The second set of questions and answers. Keep them coming, if you wish!
Question: Question related to Dean: has his interaction with AEG changed at all since he first took over? With L.A. Live and everything else, it would appear that Leiweke is spread even thinner and cannot exert his lack of hockey acumen on the Kings’ front office as in years past. Does DL really have complete autonomy on hockey decisions or does he have to go to AEG before any deal is made?
Answer: A good question, but a complicated one. Basically, yes, Leiweke is less hands-on with the Kings than he was in previous years. The day-to-day decisions are in Lombardi’s hands, but bigger issues still require corporate approval, as they do (to varying extents) with all teams/business. AEG met with Lombardi and gave him a budget at the start of the summer. Lombardi made the call to hire Terry Murray, but brought Murray downtown to meet AEG brass and get final approval. If the Kings make a move that would put them over their budget, it would require AEG approval. So to say Lombardi has “complete” autonomy wouldn’t be accurate, but he probably has a normal amount, and probably more than Dave Taylor did.
Question: is there any place to find ref stats I would love to see what ref in the past 2 years has # 1 refd the most games #2 called the most penalties for and against the kings and so on PS my 5 year old son love`s Bob Miller and Jim fox because he thinks they are the real Bert and Ernie from sesame street
Answer: It would be sort of interesting to see, wouldn’t it? But no, those stats aren’t kept, and it would be exceedingly difficult to chart, since you’d have to know which ref called which penalty during a game. If you wanted to take a look at which refs are most valued in the league, look at who gets the plum playoff assignments. That’s always a good indicator, in any sport. Bob and Jim as Bert and Ernie? Wow, that had never crossed my mind, but I just looked at a picture and, yeah…
Question: How would you feel about the Kings possibly going for someone like Kovalchuk? What do you think would be good to offer Atlanta in a trade? There’s been some media comments on the topic lately.
Answer: Grabbing Kovalchuk would be a tremendous move for the Kings, unless Atlanta was asking for the farm. That should be a very interesting situation to follow, since it seems likely that he will be moved at some point. Kovalchuk makes more sense than Gaborik, for a number of reasons. The Kings obviously have a lot to offer any team in trade talks. There’s now a fairly deep well of draft picks and prospects. I’m not familiar enough with the Atlanta system to know what they might be looking for in trades.
Question: The attendance seems to be way down this year despite an improved team and better schedule against more favorable teams. Obviously the economy and the price hike are major factors, as well as a majority of Monday night games, but is the Kings’ marketing dept. (and how is that for an oxymoron?) at all concerned and contemplating a price rollback next season? Since they only seem to announce the attendance when it is a sellout (and memo to the Kings – how childish is that, by the way?) what is your perception of the crowds this season? Management should be quite concerned when games vs. Detroit and Toronto fail to fill the building.
Answer: I hadn’t noticed that they no longer announce the attendance during non-sellouts. Is that true? That’s fairly embarrassing. Management should absolutely be concerned about the small attendance numbers. Raising ticket prices after a last-place season was not a good move. I don’t care how low their average prices were compared to other teams and I don’t care how about how many “affordable packages” they offer. Clearly the Kings couldn’t have expected the general downturn in the economy, the rise in gas prices, etc., but they’d be having a problem even if the economy was perceived to be strong. You just don’t follow a last-place season by putting your hands deeper in your fans’ pockets. I’d be surprised if they lowered prices next season, but a freeze might be in order, right
Question: What’s the sense around the Kings from the coaches and management about the quality of the team? Are they expecting to be able to make the playoffs, or is the focus on getting better individually with a focus on 2 or 3 years from now? How do some of the “disciplined” players react to the “punishment?” Do they accept that they need to improve or sulk? Is there any sense the group is starting to get tired or frustrated, or is there a positive “vibe” going around? Are Murray’s tactics that appear confusing really just misunderstood and, in a sense, just sowing the seeds for the future; or is he out of touch with the “new NHL” and players he doesn’t “get?”
Answer: 1) Well, when you talk to coaches and players, you’ll never hear anything except, “We’re trying to win every game and make the playoffs.” If they’re being honest with themselves, they’ll say that this is probably the second stage of Lombardi’s development plan. The younger guys are starting to break through — although it remains to be seen how many of them will stick — and Lombardi is conserving enough salary-cap room to make some high-profile additions in the next year or two. Realistically, the focus is on the next couple years. 2) I haven’t seen a lot of sulking. Most players are pretty good at hiding their frustrations, although O’SUllivan lets it out from time to time. Most players know that they won’t gain anything by publicly lashing out. 3) The “vibe” didn’t seem real good in the locker room after practice yesterday, but that’s very subjective and very subject to change. “Frustration” can easily be mistaken for “determination to get better.” 4) It seems like Murray is still trying to figure out this team. For the most part, that’s understandable. Remember that you and I have been watching a lot of these players for years now. We have preconceived ideas of what they can and can’t do. Murray had none when he came in. He’s had the last three months to get to know these guys and what they can and can’t do. The question is, is he learning and adapting fast enough?
Question: So having said that, what do you think about Lombardi’s future plans with Frolov?
Answer: I cut down your original question, all of which had to do with Frolov. He’s always been something of an enigmatic player during his time in L.A. When Terry Murray talked yesterday about Frolov’s enormous potential, and how he wants to see it come out, I almost had to shake my head. I’ve lost count of the number of people in the organization who have said the exact same thing over the last five years or so. In a way, Frolov might be a victim of his own potential. He has so many skills, so coaches and management have a very high standard for him. He never seems to hit his “ceiling” in the eyes of his coaches, whether it was Andy Murray, Marc Crawford or Terry Murray. Is that unfair? Maybe. It’s been a fascinating thing to watch. As far as his future, I do believe it’s notable that when Lombardi talks about his “core” for the future, Frolov is rarely included. Does that mean he’s definitely leaving when his contract expires? Of course not. But a lot of teams will be interested in him, and how he fares over the next couple years will determine how badly the Kings want to keep him.
Question: What is you opinion on Zeilers hit on Foote? Was it clean? Did Zeiler deserve the suspension? How would you react if the teams were switched around?
Answer: Cracking down on dangerous hits is fine, but the NHL seems a bit inconsistent in the way it hands out punishment. A three-game suspension for Zeiler was fine. Was it the most awful hit in the history of the NHL? No. Could it have gone without a suspension. Sure, but it’s hard to argue strongly against it. The thing is, a few nights later, one of the Oilers delivered an awful hit on Patrick O’Sullivan, and got nothing more than a minor penalty. O’Sullivan skated off and returned to the game later, but what difference should that make? Perhaps it’s just my perception, but there seems to be something of a lack of consistency in the way punishment is handed out.