. Not because he hasn’t earned the privelege, but because he won’t be here long enough to make him a logical choice.

    Even if Blake finishes his career here, it’ll only be maybe 2 more seasons including the upcoming one. I can’t see him playing into his 40′s.

    So give the C to a younger player who will be here for a long time and can lead this team into the future.

    My choice for captain would be Camalleri. For the last few months of the season last year, we kept hearing how Camalleri wanted an A on his sweater. I say give him the C. He’s the team leader on and off the ice.

    Finally, CBGB, well, let’s just say the Kings organization won’t suffer if you quit being a Kings fan. ;)

  • fulton

    Rob Blake has something to prove this season.

    He needs to show that he can still effectively use his body to keep opposing forwards honest, he needs to step up and be the leader that he is capable of being, and he needs to stay healthy.

    No doubt that he came into camp last year flabby and out of shape. I realize he is another year older, but here’s to hoping this he utilzed the off season wisely and both exercised and mixed in a salad every once in a while.

    If he truly wants to be a mentor to Jack Johnson he better show up to camp focused and intense, with a healthy desire to help take this team to the next level.

    I have a feeling when we walk into the Toyota Center at the start of camp and get a look at his chin-count we’ll know if he is serious or not.

  • Dan

    Rob Blake is a great role model for the young players, regardless of how bad his agent is.

    He shows up to training camp every season in top shape. He is the first person on the ice at practice and the last one to leave as well. His success as a player is due to hard work and passion for the game. Blake is all but a lock for the HOF and it is very likely that #4 will be hanging from the rafters in early 2009.

    With the much improved depth at F and D, and goaltending that should improve dramatically, it is very likely that this team will see some post season action this upcoming season.

  • WhoThePuck

    As a long time Blake supporter and one who never ever boo’d Blake, I can say I’m not sure what to expect.

    Another year older is the only fact that isn’t arguable.

    My hope is he is a contributor on the 1st powerplay, but will probably be on the 2nd as his shot seemed to have lost all accuracy last year or the guys in front had no idea what to do with it.
    He will be a 2nd line defenseman, but hope he could be a 1st liner still. I don’t think Johnson is a good pairing as Johnson may need someone to cover for his rookie mistakes and Blakey might not be able to do that anymore.

    Just my 2 cents and I hope I am pleasantly surprised by the Rob of 2007/2008.

  • Pierroth

    I’m with Goon Squad. What’s done is done. Time to move on towards the future. Blake is not only still a key member of this year’s team, but he will be an integral component of the Kings for years to come. It’s pretty clear to me that Deano laid it all out for Blake a year ago regarding his role as a mensch to these kids, and Blake has clearly accepted it. For that, he deserves the “C”. Whether this turns out to be Blake’s final year on the ice or not, I’m certain that Blake will continue to provide invaluable assistance to the team for the foreseeable future.

  • BobMillersHair

    Blake will do for Captain this year. He has more in the tank. I think his +/- and offensive numbers will improve due to a strengthened defensive core, which in fact will improve goals against average for the team.

    As far as Assistant Captains:
    Personally, I like the idea of Cammalleri and Brown getting the nod for the A on their sweater.
    Cammalleri for sure is a leader.
    Brown, I would love to see this guy develop into a captain type personality, ala Mark Messier.
    .Who wouldnt, I know.
    It can happen. The guy just had mouth surgery so that he wont have that terrible lisp. Doesnt qualify him, but it helps when he maybe trying to motivate teammates in the dressing room and not tthhhpeaking wittthhhh that litthhhpp.
    Go Kings! Go Dustin Brown!!

  • JB

    A C for Cammie? Eh- Not sure that he’s shown the character. Yeah great numbers for 1 season but has he shown the heart and soul?

    You know who I think would benefit best from having the C if your going to go w/ one of the kids? Brown. Came in last year better conditioned and charged hard on every opponent. Giving him the C would reward him but also let him know that he’s expected to continue w/ that and it gives him that title that says, “It’s your job when our team is down or has their backs against the wall to turn that tide w/ some energy”

    It isn’t neccesary for your C to be the top scorer/talent. On that note though I also think Kop is ready. He’s shown us that he’s more advanced than his years let on. Perhaps he’s got the maturity to be a C.

    I think though giving it to Brown would reap greater rewards in showing him that the team has confidence in him. That will hopefully spur him on to continue his advancement.

  • Chewy Rocky Horror

    The difference between Blake and Robitaille was Luc didn’t create a distraction in training camp by tearing off the “C” and cry to the media. Once he realized he was being a baby, he took back the “C,” but the damage had already been done.

    Luc was trying to negotiate with the kings but DT low-balled him to the point where he had to see what was out there. The kings didn’t match Detriot’s offer and so he left.

    Lastly, Blake said he was going to test the market. He signed the day before UFA for ridiculous money.

    I’m in the “does not deserve his #4 to be retired” camp.

  • Scott

    Do we know that Blake will be ready to play when camp starts? He had surgery in the off-season and last time I saw him (months ago, admittedly), he was on crutches.

  • Jon

    Those of you who are seeing Armstrong as captain material (or are even advocating it) need to have your eyes checked, in all honesty.

  • David

    He had hip surgery in early April, over four months ago. How is he progressing? Will he be able to start the season @ 100%?

  • Kyle B.

    Kopi for Captain!

    Blake’s washed up and we need to look for a leader that will lead the team through the decade…

    Army deserves an “A” for sure, but maybe also Blake, just for shits and giggles.

    I agree with anyone who even thought that Blake was a million dollars overpaid. He will never be worth $6 million again (if he even was close to being near worth that much). This is Rob’s last year at 6.0 million, and it’s off to retirement or a 4.0 million dollar salary…if that.

    Look for the young guys to make more of a difference. Love Blake’s cannon and love for the game, but I haven’t seen 6.0 million dollars worth of a defenseman through him. Let’s put it this way, 6.0 million buys any one of these players:

    Havlat
    Naslund
    Tanguay
    Kariya
    Schneider
    Turco
    Zubov
    Souray
    Nabokov
    Kiprusoff + Hejduk
    Savard
    Heatley
    Spezza
    Kubina
    Elias
    Brodeur
    Drury
    Shanahan
    Jagr
    Gagne
    Gonchar
    Hossa
    Vokoun
    St. Louis
    Ovechkin (on an off year)

    For those of you who justify $6.0 Million to a washed up defenseman who had ridiculous numbers last year, looking at these other players and their numbers that they each posted…is Blake worth it now?

    …no…

    Gotta love him though…right? :|

  • LA Kings 2010-2011 Stanley Cup Champions

    Hello Kings Nation. I found this blog 2 weeks ago and I have been in heaven ever since, Thanks Rich for all your hard work. With Cammy being my favorite King I really appreciate your gusto and dedication to keeping us all informed during and after his arbitration. Cammy is the man!

    As far as Blake goes, I think that he is a solid Dman. He should be on the second PP line, and paired with Boyle/Harrold on ES. Crow please don’t put him on the PK, he just stands in one place hardly moving (I can show you at least a dozen times where are opponents scored thanks to Blake’s immobility on the PK).

    That being said, as far as who gets the C, I say that we should do what the Wild did last year and give it to 1 player each month, since this is basically our core team for many years to come, every one should get a fair shot. Come April, we can then give it to whomever deserves it most (hopefully leading us into the playoffs).

    BTW, this is my first of many posts to come on this awesome Blog.

    Thanks again Rich and keep up the good work.

    LA Kings 2010-2011 Stanly Cup Champions!!! Go, Kings, Go.

  • WhoThePuck

    If Blake is surfing as has been mentioned elsewhere (note I don’t say reported as I can’t speak to the reliability of the source), he better be ready for hockey…..
    Of course I’m sure we know someone who could find out…..Rich?

  • David Guzman

    1. Blake was badly minus on his Colorado team his last year there, turned it around in his last gasp, ended up even with the help of a pretty good team on a stretch drive. He’s not what he was. Who is?

    2. I’m with CBGB, I’m not booing but he’s not to be trusted with the “honor” of captain.

    3. Funny how my eyes are open and I see DA and MC with plus numbers. Come to play every night Rob. 6,000,000.00 is a lot of bones for a washed up icon. Just don’t hurt the team again.

    4. It repeatedly occurs to me that Rob will not be ready and that’s why we upped Modry who was off the board last April.

    5. Not a fan of recycling these guys. Luc was one guy who worked out. We’re lucky he has the moral fiber to provide product for pay. Duchesne and Blake (IMO) were/are major boners.

  • Rob

    Here’s hoping to see CBGB on the street in a DUCKS uniform in the not to distant future…..Traitor.
    Get over it. Players come and go, its the institution of the team that you shoud be a fan of. You will not be missed, here or in LGK land

  • GregB

    As a long-time Kings fan, I think the Kings should retire the #4 but for a different reason. Remember back to days before Blake came to us from Bowling Green. The #4 jersey was cursed by the number of men who wore it before Blake. The biggest being Jerry Korab. (Even Jim Fox got rid of this bad number.)

    I was ticked when I saw the Kings saddled this new player with that bad jersey. He redeemed the #4 in the purple and gold. No other player should be forced to endure the #4 for the LA Kings.

  • Kyle B.

    Rich…

    I love your site here, but why did you put a video of Blake as an Avalanche scoring on the Kings and leveling Ziggy Palffy?

    I think I hate him now even more than I did before…thanks!!

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