Forum answers I

Here’s the first set of open forum answers from this morning. Please feel free to keep asking questions! Here’s the answers…

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Question: During the first 9 games that a junior player like Oscar Moller is playing for the Kings, who is paying him? Is he paid based on his junior contract with Chilliwack? Do the Kings pay him a standard rookie NHL payment of 1/82nd game check per game he is on roster? We know that once he hits game 10 his entry level contract kicks in. But how about BEFORE then? In the same vein, how are junior, foreign (think Voinov), college and AHL players paid during PRESEASON? Do they get an expense stipend until they are returned and/or assigned to their respective teams? How does that work?

Answer: Great question about the nine-game tryout, and rather than giving you an answer that might not be 100-percent correct, let me ask Jeff Solomon about this. As far as the preseason, I’m about 95 percent sure that NO players get paid during the preseason, and that the checks don’t start coming until the season begins. Unless that changed with the latest CBA, that’s how it works. Teams pay for housing, etc., but I don’t believe there is any salary.

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Question: In light of LaBarbara’s inconsistency and the fact that King’s management still haven’t shown much confidence in Ersberg, and the fact that their “goalie of the future”, Bernier, is struggling at Manchester suggesting that the future may be a ways off, have the Kings reconsidered a “bridge” goalie such as Khabibulin?

Answer: No. I understand that the holy grail for a segment of Kings fans is to sign/trade for/construct in a labratory some sort of “bridge” goalie, but that’s not part of the plan. Only two things could change that. One, a relatively young, talented goalie with an attractive contract comes along (which happens once every quarter-century or so) or, a year from now, it becomes clear that none of the young goalies are progressing as normal. Khabibulin’s contract is a huge anchor, which is why no team wants it, and it doesn’t make sense to add a huge-salaried veteran goalie to this team.

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Question: Early impressions of Terry Murray? This is completely and utterly hypothetical and probably unlikely to happen… but just for the sake of opinion… given how the Kings’ prospects stack up and given the players expected to be on the ice for the Kings next year, if you had the choice of adding Jay Bouwmeester, Marian Hossa OR Marian Gaborik… who would YOU go for, if you had to choose one. Energy Drinks, Starbucks or other?

Answers: 1) Personally, he’s a gentleman and exceedingly pleasant to deal with. As a coach, he’s showed an interesting mixture of patience and…impatience wouldn’t be the right word, but a willingness to change. First and foremost, he’s a teacher in practice, and that’s something the Kings haven’t seen in a while. I’m not certain why he showed such a willingness to move forwards around but waited so long to give Ersberg a chance. He’s still feeling his way early. 2) None of the above. I’d go for Ilya Kovalchuk. Hossa second, Bouwmeester third, Gaborik fourth. 3) Starbucks or Coffee Bean, to feed the caffeine addiction.

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Questions: In your opinion if Ersberg continues to play at the level he did against the Ducks do you think Murray will ride the hot hand so long as its hot or can we expect to see Labarbera play the majority regardless of Ersbergs performance? I guess what I’m getting at is is it even possible for Ersberg to supercede Jason as #1 assuming Labs stays healthy?

Is O’Sullivan having attitude problems with Murray? I know he is totally playing the system but in a merit based system Murray has employed his play has not warranted 4th line minutes.

Moulson seemed to get sent down fairly quickly. How does management feel about Simmonds so far? Any chanve he gets sent down soon or is everyone content with his performance at this level?

Also, who is taking care of the PP, Kompom or Emerson? What responsibilities does the one not in charge of it have?

Any interesting pre-game rituals you are aware of?

Do you think Kopi and Brown should or will be split up if they continue to slump?

Too many questions?

What’s your favorite sport next to hockey? Golf much? If so, care to share your handicap or favorite L.A. Course?

Answers: 1) Sure. There are stubborn coaches out there, no doubt, but if Ersberg shows that he deserves to be the No. 1 goalie, he will get the job. All things being equal, LaBarbera will get the benefit of the doubt, but Ersberg is getting a chance right now to show he deserves more time.

2) I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. The idea that O’Sullivan’s play is not worthy of first-line minutes is held not only by Terry Murray but by others in the organization as well. O’Sullivan isn’t happy about it, but he actually seemed enthused yesterday about the line with Boyle and Harrold.

3) The word “content” is probably an overstatement, but the general feeling is that Simmonds is doing well in relation to the expectation level. He brings energy and a physical element. There are still a lot of things he can improve upon, but as long as the positives outweigh the negatives, and as long as he continues to develop, he will stay.

4) Kompon and Hardy are the two on-ice coaches, with Kompon doing a lot of power-play stuff. Nelson Emerson is not an on-ice coach. He works with the staff upstairs and off the ice.

5) I’m sure they all have their quirks, but nothing crazy comes to mind.

6) It’s less about the two of them and more about the team. The Kings need to find two scoring lines, and preferrably a third that can provide some offense. Terry Murray is going to have to continue to tweak until he finds that balance. If it means splitting Brown and Kopitar at some point, it wouldn’t be a shock, but he’s trying other things first.

7) No. Questions are good.

8) I’m not a big golf person, but Jill is! College football and baseball would be my other favorite sports. And curling!

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Question: I apologize in advance for the unusual question, but have you ever been to the “Meet the Players” event or “Tip-A-King”? We are going to our first ever meet the Players party as we are first year season ticket holders. Has it been more crowded than the Tip-A-Kings? My son would like to get as many player autographs that he can but I am thinking it may be pretty crowded. Just wondering if you or anybody else may be able to give us a heads up regarding this event? Thank you.

Answer: I’ve actually never been to one of those events, so perhaps your fellow fans might be able to answer your question. From what I understand, the events are typicall well organized and people get the autographs they’re looking for, as long as they’re willing to stand in line a while.

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Question: How about updates on Bernier, Hickey, Purcell, Voynov, Tuebert and Cambell. Not just stats, but how the coaches and/or Lombardi feel about their development.

Answer: I’ll try to get an update soon. Lombardi hasn’t seen any of them in person, but Ron Hextall recently made a trip to Manchester, so it seems like a good time to get an update on some of them. The only one I’ve specifically heard about is Purcell, in the context that he wasn’t quite doing enough to force the Kings to call him up.

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Question: Rules question. If a team is down two men at the end of regulation, do they still go into overtime at a two-man disadvantage? I’m under the impression that you have to have at least three skaters on the ice at all times.

Answer: In that situation, the power play would start as a 5-on-3 situation and then go back to 4-on-4 once the penalties expire. You’re correct that teams must have at least three skaters on the ice.

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Question: Since the same questions are asked over and over ad nauseam, I’m going to change the subject a little. I’m curious about your access to the team. I have worked for a minor sports team in the past and have heard from the press that it’s an odd balance sometimes to write the negatives about the team for fear of being “cut-off”, so to speak, from the team (i.e., minimal contact and going as far as some players/coaches cutting you off entirely). Do you feel that you can report as you see fit without retribution from the club or do you have to temper your comments at times to ensure you continue to receive full access. I’m also curious which players/coaches are not real approachable and which ones are (this is not implying anything negative, they may just not be comfortable talking to the press).

Answer: Good question, and one that people who haven’t worked in sports or journalism don’t always understand. There’s a balance there. I will always write what I want to write, and what I know is the truth. If it upsets some people, that’s unfortunate, but I can’t worry about that. Most players and coaches are professional enough to understand that. What a lot of fans/readers don’t understand is that you can’t always go in with guns blazing. If there’s a tough question to be asked, you ask it, but you don’t go into a locker room every day hellbent on calling people out based upon which direction the wind is blowing that day. You weigh the costs and benefits of what being confrontational will mean, and you decide if it’s worth it at the moment. Some readers think that journalism means always going in with guns blazing and an “I want answers!!!” mentality, but when you’re dealing with people on a daily basis and building relationships, it often has to be more subtle. To be honest, there’s nobody in the Kings’ locker room I would consider “unapproachable.” The last one was Sean Avery. Jeremy Roenick at times. I consider all of them highly cooperative. Jason LaBarbera is probably the most friendly, but I can’t complain about any of them. Players who are non-native English speakers generally tend to be more media-shy, but that doesn’t make them uncooperative.

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  • EJ

    Rich, you are a terrific reporter. Your writing is intelligent and insightful. Plus I applaud the patience you show, as you wade through the comments on this board.

    Jill, a tip of the hat to you, as well.

  • fuzzerson

    “Bridge” goalie? I will settle for a “ferry” goalie at this point.

  • Tip A King fan

    Tip A King is hands down the best event. Sure, you’ll spend about $85 for tickets, and $1-2 a player for Pictures and autographs but it’s well worth it. Last year I got everyone’s autograph on a stick, except for only 2 players as well as pictures in the 3 hour window and the lines were nothing. Meet the Players, although free is way more crazy. Probably twice as many people maybe more. And, if you want to get an autograph, you have to choose wisely. The lines for the “big” players are very long and limit the amount of time you can get into other lines before time runs out. I’ll never go to Meet the Players again, it’s just not worth it.

  • Tip A King fan

    Tip A King is hands down the best event. Sure, you’ll spend about $85 for tickets, and $1-2 a player for Pictures and autographs but it’s well worth it. Last year I got everyone’s autograph on a stick, except for only 2 players as well as pictures in the 3 hour window and the lines were nothing. Meet the Players, although free is way more crazy. Probably twice as many people maybe more. And, if you want to get an autograph, you have to choose wisely. The lines for the “big” players are very long and limit the amount of time you can get into other lines before time runs out. I’ll never go to Meet the Players again, it’s just not worth it.

  • Tip A King fan

    Tip A King is hands down the best event. Sure, you’ll spend about $85 for tickets, and $1-2 a player for Pictures and autographs but it’s well worth it. Last year I got everyone’s autograph on a stick, except for only 2 players as well as pictures in the 3 hour window and the lines were nothing. Meet the Players, although free is way more crazy. Probably twice as many people maybe more. And, if you want to get an autograph, you have to choose wisely. The lines for the “big” players are very long and limit the amount of time you can get into other lines before time runs out. I’ll never go to Meet the Players again, it’s just not worth it.

  • jack handy

    inspired by fuzzerson-

    i’ll even take a ‘life raft’ goalie at this point.

    actually, i think i am okay with the Iceberg in net.

  • Old Man

    No questions Rich just GRATITUDE!

  • jet

    Rich,

    Do you really thnk that mentioning the curling thing ever so often is going to get you more dates?

  • Fan from Section 319

    As a follow up on the Tip-a-King vs. Meet the Players question. I’ve been to both and have had luck getting quite a few pictures and autographs at both events. As someone else said, there are somewhat shorter lines at Tip-a-King, but with planning you can have fun at either event. Note that the Kings organization will usually pair up a popular player with one that might have a less enthusiastic fan base, so you can probably get two pictures and/or authographs for the trouble of waiting in one long line. For truly popular players, you might have to spend quite a bit of time standing in line, but if you take a friend and take turns in the long line, the other one can run around getting in and out of shorter lines. Almost all of the players are pleasant and friendly during the sessions, especially with kids, and after two Tip-a-Kings and six Meet the Players parties, I’d say the only one who I ever saw looking miserable at one of these events was Matthieu Schneider. After you go to the free one, you can decide if you still want to pay to go to the other.

  • Ryan

    Regarding the question on contracts:

    The Kings would be paying Moller’s salary and it’s calculated on a per day basis rather than games played. The contract is broken up into payments based on the number of days in the NHL season — last year I believe was 176 days.

    When they say “on the 10th game the pro contract kicks in” it doesn’t mean that the contract isn’t active as far as money goes. That’s referring to the pro year counting towards free agency as being “activated.”

    Example: Moller is currently signed to a 3-year contract. If Moller had only played 9 games and went back down to the WHL then he would still have 3 years remaining on his contract at the start of the next season instead of 2.