LAKingsInsider.com

This isn’t really a goodbye. We’re just moving the party down the street, to a new address. The furniture will look a little different, and the dog might be confused for a couple days, but before long it will feel like home.

The new blog site will be located at www.LAKingsInsider.com. I suppose it would be an understatement to say that I hope you visit, starting tomorrow! The blog will be my main platform, for breaking news, opinion and discussion, while game stories, notebooks, features and the like will be featured prominently on LAKings.com, and also will be easily found by visiting the blog.

To address the main question I’ve been getting about the new blog, yes, commenting will remain. The ground rules will not change. No profanity, no personal attacks, no persistent, blatant, antagonistic drubbing of the same points. They’re simple rules and they have served us well so far, so there’s no reason to change. It might take a couple days to figure out the best way to moderate the comments, but they will continue to be a staple of our community.

There’s also no reason to change the content of the blog. It’s been the subject of endless — and I do mean endless — conversation, but I will continue to stress the same point I’ve made consistently for the past week: it’s not going to change. I don’t want it to change, and the Kings don’t want it to change, so why would it change? Coverage, as I said last week, will only get more comprehensive. That’s exciting for me and, I hope, for you as well. Anyone who has doubts is welcome to check it out for themselves. As I have said, the proof will be in the product.

The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and I so grateful for that. Thank you for you support and for your trust. Please know this: the money is coming from the Kings, but in my mind I work for the readers, the fans. Everything I do, in writing and reporting, comes from the basic idea that I want to serve the readers the best way possible. You, not anyone in Kings management, will be the ultimate decider of whether this new venture is a success, and that will never be forgotten.

There will be plenty to discuss on the new site. At this point, I just want to express my gratitude to the Daily News. It’s no secret that the newspaper industry is a tough one to work in these days, but I have always been proud to work alongside such talented and dedicated people. There’s nothing quite like working for a newspaper, and I mean that in the best possible sense. People have asked what the future of this blog will be, and honestly I don’t know. I do know that the Daily News values its coverage of the Kings and has always encouraged my desire to cover hockey.

So that’s all for now. I’ll be working tonight on the new site and getting familiar with everything, hopefully ready for a smooth start tomorrow. Please visit www.LAKingsInsider.com!

Rich

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Gretzky to L.A.?

It’s certainly not the story is was 20 years ago, but it seems that the possibility exists for another Kings-Wayne Gretzky union. In an interview today with a Toronto radio station, Dean Lombardi said he would be open to the idea of bringing back Gretzky in some yet-undefined role.

Lombardi: Los Angeles Kings have interest in Gretzky

If it’s obvious move, if Gretzky is interested in returning to the league in some form. Besides his playing-days ties to the Kings, Gretzky and his family still live in the Los Angeles area.

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Defensive pairs change

After practice today, Terry Murray said that he would go with defensive pairings of Davis Drewiske and Drew Doughty, Jack Johnson and Rob Scuderi, and Matt Greene and Alec Martinez for the first two games, while Sean O’Donnell serves his suspension. Murray said he concluded that he wanted more of a puck-moving defenseman to be paired with a “defensive” defenseman in each pair, but said he would evaluate the pairs throughout the week.

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Quick roster thoughts

Two obvious questions: What does the fourth line look like, and what happens when O’Donnell comes back?

Take the second question first. When Sean O’Donnell returns from his two-game suspension, the Kings will have seven defensemen, plus Peter Harrold. Alec Martinez would probably be the seventh guy, and that takes us back to the usual young-player question: NHL vs. AHL? In Martinez’s case, it’s hard to see him just sitting on the NHL roster, so that probably means a move, and perhaps the return of a forward since Harrold can play defense. The wild card in all this is what might happen if the Kings were to pick up a veteran, left-shot defenseman to put in the mix. It wouldn’t be shocking, but it’s just a thought right now.

Fourth line? Ivanans and Lewis are most likely in, and then it’s either Harrold or Richardson, at least until Clune’s groin is healthy. Harrold vs. Richardson? I’m not sure you could convince me that one of them is a huge upgrade over the other at this point.

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Who’s No. 2?

Based on the stats, and seemingly on the opinions of many observers, Jonathan Bernier had a better camp/exhibition season than Erik Ersberg. Should that be enough for Bernier to earn a spot on the NHL roster ahead of Ersberg, or would Bernier still be better off as the clear No. 1 goalie in Manchester?

Frankly, I’m not sure it matters a whole lot right now. Bernier can go to Manchester and come back up if the Kings decide Ersberg isn’t cutting it (see: LaBarbara, Jason, circa 2008), or even if Quick isn’t cutting it. It might give Bernier a mental boost to make the team, but what would be best for his development? Hard to say. Here’s what Terry Murray said about the goalie choice:

MURRAY: “Yeah, it will be a tough decision. No. 1 in clear in my mind. Quick is clearly, to me, the No. 1 goaltender. He played well throughout the camp. He earned the right to come into camp as the No. 1 guy, and now the decision is to be made on the No. 2.”

I asked Murray if, regardless of all the discussion about what Bernier can and can’t do, Ersberg had done enough on his own to be the No. 2 goalie.

MURRAY: “He has showed enough, yeah. That’s the decision that we have to make, obviously. Bernier and he have played well in the training camp and their exhibition games. We just have a hard decision to make.”

So what do you think?


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Simmonds steps up

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Who led the Kings in preseason goal scoring? Wayne Simmonds, with five, and as of last night, that was tied for the NHL lead as well. If I had to come up with a top three of most impressive players from the preseason games, it would probably be (in no particular order), Simmonds, Jack Johnson and Ryan Smyth.

It’s hard to know what, exactly, to make of this Kings third line. There’s Michal Handzus, a 20-goal threat; Alexander Frolov, the Kings’ leading goal scorer last season; and Simmonds, who scored only nine goals last season but would seem to have 20-goal potential. It’s not a stretch to think that line could be a 75-goal line for the Kings, although things would have to break perfectly for them.

On the other hand, that line’s first responsibility is on the defensive end, and Frolov and Simmonds, in particular, handled that responsibility well last season. It should be interesting to see how this line develops, particularly if the Purcell-Stoll-Brown line struggles to put goals on the board.

Here’s what Terry Murray said about Simmonds’ preseason/camp:

MURRAY: “Simmonds played, right through the camp, very well. He was one of our better players at the end of (last) year, and he seemed to come in with that same attitude and played well in all situations. One of our top goal scorers at the end of the training camp, and he’s going to be an important player for us.”

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Schenn ends on high note

Brayden Schenn wasn’t scheduled to play in the Kings’ preseason finale Sunday, but got included when Rich Clune suffered his groin injury Saturday night. Schenn almost certainly will be headed back to his junior team in Brandon this week, but he impressed in his first NHL training camp and coaches no doubt will be eager to see him a year from now. Here’s what Terry Murray said last night, when asked if the Kings would have a tough decision about whether to keep or cut Schenn…

MURRAY: “Not so much, not so much. I made a comment to everyone in the office, just before I came out, about how well he played (Sunday night). He steps into a situation where he hasn’t been in the lineup for a couple days, and had a really hard workout yesterday because he was not scheduled to be in this game, and he played so well, the way he did in the first exhibition game. All the ingredients to show me that he’s going to be a real important and good player in the National Hockey League.”

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Postgame notes

– Ryan Smyth had a four-point night, with two goals and two assists. He was the third star of the game, behind No. 1 Bobby Ryan and No. 2 Ryan Getzlaf.

– Anze Kopitar had two goals and one assist and finished with a game-high eight shots on goal. No other Kings player had more than four shots.

– Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Bernier got an almost-entirely-equal split. Ersberg played the first 29:49 and allowed two goals on 14 shots. Bernier played the rest of the way and allowed three goals on 15 shots.

– The Kings went 3 for 7 on the power play and 3 for 4 on the penalty kill.

– Jack Johnson led the Kings in ice time, at 24:53. Anze Kopitar led forwards at 22:47.

– The Kings lost 59 percent of faceoffs. Brad Richardson went 2 for 8.

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