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!
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.