Jim Fox, Part 3

After a 4 1/2-hour drive and plenty of sleep, I’m finally ready to post the third part of the Jim Fox Q&A. Thanks for your patience…

One more set of questions to go after this…

From Harry: I think this is a question that only another professional hockey player can answer. Jim, is it possible for a player in his mid-late 20’s to still change the way they play the game? Have you seen any players transform from being pigeon-holed as a specific style of player and blossom into a key player? The one name that stands out to me is Marty McSorley. When Marty broke into the league with the Pens, he was looked upon as just an enforcer, not earning much ice time and usually being used as a forward on the fourth line. He carried the same role in Edmonton.

Jim Fox: It is possible for a player to change the way they play, but it is not
probable…it usually goes the way of an offensive player becoming a more
defensive player…not the other way around…Marty McSorley certainly came
a long way in his development throughout his career…from when he came in,
to when he played during the run to the finals in ’93 was amazing…but he
always kept that physical intimidation element as part of his game…there
is a saying in hockey…when a “crusher” starts to think he’s a “rusher” he
usually ends up as an “usher”…even though Marty improved his skill level
dramatically, he never forgot what got him to the NHL…he was able to
expand his game because he worked on his skill level…he was never the
highest of skill level, but when you combine decent skill with the physical
factor, you get more room and can try more with the puck…that’s what Marty
did…today’s players are pigeon-holed at an even younger age…when a
player gets older and no longer processes the skills he once had, he can
change and become a more physical player because he fears the end of his
career, but without the skill he once had, is he as effective…not too

From Andy Glas: I’m sure you are traveling to London for the first two games. Have you heard word about the possible telecast?

Jim Fox: No official word yet on London telecasts…I know the NHL is involved because they have Versus/CBC/RDS (French TV in Canada)/FSN/FSN Prime Ticket to consider…you would assume it would be easy, but it gets complicated with so many “entities” involved.

From D Elstan: Hi, Jim: Have the Kings considered providing regular video features/progress reports on their prospects between periods (either created by the Kings or a local TV station where the prospect is playing)? This would allow fans to become more familiar with future Kings. Have the Kings considered any changes for between period programming on telecasts for the upcoming season? Thanks for all your great work and passion! My Wife loves all your “Foxisms” for describing the plays.

Jim Fox: Tthanks for the support…I’ll pass this along to the Kings and see what
they can do as far as providing more “video” of prospects during Kings
games…Game Night Entertainment is always looking for ways to make the game
experience better…same can be said about our telecasts…always looking
for new ideas…I’ll pass this along and hopefully we can come up with
something that you like.

From Vinnie: Jim, Which Kings numbers would you like to see retired in the future, if any?

Jim Fox: I would like to see #19 up at STAPLES Center…that would be Butch Goring’s #19…I didn’t get to see Butch play a lot, but I think he had what it takes to get your number retired…he was dynamic…played on some successful teams…had some very important playoff moments and his numbers, while with the Kings and after, were more than impressive…
Another to consider is Bernie Nicholls #9…Bernie’s numbers were fantastic…he was a great teammate…but more importantly, he was loved by the fans…he was so charismatic.

From Chris H.: Jim, I realize this would probably never happen but do you feel the NHL should shut a few teams down that are struggling in “non-traditional” markets in the name of strengthening the league? The growth of the salary cap since the lockout seems to be coming from the financial strength of the Canadian-based teams that sellout all their games, charge very high ticket prices, enjoy a very strong dollar and have huge profits. Comments would be appreciated. Thanks.

Jim Fox: 1st of all, there is no doubt in my mind that “over-expansion” hurt the NHL for a period of time…that led to strategies like the NZ Trap, which allowed teams without enough skill and talent (due to the watering down of expansion) to stay competitive…coaches had to coach that way, because they didn’t have enough talent to play an attack game…I think we may see some “movement” of teams in the next few years, but I don’t think we will see a drop in the number of teams…as you touched on, the salary cap has been going up (for whatever reason) and this means we have a more “economically sound” NHL…the cap along with revenue sharing should keep 30 teams alive.

From Gollum65: Jim, Obviously goaltending is paramount on everyone’s minds. I’ve read rumors that if Ottawa could get Emery under contract, they’d be willing to trade Martin Gerber to the Kings. Now that Emery has signed, what do you think it would take to get Gerber here? Would you make a deal for Gerber? Thanks, and keep up the great work Jim!

Jim Fox: Goaltending is the biggest concern, no doubt…but is Martin Gerber a “big enough” step up from what the Kings have had…I think he is still unproven as a #1 guy…I would look to improve the goaltending is possible, but I don’t think Gerber has proved that he is “that guy.”

From Fat Elvis: You improve each season Jim, great job. What’s your favorite place to eat? Favorite city other than LA? Who’s the new player/prospect that you’re most excited to see play?

Jim Fox: Thanks for the kind words…over the last 10 years or so I have developed an interest in winemaking and wines from all over the world…with that comes the enjoyment of food and restaurants…we have been fortunate to be able to try many of the restaurants all around the L.A. area, but I’ll stick close to home…my favorites include: (I live in the South Bay)

The Bottle Inn (Hermosa Beach) www.thebottleinn.com
…great Italian food…usually fresh specials every night…has a romantic atmosphere inside, but I prefer to eat outside on the patio when the weather permits…the servers are all very polite, knowledgeable and helpful…extensive wine list with many European selections.

Chez Melange (Redondo Beach) www.chezmelange.com
…great cuisine…always fresh with something new and special every night…wine list is impressive with an accent towards smaller California wineries…the chef (Robert Bell) and the owner (Michael Franks) also make their own wine which is on the list…

Favorite city other than L.A….NHL city…don’t know if I could live there, but, New York is very unique…love Chicago too, Boston (Bobby Orr)…around the world…absolutely love Rome and Prague.

I think everyone will enjoy the development of Jack Johnson…you can tell that he wants to be an “impact’ player and sometimes that is the most important thing.

From Jerry: Jim, What forward rookie do you think has the best chance to crack to kings lineup? also defensive rookie?…besides J. Johnson I’m not sure if you had a chance to make it to the developement camp, but if so, who was most impressive to you?

Jim Fox: I look forward to seeing whether Brady Murray can make the Kings…he has a love for the game that makes you pull for him…on defense, it’s going to be difficult because of the veterans the Kings have (Visnovsky/Blake/Preissing/Stuart/Modry etc…it will be interesting to see how quickly Brian Boyle develops and at what position he will end up at…actually, I only saw the mid-week game during the development camp…to me the best players were Patrick O’Sullivan, Brady Murray, Trevor Lewis and Wayne Simmonds.

From Allan: Jim, With the Ducks winning the cup this year, how do you think that will affect the overall mood/attitude of the kings team/coaching staff and us fans? Thanks.

Jim Fox: The Ducks are the Stanley Cup Champions…ouch…IT HURTS…all that’s important is that they have what the Kings want…it probably won’t happen this year, but it will be a disappointment if a “fight for the playoffs” is not in the mix.

From Fulton: Hey Jim. Any chats with Bryan Murray lately? Honestly, that was one of my favorite Jim Fox moments besides stealing the puck from Gretzky in the Miracle game! Can you comment on how the rest of the team is impacted by the repeated poor play of its goalie? I’m just curious if guys essentially take the ice fully expecting to get bombed because of inadequate goaltending. Thanks, and keep up the good work!

Jim Fox: No talks with Mr. Murray of late…did some work for NHL radio in the playoffs but never really “ran into him”…when a team’s goaltending struggles, it does have a “trickle-down” effect…many times you’ll hear the phrase “the team plays better in front of” a particular goalie over another one…I think there is some truth to that but it is not a conscious thought process…I think it has to do with concentration and focus when you are not on the ice…when you play in front of a goaltender that has earned your trust…when you are on the bench and thinking about your next shift, your thoughts are positive and usually deal with “wanting the puck”…when you get out there you can be creative and effective with the puck…there is less hesitation a more effective play…when there is doubt about the goaltender, sometimes your thoughts stray to negative areas, “what will I do if they get to an area where the opposition might get a good shot”…you think about rebounds and many times you subconsciously plan to make sure you go out of your way to help and that leads to “not doing your own job”…anxiety also can build up when a goalie is struggling because there is no “comfort level” and that also takes away from where your thoughts should be…mental toughness becomes so important when this happens…the above mentioned reactions are all preventable and shouldn’t happen, but in reality they do and that leads to the “trickle down” effect.

From NMKingsFan: My, how times have changed. Back in the day before The Hockey News knew there was a California(I would get each issue a month late)the Kings had two first round picks in the 1980 draft, after years of trading them away to Montreal. In that draft they picked Larry Murphy 4th and Jimmy 10th. The best first round for the Kings by far! Recently, the Kings have had decent first round success after years of terrible picks (Wayne McBean, Matt Zultek, Mathieu Biron, Craig Redmond, etc.) How do you see 2003 (Brown, Boyle, Tambellini-traded) and 2006 (Bernier, Lewis) panning out for the Kings, could either be better than 1980? Thanks Jim for making yourself available and thanks Rich for the great blog. I don’t have to wait by my mailbox for THN any longer.

Jim Fox: Thanks for the support…it looks like the Brown/Boyle draft is going to be very successful…Bernier and Lewis look like they will both be in the league a long time…I remember driving in the car with Larry Murphy back in 1980 and we were talking about how great it would be to play in the NHL for 10 years…I barely made it (missed a season with a knee injury) but what about Larry?…he ended up with 21 seasons…1615 regular season games played (most by a defenseman)…215 playoff games played…4 Stanley Cups…Hall-Of-Fame…no one could eat more pizza than Larry…tough to beat those credentials.

From Francis: Jim, because of your commentary on the Kings broadcasts my significant other has become a big-time Kings fan. Thanks for the great job!

Jim Fox: Thanks so much for your comments…it should be more fun in the future.

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