Wednesday? Well, it should be a Wednesday, shouldn’t it? By the way, anyone want to buy a hockey team? I understand there’s one in Anaheim with an empty owner’s office this afternoon. Yikes… Here’s the next set of answers…
Question: Having covered the Kings for a number of years, especially in the Dave Taylor era, what are the differences your see in the infrstructure of DL’s Kings’ organization? Specifically, how are areas like training staff, scouting, coaching and office staff different than DT’s days? In that regard, do you sense covering the team on a close basis that the Kings have moved from the “old boys” network to a more progressive one where, more and more, everyone is “on the same page.” It comes across from the scouting interviews that DL expects his guys to “burn the midnight oil” just like him. True?
Answer: That’s a good question, but a difficult one to answer, because I have much more access in the Lombardi Era than I did in the Taylor Era. I will say what I know, which is that almost every one of those areas you mentioned — training staff, scouting and coaching — have been completely reshaped under Lombardi. The scouting staff, in particular, is one that has undergone a huge overhaul, and just from my experiences, there seems to be a lot of energy within that group. I agree with your observation that Lombardi pushes them hard, but it seems to be something everyone enjoys.
Question: 1) Do you think there is concern from GM’s such as David Poile about the salary cap floor coming up? 2) The Hockey News thinks visors may be mandatory next year. Have you heard anything similar? 3) Any comments from the Kings goalies about the potential for new goalie equipment rules for the 09-10 season?
Answer: I think there’s a lot of concern, in general, about the salary cap. Not just the floor but the ceiling too. And I understand the concerns. How did it get back to this point already? The NHL is already starting to divide itself again, between the teams that can spend a lot and those that can’t/won’t. There’s still a lot of parity in the league but the numbers are starting to get a little scary. 2) No, I haven’t heard anything concrete, but I’m sure The Hockey News will be all over it. 3) I haven’t spoken to any of the Kings goalies since April. The prospects camp should be a chance to perhaps talk to Bernier and a couple others about this.
Question: How much do you think Fro is a part of this team? Knowing what Dean feels about Wingers and their importance (or lackthere of) in comparison to goaltenders, centers and defensemen, how much do you think Dean values Fro as a part of the core? … Finally, in your gut opinion, do you think Fro will be re-signed or traded before his contract runs out?
Answer: The first part of your question referenced being surprised about Frolov being “part of the team.” I guess it’s hard to answer the question unless I understand why you feel that way. Frolov is a personable guy with good English skills. I’m not sure why you think he would have “outcast” qualities. I think you’re correct to say that Lombardi puts a bigger value on goalies, defensemen and centers (at least the top two centers) but he knows what Frolov can do. I don’t think they’re thinking about a new contract him just yet, as he has two years left. Lots of other bridges to cross before that.
Question: – are the Kings pleased or disappointed that 85% or so of season ticket holders renewed after last season’s meltdown and subsequent price hike? – what is the contract situation of the current asst. coaches and wouldn’t they be looking for other jobs knowing the penchant of a new coach to bring in his own guys? – if Mike Johnston is promoted, wouldn’t he be faced with the same difficulties that Dave Lewis had in Boston in attempting to transition from good-guy asst. to bad-guy head coach? – have you tried to find out more about the murky legal/moral effects of AEG’s $7 million loan to Boots del Baggio to help his Nashville bid and probable franchise relocation to AEG’s KC arena?
Answer: 1) Of course they’ll see they’re pleased, because they’ll never say they’re displeased about anything. But yeah, 85 percent for a team that finished second-to-last and raised prices, they’re probably OK with that percentage. 2) Well certainly, if I was one of the assistant coaches, I wouldn’t feel real secure right now. The one thing I’ll say is that Lombardi has made it clear that two guys in particular, Jamie Kompon and Nelson Emerson, are important to what the Kings are doing this summer. That makes me believe that those guys, at least, will have some kind of future with the team. 3) Would he face the same difficulties? I really don’t know. Coaches aren’t carbon copies of each other, so Johnston wouldn’t necessarily face the same problems. He might, but he might not. It would depend entirely on how he approached the job. 4) To be perfectly honest, that’s a little beyond my scope. That’s a story for a business reporter and/or a courts reporter who has access to lawyers and court records and can go deep inside the corporate structure of AEG. I’m just trying to figure out who the Kings are going to hire as coach…
Question: I just wanted your opinion if you think management really believes we are going to be as bad as we were last year or do you think setting the bar low is a way to keep our expectations low
Answer: Last year, management thought the Kings would have around a .500 record and contend for the playoffs. You saw how that worked out. I don’t think anybody goes into a season expecting to finish with the second-worst record. If they’re being honest with themselves, they’ll expect a better finish but they won’t expect anything more than a spirited run for the eighth playoff spot. Perhaps something similar to what Chicago did last season.
Question: Lombardi seems to be going to ownership more lately or at least mentioning that he is doing so. Knowing that means involving Anschutz and Leiweke’s obvious lack of hockey acumen, I am understandably wary. Or is this the same it has been for 2 years and DL is just getting assurances from above that his way is the correct way (not that Phil and Tim would know anyway)?
Answer: You’re right to be concerned any time AEG pokes its nose into hockey decisions, but to answer your question, I think it’s more of the latter than the former. My instincts are that since this is such a crucial summer, in terms of hiring a new coach, having so many draft picks, etc., the meetings have been about making sure everyone is on the same page. I still have my concerns — as every fan should, also — about AEG trying to get too involved and influencing things. I’ll always keeping my eyes and ears about about that.
Question: You think Gillis will put his money where his mouth is and sign his former client, Mike Cammalleri, to a multi-year $6 million contract this time next year?
Answer: That will certainly be interesting now, won’t it? And I wonder why, since Gillis presumably thinks Cammalleri is such a valued, underpaid performer, he didn’t make a better offer for him. Hmmm…
Question: What’s the deal with Parse lately? I remember him being close to NHL ready, but I haven’t heard or read much about him since? You have any info on where he’s at in his development?
Answer: Parse went through a rough year because of a pretty serious back injury. He ended up playing only 14 games in Manchester and 18 games in Reading. The prospects camp will be a good time to get an update on him, as I haven’t heard anything about his recovery since the end of the season.
Question: I don’t understand the rush to bring back Stuart, he turns the puck over constantly and is prone to being out of position – granted he just gained valuable experience with the Wings, but his shortcomings were masked by being on an excellent defensive team – on top of the fact that he’s bounced around the league – what’s with the huge interest in bringing back Stuart?
Answer: Lombardi has always liked him, he’s familiar with him and he’s one of the few free-agent defensemen who fits into the Kings’ salary structure. So those are the three reasons it would happen, if it did happen. The particulars of Stuart’s game can be debated, but Lombardi likes him and always has, so that’s pretty much the bottom line, right?
Question: Is it me or is Dan Cloutier the second coming of Jason Vorhees??? No matter how we get rid of him…he always seems to come back… OR is that comparison insulting to poor Jason???
Answer: Maybe if Cloutier started wearing the old-school goalie mask…