Forum answers I

Here’s the first set of answers from this morning’s questions. Great questions so far. Keep `em coming and I’ll try to get through all of them today. Here’s the first set…

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Question: Do you know how the Kings feel about Alec Martinez after training camp? I know he was highly touted coming in, but I didn’t really hear about him too much during camp. Was his being sent down a reflection of his play in camp, or were other guys (who made the team) just playing better? Given are lack of depth on D right now do you think we might see him at some point this season, or are Bagnall and Piskula ahead on the depth chart?

I expected to hear a little more chatter about Martinez during training camp as well, but it doesn’t seem as though he was ever in serious contention of making the team out of camp. Martinez’s name came up the other day around the rink, in addition to Joe Piskula and Davis Drewiske. The Kings’ hope for all those guys — and probably Bagnall is well — is that they will thrive in Manchester and be ready for a mid-season call-up. Martinez is probably first in line among that group, should the Kings need someone immediately, but management wants to give all of them a little more time to progress in Manchester.

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Question: What do you think the Kings thought process is regarding Oscar Moller? I like the energy and enthusiasm he brings to the table. Any thoughts on why didn’t the Kings consider bringing up Martinez or recalling Hickey when Johnson went down?

The nice thing about junior players is that the Kings can get a nine-game look and decide whether to keep the player around or not. They’ve given Moller second- or third-line minutes and given him a chance to shine, and he’s done a very credible job for someone with his age and experience. The question becomes twofold: is the player ready for the NHL, and is it worth burning a year of his entry-level contract? If the player is doing well and will benefit from playing in the NHL, he will stick around. Obviously the next few games will be crucial for Moller. As far as replacing Johnson, Kyle Quincey is no slouch. A handful of other teams — I’m not sure the exact number — put claims in for him, but the Kings got him. It never hurts to have defensive depth. I think I covered Martinez fairly well in the previous answer, and they made the decision to send Hickey to Seattle. That wouldn’t change based on injury. Hickey won’t be here until they think he’s ready.

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Question: Quick started the first game in Manchester. I was wondering if he was named number one?

At least at the start of the season, the Jonathans, Quick and Bernier, will split time in Manchester. Bernier is expected to play this weekend, and they’re keeping an open mind over there. Remember also that Bernier is still trying to play his way into shape after missing a big part of training camp with a hip-flexor injury.

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Question: I know this is early, but in what range in terms of money do you think Jack Johnson will get this next year? Around 3 mil?

There are way, way too many variables at this point. A lot of it has to do with money vs. years. Generally, a GM is willing to pay more if the player will commit to more years. That was the difference between the O’Sullivan negotiations and the Kopitar negotiations. O’Sullivan wanted a short-term contract, so Lombardi dug in his heels in terms of the money. Kopitar was more receptive to a long-term contract, so that’s why he got bigger numbers than if he had wanted a one- or two-year deal. So that’s the starting point…what is Jack looking for? Then you go from there.

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Question: 1: What are the Kings going to do about their defense? I can’t believe they don’t think they need to acquire a good defenseman now the JJ is out for a while. and… 2: Does Terry Murray still intend to relay on LaBarbara for a while? I think he played a little better last night, especially late in the game, but he still doesn’t look like an every day #1 goalie to me.

1. Well, this goes right back to the infamous “When are the Kings going to get a goalie?” questions. The simple fact is that this is not a Stanley Cup contending team, therefore they’re not going to go out and trade prospects or draft picks to get a defenseman to replace Johnson. Add to that the fact that the Kings have already reached their self-imposed $40-million cash budget, and you have your answer. 2) The plan is to stick with LaBarbera, yes. Murray was very clear, fairly early in camp, that LaBarbera is his No. 1 goalie, and unless Murray sees a clear-cut reason to make a change, he won’t. Ersberg will get some starts, so perhaps he can play his way into a bigger role.

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Question: 1 – With the Kings at the moment 14 for 14 on PK this season, how much of that do you attribute to Mark Hardy? As followup, what do the individual coaches bring to the Kings this year that seems to be working (for now)? 2 – What did DL see in Brad Richardson at the summer draft that was worth swapping a 2nd round pick for? 3 – Throughout Toyota Sports Center are large pictures on the walls of a fired coach (Andy Murray), a former King great who left for $$$’s (Blake) and long ago players like Josef Stumpel and Glen Murray. What do these past images say about a group that should be focused on a new culture and attitude without throwing away some important players and milestones with this franchise? Shouldn’t these pics be changed with great past Kings players (Goring? Dionne? Gretzky? etc)? 4 – Do you see, even at this early stage, the young Kings buying into TM’s approach? 5 – Lastly, I am still a believer in Mary Ann over Ginger? You too?

1. The 14-for-14 start is impressive, especially against quality teams such as San Jose and Anaheim, but let’s see how it plays out. The Kings have had three-game stretches of good penalty killing before… But in general, the emphasis on defense and penalty killing seems to be paying off. Murray and Hardy are both former NHL defensemen and they bring that mentality to practice. What all three coaches have in common is that they’re good communicators and teachers. When you’re trying to teach young players, you have to connect with them, and this coaching staff seems to be doing a better job of that.

2) It’s probably more about what Michael Futa saw in Richardson. Futa, the Kings co-director of amateur scouting, was general manager of the Owen Sound OHL team when Richardson played there, and when he scored 41 goals in 68 games in 2004-05. I don’t know what the scouting reports were on Richardson, but they must have seen something they liked.

3) Funny, I was just mentioning this to someone in the organization yesterday. They really need to change those pictures, or at least take down the huge banner outside the rink that has Blake and Visnovsky on it. Somebody should really wake up over there. Big rinkside photos of some of the Kings’ former greats would be highly appropriate and would build that sort of “organizational pride” that Lombardi wants to put in place.

4) At times, yes, particularly on the penalty kill. Remember that Murray’s first move in practice was to spray-paint those dots in front of the net, to emphasize defensive responsibility. Murray came in with a “defense-first” mantra and that looks like it’s paying off, although there are bumps along the way. More important, right now, is what the guys say in the locker room. There’s a lot of praise for Murray, his temperament and the way he handles the players. Respect is important for a coach, and it seems as though the Kings respect Murray.

5) I’ve never been, and will never be, a flip-flopper on this issue.

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Question: Do you see oscar moller or wayne simmonds being sent back down? if not then what do we do with guys like Calder, Richardson? Also when Jack returns from his injury, what do you predict will happen to the defense? like does Harrold, Quincey, or even Gauithier get sent down?

At the start of the season, it seemed as though it was set up for Simmonds to get a few games of experience, then go to Manchester. But you know what? He’s looked pretty good. He’s still the player most “on the bubble” in terms of going to Manchester, but he and Handzus have looked pretty good together. As far as the others, they’ll work their way in and out of the lineup, and I’m sure you’ve been watching the Kings long enough to know that injuries are never far away. It’s hard to predict what will happen with the defense when Johnson returns, as that’s probably three months away. Long time. O’Donnell, Doughty and Preissing should feel fairly secure, but everyone else will have to stay on their toes.

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Question: I can’t say it enough, thanks for everything you do on the blog. My question may be off topic but… How is Matthew Kreidel doing since he was laid off? Has he landed someplace else?

To be honest, it’s been quite a while since I heard how Matt’s doing. Last I heard, he was doing some freelance writing. Newspapers just don’t hire these days.

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Question: What’s the deal with the inflated attendence figures. Not so much this year (yet) but last year it seemed like they report that a game is a sellout and there tons of empty seats. I understand that the premiere seats are sold whether bodies are in them or not, but I remember last year “sellout” games where large chunks of the 300′s were empty. Why are these figures being inflated and what good does it do them?

“What good does it do them?” Fantastic question. I don’t understand it either. They do inflate the numbers terribly, but their answer is that the attendance numbers actually reflect “tickets distributed” rather than the number of bodies in the seats. The question is, why? Who are they trying to impress? I don’t get it, never have, but the Kings are hardly along in inflating numbers. The Dodgers, for one, have done it for years as well. Maybe it has something to do with looking good for advertisers/sponsors. I’m not sure.

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  • Marc Nathan

    Rich-

    The attendance figures are ALWAYS “Paid” Attendance. It is that way because it is a number that involves “Gross Receipts” — How else could the NHL gauge actual revenue?

    Fact is, though, when the team announces a “Sellout” and you see the very upper reaches of a few sections in the 300s as empty, the team will usually buy those tickets to complete the “sellout.” THAT seems counter productive to me, but being able to tell the crowd that all the tickets were sold may lull them into some false sense of belief that hockey is “important” in LA… something it has rarely been, and will continue not to be until the team gels and success is consistently achieved.

    Right?

  • brianguy

    14,500 last night doesn’t sound like they bought up or “donated” very many to charity…

    but the home opener there were definitely a good 3-4 empty rows at the top of many sections and it was a reported sellout. so it definitely seems true in that case.

  • cristobal

    The attendance numbers are inflated to keep the promotions and marketing department people of AEG employed. That’s what they’re judged on. In my opinion, the hockey sells itself. If its good and compelling, the people will come. All the hoopla and noise, in my opinion, is a turn-off as well as a waste of money.

  • CBGB

    But, but, but I was told they had an 85% ST renewal rate! They even PM’d me when I called BS on it – you mean it’s not true?

  • allison

    CBGB said:

    But, but, but I was told they had an 85% ST renewal rate! They even PM’d me when I called BS on it – you mean it’s not true?

    What does ‘PM’d me’ mean exactly?

  • http://www.google.com King 4 Life

    “O’Donnell, Doughty and Preissing should feel fairly secure, but everyone else will have to stay on their toes.”

    I would think Matt Greene would be a lock on this roster too.

  • Damen

    The NHL is the most liberal of the major team sports when it comes to defining what a sell-out is.

    I wonder how much of that 85% renewal rate is actually corporate seating who are actually buying seats to all Staples events and not just solely the Kings.

    And to elaborate on Johnson’s contract. With Kopitar, Dean basically stole 3 years of unrestricted free agency from Kopitar and that’s why his figure is so high. Kopitar could have signed a 4 year deal and become a UFA the Summer of 2013. When GM’s get players to sign long term deals that take UFA years away from them, then the players have to get rewarded with higher figures. That’s why these second contracts have become so big, no matter what cry baby Burke says. (I love how all 30 GM’s have to deal with bigger second contracts, but the only one whining about it is the one who collected a 1st, 2nd & 3rd rounder from what HE deems as the culprit).

    O’Sullivan becomes a restricted free agent a full season before he can get UFA status, that’s why his numbers are so small. If he had signed a 5 or 6 year deal his per year figure would have been a lot bigger.

    Jack is due for UFA in 2014 (7 years served), so any years beyond that Dean can tie him up for is going to cost. But like Anze and Dustin, this is a cornerstone guy you want tied up beyond 2014. Let’s knock on wood.

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