Here’s the third set of the open forum questions and answers…
Question: 1) If Kings are in the hunt for a playoff spot in Feb, is it time to make a trade to push for a spot ? Unless it is a trade to help another team dump salary and we get a good player in return for nothing, I think they should keep the roster the way it is and see how far the kids can go. 2) Any chance we can do a question and answers with Jim Fox ? How about Bob Miller or Luc Robitaille ? 3) Given the number of young players we have, I thought I would ask a prospect question. How much of a factor does development play in how good a player turns out ? If Brian Boyle was playing in the DET organization, does that mean he is farther along in his development ? 4) How does Jack Johnson look in terms of coming back from his injury ? Is he skating ok or able to lift weights for his shoulder ? 5) Not sure how much you talk to players in other organizations but are you hearing that the Kings are becoming a desirable place to play (aside from the weather) ?6) Just for fun question : Obviously you cover hockey a lot and I do not know how much football you have covered but do you think hockey players or football players are tougher ? Hope this question does not put you in an awkward sport seeing as how you are an editor.
Answer: 1) It’s a good idea only if the Kings get a big-name player who can help them for years to come. Giving up prospects/picks for a rent-a-player, in hopes that it elevate the Kings to No. 8 in the conference…that’s a bad idea. 2) Bob and Jim are always very generous with their time, but I hesitate to bother them during the season, given their workload and travel schedule. A Q&A with Robitaille is a great idea, particularly since I don’t think we’ve done one here before. I’ll try to set that up. 3) That’s a really good question. I think development plays a huge part. Some players just have such immense talent that it doesn’t matter, but look at a guy like Kyle Quincey. He was buried in the Detroit organization, but he learned in that system and now he’s shining in his chance with the Kings. 4) Johnson has been lifting weights for a couple weeks now, and he’s been periodically skating with the team during practice, but not participating in contact drills. He continues to insist that he won’t be back until after the All-Star break. 5) Yeah, that’s a tough question because I don’t really talk to other players. The proof will be in the pudding there, when the Kings start to go after some big-name guys. 6) I can’t really answer that, as I’ve never covered the NFL, but it’s amazing to see what hockey players go through. Just yesterday, I saw one of the Kings’ regulars walking through the hallway with one ice bag taped to his shoulder and another taped to his ankle. I thought, “Wow, it’s only December.”
Question: Just curious, have you found that its been to your benefit as a reporter to be covering a team that does not have a large media following like a canadian team does, as far as getting interviews, earning the trust of players, coaches, etc.?
Answer: Absolutely. During my time covering the Lakers, it was very difficult to get to know any of the players, because almost every interview I conducted was done with two or three or 15 other reporters. When you can sit down with someone, one on one, it’s so much easier to get to know them and build a relationship. It’s fun to cover a team that gets a lot of national attention, but on a day-to-day basis, it’s easier without the 10 camera crews.
Question: Who do you think will be the first call up from Manchester and do you think Azevedo will get a chance this year with the big club? Will the kings call up Westgarth or does that only happen in Ivanans gets hurt? Why wont TM split up Brown and Kopitar for atleast a game to see what happens? In my opinion Drew Doughty has had some hick ups over the past 2 weeks, do you think he may be coming down from his Calder winning start?
Answer: 1) Who gets called up depends on what the need is. If it’s a forward, you’re probably looking at Gauthier or Purcell. If it’s a defenseman…it’s hard to say. Voynov’s numbers have been solid across the board, but is he ready?
2) Way too premature to say Azevedo is ready for the NHL. Let’s see if he can succeed during a long stretch in the AHL first. Good start, but it’s just a start. 3) It’s hard to see both Ivanans and Westgarth on the roster at the same time, so yes, there would probably have to be an injury. 4) Judging from his comments, Murray seems fairly happy with Brown and Kopitar and is focused more on finding the correct left wing for them. 5) Doughty definitely seems to be coming back to earth a bit in the last few games. That’s somewhat understandable, given how much he’s been playing. The key is, can he find that “second wind” and keep it going?
Question: Why Does FSN not televise games in Calgary or Edmonton, atleast they havent in the last couple of seasons? Are you going to take any roadtrips with the team this season?
Answer: For the most part, it’s a cost issue. There are always a few road trips each season that aren’t televised, and they’re almost always games that are on the East Coast or up north. Unfortunately, I doubt I’ll be making any road trips this season. There’s no money in our travel budget for it, and it’s hard to justify spending my own money to go cover regular-season games. Hopefully the next time the Kings make the playoffs, we will be able to spend the money.
Question: Are you scratching your head as much as us fans, over TM decisions???
Answer: I probably don’t analyze every single decision the way some fans do. It’s awesome that fans are passionate about their team and have strong feelings. I have huge respect for that, but as a reporter I probably take more of a big-picture look than a fan does.
Question: 1) Do you think the organization will retire either Blake and/or Norstrom’s numbers to the rafters? I was talking to fellow fan’s and we debated both sides for both guys, even though Blake’s stock is down for playing up in SJ, but he was the 1st Norris winner for the Kings. Anyone else you could think of? 2) A lot of people (including me) are still wondering about the 2nd round pick for Richardson. I felt like Lombardi could of packaged the 2nd round picks and/or players to get another top 10 pick. From what you know, do you think that scenario was feasible?
Answer: 1) I believe Blake’s number will be retired eventually, but it could take quite a while. There’s no need to rehash this argument, but suffice to say, the wound is fresh. It could be an ugly scene if the Kings try to retire his number in the next five years or so. Give it a little time, and perhaps the wound will heal. Norstrom is a tough call. He’s one of the most respected players in the history of the franchise, but given that there are only five numbers on the wall, I don’t know if he cracks that list. 2) I really have no idea if that scenario was feasible. The Kings’ plan was to jump up and grab another mid-round pick (Teubert) but I don’t think they had designs beyond that.
Question: Do you sense any friction between any of the players and the coaching. Are Kopitar and Brown happy with Calder as their linemate as opposed to Sully. In your oppinion, is TM being stubborn for continually keeping the Kopi-Brown-Calder line intact. Is Sully happy with his role as a floater (constant line changes). Are any of the players publicly complaining about their roles on the team.
Answer: There’s no widespread friction between players and coaches. O’Sullivan has been the only one to express any frustration this season. Brown, Kopitar and O’Sullivan have all said that they enjoy playing with each other, but they haven’t had anything negative to say about Calder. There’s nothing “stubborn” about playing Calder with Brown and Kopitar. Murray isn’t doing it to prove a point. He thinks it could work. That point can certainly be argued, but he’s not doing it to be stubborn. O’Sullivan has been the second-line left wing for quite a while now, if memory serves me, so the other guys are actually the floaters at the moment, not him. And there aren’t any players publicly complaining.
Question: Any thoughts on the reasoning behind Sully not being on the top line? It seems they had success last year. When Murray talked about what kind of player would be on the top line, he didn’t mention O’Sullivan at all, yet the things he mentioned seemed to fit Sully. Is he down on Sully? Is Sully too one dimensional? Is Sully deemed to be more valuable in other roles? So far I just haven’t seen anything that makes sense.
Answer: The correct answer is probably some combination of all of those things. O’Sullivan didn’t start the season on the first line, in part, because he missed almost all of camp and Murray didn’t get a good look at him. Then he got a chance at the first line, a chance that ended quickly because the coaches didn’t feel he was playing a responsible two-way game. He got another chance, but I never really got a firm reason as to why that ended. In general, there’s some truth to what you’re saying about him being valuable in another role. Winning teams absolutely need scoring depth, and O’Sullivan as a second-line sniper would be quite valuable. But for that to work, the first line has to be producing as well.