A new morning, and back to the open forum questions/answers…
Question: Are Murray and/or Lombardi on … ummm … thin ice with AEG for the team’s performance this season or is this actually what AEG wants as far as fans still showing up even with a bargain basement roster just above the salary cap floor? Or does this all presume that AEG cares even a whit about the Kings which is an unproven thesis. And that’s being kind.
Answer: I’ll answer this pretty much the same way I answered it at the start of the season, which is to say that ownership, according to Lombardi, got completely on board with the strategy of going young, young, young this season. So what you see as a “bargain basement roster,” they see as a young team filled with prospects. To each their own. But to answer the question, I wouldn’t think that Lombardi and Murray are in any danger at all. A year from now, without progress? Different story. And, of course, ownership has the right to change its mind at any time. But that would indicate a huge, dramatic and abrupt shift in philosophy, to say the least.
Question: 1 – Do you see the Kings making a trade this year 2 – Any players that are being marketed that you think would fit well with the kings and murray’s system? 3 – Who would the kings give up that is/are appealing to other teams?
Answer: I’ll try to answer this one more time, and as completely as I can, and then I’m going to move on from it. Not trying to be snippy about that, but it’s just that every other question seems to be, “Who are the Kings going to trade for?” And frankly, I could write a thesis about why that’s an impossible question to answer. Clearly, this era of Internet rumors has made people believe that trades can just happen with a finger-snap, that star players are being “shopped” and that NHL general managers delight in having trade talks leaked publicly. I can assure you that none of those things are true, no matter how much certain websites would like to drive traffic. Claiming to have knowledge of trade talks is sort of like claiming to have knowledge of the universe. Even if you know a lot, you have absolutely no idea how big and vast it is. When we get closer to the deadline, dozens of trades will get kicked around every single day. Countless names will get thrown around and if the stars align, a deal gets done. Sometimes it comes together in a heartbeat, sometimes it takes weeks. I can say, with complete confidence, that anyone who claims to know what’s happening on the trade market is overstating his or her case dramatically. If and when I hear something from a reliable source, I will be more than happy to pass it along.
Question: Former NHL coach Pat Burns was recently quoted as saying he was coming back to the NHL this season for an undisclosed team but the unfortunate return of his cancer made that an impossibility. With last summer’s curious late summer firing of Crawford and subsequent hiring of Murray, did you ever hear that Burns was going to interview for the Kings job and had to back out which is why Crawford was kept on an extra two months or so past the traditional June firing time? Burns is a winner, a great teacher and motivator and would seem to be a good candidate for this young team.
Answer: No, Pat Burns was not under consideration by the Kings. To the best of my knowledge, the only two people who interviewed were Murray and Mike Johnston. As for the timing of Crawford’s filing, it took place because Lombardi sat down with ownership and talked about the future. Lombardi was given his payroll budget and both sides apparently agreed that it was best to go all-in with the youth movement. Lombardi decided that Crawford wasn’t the correct coach to guide the kids, so that’s when he made a change.
Question: 1) Do you think the home-heavy schedule in the first half of the season hurt the team’s chemistry ? 2) What is your take on fighting ? Should the NHL try to do more to take fighting out of the game ? Your post about the Phantoms fight generated a lot of good (and bad) discussion. 3) What do you think about Lidstrom and Datsyuk being suspended for not participating in the All-Star weekend ? 4) Any chance we can get an open forum or at least an interview going with Bob, Jim, Nick, or Darryl ? What about front office guys like Luc, Dean, or Ron ? 5) What are a few things you would change about the Kings marketing ? 6) Pretend Kopi does not have his extension yet and Dean signs him for 10+ years for less than what he actually got. What would your reaction be ?
Answer: 1) Excellent question, but hard to answer because I tend to think that the chemistry in the locker room is pretty good, and certainly better than it was the last couple seasons. Could it have been even better with more road trips? There’s no way to know for sure, but certainly the bonding experience of being on the road can be great, especially for a young team. 2) Not to take the cheap way out, but I honestly haven’t formulated a strong opinion on fighting, either way. It doesn’t do much for me, but I don’t know if I’d ban it. I’m not particularly bothered by the violence, but most of the time it seems contrived, as a way to pump up teammates. Just off the top of my head, maybe being stricter with the instigator penalties would change things a bit? 3) I like it. I’m not a huge All-Star Game fan, but it’s one of the few opportunities that hockey gets to be in the spotlight, and the best players should be there. A weekend in Montreal wasn’t going to hurt either of those guys. 4) Yes, although I’ve been promising that for quite a while. The one with Dean will be first up. I’ll get on that. 5) Wow…good question. I don’t know if it’s a marketing thing, per se, but I would lower parking rates. I’m sure the Kings could give me many reasons why that can’t happen, and they might be legit reasons, but I know that when I go to sporting events as a fan, at Staples or elsewhere, the parking fees just kill me. As a fan, that’s the thing, more than ticket prices, that makes me say, “Should I go?” 6) Wait, so 10 years at a lower average than what he got in the fall? I’d say that’s a pretty good deal. I tend to be of the opinion that Kopitar’s offense will come around. Just a hunch, if nothing else.
Question: what’s going on with voynov?(sp?) I saw him play in the preseason games and he looked phenomenal. How’s he doing now and do you think he’ll be with the kings next season?
Answer: Playing in the World Juniors was very good for him, in terms of experience and confidence, and he seems to be doing quite well in Manchester. Watching all those young defensemen battle for spots on the team in training camp is going to be a lot of fun.
Question: If you could make the lineup for the kings and let’s say it’s for more than oh, I don’t know…one shift, what would that lineup look like? Let’s say everyone is healthy and feel free to use anyone down in manchester as well.
Answer: OK, I’ll give a shot. Fortunately, since this is a fantasy lineup I’m not going to worry about waivers or anything.
That took me a long time to think about, and I’m still not sure about the centers, but there you go…
Question: Of all the players we’ve traded/had on the roster since Lombardi took over, who do you wish was still on the roster or that could help the Kings out the most? What prospects do you like in this year’s draft? Tavares? Hedman? Others? Would you rather see the Kings trade for some offensive or draft it?
Answer: 1) Well, on a personal level, I wish LaBarbera was still around because he was a lot of fun to talk to. But I’m sure that’s not going to be the popular answer. In terms of purely helping the team, I guess you’d have to say Cammalleri, because he has put up 22 goals this season. That doesn’t mean I’d take back that trade, but I believe you were just asking purely about a player. 2) I really haven’t seen much video on any of the prospects yet, but Tavares looked pretty damn good in the World Juniors. 3) I’m not sure that drafting is the answer right now, at least in the short term. Sure, you need to draft and develop some young talent, but if this team is going to start contending in the next year or two, it needs some established scorers, so that’s why I would point to free agency or trades.
Question: Do you think Phoenix will survive their financial crisis and make it work in the desert or will Jerry Bruckheimer buy them and move them to Vegas?
Answer: Everything I have read and heard about Phoenix sounds really grim. If the whole hockey-in-Vegas thing is ever going to be more than just an exciting thought, the Coyotes would certainly have to be the favorites to move. I really hope the NHL doesn’t think about expansion.