Forum answers II

Another set of answers, as I ponder what to do with my company-enforced “furlough” (unpaid week of vacation). Anyone need their car washed? Here are more answers…

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Question: whats up with Teddy Purcell?? why is he always in and out of the NHL..he’s a AHL star..is he ever going to earn a Kings roster spot or is he a ahl player only???

Answer: Purcell is very much an “on the verge” player. You might remember that heading into training camp, Purcell was one of the players identified by Lombardi as having earned a chance to graduate from Manchester. Well, he didn’t have a very good camp, and reviews have been mixed during his time with the Kings. The main question with him, it seems, is whether he plays with enough of an edge. How does he play off the puck? How does he play in the corners? These are the little things that are not little, at all, to management and coaches (see: Boyle, Brian). Some guys can make the AHL-to-NHL transition and some can’t. Jury is still out on Purcell, but the Kings certainly haven’t given up on him.

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Question: Hi Rich. Someone in the blog on Thomas Hickey suggested (in the comments) that they could eventually try and move him for an elite top 3 scorer. Most of us don’t like the idea of moving someone like Thomas Hickey as he seems to have exceptional qualities. Yet it seems clear that at a “skill level” the Kings just don’t have enough quality up front to compete with the Joe Thornton’s, Pavel Datsyuk’s, Sidney Crosby’s or even Zach Parise’s of the NHL. I’m not as convinced as everyone else that they can grab someone thru free agency as they simply aren’t consistently competitive enough at the moment to lure a top notch free agent. So how in your opinion can you see them dealing with this short coming down the road?

Answer: It seems natural that, at some point, the Kings will trade some of these defensive prospects for offensive help. Natural, but not certain. You’re looking at Doughty, Greene and Quincey as long-term options. Presumably, Johnson will be re-signed. That’s four. Then you’re looking toward guys such as Hickey, Teubert, Voinov, Martinez, Harrold, and maybe a couple others, to fill spots. Will all of those guys make it as a bona-fide NHL defenseman? Probably not. Will the Kings be able to fill all of their needs at forward through free agency? Maybe, maybe not. If not, their task is to identify which defensemen they view as “off limits” to trades and then get the most of the other assets. It’s very safe to say that the Kings are still in that evaluation period.

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Question: – Do you ever lace up skates and get on the ice to play hockey? If so, what position? What are your strengths – shooting, defending, passing? – What path did you take to become a sports journalist? Who inspired you and at what point did you decide you wanted to write about sports? – Do you think Jarrett Stoll fits in well with the rebuilding Kings? He seems to perhaps be on the bubble as far as some fans are concerned. Do you think he’s fitting in with the long-term goals of Lombardi? – Do you believe in Miracles?…the kind where the Kings win the Cup this year? – How is the Ontario “experiment” going? Are they being supported by the local population, or is the building more empty than not? – AEG is involved in tons of charity work, but I haven’t heard of them doing too much to promote the game of Ice-Hockey in communities in our area by developing ice-arenas and hockey programs. Is there work they’re doing to promote “getting involved” in the game that is less publicized? Do you think AEG does enough to promote the “Game” in this community, or are they mostly concerned with promoting the “Brand” of the Kings?

Answers: 1) I love to skate and I’d love to play in a league, but there just isn’t enough time to regularly commit to it. I’d probably be a defenseman. I don’t have the scoring skill to be a forward or the patience to be a goalie. 2) I took a journalism elective in eighth grade and pretty much haven’t looked back since. That led to high school journalism and a journalism major in college. I grew up reading the Times and the Daily Breeze in the South Bay, so that’s sort of my base. 3) The Kings would probably like to see a bit more offense out of Stoll. He’s yet to show that same offensive burst that he had early in his career, but he still fits as a versatile center and a good model for the young guys in the locker room. 4) That would certainly be more of a mircale than USA-Russia. 5) I’m not sure that Ontario was any sort of an “experiment,” no more than putting ECHL teams in other California cities was an experiment. Ontario is averaging a little more than 5,000 fans per game, which puts them fifth in the league. 6) That’s quite a general question. I know, for example, that the Kings just recently did their big tour of local rinks. That’s a pretty big outreach program, to name one.

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Question: What’s the word within the organization on the latest player transactions (Purcell, Boyle, Bernier, Boyle, Westgarth)?

Answer: I’m not totally sure that I understand the question. If you’re asking why the transactions were made, Bernier got sent down because Ersberg is healthy again. Boyle got sent down because of performance mostly, and the other moves were largely because other guys (Johnson, Moller, Richardson, etc.) are healthy or close to being healthy.

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Question: You are the GM for a day. What moves would you make?

Answer: Go with Quick and Bernier in goal. That’s nothing against Ersberg, even though he does seem to have trouble staying healthy, but it’s time to let the kids show what they can do. Make it clear to them that it’s not a make-or-break situation and that they’re in the NHL this season to learn and improve. Then, after they get some experience and confidence, let them battle it out in camp in September.

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Question: The last two games showed a remarkable increase in offensive output. It coincided with an equally remarkable decrease in defensive posture. Is Murray de-emphasizing defense and if so, is that because they have it under control (somewhat) or because he is being pressured to increase scoring to put fans in the stands?

Answer: That’s a good question, and I posed a similar question to Terry Murray after practice the other day. To dismiss one thing immediately, there is no pressure on coaches to play certain players or play a certain way. There’s a popular fallacy out there that Murray is giving out minutes in order to “showcase” certain players for trades. I can’t even begin to describe how off-base that is. But I’m really interested in the other part of your question. In short, from what Murray said I don’t think there was any de-emphasis, or shift in focus. In the game against Colorado, he was very pleased with the way the Kings played, at both ends, in the first two periods. He felt like the defense fell apart in the third period because of a lack of focus, not out of any change in philosophy.

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Question: The Kings have 17 games left until the trading deadline and 12 of those games are on the road. How many games into this little stretch before Dean decides whether the Kings are buyers or sellers on March 4th? And just for fun, how many points would it take for you personally to make that decision, Rich, if you were in Dean’s position.

Answer: I can’t speak to what Lombardi is thinking in terms of the deadline, but logic dictates that these next six games will be huge. After Thursday’s home game, the Kings play five on the road, including tough games at Montreal, New Jersey and Washington. The Kings are only six points out of a playoff spot, but there are also four teams between them and the playoffs. My tendency is to think that it’s not a matter of being a “buyer” or “seller.” It’s more about long-term help for the team. It’s not going to be about bringinng in a rent-a-player for a playoff push. They’ll look at trades that help in the long term and short term.

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Question: 1.) Do Brown and Kopitar call Doughty “Dewey” as a reference to Malcolm in the Middle? You mentioned that these guys have taken a liking to him and I’m wondering if they treat him like a kid brother. 2.) I’ve been reading that Pierre McGuire has stated that the Kings are shopping Jack Johnson openly. Is there any truth to this that you’re aware of? 3.) Who’s winning Ping-Pong Battle ’09? 4.) When you play Rock Band, do you play drums, bass, guitar or sing?

Answers: 1) You know, I’m not a Malcolm in the Middle guy, but that’s a really good guess. I’m not sure where the nickname comes from. But yes, it’s very much like a kid brother situation. Brown teases him a lot, but it’s clearly in a good-natured way (and not the way Sean Avery used to treat Brown). Brown and Doughty are roommates on the road. 2) No. 3) Good question. Fox Sports was out at practice the other day doing a funny feature on Derek Armstrong and his Ping-Pong addiction. I’m not sure if Armstrong is the best, but he’s definitely the most enthusiastic. I haven’t seen Handzus play that much, but there seemed to be some real talent there. 4) They have bass? Since when? I’ve done guitar and drums extensively, but nobody should be subjected to my singing.

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  • Irish Pat

    Rich,

    As always, thanks for answering mine and everyone’s questions.

    Sorry to hear about the “furlough”. Times right now are obviously rough and I hope The Daily News can weather this storm. Be thankful you don’t work for Starbucks right now. 6,700 jobs… OUCH!! I hope Obama’s stimulus package works out well. Hang in there Hammond.

  • cristobal

    Rich,

    Just be happy you’re not a carpenter or a roofer. An unpaid week off is what we in the business call a “vacation.”
    But I don’t know what to call 5 months of work in the past 16 months.
    Actually, yes I do. It’s called “stressed the f%@k out.”

  • cristobal

    TANTRUM4.

    Found some more of Hockey’s “GLORY” for you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn80QZODA_I&eurl=http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Puck-Headlines-Emery-goes-wild-NHL-vs-NBA-rat?urn=nhl,137421&post_

    Though Americans stand accused by Tantrum of “loving violence,” how does this explain Canadian Ray Emery’s behavior???

    Here’s a BONUS EDITION of Mr. Emery proving that even though he’s allowed to fight, “cheap stick work” is still a great way to make a friend…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_k4nIkW2Ck

    Hooray!

  • Eric K

    Rich: bass uses the same “instrument” that guitar uses, the notes you have to play just correspond to bass lines from the song. and no vocals? that might be the most fun of all the instruments, if you get past the fact that it’s also the most embarrassing.

    (as a college student, i’ve definitely had enough time to figure it out…)

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the forum, Rich.

    I can relate to your work situation. The comapny I work for closed for two weeks over Christmas and New Year’s. They paid the eves and holidays, but not the other six weekdays surrounding them. I was fortunate enough to have accumulated enough vacation time to cover the unpaid days. However, not everyone had that luxury.

  • Meg

    On the job front, any experience as a matchmaker, Rich? I’ve got a top 5 list of players I’d love to date…:)

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