Ten questions with Bob and Nick

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Here’s a new feature for the blog, and another great idea Don has brought to the table. It’s 10 questions with Bob Miller and Nick Nickson, who give some open and honest opinions about some of the issues the Kings are dealing with these days. There will be a second part, with color commentators Jim Fox and Daryl Evans. Thanks to all involved!

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Ten Questions with Bob Miller and Nick Nickson

1. How difficult is it to announce and analyze games when the team is having a horrible season?

Bob Miller: It was the most difficult season I have had in my 35 years with the Kings as far as staying positive during the season. We all thought the team would have a good chance at making the playoffs but we were out of it by Christmas, so we had over 3 months of games knowing we weren’t going to make it. The problem, as far as the telecast is concerned, is that it becomes difficult to find positive comments to make or to bring up stats that are not negative.

Nick Nickson: I remember a game back in the 1992-93 season where we lost 9-3 to Washington at home. I was not happy and became too emotional during the broadcast. After that game I decided that I have to temper my emotions on the air even though the game is lopsided (for or against). Obviously, the Kings fans know that I’m one of them and want the Kings to succeed. Since that game I have separated my emotions more from what goes on in the game to how the broadcast comes across. I don’t get too pumped when we do well and I don’t get too down when we lose. I guess it’s part of the maturity of a broadcaster who is hired by the team. I try to focus on what I can control and that is giving the listener the best possible broadcast regardless of the score.

2. Who was the hardest working player on the Kings this season?

Bob Miller: I think Derek Armstrong was the hardest working player on the team. He doesn’t score a lot, and has had to work extremely hard all his career to make it to the NHL and to stay there. I thought every shift he worked to the best of his ability.

Nick Nickson: I’d like to think that everyone who plays in the NHL is working their hardest. You don’t play in the NHL – and stay in the NHL – unless you’ve got a strong work ethic. If you are to quantify the performance based “hardest working” I would list the most consistent players on the team. Given this I would list Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Jack Johnson, Lubomir Visnovsky and Patrick O’Sullivan at the top of the list.

3. What prospect in the Kings’ pipeline is likely to become a star?

Bob Miller: I believe from what I hear from scouts and from the short time we saw him with the Kings this season I would say it will be Teddy Purcell.

Nick Nickson: The Kings appear to have a number of quality prospects that will turn pro in the next few years. I want to list goalie Jonathan Bernier at the top only because the franchise has waited so long for a home-grown goalie to make a significant impact on the team. A lot of people around the league also feel that he will develop into a first-rate NHL goalie. Let’s hope that everyone can’t be wrong.

4. What was the biggest reason for the disappointing season; was it lack of goaltending, depth on defense, all of the above, more….?

Bob Miller: The biggest disappointment this season I think was the goaltending. I believe we really thought that after his excellent season in the AHL last year Jason LaBarbera would become a solid number one goalie and for several reason, including injury, that didn’t happen. There is no way you can win anything is this league when you have to use 11 different goalies in two seasons.

Nick Nickson: I think the season’s disappointment starts with team defense. The Kings gave up too many shots and goals. Offensively the team did some good things but in their own zone work needs to be done. First you need a quality goalie who is consistently good night after night; second you need our talented young forwards to become better all-around players; and third the team can probably be a bit tougher to play against. Size and toughness on the backline would be a nice touch.

5. What components need to be added to the team to make it a playoff contender?

Bob Miller: To be a playoff contender the Kings MUST find a solid number one goalie who will play the majority of games, come up with a solid number two center, and acquire one or two experienced defensemen.

Nick Nickson: To be a playoff contender you need to shore up the areas mentioned in answer four…goaltending, better all-around play and a tougher team to play against.

6. If you were compiling a realistic wish list of players to add to this team, who would be on it?

Bob Miller: I’m not sure what you meant by a “realistic” list of players to add to the team. If they would be available I would like to see, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Daymond Langkow, Ryan Smyth, Sergei Zubov, Shane Doan and once again Ian Laperriere with the team.

Nick Nickson: A wish list eh? Given that anywhere from 2-5 positions will probably be replaced from within next Fall (from Manchester or young players turning pro) I don’t think the club will make a big splash in the free agent market. If available I would consider bringing back Mattias Norstrom on a year to year basis much like they will probably do with Blake. Other defenders I might consider would be Jeff Finger and Bryce Salvador. Up front among the free agents I would consider Daymond Langkow, Jay Pandolfo, and Ryan Malone.

7. Which former player was the most challenging to deal with off the ice, and why?

Bob Miller: Sean Avery due to his antics on and off the ice and his surly attitude.

Nick Nickson: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Hockey players are by far the best athletes to deal with from a media standpoint. They’re all accessible and let’s hope that never changes.

8. Are you typically recognized away from the rink, and if so, what do most people say to you?

Bob Miller: Yes, there are many times I am recognized away from the rink and most of the people say they enjoy our telecasts and that Jim Fox and I make good partners.

Nick Nickson: Since I left TV 18 years ago I don’t get recognized as often as I did back then. Most Kings fans recognize me because I’ve seen so many of them at various functions over the years.

9. What is the most bizarre thing to happen on the ice or in the arena while you were on the air?

Bob Miller: On March 5, 1988, some fan threw a live chicken on the ice in the first period while the game was in progress at the Forum. The chicken had what looked like a blue napkin on his back and was so scared it sat motionless and soiled the ice. Play continued for about 30 seconds as Kings players skated and stickhandled around the chicken until the referee stopped play and the chicken was removed.

Nick Nickson: A big surprise for me was a pre-season game in Las Vegas in 1998. The ice was bad so referee Rob Shick decided to scrap overtime and go to a shootout. Nobody expected this least of all myself. We all expected 5 minutes of sudden death. I look up and see Joe Sakic at center-ice to start the shootout. The fans loved it and the Kings won the shootout in 10 rounds with the legendary Sandy Moger getting the game winner. Who knows maybe this was the impetus for the league going to a shootout all the time.

10. Which team do you seeing winning the Stanley Cup this year?

Bob Miller: Your guess is as good as mine but I’ll say Pittsburgh.

Nick Nickson: Of the 8 remaining teams and given the starts to round two I like Pittsburgh in the East and Detroit in the West. Too me Pittsburgh is a lot like Edmonton back in the early ’80′s…all that young talent. If they don’t win this year their time should come sooner than later.

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  • Bob Bobson

    What a great feature to add to the blog Rich. It must have been really hard for both Nick and Bob to keep games interesting when the team wasn’t playing for a playoff spot for most of the season so hat’s off to both of them. After having Center Ice for a few years now, I have REALLY grown to appreciate all of the Kings announcers we have.

  • Irish Pat

    Amazing.

    This blog gets better every day. This is really great stuff. Thank you Rich and Don.

  • diehrdkingsfan38

    wow what a great idea, great to hear two Main King Broadcasters answering question, great idea Don! and great Job Rich!

  • Anonymous

    I look forward to That September day, where I can listen to a kings broadcast and have the pleasure of hearing either Nick or Daryl on the Radio, or Bob and Jim on the tube. You are most definitely the best announcers in the business.
    Bob you can’t retire, ever.
    Roger

  • KingFan4ever

    Two of the best broadcasters in ALL of sports. It’s always nice to know win or lose that the Kings broadcast will always be done in a classy and professional manner.

    Props to Foxy and Darryl Evans as well for the great color commentary however, I liked it when Nick was paired with Brian Engblom during the nineties.

  • Daniel

    OMG – “chicken had …a blue napkin”?!?!?!? Please tell me this will be OUR OCTOPUS from here on out? LA fans? That is f’ing amazing. This time next year we are all sneaking in a fresh Foster Farms hen con blue-napkin-cape. OK?

    On a more serious note – I love how Nickson’s answers to Q’s 4 and 5 rebuke Crawford’s denial that the Kings lacked toughness (see Rich’s last interview with coach.)

    Oh and the Bob Miller quote, I think Derek Armstrong was the hardest working player on the team, Anthony, are you OK? Stop hyper-ventilating. Sorry, Mr. Miller knows what he is talking about. Mr. Armstrong does not score goals but he plays as hard as anyone. I am sure the development of guys like Sully and Frolov has benefited from D.A.s play.

  • Ryan

    Bob and Nick seem to get it. Maybe Lombardi should spend less time looking at his ‘charts’ and more time actually watching the team play.

    Care to take a second stab at the UFA market this season Deano, L M F A O …sigh.

  • Goon Squad

    Daniel, you were joking right? I was actually at that game, about 8 rows back from the corner where it happened. It was NOT funny at all. I know it can be a fine line sometimes…different creatures have different levels of awareness, so you might think maybe it’s not a big deal. Let me tell you right now, it was cruel. It was a completely f****d up thing to do to a live chicken. End of story. If this happened in front of me as an adult, that person would not walk out of the building.

  • Dan H.

    What a great surprise to wake up to. I’m glad you guys do such good work in getting interesting things for us to read on every day. Thanks for your work on the blog.

    Nick chickened out on the “who’s most difficult” question but Bob’s answer wasn’t surprising was it?

    The Armstrong answer isn’t all that surprising. We’ve heard what a great locker room guy he is, blah blah. I just wish Crawford would stick him where he belongs on lines 3-4 and keep him off the power play.

  • DellaNooch

    Ryan, now that you’ve criticized DL, could you share your specific plans with us, so we can get an idea of why DL should spend less time on his “charts”?

    Let’s review first -
    #1 Goaltender – Its obvious DL is bringing Bernier along, but for good measure, there are other prospects in our system making it competitive (Zatkoff, Quick, Taylor). Please let us know about the #1 goaltender that was an UFA last summer that we missed on? We know DL tried to trade for Vokoun, so an effort was made.
    Defense – DL stated this was a problem on day one and has been drafting D ever since. He brought Blake back, who was a tough D man, but went a little soft when he got here. There is no doubt Stuart could hit, but his inconsistent start didn’t help, and just wait til the reigns are taken off JMFJ, who was known for punishing forwards in College. No doubt this needs to be addressed this summer, but Id like to know what hard hitting defenseman you would have signed last summer, please share, this should be interesting.

    Forwards DL tried for Drury and Briere, but instead, they both got long term 9 million a year contracts from other clubs, Briere had roughly the same amount of points as Kopi, for 8 million more, and Drury was in the neighborhood of OSullivan for 8 million more, playing on better teamsDL would have been roasted endlessly by this blog for making either one of those commitments. Handzus was a risk and certainly didnt pay off this season, perhaps next year, but other than those guys, Id like to know who you would have signed as our second line centerman from last summer?

    Youll find this very tough by the way and I expect you to be like everyone else Ive askedthat isyou dont have an answer.

  • Paul

    I’d like to throw some names out there as possible 2nd line centers the Kings could look at. Some are a bit older, but I think they’d be good fits regardless:

    Michael Peca
    Chris Kelly
    Bryan Smolinski (would LOVE to see Smoke in a Kings uni again)
    Steven Reinprecht

    All of these players are slated to become UFAs on July 1st (according to nhlscap.com), unless they re-signed and I didn’t hear about it.

    Regarding goaltending, if it’s NOT Ersberg or Bernier, then why not go sign Huet again for a 1 or 2 year deal and let Bernier tear up the AHL. Ersberg can back up Huet.

  • Marc Nathan

    Interesting to see both Bob and Nick mention Langkow as a potentially attractive addition to the Kings lineup. One wonders if Langkow’s bloated stats would suffer without playing against the Kings :)

  • Daniel

    Goon – Yes, I was joking. Notice I followed that with, “On a more serious note.” Also, I mentioned “Foster Farms.” They do not sell live chickens, at least not in this country.

    Langkow = Yes. But only a 2-3 year deal.

  • Ryan

    Della Lombardi,

    Don’t take my chart comments personally dude. It was meant as sarcasm. I know you put a lot of effort into them and I’m sure someone out there appreciates the work.

    And to reference your post and how it related to mine, I’ll filter out the irrelevant, obvious and that which is not worth replying too.

    When assessing the team needs for THE 2008-2009 SEASON (not the epic fail of 2007-2008)as you seem to be lingering on, I agree with Nick and Bob that defense, goaltending and toughness are areas of concern.

    Hopefully you are able to remedy those deficencies this year, if nothing more than by realizing Modry and Preissing weren’t the answers. Sometimes less is more, but I worry that history is doomed to repeat itself.

    [What the #$@! are you talking about filter]
    Comments on Briere/Gomez…
    [/What the #$@! are you talking about filter]

    [What the #$@! are you talking about filter]
    Comments on Vokoun…
    [/What the #$@! are you talking about filter]

    Labs can’t cut it. Cloutier is a joke. Maybe Ersberg? Third times a charm :). I’d hate to venture into the “Garon doesn’t look so bad now…” mantra.

    Comments on drafting D…

    Really Deano? You’ve been drafting D ever since? Any more so then from previous management regimes? I know you talk about the importance of defensive depth…

    And in response to your last statement. No, I don’t have the answers but it seems neither do you, your alternate message board personality, Nick Nickson or Bob Miller or anyone else for that matter.

    The difference is, YOU are paid to find solutions to problems, not me. I suppose if I were paid for it and had the time to give it adequate thought, I could put together a list of names pulled out form my magic hat, but seeing as it’s SOO much easier to play arm chair GM, I’ll stick with that and leave you to do what you are paid to do. But in the rare instance that you want my suggestion, it’d simply be to stay away from the UFA crap that no one else wants THIS TIME AROUND.

    Btw, I really do love your charts!

  • Goon Squad

    Paul,

    Sorry, I liked Smolinski too, but neither he nor Reinprecht are close to being good enough to center our second line. Boyle is going to be better than either of those guys, Lewis may still turn out to be as well. Even moving O’Sullivan or Cammalerri back to center would probably be better.

  • Eric K

    boyle will be that 2nd line center soon enough. thinking back to kopi, who somehow jumped to the NHL with ZERO growing pains, except for his injury… boyle will likely have some sort of adapting phase, but considering he’s 6’7″ and got a taste of the bigs this year, he’ll find his zone.

    great to hear some straight talk from Bob and Nick, not that i expected anything less from two great announcers. thanks rich!

    and don, you are a tremendous addition to this site.

  • Greg Ripke

    I want to thank Bob Miller for replying to all of my letters for all of the last 25 years. He is total class. I was at the game where the chicken was thrown on the ice. The Kings might well have tried him in goal.

  • http://enfcpp@yahoo.com Oz

    Ah yes, that Cap game….3-3 after one, 10-3 after two. First time I ever left a game after two periods. Worse than the Nashville game this year.

  • Yroc

    First of all, I just want to say how proud and excited I am to see people, in general, talking about the Kings. Esp. at this point in the season.

    It’s been a challenge all my life being a Los Angeles Kings living in Edmonton, Alberta. Imagine, Oilers winning Stanley Cups with greats such as Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Fuhr, etc. and here I am cheering on a young Robitaille and Veternan Dionne in their yellow & purple jerseys, but then again, that was part of their appeal.

    Anywho, 22 years later, I’m still a huge Kings fan and this year was certainly a big let down, esp. after those 5 big signings.

    However, like the Oilers, I see great potential next year and I’m excited to cheer on my beloved Kings and my hometown boys (the Oilers) and great to read (and see) all the fan support on here :)

  • DellaNooch

    Ryan – like I thought, you couldn’t come up with a better scenario from last summer, its cool, neither could I, so that’s why I don’t rip on DL for it…considering FA hasn’t started for 2008-2009, I would be amazed to see DL say anything to give his strategy away. It is easy for us, Bob and Nick to say what needs to happen, its another thing for our GM to show his cards to the rest of the league. Save the criticism until he makes those signings and we see how those signings perform.

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