Following up on Don’s great feature yesterday, we bring you the answers from Kings color commentators Jim Fox and Daryl Evans. It’s another great look at two guys who spend a tremendous amount of time with the Kings all season long. Thanks to Jim and Daryl for participating and to Don for tracking them down…
Ten Questions with Jim Fox and Daryl Evans
1. How difficult is it to announce and analyze games when the team is having a horrible season?
Jim Fox: The Kings have always asked us to “call it like we see it” (some franchises apply a different philosophy), so I approach each game/season the same way; try to get as much information as possible and work it into our telecasts. Whether the team is winning or losing, there is still a lot of information to be gathered and communicated. Being around a winning team is always more fun, that’s for sure, but we still have a job to do when things are not going so well.
Daryl Evans: I don’t think it is very difficult at all. There are games within the game and a lot of positive notes, individuals to build upon. Even when the team is having a sub par year, I think there are a lot of positive things, like young players coming up. The difficulty is none and it becomes a non-issue on the air because there are just so many things to talk about, whether it be your team or the other team.
2. Who was the hardest working player on the Kings this season?
Jim Fox: A few guys come to mind. First of all, the “role players,” Jeff Giuliano and Matt Ellis are great examples of how hard work can help you be the best player you can be. Of course Jeff and Matt are not the most skilled guys on the team, but they provide constant inspiration to everyone around the team by their non-stop approach and consistent high level effort. The player that stands out the most would have to be Dustin Brown. As everyone can see, he gets a lot accomplished, whether that be through the offensive part of his game or the physical aspects, but the one constant is non stop effort and aggression, and this past year Dustin was able to continue that from game one through game 82. Consistent hard work certainly paid off for Dustin this past season.
Daryl Evans: I don’t think you can really discredit the efforts of any of the players, but one player that stands out and success came with it is Dustin Brown. I thought he worked extremely hard in a lot of little parts of his game and he was able to succeed and excel in those areas and scored a lot of goals. But again, that is not to discredit anyone because everybody works hard every day.
3. What prospect in the Kings’ pipeline is likely to become a star?
Jim Fox: Potential is always such a tough thing to get a handle on. Some make it and some don’t. If I had to pick one player, it would be Jonathan Bernier. At this stage of career he is considered to be in the top 5 for his age in the world. If he can continue to maintain that ranking through hard work and effective development, then things should work out okay. He is still in the development stage of his professional career and especially with goaltenders, it is always interesting to see how a player handles the pressure once they get to the #1 position. As far as skill and temperament, I think Jonathan has the necessary tools to continue on the path to stardom.
Daryl Evans: I’m pretty confident that Jonathan Bernier as a goaltender is going to one day leave a pretty good mark on the NHL. He’s got all the right elements, technically he is a sound goaltender, he’s got the right attitude and he is very competitive, so I see him doing very well one day in the NHL.
4. What was the biggest reason for the disappointing season; was it lack of goaltending, depth on defense, all of the above, more….?
Jim Fox: The most disappointing part of the season was the integration of the new veterans onto the team and the impact they had. Each of the new players had a difficult time, at one time or another. Handzus, with his recovery from major knee surgery. He will need to get back to the solid two-way player he has been in the past, with more effective play with and distributing the puck Nagy, as was expected, provided some nights of offensive brilliance, but too many nights where he was a non-factor. Calder, most nights the effort is there, but his effectiveness had too big of a range. Preissing, his intensity needs to be more consistent, although he seemed to get better near the end of the season, as the team gets better, I get the feeling that Tom’s effectiveness will also improve. Stuart had a tough start with some glaring turnovers, but as the season progressed he showed how effective he can be with the combination of physical play and a good feel for the offensive part of the game. Having said that, until the goaltending situation becomes a consistent positive, I think it is very difficult to evaluate the team as a whole. Jason had a more than solid streak before he was injured (ribs) and never seemed to regain it after his first injury. Erik did well enough to be taken seriously as the team moved forward. So many areas can look worse than they really are, or other areas can’t get to the top of their potential until the goaltending can be counted on consistently.
Daryl Evans: It was a combination of a lot of things. The Kings as a team, their defensive play in their own zone was not really good. I think it reflected in their penalty killing. They need to be better in their own zone and if they are able to do that I think you will see a different reflection in the standings next season.
5. What components need to be added to the team to make it a playoff contender?
Jim Fox: Whether they are added by improved play by current players or prospects or by new acquisitions, I look at the obvious numbers first. The Goal-Against-Average has to come down. I just touched on the goaltending situation above and they are a major part of this, but they also need some more help, younger defensemen or other acquisitions will have to shore up this area. A little more aggressiveness would help. The forwards also share in getting the GAA down to a manageable level. The Kings have proved they can score enough goals, but the still have to prove that they can score enough goals to be successful and also be responsible defensively. Too many times this past season the Kings forwards were leaving their own zone without total control of the puck and that leads to playing on the “wrong side” of the puck and that leads to too many holes defensively.
By position: A second centerman with consistent offensive production would probably make the team better right now, but, improvement at the defensive position would probably help out long-term.
Daryl Evans: The Kings need a legit number two center to compliment Kopitar up the middle, a real solid defenseman back on the blue line, a physical element back there, and they need to get consistent goaltending night in and night out.
6. If you were compiling a realistic wish list of players to add to this team, who would be on it?
Jim Fox: This is a very difficult question to answer. If the process to develop players continues, then there may be four or five players promoted through the system next season. This area will be important down the road, but maybe not as much this off-season. Players that will be very attractive to me would be (please keep in mind, value $$$ and age of the player must be taken into consideration, especially with the development stage the Kings are in):
- Daymond Langkow (C) (Calgary)…solid 2 way center
- Ryan Malone (F) (Pittsburgh)…proving himself to be very versatile
- Wade Redden (D) (Ottawa)…probably the most expensive of my entire group, but due to his age and versatility, he would be on my wish list
- Michal Rosival (D) (New York Rangers)…good puck mover…good understanding of game
- Brad Stuart (D) (Detroit)…after a tough start, really settled in last year
- Bryce Salvador (D) (STL/NJD)…tough enough…mobile enough…solid stay-at-home D
- Matti Norstrom (D) (Dallas)…he will never wow you, but spend a few days with this guy and you learn what a true teammate should be like.
Daryl Evans: (a slight departure from the “realistic” aspect) I’d add an Alexander Ovechkin. His competitiveness, ability to score and set guys up, he’s just such a dominant player with his physical play. I think back on the blue line you look at a guy like Nick Lidstrom, they way he can quarterback things and really set the tone of the hockey game. Those are the kinds of players I would add, but unfortunately those are the players you have to draft or create on your own, because those are guys you are never going to get away from their teams.
7. Which former player was the most challenging to deal with off the ice, and why?
Jim Fox: In a different kind of way, Jeremy Roenick was the most challenging, and this is very difficult for me to explain, but I’ll give it a try. Not because he was hard to get along with – nothing could be further than the truth – JR was always willing to help and answer questions at any time, it was challenging because so much was expected of him and he did not deliver. He came to camp out of shape and that affected him the whole season. He also started to complain about his “skates” and the way they were sharpened. There is no doubt that a player’s skates are the most important part of equipment, and I would have put more credence into this, if only he had been in shape to start out with. It was “challenging” to deal with his situation because he was not very effective on-the-ice. I want to be clear: At no time did JR ever shy away from the media and was always accessible. I just felt very uncomfortable covering the situation because JR is such a good guy to be around. But he was unprepared as a professional to give his all for the team.
Daryl Evans: I’ve never really had any issues in that department. What you try and do in dealing with players away from the ice and making sure it is handled professionally is really in how the broadcaster or interviewer approaches the player with the questions. If you give them their time and their space you won’t have any issues.
8. Are you typically recognized away from the rink, and if so, what do most people say to you?
Jim Fox: I am recognized quite a bit away from the rink. I don’t stray too far from the South Bay and there are a lot of Kings fans in this area. If the people are fans and follow the game, they usually have specific questions about specific players. If they are just sports fans, I usually get, “Hey, there’s the Kings guy”…
Daryl Evans: I get recognized from time to time. A lot of people want to know what it was like to play against Wayne Gretzky, or playing with guys like Marcel Dionne and the Triple Crown Line, or playing in the Miracle on Manchester, what it was like, what you felt in coming back in that game. There are so many positive things to talk about. You know I didn’t have an extremely long career in the NHL, but for the short time that I was there, being in that environment just gives you so much to talk about.
9. What is the most bizarre thing to happen on the ice or in the arena while you were on the air?
Jim Fox: I don’t know if “bizarre” is the right word to fit my story but here goes.
During a game when Larry Robinson was playing with the Kings, he picked up a “nick” on his nose that needed 2 or 3 stitches…well, we all used to kid Larry about the size of his nose. So I said something on the air like “do you see that cut on Larry’s nose, it looks small but it really is six inches long.” Well of course, this got back to Larry and he came up with a plan to get back at me. About two weeks later, the Kings were playing Toronto at the GW Forum and Larry was selected to be our 1st intermission guest. The Kings were trailing after one period (Toronto was not that good that year and the Kings were a very big favorite in the game) so I started the interview with the “old” a little too over confident question. Larry’s answer was a very short “NO.” After an uncomfortable pause of about one second (it felt like 10 minutes to me) I asked another question. Same answer, “NO.” Third question, same thing, “YES, this time” (not sure about the no or yes, but all were one word answers). It was just about this time that I figured out Larry was “getting me back” for my nose comments. Now of course, without my knowledge, Larry had set me up along with Bob Borgen our producer and Bob Miller. They were all in on it. I guess during the interview, off to the side and off-camera, Larry was almost falling off his seat laughing, and since I was so nervous and with the way the interview was going, I didn’t notice it at all. They all had a little fun and I was really “swimming” until I figured it out. Larry doesn’t get mad…he just gets even. “Bizarre,”maybe not, but I still remember that interview like it was yesterday.
Daryl Evans: Nothing really comes to mind.
10. Which team do you seeing winning the Stanley Cup this year?
Jim Fox: I am very “West is Best” right now. Going into the playoffs I thought that there were six teams in the West that could beat anyone in the East. Montreal, Pittsburgh, New York and Philadelphia might have something to say about that, but I’m still a big supporter of the Western Conference.
Daryl Evans: I think the Red Wings are a strong contender. I think the Stanley Cup winner will eventually come out of the Western Conference, and Dallas is making a strong bid. Pittsburgh on the other side is doing a great job and they would make for a tough opponent.