Forum answers IV

Getting back to the forum answers from yesterday, here’s the fourth set…

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Question: Rich–you’re an LA native, no? What gets your vote for best burger spot in town?

Answer: Tommy’s, the original, at Beverly and Rampart. Nothing better than one of their double chili-cheeseburgers, plus the added excitement of never knowing when you might be shot or stabbed mid-meal.

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Questions: 1. Last year Patrick O’Sullivan was a force on the PK, and for many of the early games looked like the Kings most aggressive offensive player. Now his numbers are not bad…but it seems like he is not having as great an impact. Switching lines so frequently maybe a reason, but do you sense anything else?

2. If you look two years out, our DEF would likely have Greene, Quincy, JJ, Doughty, Hickey, Teubert, Voinov, and possibly Martinez…just a hunch from you, who would you guess amongst the youngsters is the most likely not to live up to his potential and not be here?

3. For the close games that the Kings have played and lost this year, you always hear that as a young team, they have to learn how to win these games. From your perspective is that a tangible thing such as working harder or sticking to the system, or is it a “learning process”? If it is a “learning process”, in your opinion, just how patient should they be? My impression is that losing begets losing, and although the team may have a new outlook, it can be damaging to their psyche.

Answers: 1) I mentioned earlier that the players generally don’t have a problem with Terry Murray changing lines so much. I’m not retracting that, but I will say that O’Sullivan seems to struggle with it the most. From talking to him over the last couple years, I think he’s a guy who doesn’t completely find a comfort level until he plays with linemates on a fairly regular basis. I don’t see anything that his really changed in his game. His minutes are often dictated by whether the coaches feel he is playing a strong enough two-way game. 2) I really couldn’t offer you anything more than a guess. Greene, Quincey, Johnson and Doughty are on a completely different level than Hickey, Teubert, Voinov, Martinez and anyone else. The first group has already proved that it can play in the NHL; the second hasn’t. That’s a huge distinction. Hickey and Teubert have yet to even skate in a professional game. So it’s apples and oranges right now. 3) It is a learning process. Even when you lose, you can learn to win, because you can look back and see what you could have done different and apply that to the next game. Things like working hard and sticking to the system are important, and must be learned as well, but the whole “learning to win” thing is less tangible. How do players react to losing? Lombardi mentioned the other day how he was glad to see Moller crying after Sweden lost in the gold-medal game. Why? Because it spoke to Moller’s competitiveness, etc.

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Question: My personal feeling about JJ is he has the potential of being a really good if not great d-man, with that said do you think that there was to much hype on him, being the next Rob Blake and the answers to our d-men worries. Also, do you think that the Kings were send JJ down to Manchester for “Conditioning”, so that he gets some games in him and maybe gets some confidence back before they throw him out on the ice. I don’t think that sending him down for a month would be a bad thing, just like what they did with POS. Thoughts?

Answer: Sure, there’s always a risk that a player won’t live up to the hype. It happens all the time. In fact, it probably happens more often than it doesn’t. All you can go by is potential. Johnson showed a ton of it at Michigan, and has displayed glimpses of it when healthy with the Kings. Only time will tell whether that potential makes him the next Rob Blake or the next Denis Grebeshkov. Sending Johnson to Manchester for a month would be excesssive. A week, for conditioning, to get his legs under him in a game environment? Sure. But he’s been skating and practicing with the Kings, so he wouldn’t need a month in the AHL under any circumstances.

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Questions: The recession is pretty big news in the world right now, how does it affect the team presently and in the future? Will it change any long term strategy? If the cap falls and GMs are going to unload players, is Lombardi in the position to pick up players for cheap? Or is there a ceiling dictated by Anschutz or even in his own strategy? I have one more question, now that it seems like defense is solidifying, what’s Lombardi’s take on the offense and goaltending foundations? It seems like the offensive prospects have gotten weaker ever since he focused on building the defensemen.

Answers: 1) Well, that’s a complicated question. Because it depends how deep you want to look. You could look at it and say that the recession impacts ticket buying, which impacts the organization’s revenues and its bottom line, which then could impact the team’s player budget. Those decisions aren’t made until the summer though, so it would just be speculation. Lombardi was under a management-imposed budget of $40-$42 million this season, but that’s not supposed to be a long-term thing. Given that so many teams are spending up to the cap, the Kings are very well positioned, at least at the moment. That’s why you see the Kings’ name come up in every wacky trade rumor. 2) When you say the offensive prospects have gotten weaker, I presume you mean in relation to the defense and goaltending. That’s almost a given when the Kings have had three first-round draft picks in the last two years and used all of them on defensemen. Lombardi feels the goaltending is set, assuming he can bank on at least one of the Bernier-Quick-Zatkoff-Ersberg-etc. group turning into a No. 1. That’s a decent bet. Money will have to be spent to acquire a top-level scorer.

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Question: I know Terry Murray likes a physical game and thats why Ivanans gets a decent amount of playing time, but why do you think he pretty much always gets away scott free from criticism/losing playing time when he takes dumb penalties? His penalty last night against the Ducks was ridiculous as he pushed down a guy without the puck right in front of the refs. Yet Murray was only (publicly) upset with Stoll for the delay of game penalty. Ivanans also had decent minutes in the third. Any ideas?

Answer: Again, this goes back to the previous Ivanans question. He’s a fourth-line guy playing a handful of minutes. I’m not trying to defend anyone’s mistakes, but I’m just not aware of a fourth-line grinder/enforcer who doesn’t make mistakes and take bad penalties. Jarret Stoll just signed a four-year, $14.4-million contract and is expected to be a top-six caliber player. You can argue that the Kings don’t need a player who plays Ivanans’ game, but again, I’ll go back to the fact that you’re never going to find 12 all-stars to occupy your forward slots.

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Question: I would expect ticket prices to rise as the team continues to get better, buuuutt…. If AEG can justify a ticket price increase after last season, and if the teams continues to grow and improve into a playoff contender as well all hope/think they will….with your knowledge of how AEG seems to operate, do you think they are gonna jump at the chance to really bump up the prices and eventually out-price a lot of the die-hard King fans who’ve supported this team for the duration?

Answer: All I can tell you is what they told me, which is this: last summer’s ticket increases were done so that there wouldn’t have to be one steep increase down the road. The Kings felt they needed to increase prices but didn’t want to slam the season-ticket holders all at once. So based on that, and in response to your question, I’d say that’s not their intention (to keep raises prices steeply and price out loyal fans) but only time will tell.

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Questions: Now that the defense is somewhat deep and Murray’s defensive changes forming a huge difference, do you see the Kings using some free agent money (Calder, Gauthier) on a scorer or does he feel the Junio or Monarch Kings will develop? Do you believe the injury to Jack Johnson will create an impasse as to his worth in signing him long term? Do you root for the King?

Answers: 1) This pretty much got addressed earlier, but yes, any big money that the Kings spend in free agency will be used on forwards. 2) An impasse? No, I wouldn’t go that far. It might change the dynamics of the conversation slightly, but assuming he stays healthy, Johnson will have more than two months to show his stuff at the end of the season. 3) No, I don’t cheer for the Kings, unless they’re leading by a goal in the third period and I’m going to miss deadline if the game goes to overtime.

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Question: One more thing, do you think that other players are learning how to take face-offs from Stoll ? That is an area we need to improve on.

Answer: Well, Stoll hasn’t been giving any clinics, and I haven’t studied the numbers, but I do recall, offhand, that Kopitar recently had a couple outstanding games in the circle.

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Question: Looking at the improved defense this year, I can’t help but thinking what if Rob Blake signed with the Kings. Obviously that means our defense will be without Sean O’Donnell today. With SOD being more of defensive-minded D and Blake is the other way around, the defensive pairing would have been different and Blake would have been the “mentor” of Drew Doughty. Plus, Blake would be wearing a letter “C” on his jersey. With all these assumptions, do you think it worked out better for the Defense, Doughty, and the team overall without Rob Blake as a Kings? I personally think it worked out better without Blake, but I am just curious what you think. Thank you!

Answer: You’re welcome, and that’s a great question. Blake has had a strong season in San Jose, but of course he’s surrounded by exceedingly talented teammates there. O’Donnell had a tremendous on-ice start to the season, and he’s been consistently great in the locker room. His play has dipped since the first few weeks of the season, but it still probably helps Doughty more to have a “defensive” defenseman on the ice. It gives Doughty more freedom to play an offensive game, and if he makes mistakes, O’Donnell is there to help.

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  • TeamHasHoles

    “One more thing, do you think that other players are learning how to take face-offs from Stoll ? That is an area we need to improve on.”

    The Kings are the 5TH BEST FACE-OFF TEAM IN THE NHL (52.2%)…. and have 3 players (Jarret Stoll, Anze Kopitar, Michal Handzus)
    in the top 30 of all Face-off guys who have taken 500 or more faceoffs this season. ONLY DETROIT CAN BOAST THE SAME! (Kris Draper, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg)

    That is a MASSIVE improvement from the past…

    I don’t know how many games the person who wrote that question watches, but….

  • Dan

    Hey Rich! The USA junior team worked a 1-3-1 power play. I know the Kings run the Umbrella (2 low 3 high) Do you know anything about the 1-3-1 and why NHL teams don’t run it?

  • Bob Bobson

    TeamHasHoles,

    That was me asking the question and I do watch a lot of the games but apparently I do not pay attention to the rankings. I did not think 52% would put the Kings so high in face-off winning percentage rankings. Where do you find the rankings of face-offs ?

    Thanks for clarifying.

  • Anonymous

    “…plus the added excitement of never knowing when you might be shot or stabbed mid-meal” Brilliant!

  • TeamHasHoles

    No prob BB and I didn’t mean to be disrespectful but it’s one of the small areas where the Kings have made major improvements and it’s tangible.

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm?fetchKey=20092ALLAAAAll&sort=faceOffWinPercentage&viewName=summary

    Although you have to massage the numbers to get the Top 30 with 500 or more FO’s… but I’m a nerd, so…

    I’d also like to go on record as saying I LOVE JARRET STOLL! Some of you people are ripping him and floating him in your little fantasy trade rumors because the coach didn’t like one penalty he took. The guy is a +5, he has a cannon shot, is possibly the best skater on the team and the 8th best face-off guy in the NHL. Normally he doesn’t take stupid penalties (28 mins in 40 games or 227th in the league).

    Not to mention he’s on close to a 20 goal pace and a 40 point season. Pretty good for a guy getting 16:30 min per game on a 2nd or 3rd line on a defense-first team.

    Get off the guys’ back, he’s here for the long haul and I for one am glad. That was a GREAT trade DL made!

  • EAT THE RICH

    thh

    I included Stoll in my trade rumors but I don’t want it to sound as though I don’t value Stoll. I really have grown to like the guy, and there is the added bonus that his wife is really hot and they both seem like such great people (charity work and all…).
    I only included him in my wonderings because you usually have to give up quality to get quality. We have a couple of guys we’d like to move, but probably not a whole lot of real desire for them (calder&preissy), but two guys who are HIGH quality (Stoll&Zoos) that could probably help a contender win, or a failing team to stabilize and move forward in a more balanced way.
    If we want that Sniper (say a Heatly) I could see a team like Ottawa valuing these two players. On the other hand, they could be great guy to have around for years. It’s a tough decision. These two are key to our team right now, so it’s hard to see us having the same balance if they’re gone. They’re also Vets. Something we may under-appreciate.
    Some of the trade questions, too, were more to gauge how Kings fans feel about the prospect of trading our guys and prospects – namely Bernie.

  • John

    re: Jarret Stoll. HERE, HERE TeamHasHoles!!!

  • Tim

    Hey Rich, thanks for the forum, and for answering my question!

  • adam

    I have actually seen a knifing at that Tommy’s in the “auxiliary” lot across the street. It seemed like no big deal as people still stood around and ate their burgers.

    I was once in line behind some ditzy hippie chick, and she asked the dude behind the counter if they had any salads. I have never seen people laugh so hard in my entire life.

  • Bob Bobson

    TeamHasHoles

    No disrespect taken. I have been watching hockey for a few years now but I always want to learn more so I’m glad you gave me some perspective.

    I also think Stoll is a pretty good player. I just wish Bob and Jim could say his name properly “Stoll”.

  • brianguy

    anything over 51%, as far as team faceoffs go is pretty significant. for individual players, if you can average anywhere close to 55% that’s pretty phenominal. 60% is almost impossible for an entire season, usually the league leader finishes in the high 50s every year. Joe Thornton usually comes to mind