Ask Jim Fox, part 1

Here’s the first part of Jim Fox’s answers. Once again, Jim has done a fantastic job of answering your questions with insight and honesty, and I’m working to get all of his answers up as soon as possible. Here’s the first set…

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First of all, I wish Rich a “Happy Holiday”…we are all grateful to Rich for his hard work and passion for the game of hockey and more specifically, for his coverage of the Kings.

On behalf of my wife, I would like to pass along our condolences to the McHale family on the passing of Matt earlier this week. I had the pleasure of working with Matt when he covered the Kings. He was such an enjoyable person to be around. Matt was always there to get the story, but he was also there to hang out with the people, whether it be players, coaches or other media. He had a love of sports and we were all blessed to be around him. We will miss you Matt!

Before I get started, I apologize in advance for any spelling or grammatical errors. I have tried my best, with the help of “spell-check” to find all of the mistakes, but I assume that some will slip through. I will try to get to as many questions as I can (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday). I usually use broken sentences with a lot of…this makes it easier for me to “get to the point”…I hope it is not too difficult to follow…

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Drew Sackheim said:
Hi Jim. First I want to say that I adore your insights into the game, be it on National Radio or TV. It really enriches the game for me. My question is, if you were the one making the decisions, how do you decide what to do about the Kings defense this year. It seems clear that for most of the young defensemen that another year of development is necessary for their futures. If they do make the big club they’re dealing with a very uncertain defense given the roster and the teams recent history. I would think this could impact their development in a negative way. So,….. what would you do?

Drew:
Thanks for the complimentary comments…you are touching on a subject that can go many different ways…I think that there is little doubt that the Kings are considering going young as a team and going young as a defense…having said that, going with more than two rookie defensemen would be a stretch considering that Jack Johnson would only be in his second full year.

Every camp, players come in under different circumstances depending on strengths, weaknesses or team needs…there
are those that are clearly on the team…those that come in having to play their way “off” the team and those that would have to play their way “on” the team…as the roster stands right now, there are many opening for youngsters to get a chance at a spot (Doughty, Martinez, Hickey, Teubert)…but, I would expect no more than two, more realistically, one making the team…development is the highest priority right now and an organization should be thinking about putting players in situations to excel…part of that would be growing pains, especially for a defenseman, but not too many at the same time…

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Neil said:
Jim,
Lombardi has reportedly missed out on at least 3 free agents he went after (Blake, Stuart, and Orpik….and those are just the ones we know about). You played in the NHL and while free agency wasn’t as big a part of the landscape back then, if YOU were a free agent looking at possible destinations…would the coach of the team matter? If there WERE no coach…would that turn you off, or at least make you hesitate to go to that team? How important is the head coach when looking at possible teams to play for.

Neil:
Situations vary…is the potential free agent in his prime?…has he already won a Stanley Cup?…is he an impact or support player? etc…on a team expected to contend for a Stanley Cup, I think that the coach would be a high priority for a free agent…the Kings will still be in the development stages next year and I believe that lowers the priority as far as a free agent is concerned…if the free agent is willing to come to a developing franchise, then I don’t think the coach is a big priority.

I’ll say what I said last summer…until the Kings get into a playoff contending position, it will be very difficult to convince free agents to sign…but once the corner is turned, a team with a lot of solid and young impact players will be very attractive to free agents…hopefully the Kings will be there soon…as I mentioned above, situations vary, in general I would think that the priorities would be as follows:

Money and length of contract…competitive situation of the team…where would the player fit on the depth chart of the team…coach would not be at the top of the list…

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DellaNooch said:
What are Jim’s favorite Napa region wines?

DellaNooch:
There are so many…it is tough to select a few, but I’ll give it a try…
Red: Overture…Opus One’s 2nd wine…only available at the winery…for the value…a couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate to taste a 2003 Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon…wow, truly amazing…but it is very difficult to get and its price tag is “ouch”
White: I prefer “Burgundy Style” Chardonnay’s…Chateau Montelena

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Robert Karchikian said:
Hey Jim, I was wondering if you are excited to see the Kings really start to stick to the rebuild phase and what it means to you. I know we are going to have a young core group of players out their, do you think with all your years of experience that they will pan out with one another and have this great chemistry that no other team will have in the years to come? You and Bob is like Michael Jordan and Scotty Pippen playing with one another. I dont think I can picture anyone else doing commentating for the Los Angeles Kings besides the both of you. I hope we all can experience a Stanley Cup while both of you are still around! What a great feeling that would be.

Robert:
Thanks so much for the kind comments…I’d love to pour Bob a drink of bubbly from the Cup…the rebuild phase is tough to go through…it’s even tougher when the fan base has been through so many years of disappointment…but it is the way to go…some believe that you can go half way…I’m not a big proponent of that…I believe, if you make the decision to rebuild, do it all the way…that’s where we find ourselves right now…but, teams like Pittsburgh should give us hope…they have “special players” in Crosby and Malkin, but they have come a long way in a relatively short period of time…they had to be bad, before they were good…the biggest challenge for any team going through what the Kings are going through is to know when to “go for it”…when to sign “impact free agents”…the Kings aren’t there yet, but let’s hope it is fairly soon…

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EJ said:
Please ask Jim if he gets to play any rec hockey on a regular basis. If not, does he miss playing at all. Thanks.

EJ:
I used to play once a week in the summer, but I have backed off quite a bit…I have some knee problems…hip issues etc that make it a hassle to skate too much…I definitely could do it…I’m not hobbling around too bad…it’s just that it takes so much maintenance after the fact…I do miss it a lot…wish I could do it more…I still play in an occasional charity game now and then, but that’s about it…

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cdtkings9614 said:
Hey Jim your work along with Bob’s is some of the best in the NHL. I keep hearing nothing but negative about the Kings chances this year. Can you help us out with what could be one of the most exciting seasons in a while. We should scored and I think our defense might be a little better than last year and our goaltending can only be better than the past couple years. I really don’t think we’ll be near last. What do you think?

Cdkings9614:
Thanks for the kind words about our broadcasts…love working with Bob and the whole crew…I think the biggest challenge for the Kings will be getting better at keeping the puck out of the net…right now it’s about getting the GAA down…last season the Kings proved they could score at a more than reasonable level…but in getting better defensively, sometimes you start to sacrifice offense…that’s where the challenge is…get better defensively, but still score at the same rate as the past…the forwards are going to have to find a way to help a little more defensively…not be on the “wrong side” of the puck so much…without taking away from their offensive skill…tough thing to accomplish but it is doable.

Some offensive numbers might go down, but if the GAA comes down too, then progress will be made…the west is really tough right now…tough division…tough conference…I prefer to not look at the standings too much…I’m looking for progress by playing a more well rounded game…goaltending always plays into this equation…it must be better…there is always debate of where it starts…bad defending leading to goals or bad goaltending…it is usually a combination of both, but I have seen too many goals go in, on well defended plays in the last few years…this area must get better too…

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David Paletz said:
Dea Jim,
Is there any reason to think our numbers wont be significantly better this year than last? In regards to offense, our younger players are only getting better and consistently getting better numbers each year, along with a healthier handzus and addition of Stoll, [even thouhg we lost offensive production from Visnovsky (average numbers last year) and Cammellari (below average numbers while noting his injury)]?
In regards to defense, our younger prospects are only getting better, especially Hack Johnson and new additions of Green, Daughty and Tuebert,and our loss was a old Rob Blake and Visnovsky who believed to be ranked 2nd in giveaways alst year?

David:
The numbers that must get better are the Goals Against…there is a lot of upside up front and there will probably be youth on the blueline…actually more youth throughout the lineup…this usually means growing pains and learning experiences…I’m more concerned about the GAA than wins and loses right now…the Kings are still in the development stage, but they still have to find a way to get better when they don’t have the puck…

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afx114 said:
What is Jim’s craziest Bob Miller story?

Afx114:
Anyone who hangs around with Bob knows that it is a ball…Bob is always a big part of a lot of laughter and fun times…as far as “crazy”…not sure if this story fits, but I thought Bob was “crazy” at the time…1993 semis in Maple Leaf Gardens…our broadcast location is “makeshift” at best…we are located on top of the regular broadcast location with a table and a “frame” of 2×4′s to serve as our walls…we had no walls…I’m not that good with heights and when we both get up to the location, I was not too pleased about it…if there had only been some walls there to make it look like we were in a room…unfortunately, not the case…anyway, I’m standing with Bob, figuring out all of the different ways I can fall to center ice and all of sudden Bob just reaches out to one of the 2×4′s in front of us and, with two hands, grabs on tight are starts to “shake” our booth as hard as he can…the whole thing started to shake…but not as much as I was…Bob calmly looked over to me and said… “See, it’s safe”…I didn’t know whether to hit him or hold on to him…I chose to hold on and it turned into one of the best series I have ever seen…

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Anonymous said:
If the Kings go after a veteran defenseman (and I think they almost have to at this point), who do you think they use as trade bait? On a different note, who are some of your favorite bands?

Anonymous:
I’m not much into talking about players being traded…as a player, I didn’t handle rumors very well when they dealt with player
movement/trades…as with many of the recent moves, if there is more movement, I assume it will be for younger players…if the Kings do get a veteran defenseman, I assume he will not be an impact player and would not “cost” too much…

Favorite bands…I’m mostly a “talk radio” guy, so I don’t follow music too closely…when I was growing up…early to mid 70′s…the Beatles were very popular and I still listen to them today…also enjoyed “Carol King”…late 70′s, early 80′s I really liked “Supertramp”… I would still consider them my all-time favorite…Queen was great to watch and listen to… …the 80′s brought on a little dance stuff…Michael Jackson at the Sports Arena was one of the best concerts I have seen…Madonna at the Sports Arena was the best I have ever seen…great sets, great costumes…great dance music…90′s I saw U2 at the Coliseum…great show…I have always liked Annie Lennox…I also have to admit…in the right environment I love to listen to Andrea Bocelli…lots of different stuff…

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Jonny said:
Jim,
Thanks for all the work you do. My question has to do with “Pride”. Do you have any knowledge of the team, especially the younger players getting some sort of education on Kings history? I recently purchased an old VHS called the Kings silver anniversary, its from 1991 and it is a great video. I also have the old VHS “Road to the Stanley Cup finals”.
Do the players know about all the history and let downs that the kings have faced? I think some good education in this area can help players get fired up, and want to achieve what no kings team has ever achieved. Us fans our putting all our chips into this current lineup/farm system to bring us the cup… do the players realize how important that is to us, and the organization as a whole? Education should be easy, with guys like yourself, Emerson, Bob Miller, Robitaille, and Dave Lewis still a part of the organization. What do you think?
Thanks Again.

Jonny:
It’s my pleasure to work for the Kings and still be involved in the NHL…unfortunately, most of the players today don’t follow the game like I did as a kid…at least that’s the way it seems…I do have to give them a break tough…when I was growing up there were only 6 teams, then 12 teams, so it was probably easier to follow back then…I think a little history lesson would help…I think I might talk to the team…maybe they can put together a DVD for players when they are drafted…just to give a little background on the franchise…

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  • http://www.arefuge.com Gary Livingston

    I love the last question. I think it is one of the most important things to bring a team together. Show them a deeper goal to chase together and hopefully develop a stronger sense of loyalty and ambition.

    Who would not want to make history? Especially, when it is within their grasp.

    That’d be wise and priceless of Jim to follow up on for the whole organization and fans. Glad he seemed behind it =)

  • Jonny

    I was hoping he would too. I love watching those old videos.

  • John

    Yeah Jonny it really p!sses me off when people say “40 years of sh!t” yada yada, when in fact we’ve had some great hockey over the years in Los Angeles. I LOVE your idea & would buy that DVD right now!

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