Kings vacancy

Chad Smith, hired as the Kings’ strength and conditioning coach two summers ago, will not be returning. A Kings spokesperson said that Smith’s contract is expiring and that the team has decided not to renew it. The Kings are seeking a replacement now.

The timing is interesting, given how passionately Terry Murray spoke, at the end of the season, about the need for a strong offseason training program for players. Obviously, the other members of the training staff are still in place, but Smith was a big part of the program.

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Memorial Cup update

It’s quite a battle at the Memorial Cup. The Kelowna Rockets have advanced to Sunday’s championship game, but who they will play is still very much up in the air. The Windsor Spitfires, with Kings prospect Andrei Loktionov, have played themselves into a “tiebreaker” game against the loser of today’s Rimouski-Drummondville game. The winner of that tiebreaker game will advance to the Friday’s semifinals to face the Rimouski-Drummondville winner, and the winner of the semifinal game will face Kelowna in the final.

So far, Loktionov has two goals in three games. They were both scored in a 5-4 round-robin loss to Rimouski on Sunday.

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Johnson, part 2

Just to clarify, so as not to give the wrong impression to certain credible reporters, there’s no evidence, at all, that there was anything factually inaccurate in Darren Dreger’s report about Jack Johnson today. I didn’t say there was, because, well, there wasn’t. My “commentary” on the matter was limited to the wisdom of the parties involved and the likelihood that such a move like that would actually take place.

It’s been pointed out that a couple free agents to-be have signed in the KHL. To which I ask the same question I asked this morning: why isn’t this tampering? Aren’t players under contract to their NHL teams until July 1?

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Jack Johnson to KHL?

Some of you caught an item on the TSN website from Darren Dreger, talking about how “Johnson’s father, Jack Johnson Sr., contacted St. Petersburg prior to the World Hockey Championship to see if the team would have interest in signing his son to a one-year contract” in the KHL.

I called Dean Lombardi this morning, and he told me the same thing he said he told Dreger: “It’s news to me. It doesn’t affect us either way.”

A couple other thoughts on this…

1) Call me crazy, but I would have sworn that Johnson Jr. actually has an agent, one that didn’t move from Michigan to live with his son…

2) Isn’t this tampering? Johnson is under contract until July 1. Why would people in his “camp” be talking to anyone, other than the Kings, about signing a contract? Doesn’t seem very wise, does it? When I inquired about the legality of this, Lombardi said, “You’re right, maybe we should sue them. … They don’t have the right to solicit or express interest.”

I have no intention of challenging Dreger on his story, but note that the blog post is very carefully written with words such as “interest,” “it is believed,” and “possibility.” If you take all those letters and rearrange them, you can probably come up with the phrase, “No chance in hell.” At the same time, Lombardi said today that the Kings haven’t had much recent communication with Johnson’s agent — or his father, presumably — so I’m sure that will fuel more conspiracy theories.

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Open forum

We’re in that only real “dead period” of the year, between the end of the season and the draft. After that, things will pick up with free agency and the prospects camp, and then training camp will be right around the corner. For now, we’ll try to find things to talk about.

In that spirit, the “open forum” is always fun and lively, so if there are any pertinent offseason questions that I, or fellow readers, might be able to answer, feel free to throw them out there. Thanks…

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Jason LaBarbera, `forgotten backup’

Even though he’s not a King anymore, a) it’s the doldrums of May and b) Jason LaBabera is always a favorite topic here, it seems. The Vancouver Sun today wrote about LaBarbera’s future prospects (or lack thereof) with the Canucks.

LaBarbera, 29, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. After the trade from the Kings in December, LaBarbera appeared in only nine games and had a 2.66 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.

“It’s not easy playing just once a month,” LaBarbera said “I’ve never really been a backup my whole life. As far as seeing what’s out there, I don’t know who needs goalies and who else will be available. But one thing I’ve learned is that you can never predict what’s going to happen.”

Forgotten backup faces an off-season of questions

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