HockeyFest wrapup/Heatley

Thanks much to those who passed along birthday wishes. It was a good weekend, and I don’t feel THAT much older, thankfully. By all accounts, HockeyFest was a great success, and my former colleague, Eric Stephens, did a nice wrap-up on NHL.com. Helene Elliott of the Times also did some fantastic coverage of the event, but I don’t have one specific link, so check out their site and read her coverage from the past few days.

Also, I find it more than a little humorous that various outlets — specifically on the web and/or in Canada — have run with the story that the Kings are “out of the running” when it comes to trading for Dany Heatley. My question is, don’t you have to be IN the running before you’re out of it?

The rookie camp is starting soon, and I’m really looking forward to seeing some hockey, as I’m sure you are too! I’ll continue to post Luc Robitaille’s great Q&A answers as well this week.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Q&A: Robitaille’s Stanley Cup

This is one of my two favorite answers of the session, in which Luc talks about winning the Stanley Cup with Detroit, not the Kings…

—–

Question: You’re associated so strongly and closely with the Kings, yet you won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings. Obviously the thrill of winning the Cup is unmatched, but if there any internal conflict because it didn’t happen with the Kings?

ROBITAILLE: “There’s no conflict because it wasn’t my choice. I clearly remember some years, being in the locker room at training camp, believing we could win the Stanley Cup with the Kings. I always thought, `If we could just do this…’ That was my goal. If you remember, the year before (the Detroit Stanley Cup), we beat Detroit and got to Game 7 against Colorado. I really thought that summer was going to be the summer that we rebuilt our team. I knew we needed one center and that was it. I really believed that we were right there, that we were going to compete with anybody in the league. Then I never got an offer.

“I never got an offer until June 30, or maybe two days before (July 1). I wasn’t looking for a stupid contract. I was just looking for what I thought was fair. The year before, I led the team in scoring and I felt I was one of the leaders of the team. They offered me a pay cut. I was like, `How could that happen?’ I didn’t even understand. I took it hard. I took it really hard. I was really, really, really disappointed. I never thought this would happen. So it was not my choice to leave. I remember that I was told, `Why don’t you go to free agency, and let us know what you get, and we’ll match.’ And I said, `That’s not the kind of person I am.’ I would never do that. I refused to do that in my life. So I said, `You guys should give me your best offer before July 1,’ and I never got another offer, so I figured that they didn’t want me. I didn’t know why they didn’t want me.
Continue reading

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Q&A: Robitaille’s first goal

One of my questions for Luc Robitaille was about the most satisfying goal he scored as a King. ..

ROBITAILLE: “I’m not sure I can pick one goal. I would say that stepping on the ice, and clearly being really, really nervous on opening night… Stepping on the ice on his first shift and seeing the open goal, after the goalie made a mistake, and yelling at Marcel, `Give me the puck,’ and tipping it into the empty net on my first shift and my first shot, that’s a cool thing. After that, it always comes down to big goals in the playoffs or overtime or helping the team to an emotional win, but I would say stepping on the ice and scoring, I’ll never forget that feeling. I couldn’t believe it.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Q&A: Robitaille’s most underrated

I asked Luc Robitaille, who played with countless Kings, who he thought his most underrated teammates were. I thought it was a good question for Luc, and I think it’s worth opening up for debate among those of you who have watched the Kings for years, maybe even decades decades. Who is your most underrated Kings player?

ROBITAILLE: “With the Kings there were a lot of guys who were kind of under the radar. Right away, the first name that probably comes to mind is Mike Donnelly. Mike Donnelly, the year we went to the Stanley Cup Finals, scored 30 goals and never played on the power play once. If you go back and look at his stats, he doesn’t have a power-play goal that year. To me, to get 30 goals without seeing a minute on the power play, that’s truly amazing. I thought he was an underrated player. Tomas Sandstrom was even better. I know we all thought he was good, but he was better than that, because he was a pure game-breaker. He was a very special player. I thought Mark Hardy, when he was with the Kings, was underrated, because he was a much better player than people gave him credit for. Probably one that I never saw until he left, and never realized how good he was, was Jay Wells. He was an underrated fighter too. I’m not sure everybody knew just how tough he was.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Q&A: Robitaille and Dionne

After some considerable technical difficulty, I’m finally ready and able to start posting some of the great Q&A stuff with Luc Robitaille. I tried to keep the questions in chronological order as much as possible, so here’s the first part. The question, as posed by a reader, was about the genesis of the relationship between Luc and Marcel Dionne, who invited Luc to live with him and his family when Luc was a rookie with the Kings…

ROBITAILLE: “When I got drafted, and before I got drafted, I knew of Marcel. I obviously didn’t know him, but I knew his name. Really, I’m not sure if I had seen him play, with him being in L.A. and me being in Montreal. But I remember my first training camp in L.A. He was walking out and he saw a couple of us speaking French. It was Steve Duchene and myself. He stopped by and bought us our cab ride, and we thought it was the greatest thing in the world. The first two camps, I didn’t make the team. The third camp, they made me his roommate.

“After I had that success in junior, they made me his roommate. He was picking my brain all the time, trying to learn more and more about me and what were my interests. I think he was interested in how much passion I had for the game. That was his biggest thing, he told me later. So the first couple years, I maybe talked to him once or twice, but the third year we were roommates, and that’s when I really got to know him and we got closer.”

Question: And that was the year he invited you to stay with him?

ROBITAILLE: “Yeah. The way that happened was, he didn’t know me. I knew I had a good shot at the team, because I had won awards in Canada and so forth. Being insecure the way that I am, I was working hard, and I remember Marcel asking me at one point, `If you make the team, what do you want to do? Have you thought about where you want to live?’ And I thought, `Well, no. I never thought about that. I just want to make the team.’ Then my answer was, `Well, if I make the team, I want to live in a boarding house. I want to live with people so I can just focus on hockey.’ He told me later that that shocked him, because I was the first kid… I didn’t know, but he had asked all the kids who he thought would make the team, for years, what they would do. Marcel was the kind of guy who would try to help people like that. They always said, `I want to be in an apartment. This is going to be great. I want to be in Hollywood or somewhere cool.’

“Jimmy Carson and I were basically the first players to tell him something else. He asked (Carson) later too, but he asked me first. We both said we wanted to live in a boarding house because we wanted to think about hockey. He was so happy to finally see kids who had the right thinking, that it was about hockey for us. He told me later that he called his wife and said, `This kid can help our kids speak French, and this is good.’ She thought it was great. She didn’t know, at the time, that it would turn out that his kids would teach me English. I didn’t teach them much French, but they taught me how to speak English so it was great.”

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Robitaille Q&A upcoming

I got the chance to do a great Q&A with Luc Robitaille yesterday, and the transcription process will soon be underway, so look for that a bit later. It’s always fun to sit down with Robitaille, who can talk enthusiastically and intelligently about a variety of subjects. I also learned a few things. Do you know, for instance, the genesis of the Kings’ black-and-silver color scheme? If you don’t, it’s quite a story. I’ll try to get that posted, in a couple parts, as soon as possible…

No other real big news this morning. The Sun Times, the paper that covers the junior-level Owen Sound Attack, reported that David Kolomatis (a fifth-round pick of the Kings) has mononucleosis and will be sidelined for six weeks, which essentially ends his chances of participating in Kings training camp.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Quote of the day

It’s a big week in Canada, as prospective members of the 2010 Olympic team are gatheing in Calgary for an orientation camp. The Kings’ Drew Doughty and Ryan Smyth are present, and while Doughty’s youth and relative inexperience probably make him a longshot for the 2010 team, he’s clearly happy to even be in the discussion.

After the first day of camp, Doughty talked to reporters about the call he got from Team Canada executive director Steve Yzerman, informing him of his selection to the camp.

“I saved his message so I could hear it over again, but I dropped my phone in the water and now the phone doesn’t work,” Doughty said. “I can’t hear what he said. Really disappointing.”

You can read the Edmonton Journal story about the camp here. It also notes that in the camp’s first session, Doughty was paired with Chris Pronger.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

A first look at…Frolov

By the narrowest of margins — 33 votes, as of this typing — you picked Alexander Frolov to be the Kings’ first-line left wing, completing a first line of Frolov, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.

The trouble with analyzing Frolov is, what more can be said? After the departures of Patrick O’Sullivan and Jason LaBarbera, Frolov probably became the player who inspires the most debate among Kings fans.

Frolov has been a 30-goal scorer in two of the past three seasons, although his point totals have decreased from 71 to 67 to 59. Roughly half of fans look at those numbers and scream for a contract extension. The other half will sigh and wonder if Frolov will ever reach his full potential.

It’s a safe bet that Frolov’s goal total will remain consistent, although the assist total needs to be higher for a first-line winger. The main drama for Frolov figures to be off the ice, since he’s due to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. If the Kings don’t lock up Frolov before the start of the season, his name will be mentioned roughly once every 34 minutes in trade rumors, which could turn into quite a distraction.

What might be a more relevant question here is, what do you make of this potential first line? Given the options, it seems fairly realistic, and would likely also create a realistic second line of Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown. But is Frolov-Kopitar-Williams the correct fit for the Kings, in terms of their styles meshing together well?

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Robitaille Q&A upcoming

I’ll be able to sit down on Wednesday with Luc Robitaille for our blog Q&A, which should be great given the high level of questions. It’s my challenge, over the next couple days, to get a representative sample of the questions ready, but Luc is always a good interview, so I’m looking forward to posting the answers…

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email