Here’s the second set of “open forum” answers, on a wide variety of topics. Thanks again for all the good questions…
Question: With JJ out for the next 3 months, do you think that the DL and his group will try to do his contract now. It seems like this would be a good time to do it. What kind of numbers would you guess that he would be getting, to me 4 yrs, @ $16m. Now this is a long shot, but, if the Kings were in the playoff hunt say in Dec/Jan, do you think they would put a offer in to Mat Sundin (if he isn’t already signed by then).
The injury won’t really have any impact on Johnson’s contract situation. Lombardi could negotiate any time with his agent, but it’s much more likely to happen after the season. This season, for Johnson, is a lot like O’Sullivan’s 2007-08. He has a chance to break through and be an impact player, so both sides will wait and see what happens when he comes back. And no, I don’t anticipate Sundin ever being in the Kings’ plans, playoffs or not.
Question: I wanted to ask you your thoughts on the status of Lombardi. 1. Do you think he will complete his term as GM 2. If so, do you think he will be extended 3. Do you see any merit in the rumored Luc vs Lombardi conflict
1. Lombardi is in the third year of his five-year contract, so he’s safe this year and probably next year as well, both because of the money situation and because the Kings have made it clear that they support his “go young” approach. If significant progress isn’t made between now and then, however… 2. Entirely depends upon what happens in the next two years or so. It’s easier to predict the stock market at this point. 3. Mike Milbury was very bold with his opinions, but I would have liked to see him give a few specifics about what he believes Luc is doing. I’m told there has been some internal debate regarding how quickly young players should be brought along, but unless Milbury, or anyone, makes specific claims, it’s hard for me to comment on anything.
Question: I believe O’sully should be on the #1 line with brown and kopitar, he brings a ton of speed, pucks skills, and a great shot. With him skating with those two, it will also give him a little more room to work with. Do you think this change will occur?
Yes, it will. Remember that the rest of the team had an entire training camp to get in game shape, learn each other’s tendencies and, most importantly, learn Terry Murray’s system. O’Sullivan has had about a week. Based on the last couple games, he looks to be in shape and ready to play more minutes, and as he gets more comfortable with the system, it’s a good bet that he will go back to playing with Brown and Kopitar.
Question: Curious to know how LA will use their ECHL team in Ontario in terms of prospects. I only see Jeff Zatkoff as presently being the lone prospect on their roster. Heidi is just great to look at. The new camera angles are interesting. Are they trying to give viewers more of a feeling of being at the game? I’m glad they are at least trying to make it better to watch on TV, more people may stay home and save the extra scratch than go to the game IMO.
Have the Manchester Monarchs made their final cuts yet? I’m not certain. They play their season opener this weekend. The second-tier/younger prospects, those who aren’t playing junior, will find their way to Ontario. Being able to send players to two ECHL teams will pay off most in terms of the goaltenders. This way, both Zatkoff and Taylor can get a lot of work. Ontario could also help the Kings in terms of injured players who need a quick rehab assignment. Now they don’t have to fly all the way to Manchester in order to get in a couple games. As far as the “rinkside view,” clearly they’re trying to give fans a unique view. If nothing else, at least they’re trying something. Nothing they do on TV, though, will ever replace watching a game in person, so the Kings probably don’t have to worry.
Question: what do you think of Thomas Hickey…he was our 1st round one year back… why isnt he being considered for a roster spot?? was there big hype about him in training camp?? how is his development coming along??
Hickey was considered for a roster spot, but Drew Doughty fared better. Remember that he’s a 19-year-old defenseman. Doughty, at 18, is making it look much easier than it is. A player has to be very, very special to make it as a teenage defenseman in the NHL. Karl Alzner, drafted one spot behind Hickey, got sent down by Washington. Hickey would be in the AHL if age rules allowed it. Hickey’s development seems to be coming along fine. He would be better served playing in the NHL, against a higher caliber of player, but the Kings will keep close tabs on him there. Next year’s training camp should be very important for Hickey.
Question: Do you think Boyle is playing primarily on the 4th line because Murray wants Boyle to establish his physical game first? Can Richardson be sent down without clearing waivers?
Yes, that’s exactly why Boyle is on the fourth line. The major criticism of his game is that he doesn’t play as “big” as he should, given his size. Coaches and management know Boyle has skill, but they want him to be a little meaner, for lack of a better term. We’ll see if playing him with Ivanans and Armstrong makes a difference. Good question on Richardson. I’m not 100 percent certain, but I believe the answer is no.
Question: Rich – during the live chat last night the vast majority of us were complaining about the FSN camera angles they were trying out. Just wondering if you have had an opportunity to check with FSN West to see what their complaint volume looked like.
I’ve asked the Daily News’ TV/radio guru, the world-famous Tom Hoffarth, to look into this. It doesn’t seem to be a popular feature…
Question: Who’s the best ping pong player on the team? Who’s the best beer pong player on the team?
Word in the locker room is that Derek Armstrong is the best ping-pong player. I wouldn’t bet against him in beer pong either.
Question: 1) What are the chances that this Kings team surprises everyone and qualifies for the playoffs? 2) When I watch the Kings play, LaBarbera always seems a step or two slow compared to the other team’s goalie. He has incredibly poor fundamentals. I’ve never thought he’s a No. 1 netminder. Wouldn’t it be better to let Ersberg have a lengthy trial run instead since he is fundamentally sound with a quick glove, and he semmed to inspire his teammates when he played last season? With your years of covering hockey, do you agree or disagree, and why?
1. Well, at the moment, the website sportsclubstats.com gives the Kings a 47.9 percent chance of making the playoffs. That’s probably as good a guess as any. In real-world terms, the Kings are in a division with Stanley Cup contenders such as San Jose, Dallas and Anaheim, plus an improving Phoenix team. This Kings team should be improved, but don’t set your sights too high this season. 2. Well, the thing about Ersberg is, people get excited about how he played with the Kings at the end of last season, but look at his numbers in Manchester. In 30 games, he had a 2.92 goals-against average. Terry Murray didn’t designate LaBarbera as the No. 1 immediately, like the Crawford/Cloutier situation, so I have to believe that the coaches saw something in LaBarbera and/or Ersberg that convinced them to make the choice. Whether it’s the correct choice…we’ll see.
Question: Any insight regarding the Kings plans for Moller, Simmonds and Doughty? If they click are they for sure going to stay or are they headed back to junior regardless of performance?
Doughty isn’t going anywhere, and if Simmonds goes down, it would be to Manchester. Moller is the big question at this point. Based on his first three games, he’s likely to stick around. How he plays over the next week or so will reinforce that, or change it.