Forum answers VII

Here’s the last of the original open forum questions. I’ll go back through some of the posts and try to find any relevant questions. Thanks again for all the good questions. I hope you find this feature to be helpful…

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Question: 1. Is it reasonable to think that we will be competitive in 2008/09 given our inexperience on defense, or are we in for another bottom five finish? 2. Seriously, what is your favorite charity? Since (presumably) you aren’t making any money on this blog, I’d like someone to benefit from your efforts.

Answer: 1) My tendency is to think that things might be rough for the Kings at first, with a new coach and so many young players, but that you might start to see some real progress late in the season. I think you’d be a bit unreasonable to EXPECT a playoff spot next season, particularly considering how tough teams like San Jose, Anaheim and Dallas are in that division, but would it be the most stunning thing in the world? No. There are surprise teams every year. I just don’t think it’s wise to expect the Kings to be one. 2) That’s very kind of you, but I would encourage you (or anyone else so inclined) to donate to whichever charity/charities that you find worthwhile.

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Question: I read an article today on TSN (http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=242347&lid=sublink01&lpos=headlines_nhl), where Burke blames Kevin Lowe directly for the current state of the FA market and the inflations of all these contracts that we are seeing today. I wanted to get your personal take on that, but I do have to say that the NHL seems like its going to be in trouble again when guys who score 15 goals a season are signed to 5-6M deals, or defenseman that get signed to deals worth only less then a 1M then that of a star like Crosby or Malkin.

Answer: Yes, I believe Burke has a very valid point on this, although I certainly don’t think Lowe is alone in deserving blame. The Burke-Lowe thing has turned personal and has detracted from the overall point, which is that things are getting out of control and there are likely to be consequences, not too many years down the road.

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Question: 1. Do you think the stink over Lubo’s trade had / has an impact on us losing out on certain FA’s? If so, will this perception last, and how could DL defuse it? 2. Who do you rate the winners and losers from the FA / signings? 3. How do you think the power landscape of the league, western con and pacific division have shifted now? 4. Think Avery will be successful in Dallas? Who do you see keeping him ‘in check’ like Shanny did in NYC? 5. Who do you think overpaid the most for FA’s? 6. Are DL / front office in any kind of ‘panic mode’ about losing certain FA’s, Blake still unsigned, Sully still unresolved? 7. There was a lack of veteran presence in Manchester last season- which roster guys do you see spending a lot of time there? 8. Detroit didn’t seem to really need Hossa- was this an uncharacteristic ‘vanity move’ by Ken Holland? 9. With the various departures and arrivals, how do you expect locker room chemistry to be different next season?

Answer: 1) I think they call this “asked and answered” in the legal profession. 2) Detroit clearly comes out as the big winner, without losing any of their big pieces and adding a huge one to a championship team. On the other side, Pittsburgh takes a big hit but still has a lot of young talent there. 3) The power in the West is still clearly with Detroit, although San Jose now looks pretty scary as well, assuming the reworked defense plays as anticipated. 4) They’ve got a strong veteran team there in Dallas, and a respected coach in Dave Tippett, so I don’t think they will allow Avery to get out of control. Although it’s impossible to predict what will happen with Sean Avery. 5) I still can’t wrap my head about Toronto giving that huge contract to Jeff Finger. Maybe they’ll look brilliant at some point, but…wow. 6) There’s no panic mode about free agents. It seems, if anything, fans want the Kings to have more of a sense of urgency, but they’re slow-playing their hand right now. 7) Gauthier’s name has come up a lot, and you’re probably looking at either Ellis or Richardson in a role like that. 8) I don’t think so. If you can add a talented scorer and stay within your budget, why wouldn’t you? 9) Impossible to say without a coach. The coach sets the tone. Plus a new leadership core will need to be established. Give this one a couple months.

—–

Question: 1. Was he just not interested in a youth movement, and being a mentor? 2. Is there any acknowledgment from the front office that the tactic of waiting until the last minute has bitten them in the rear end? 3. With little on the FA list, this surely increases the likelihood of a trade- do you think we’re interested in Dan Boyle, and how much would it take to get him? 4. Who do you think gets the C and the A’s? 5. Do you think it’s fair to characterize this, as many of the fans clearly are, as a money grab and disloyalty?

Answer: 1) I don’t think the “youth movement” was a problem at all. Blake seemed to embrace the role of being a teacher to Jack Johnson. If anything, the losing probably bothered him more than the number of young players. 2) No. 3) Well, Boyle is off the market but he was never a Kings target. It would go against everything Lombardi has done in terms of stockpiling young talent. But yes, I do think a trade is likely, albeit for a much lower-profile player. 4) Hard to say. As I said earlier, it might be wise to rotate them, unless a leadership core clearly identifies itself in training camp. 5) No. A lot of people want to put it in black-and-white terms, but it’s never that simple. Both sides have their version of the reality of the situation. In most cases like this, both sides probably bear more responsibility than they want to accept.

—–

Question: are the Kings going to get a decent radio flagship this season? their station sucks. there are few conflicts (pre-empting or delayed games) but you can’t even pick it up in OC without a huge antenna, which is just adding insult to injury since they are so frequently missing from the TV.

Answer: I’m not aware of any plans to change the radio affiliates. The radio broadcasts are all accessible online for free, but that doesn’t really help you if you’re out in your car.

—–

Question: Lombardi has constantly spoken of waiting for players to become the best they can be rather than just able to play in the NHL. With the trades of Cammalleri and Visnovsky, are the young players ready or is Lombardi shifting his view? Do you think we will see extended stretches from Simmons, Trevor Lewis, Boyle, Hickey, Bernier, and Doughty in Kings uniforms next year? Also Lombardi often mentions how he dislikes building through free agency. Was last year’s signing of 4 free agents sort of a hedged bet that they might make the playoffs? Is this the year that Lombardi is going fully into developing from within? If so, why wait until now?

Answer: You’ve asked a few questions there that I think are all heading in the same direction. Seems as though the overall question is, “Is Lombardi scrapping his don’t-play-them-until-they’re-ready philosophy?” And the answer is, I don’t think so, but I think he’s perhaps more willing to take a chance, rather than be ultra-conservative about some of these guys. It’s one of the things I’ve disagreed with him about in the past. My thinking on it is, basically, that they have to be rookies sometime. So why not give them a chance, during a time when there’s less pressure on them, and let them work out their mistakes at the NHL level? So perhaps Lombardi is now willing to handle these guys with kid gloves a little less, particularly with the defensemen, but I don’t believe it’s a major change in philosophy.

—–

Question: Why is it that Lombardi seems to be focused on one thing at a time while his fellow GMs are able to sign coaches, get ready for the draft, sign their RFAs, and be ready for free agency? Where are his multi-tasking abilities that any great GM should have?

Answer: I’ll just leave this out there as a legitimate question, but I’m not sure how I’m supposed to answer it. I understand the point you’re making, for sure.

—–

Question: When Lombardi came in, he claimed one of the reasons he chose the Kings was because they had a good ground and he didn’t have to do a full rebuild to get the team where he wanted. What do you think made him look at the franchise and made him believe that a full rebuild is the only way to restore the franchise after having so many good young players on the team?

Answer: That would be an interesting quote to find, as I don’t remember him saying something like that. It seemed pretty clear to me, from the beginning, that Lombardi felt the need to completely overhaul the Kings’ “reserve list.” So I guess I would need to see that quote, and its context, to judge why or how things might have changed.

—–

Question: My question is about the prospect camp. Why no Brady Murray? What about prospect Matt Fillier? Is there any reason for any of the Kings’ prospects to be missing this (aside from injury)?

Answer: I’m not really certain about Fillier. I’ll toss his name out there and see why he’s not making it. As for Brady Murray, he doesn’t really fit in that “prospects” category anymore. He will be 24 next month and, largely because of his dad’s time in L.A., he’s been coming to those camps for so many years that he could practically run them. He’s now an established pro player, if only an established minor-league player.

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  • aj

    hey Rich,
    I’m referring to this quote after he got hired. (http://www.kingshockey.com/articles.cfm?id=42)

    Im excited about the opportunity I have been given here with the Kings, said Lombardi. I chose the Kings for a number of reasons. First off, Im a builder, and I see a foundation put in place by Dave Taylor from which to build from and take to the next level.

  • Gary

    On the “total rebuild” comment, I believe DL was referring to the fact there were some young forwards on the team and forward prospects in the system, and a lot of draft picks. Unlike a team like Toronto, that has little young talent, prospects, or picks.

  • Quisp

    Re Lombardi and multi-tasking:

    If Lombardi were interested in hiring a high-profile coach with a proven track record (i.e. someone whose name we already know), that coach would likely want to have a say in things like the draft and free agent signings. The fact that Lombardi has signaled both that he’s got his sights set somewhat lower AND that he’s going to wait until he’s signed his FAs even to start looking for a coach suggests that he wants to shape the roster and direction of the team himself with not just a minimum of interference but with no interference at all. Perhaps “interference” is too antagonistic a word. But the effect of his style is that for better or worse he and he alone (this summer) is putting his mark on the team.

  • BallPointHammer

    I hardly think Dean Lombardi is incapable of or unwilling to ‘multi-task’. In fact, as an NHL GM, that most surely is a strength of his.

    Since this past season ended, the Kings have been more focused on handling their priorities one at a time, since those tasks are fairly independent of each other over the summer. One, take care of the draft. Done. Two, deal with the first week or two of free agency. Doing, done soon. Three, sign our own RFA’s and work on extensions for a couple guys. On going. Four, Prospect Camp. Coming up. Five, hire new head coach. Working on now, getting serious probably by end of July, hire by start of September I would assume.

    Also, from the beginning, I don’t think Lombardi has worried about ‘interference’ from anyone on him doing his thing his way. He made it clear from day one that the Kings have serious rebuilding to do. Trying to be playoff competitive in the mean time hasn’t worked out. As it usually doesn’t in these scenarios.

  • Matt

    thanks rich for all your hard work, as a kings fan in ottawa, it’s impossible to get any kings news, stuck with all sens yuck, highlight of the past season was when they beat the sens 2-0; your blog is something i check everyday and really can’t thank you enough for this.

  • Anonymous

    Rich, Thank you for a terrific blog. I have become sort of addicted to it. Please keep it up. I appreciate what youre doing for us fans.
    I have couple of questions regarding defensive prospects that we have sort of forgot that they are in the system.
    1) What are your thoughts regarding Josh Kidd. He seemed to have a nice run with Manchester towards the end of their season. He is a big kid and also finished with a plus 9 in 9 games.
    2) Where do you think Bagnal is with his game? Do you think he is ready to make the jump to the NHL?
    3) As things stand now. The kings are going to have the youngest and least experienced blue line in the NHL. Do you think that its by design or circumstances which have led DL to determine that since our defense was so lackadaisical last season. That having the younger players in the line up is not going to change the quality of play from the blue line. Blake and Visnovski were unreliable at best. Modry was a great set up man for the opposing forwards. And well, Preising was Preising. If this is the case, then our goaltending has to be superb in order to keep these kids from cracking and losing confidence.

    Roger

  • JonG

    AJ, thanks for posting that old quote from Lombardi. That squares with my recollection of his hiring, in which he was fairly complimentary of the Kings’ foundation. (Of course, he would have been crazy to say anything worse).

    As the Kings fortunes have taken a turn for the worse, Lombardi seems more and more willing to blame the previous regime.

  • PowrrrPlay

    Rich, getting some good banter going on here and I just came over from LGK thinking this…

    If you think about the business of hockey first, set aside all the bitching on both sides of any complaint since the draft and read between the lines, either a coach is going to be named shortly or the “to be named” coach is already working with DL covertly.

    I feel this way because of all the arguments that can be made about DL taking the heat for all the changes that have transpired to date so that the new coach can walk in and work with a clean slate that the new coach is probably asking for.

    For example, I can see a potential new coach saying to DL, “I am ready to come in but you have to do something with RB as I am not prepared to strip him of the ‘C’ when I come in there”. I am not saying that is what happened, just that the “smart” new coach is going to want the table set for him… things of that nature.

    Lets face it no matter what side you come down on regarding the RB fiasco, stand back clear your mind… something else is up and it is not Sully’s contract.

    Not that getting Sully’s contract done isn’t important but the recent history on all the contentious issues are mind boggling to the outsiders.

    There is just too much drama going on right now, I am sure it will all make sense in the near future.

    Cheers.

  • Chazz in Reno

    Did Demitra sign a contract with Vancouver Canucks
    According to wikipedia he has but I haven’t seen it anywhere else. Was hoping he’d come back to the Kings so my wife would stop routing for the Wild.

  • romy

    Hey rich,are you going to be at prospect camp on the 13th,me and my friend are driving down from bakersfield to watch and I would like to shake the hand of the man who keeps us informed,we get no kings coverage and no hockey coverage and we just want to show our gratitude for what you are doing for us fans

  • Ed

    Rich,

    I think the arbitration deadline just passed.

    Since O’Sullivan did not file for arbitration, do you think this is a good sign that O’Sullivan’s deal will get done soon? Both sides must be close.

    Also, do you think the salary cap can ever go down? If the NHL can not get a decent TV deal, and/or revenue decreases, the cap has to be lowered. What happens to team that has large player contracts? Do you see this ever happening?

    Thanks, Ed

  • Jesus

    Rich, you are the best thing to happen to the Kings since Gretzky. Thank you for all you do. Please don’t leave us.

  • Anonymous

    Rich,

    Since the Kings have cap space to work with, why not take on a respected player in the league like Sakic or Shanahan for a season to provide that veteran been to the playoffs and won leadership that Blake was initially brought on to provide?

  • wavesinair

    Rich,

    How about a permanent ROSTER LINK on the front page? Maybe organize it in some way so there are prospects as well as players likely to make the team? Would be nice! We certainly can’t rely on the kings website for updated roster info!

  • Anonymous

    I wish that they’d add another Las Vegas radio affiliate…

  • Vahe

    Thanks Rich, for all your hard work. It’s hard covering a constant last place team, with this many passionate fans. Hopefully, sometime before the end of the next decade the Kings can turn it around, making your job much easier

  • Irish Pat

    Wow. The best part about getting home after a long weekend in Vegas is getting my Kings fix courtesy of this blog. The Open Forum is awesome. Thanks again Rich for all of your hard work and for answering mine and everyone’s questions. In my opinion, it’s nice to see you have good taste in other things besides just hockey. Cheers!

  • Someone

    Hi Rich,

    I’ll throw out one more question if you are still accepting submissions….

    I’m still trying to make heads or tails of the firing of Crawford. Lombardi’s main reason for firing him was that he wanted a coach that was stronger with youth. However, when you look back at the last two years Kopitar got better both years, Brown became a legitimate power forward, O’Sullivan’s progress was astounding, Jack Johnson performed well for a rookie, etc. It’s obvious that the youth of this team have been the bright spots. Looking further back at Vancouver and the Sedins developed into stars under Crawford. It seems that Crawford’s results disprove Lombardi’s reasoning. Your thoughts?

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