Forum answers IV

The fourth set of open forum questions and answers. Thanks to everyone for all the great questions…

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Questions: I checked out the Ducks blog that you gave us the website for just because I was curious. It has a similar layout to your blog. But there are no comments. Can people comment on this blog? And if so why doesn’t anybody? And on a Kings related question. Do you know when some of the NHL players will start skating around at the Toyota Sports Center this summer?

Answers: 1) Success of blogs can be really fickle. People who have read this one for a long time will remember that it didn’t take off for quite a while. J.P. does a good job with the blog and I would encourage folks to interact with him. 2) Unfortunately, there’s no real schedule set up for guys to skate. A group of guys can decide that they want to skate tomorrow, and if there’s open ice, they will be out there. You’ll see it picking up a lot more in July and August. I know they’re typically there in the late mornings, but I don’t know of any official schedule.

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Question: I’d like to add a question… If you were Lombardi would you offer up Jack Johnson, Teddy Purcell, Bernier and our 1st rd pick to Colombus for Rick nash & their 1st round pick? Is this the type of deal you would use to get Kovalchuk if you were given the chance?

Answer: Well, good luck with that one. You’re talking about a defenseman with 1 1/2 years of NHL experience, a marginal NHL forward (at this point), a minor-league goalie (albeit a well-regarded one) and a moderate move in the draft, for one of the top players in the game. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.

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Questions: 1) Gary Bettman is probably the most hated commissioner of the four major sports. Why do you think Bettman is so reviled? 2) What mistakes or successes do you think Bettman has made in the last 15 years? 3) If David Stern were the commissioner instead of Bettman, do you think the NHL would be more successful?

Answers: 1) Well, I can’t speak for everyone (or anyone), but the lockout didn’t help, and neither did the decision to put games on a network that a lot of people, a couple years later, still can’t find. 2) Well, I consider the TV thing to be a major failure. He opened up the league to a lot of non-traditional markets, and that’s really a double-edged sword. Did it open up the sport to people, and regions of the United States, that never cared before? Yes. Did it dillute the product and put teams in markets that really didn’t deserve them? Yes. So I’m not sure exactly how to reconcile that one. 3) Probably not. The NBA isn’t exactly a juggernaut right now either. They’re hoping and praying for a Lakers/Cavs, Kobe/LeBron final, that they can market to death. A Denver-Orlando final isn’t exactly going to excite anyone. I wouldn’t consider Stern or Bettman to be a great visionary.

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Questions: 1. Does DL have a team that he models the Kings after? Are there certain type of players he goes after to fit that identity? I realize he likes mobile defenseman, gritty wingers, and proven winners but is there a specific franchise that he admires?
2. What is your opinion of Simeon Varlamov? Does DL have any thoughts on Varlamov? Specifically, the Kings have a stable of young goaltenders who have been sheltered from the kind of pressure situations that Varlamov has been put through. Do you think DL is worried exactly about Varlamov’s game seven stinker, and the mind games that that may cause for the young goalie?
3. Do you see Stoll being a bonafide number 2 center?
4. Besides Greene and Gauthier (who I hope gets cut), the Kings seem to be lacking a big physical stay at home defenseman. The type of guy like Matthias Nordstrom, Orpik, Komisarek, etc. Which of our defensive prospects fits that mold? Does the Kings lack of that element favor any of the prospects?
5. In your opinion, who are the top five goalies you would build a franchise around today?

Answers: 1) No, I’ve never had the sense that he wants to pattern the Kings after any team in particular. If you look at what he tried to do with the Sharks, that would probably give you the best idea of what he wants to do with the Kings. Your description of the type of players he’s going for is probably the most accurate depiction of his “philosophy” of team building.
2) I’ve never talked to Lombardi about Varlamov. I’m not sure I’ve seen enough of him to form an opinion, but you raise an interesting point about a young goalie being put in pressure situations. That Game 7 is, at least potentially, something that could mess with a young goalie’s head. That said, I don’t know anything about Varlamov’s makeup or how he has dealt with adversity in the past. Remember also, that Varlamov spent two years in the Russian Super League and led his team to the final last year. That’s some pretty good pressure for a young goalie.
3) Not really, not on a playoff team. There’s a bit of a problem there, because the Kings essentially have two strong third-line centers in Stoll and Michal Handzus. Could either of them center a second line? Sure. But if you’re talking about a top-level team, I don’t think Jarret Stoll is your second-line center.
4) That’s a good question. I would also put Sean O’Donnell in that category, assuming that, at age 37, he still has at least one more strong season in him. In terms of prospects, Colten Teubert probably fits that bill the closest. Based on the descriptions of Teubert, he’s probably closer to a Pronger than he is a Norstrom, but I’m not sure anyone fits the description perfectly.
5) Tough question. If I’m building a franchise around a guy, I want him to be around for the next 10 years or so, so that takes a few guys out of the running. I’d have to do with Luongo, Lundqvist, Nabokov and Backstrom as my top four, and put Steve Mason in the running based on his strong rookie season.

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Question: You think the league should “encourage” the players not grow playoff beards? Will the lack of beards bring new fans to watch hockey? Players will be more recognizable and make the game more marketable to a wider audience?

Answer: I’m voting in favor of playoff beards, if only because it’s hysterical to watch some of the young players try to grow them. Plus, I keep track of time based on how much gray is in Scott Niedermayer’s beard.

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Question: Going along with one of your answers above. What happened to the deal that would sell a part of the Kings to the Boston Celtics owners? I personally hate the Boston Celtics being a Laker fan. But if this deal went through, in your opinion, could the franchise have been better in the long run?

Answer: From what I understand, the Kings, not the Celtics, put an end to the talks. I was told, off the record, that the Kings didn’t like the fact that news of their negotiations had become public, and they felt they had lost some leverage in the talks. It doesn’t seem like that deal is going to get revived.

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  • anthonyy

    Thanks Rich, for your work.
    Even without participating in this open forum, I got a lot of input with these questions and answers.

  • Damen

    Thank you Rich for doing this. Once again you are spoiling a fanbase that isn’t even used to getting an acceptable level of local media coverage.

    I thought the NBA/Stern/Bettman questions was interesting and thought some things are worth noting when you mentioned the NBA is not a juggernaut right and I have a theory.

    The NBA playoffs suck. If you are not emotionally attached to a team there’s no real reason to watch.

    Two rounds in and the NBA has produced three upsets. So far we have seen a 4 seed beating a 5, a 3 beating a 2 and a real big one in a 6 beating a 3. That’s more like an upset and a couple of real minor upsets.

    Let’s take a point system and add a point for the series’ that result in upsets by adding the difference in seeds. So the 2-3 upset and 4-5 upset give us a point each and the 3-6 gives us 3 points for a total of 5. Apply that same formula to the NHL playoffs through 2 rounds and you get an 18.

    In the NHL you also get more road victories (31 to 22, 27 to 18 if you subtract road victories from a series that resulted in a sweep). Not to mention every series in the second round of the NHL was highly entertaining, 27 out of a possible 28 games were played and one game 7 ended in OT. While two of the NBA’s second round series’ were a waste of time for everyone… except the very few who still think Mark Cuban is not a clown.

    This happens year in and year out. In Spring the NHL always have the superior product. The NHL has to find a way to capitalize on this. I don’t blame Bettman. I blame a lazy national sports media (coughESPNcough) who would rather dismiss the NHL as unworthy because it’s unpopular, than actually investigate and realize what they are missing out on.

  • JPKelly

    Regarding DL modeling the Kings on another team… I’d be surprised if DL didn’t harbor more than a little admiration — even emulation — for the Detroit Red Wings under Ken Holland’s management. I think DL is the sort that has the guts to envision a “dynasty” type of franchise, and perhaps even has the know-how to realize that vision, were he ever to find himself in the right place at the right time. (Let’s hope that is here and now!) Maybe it’s just me, but when I see him during LA-Detroit games at the Joe hanging out up in the booth with Holland, I see a meeting of big minds, and I see Deano sizing up Holland’s throne as the top (i.e. most successful) GM in the league. They have very similar approaches to team building, with immense emphasis placed on scouting, drafting and development, and they both want to win more than anything. Their visions are both long-term and glorious. Their preference for team personality may differ a bit — though not much — but this rigorous approach to team-building and the hunger for success that they share is enough to keep my mouth watered for the future of the Kings.

    PS Damn, Rich, you are one sexy blogger.

  • Naturallawyer

    JPKelly:

    The difference between DL and Holland being that skilled veteran players love Detroit so much, and feel so privileged playing there, that they will take a discount to stay there, and DL seems willing to piss off the youngest Kings players in their first round of negotiations and send them packing when they show resistance (at least, it’s happened twice, with all eyes now on JJ). DL needs to find a way to keep these guys happy playing here. If blaming the kids for being too demanding becomes a pattern, I’m going to look at the constant (DL), not the variables (the players). While I’m admittedly not a Detroit Red Wing follower, I don’t know of these problems occurring there. If DL manages to cobble together some insanely talented players *and keep them happy playing here*, then we can mention him in the same breath as Holland.

  • anthonyy

    JP Kelly
    Comparing Ken Holland with DL is like comparing Filet Mignon Prime and Donkey Guts.
    Just look at the track records.

  • mk_42

    I always grumble when people talk about Ken Holland as god’s gift to GMing. Yes the track record since he’s been there has been spectacular. But it’s not like he built it…when he took over as GM the Red Wings already had the full stable and the inertia of going up: they had Yzerman, Lidstrom, Federov, Fetisov, Larionov, Kozlov, and McCarty. It’s a lot different to keep it going, ask people for discounts to play with that team, etc. then it is to start at the bottom. The Red Wings did start at the bottom in the 60s. They missed the playoffs for like 15 years, then they mostly sucked in the 80s, and then started accumulating talent. By the time Ken Holland joined the party as GM it was built. Props to him for being a good scout prior to being GM. And props to him for keeping it together. But don’t tell me he made the dynasty.
    I think the emphasis on scouting is a just comparison.