Forum answers VI

I think we might be heading toward a record with the number of questions/answers. Here’s the next set…


Question: How soon do you think the Kings will have to make a decision on our soon-to-be logjam on defence? It seems to me that we’re not going to be able to pay Greene, Hickey, Johnson, Doughty, Quincey, and so on, all big numbers at once. We will need scoring soon (if not now). Will this force us to make a call on one of our young D-men with out really seeing what they can do? If we’re getting rid of someone who do you think goes, remembering that we’re looking for the best value in return and not necessarily looking to get rid of the worst of the bunch. Of the guys that are playing now, I think Quincey or Johnson what get us the best return. How good of a player would it take in return to give up Hickey?

Answer: Right, it’s only natural that all of those guys aren’t going to be on the team forever. You have hit on the million-dollar point, which is trying to evaluate these guys and determine which ones are considered untouchable. It’s really hard to project that until they reach the NHL, and obviously guys such as Hickey, Teubert and Voinov haven’t had a taste yet. As of last year, Hickey was considered untouchable. Whether that has changed remains to be seen. The outcome of the Johnson contract negotiations will be fascinating and will set the table for the rest of these guys, or perhaps even force the Kings’ hand to make a move.


Question: Mike Brophy at Sportsnet wrote a decent column about fighting in The NHL. It’s not about taking hockey out of the game but more, taking the fighters that are there just to fight out of the game, Do you think Ivanans would fall into this catagory?

Answer: Well, let’s put it this way…Raitis isn’t out there because he’s a sniper. The thought, coming out of the lockout, was that the days of the traditional “goon” were over and that enforcers would have to be guys who could skate well and even have some offensive skill. Some teams, especially the very skilled ones, get by without a player in that type of role. Some feel it’s more important. It’s sort of a coach-by-coach basis, I guess you could say.


Question: Which players from the SJ Sharks current roster were Lombardi picks? Will DL give up that conditional 3rd round pick to the Ducks or will Sean O’Donnell be gone by the trade deadline?

Answer: 1) I believe the list would be Nabokov, Marleau, Clowe, Ehrhoff, Cheechoo, Plihal, Goc, Murray and Cavanagh. 2) Probably a 50-50 bet at this point, with a slight edge to the “traded” side, just because he could always come back and re-sign with the Kings.


Question: Are the Kings ready to give up on Purcell, Gauthier, Boyle and Moulson after multiple chances and now that Loktionov and newer prospects are on the horizon?

Answer: I’m not really sure how to answer that one. None of the four guys you mentioned are on the Kings’ roster right now, and the offensive depth at Manchester is pretty slim, so I’m not totally sure what it would mean to “give up” on them. If you’re asking whether they’re get a shot at a call-up, I definitely think they would. There’s a pecking order, of course, and Trevor Lewis would probably top all those guys at this point.


Question: What do you think about not necessarily changing the dimensions of the ice, but doing something similar to baseball where teams could tinker with things within the ice. Maybe a team like Detroit or Calgary who is so fast has a bigger neutral zone so there guys can fly, and then you take a little bit out of both end zones. Or a slower team like New Jersey of old would have a smaller neutral zone, with more room in the end zones and maybe bring the goal line up a little bit for more room behind the net to work with. What do you think about that, small changes for more of a home ice advantage?

Answer: I can honestly say I’d never thought of that. Sort of makes you realize how unique baseball is, doesn’t it? It’s pretty much the only sport that allows teams to set their own ground rules. That’s a heck of a thought, but I don’t think it would ever fly in the regular season. It would be fun to watch in preseason though.


Question: My question is regarding Zetterberg’s new 12-year contract. It made me wonder.. what keeps a club from signing a player to a 30 year contract where they pay the player 6-7 mil the first 6-7 years (until they probably retire), and then 1 dollar / year the next 23-24 years? This would make the average salary very very cap friendly.. Any regulations that keep teams from doing this?

Answer: One regulation would be the NHL minimum salary of $450,000 per year. I see you thinking there, though. I’ll run that one by Lombardi, he will probably like it.


Question: Lombardi has been clear in the past regarding his opposition to bringing up our young goalies and subjecting them to a culture of losing. So why are the young forwards and defensemen treated differently? Aren’t goalies as a rule more thick-skinned than skaters and better equipped emotionally to handle the pressure? And when can we expect Lombardi to turn around the culture of losing here? Frustrating to see teams like the Flyers turn it around in one season while the Kings under DL are in Year 3 and still rebuilding.

Answer: “Aren’t goalies as a rule more thick-skinned than skaters and better equipped emotionally to handle the pressure?” Just the opposite, actually. Goalies are notorious for their fragile psyche, especially young guys. Here’s how Lombardi explained it to me. The NHL is easiest for young forwards, harder for defensemen and hardest for goalies. That’s his opinion on the matter anyway.


Question: Going back to that Monarchs game with the Westgarth fight last week where the Philly player had a seizure, there’s been quite a bit of chatter on NHL talk shows about how that fight was uncalled for and “staged” because it happened literally 2 seconds in the game. The pundits are calling for rules to outlaw these types of fights, and to make a rule stating that the fight is over when the players get near the boards because the kid hit his head on the way down. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the situation.

Answer: If you go back to the previous set of answers, I guess I sort of answered this question when someone asked how I felt about fighting. But yes, I tend to agree with what you’re describing here. First, a lot of the fighting does seem…I don’t know if I’d go as far to say “staged,” but I definitely understand that sentiment. And yes, probably a good 90 percent of those fights could be broken up before somebody feels compelled to do the old “push the guy off balance and fall on him” routine. Usually those guys are gassed after about 10 seconds. Refs should step in when they stop throwing.

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  • Quisp

    Re: “changes [in rink dimensions] for more of a home ice advantage”

    That is of course exactly what the NHL was like before they tore down Boston Garden, with its non-existent neutral zone and tight corners, which allowed a crash-and-grind Bruins team to dominate at home (of course, the rink came first, and the team was built to suit), and other similarly idiosyncratic rinks e.g. Olympia (Detroit), Chicago Stadium, Maple Leaf Gardens, The Forum (uh, in Montreal). Teams absolutely built teams to succeed in their home arenas. All that changed when the arenas were replaced by what are essentially cookie-cutters of each other. Home ice advantage as it used to mean ceased to exist. Now it’s not unusual to see a visiting team steal a playoff game on the road. In the old days, that would be a sign of the apocalypse.

    Those old rinks had other features that heightened the home team advantage. In Detroit’s old Olympia, where I had the privilege of playing exactly one Bantam tournament game to a packed house — and it was like you were in a tight box with a wall of people hanging down over you on all sides, screaming. And these were nice fans, sort of. Imagine if they hated you, like in a Detroit/Toronto game.

    The reason for the wall of people effect was that the bleachers were insanely steep. Unlike modern arenas, which have a shallower bowl than even the LA Forum had, Olympia’s rise was so steep that when you were in the stands the top of the head of the person seated in the row in front of you was entirely below your feet. My mother would not go to Olympia, because sitting there made her physically ill.

    My other memory of Olympia is that it’s the only rink I ever skated in where I could smell cigarette smoke during the game.

    I got to see games at Boston Garden and Chicago Stadium, also. The others I missed out on and they are gone forever. That organ in Chicago was its own kind of home-ice advantage, as were the flight of stairs the visiting team had to climb to get to the ice from the locker room (I don’t remember if the Hawks had stairs; I doubt it).

    On the topic of altering your rink for better advantage, does anyone remember that story of Scotty Bowman altering the visiting teams bench at Joe Louis somehow, maybe to make the bench too far away from the boards, or to lower the bench to make it uncomfortable, or something like that. I’m pretty sure it was Scotty, and pretty sure it was Detroit era, 90s. Is that ringing any bells?



    Quick follow up question that I forgot – Could you describe your impression of Jon Quick? He seems really cool and calm in net. What’s he like as a person?

    Thanks for answering all those questions. Fun to hear your take on some of that stuff, and some good questions, too.
    In regards to Lombardi’s drafting of current San Jose players – I don’t think he drafted Nabokov.
    Lombardi WAS an assistant GM at the time but I don’t know if he’s credited with that pick.

  • Wolfe

    Quick question – If you had to contract 6 teams, who would they be? Give us your ideal divisional/conference makeup of your NHL.

  • Dustie

    Read the book the Code and then you will never think about taking the fighting out of hockey again.

  • Chris in Torrance

    Hey Wolfe,

    I don’t know about Rich, but I’ll play. I think 6 teams is far too many. I think we could certainly shed 2 or 4 though. You said 6, so here it goes: From the East: NY Islanders, Florida, Atlanta. From the West: Nashville, Phoenix, Columbus. I’m a Kings fan, don’t get me wrong, but I think we would definitely be on the list and in the discussion. I would put Tampa Bay on in place of the Islanders if the Islanders had an arena that wasn’t crumbling and an owner that was sane.

  • Excellent job.