Rob Blake Named Captain of San Jose Sharks

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

According to the San Jose Sharks website and Sharkspage Rob Blake has been named captain of the Sharks. The assistants will be Dan Boyle and Joe Thornton. The first thing that popped into my head when I read this was that Joe Thornton will never be captain material. Granted they're not my team so I'm not sure if Sharks fans were hoping that maybe one day Thornton could take up the captaincy reins. Either way, I chuckle at Thornton and am happy to see Blake doing well in Nor Cal.

Check out Sharks Hockey Analysis and Fear The Fin for some further questions, thoughts, and discussion.


Could It Be? Is It True?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wayne Gretzky back in Los Angeles?


Not a far fetched headline considering that's the word on the preseason street. Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi was on Fan 590 today and mentioned something about interest in getting Gretzky back to LA. I'm sure it's been talked about for years, but this mention may mean something could happen in the near future. We shall see!


Roster Questions Have Been Unexcitedly Answered

Monday, September 28, 2009

I have returned from Frozen Fury!! The game was... so-so, but they won 5-3 so it was a good ending for Kings fans. I will have a full recap in a day or two, so stay tuned!


On the news front, according to TSN, all roster questions have been answered regarding who will make the lineup for the season opener.

This means a few things. The first being the 4th line center position might possibly just go Peter Harrold. Secondly, Erik Ersberg will take the backup role on the bench while Jonathan Quick starts the season in net hopefully being just as awesome as he was at the end of last season. Thirdly, Raitis Ivanans is a better player than Westgarth, which is something I've thought from Day Uno.


Another update from last week (23rd): Rich Hammond of the Daily News will be newly employed by the Los Angeles Kings to basically do the same exact thing he was doing before. The most important part of this news is he will be able to provide for Kings fans real coverage on the road. The lack of road coverage for almost all teams is pretty despicable so I see this as a GREAT THING. He reiterated that he will not be censored by the Kings and will have full editorial control over his content. Naive me will believe this until his content proves otherwise. I'm really excited for this venture the Kings have decided to take and am happy for Rich Hammond for being the first beat writer to gain this type of recognition, visibility, and clearance by the team.

When the story broke, Frozen Royalty gave immediate props, Jon Moncrief was quick to the draw, and James Mirtle of course took note. Today Puck Daddy wrote an interesting writeup of what this could mean for Kings fans and how they get their team news.


Frozen Fury Is Where It's At!

Friday, September 25, 2009

I have left the blog for a few days to head to Las Vegas for the 12th annual Los Angeles Kings Frozen Fury being held in MGM Grand! I've already mentioned this a few times, but I'm just reiterating the happenings around the west coast not involving the Phoenix Coyotes (a.k.a. Wayne Gretzky). Once again, the Kings will be facing the Colorado Avalanche who toiled at the bottom of the standings last season. They now have Kyle Quincey and we have Ryan Smyth; quite a cosmetic change (if you know what I mean).

Rich Hammond has posted the lineup for the game:




Bottom line: I'm excited

Alec Martinez will take the place of Sean O'Donnell as a pair with Drew Doughty. OD's suspension doesn't mark anywhere close to the end of the world; it will just give some ice time to some of the younger blood of the roster. I'm actually a bit surprised Thomas Hickey won't be making an appearance at Frozen Fury. I think that would add to the huge draw of this young team; continue to promote the excitement of the new season.

I will have a complete recap after the weekend is over, but I will be Twittering throughout the weekend with pictures and updates from Vegas! So please check out my Twitter, as well as KingsCast, the LA Kings, and the Kings trainer.

Also Hockeywood LA is something else you should watch out for as well.


Gearing Up For Something Something Something

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Preseason is in full gear and the Kings have released three commercials to highlight the beginning of a possible burst of talent. They're definitely well done, but I'm also done with the "Pride = Passion = Power" motto and have nothing good to replace it with.

Please press play.

It is T minus 4 days until Frozen Fury, and I'm giddy with glee to see the Kings back on the ice for the only preseason game I'll be watching. This is a great opportunity for the young players to understand what it means to play with the big club; the excitement is unbelievable in the bowels of the MGM Grand where the Kings will face off against the Colorado Avalanche. I'm unsure what the lineup will be, but it should definitely be closer to the roster of opening night than of the one tonight at the Sprint Center where the Kings will face the New York Islanders sans John Tavaras. According to Rich Hammond at Inside the Kings, the lineup will start out with:




Let's just say I'm glad I'm going to Frozen Fury and not this game. That fourth line of Raitis Ivanans - Marc-Andre Cliche - Kevin Westgarth looks ROUGH. Wow. Although perhaps the third line will help to energize the fourth line.

Some quick thoughts:

The only forward line that will remain the same after tonight's game is the second one. I know what it looked like last season and am hoping for more offensive output; not too much to ask for. You know, shutdown the other teams' top lines while trying to move the puck into the offensive zone. They're big boys; they can do it.

I'll admit I like the first line; Trevor Lewis stood out for me opening day of training camp. He had the most jump from the group of players who weren't in LA last season. That'll be a quick line off the draw if Jarret Stoll can stay loose enough on the ice. I definitely wouldn't mind seeing this line on the ice at Staples Center, FYI.

Looking forward to Saturday, I will venture a guess that the top line of Ryan Smyth - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams will be starting the game in Vegas. At least I hope so. I want to see the potential on the ice! I want to see the excitement! I want to hear the crowd! I will be present cheering my heart out.

Lastly, If you're on Twitter, you should follow LAKingsTrainer. This is Joe Caligiuri who is a real person tweeting from this account and NOT a bot giving dry bits of unimportant information. I have yet to find any Kings players with Twitter, so this is the best for now.


Teddy Purcell Has Enough Teeth to Speak!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Training camp for the Los Angeles Kings began on Sunday, September 14th at the Toyota Sports Center and all the players are back and ready to go. Kings Vision has one-on-one interviews posted of Daryl Evans and Heidi Androl speaking with various players and management. I haven't actually watched any of these tidbits because I still hold the preconceived notion that athletes aren't the most articulate bunch. They mostly say the same things from game to game, such as:

  • We need to communicate better on the ice
  • Our passes weren't the greatest and we know that
  • Coach-y or Coach-ie let us know what we need to focus on and that's what we're going to do
  • That line felt really good ooot there tonight
You asleep yet?

The reason I bring this up is that KingsKoolAid informed me of a particular interview with Teddy Purcell that was worth watching. I was hesitant because of the countless minutes of my life that have been previously spent listening to Sidney Crosby or Roberto Luongo saying the same thing night in and night out. But I watched and was very impressed with Purcell! He actually had legitimate things to say and enunciated his words clearly enough to hold my attention.

You can check out his interview with Daryl Evans here. If Kings Vision doesn't load (as it usually doesn't for me), please inform the Kings because I don't have the time nor patience. Thank you.

Going back to player interviews, there are a few who I will actually listen to regardless of situation. Here are a few off the top of my head in no particular order:
  • Jeremy Roenick (no surprise)
  • Sean Avery (not impressive, just intriguing)
  • Rob Blake
  • Sean O'Donnell
  • Kevin Weekes (strange, but trust me, boy is SMART)
  • Daniel Briere
Who do YOU think is a great interview?


The Nonsense Is Through

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fears abound on Thursday evening were killed about 30 minutes ago by the completion of the Dany Heatley saga. TSN reports that he will be a San Jose Shark along with a 5th round pick and that Jonathan Cheechoo, Milan Michalek, and a 2nd round pick are going back to the Ottawa Senators.

I can fully breathe a sigh of relief at this outcome now that Alexander Frolov and Jarret Stoll are safe (for now). I'm not sure what the rest of the day will hold as training camp starts tomorrow! I'm hoping to be there checking out the potentials for the remaining roster spots.


Landed In The Hockey News!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The current September 7th issue of The Hockey News has a preview of all 30 teams in the NHL written by Adam Proteau that includes a short statement by bloggers of each team. I was asked to write about how the Kings will fare for this new season and I graciously accepted. My only restriction was to keep it under 50 words, which was a bit stifling but I managed to power out something I hope all Kings fans can stand behind.

Here is a screen shot of the digital issue. I'm located on the top half of page 33 next to a great picture of Drew Doughty. Just in case you can't read it, it says:

Underrated Kings GM Dean Lombardi has continued to quietly build a contender with (almost) nobody watching. This young team will play with drama-filled, Boys on the Bus exuberance worthy of a reality TV show.
A few words were snipped out of what I wrote, but it doesn't affect the overall message, which is that this team will make other markets aware of its presence by continuing on the path set out by Lombardi years prior. For Kings fans, there shouldn't be any surprises in the team's potential output considering the additions and subtractions made this summer.

Thanks to Earl Sleek for the mention as he was chosen to write on the Anaheim Ducks. Congrats to fellow HLOGers Elise from 18,568 Reasons Why... and Bethany from Bethany's Hockey Rants. And congrats to all the other bloggers who were asked for thoughts on their respective teams.


Hockey Fest 2009: Part II - Staying On Target

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The final day of Hockey Fest 09 proved that the Los Angeles Kings remain on the path Dean Lombardi set out since he arrived on the scene, which was to strip down the roster and organization and build it back up by getting to the draft table. Since then the Kings have had more picks than I can remember (273?) and have built a franchise full of young potential studs.

From the weekend festivities I felt the main message for fans to take with them was that the Kings are still moving in the same direction toward the same goal. The management team hasn’t deviated from its original end goal and there’s no reason to think it might happen this year. If anything, the fruits of this plan should be showing itself with more goals from the forwards, continued solid defensive support, reliable goaltending, and an elevated consistency across the board. The team has been working towards this ideal, and I think they will finally make something of their potential this season. This doesn’t mean it will happen automatically; the steps to the finish line will be siphoning more blood and sweat from the players with rabid fans looking on.

Day 3 of Hockey Fest had three panels with the first consisting of current management. Dean Lombardi, Ron Hextall, and Terry Murray expressed the commitment of further improvements from the roster. As I said in my first recap, no one reinvented the wheel this past weekend; everything has been said before and other things seemed more common sense than anything else. For example, Lombardi stated that the Kings did not market Drew Doughty like the Tampa Bay Lightening did with Steven Stamkos. They let him come in and earn the respect of his teammates. Essentially if Doughty did not live up to any marketing hype, "the veterans would resent him."

Any sort of resentment would not have been the product of unsuccessful marketing; rather, the resentment would have stemmed from the expectations of an 18-year-old kid leading this team into the playoffs. Lombardi also mentioned Doughty has been rounding out his nutrition and shedding his baby fat and was now developing into an athlete with more upside than one with minimal bodyfat coming in. This obviously has been a topic that has generated enough attention since the summer before he was drafted, which is why I made sure to ask Doughty about what steps he had been taking in regards to his nutrition.

Lombardi fielded a question specifically about Dany Heatley from the audience and I’m glad this shut down any of those still thinking his coming here was a possibility. Right after the question was asked, Lombardi spoke about two things:

  1. The most important things for the team are for Anze Kopitar to step up his game and for Doughty and Jonathan Quick to keep progressing.
  2. The second is to look at San Jose’s progression; they have improved six years in a row with the average age dropping each year. The Kings are on the path to now be able to find players who can be added to fit specifically into the system. He would "like this group to reach its potential before looking outside of the club." It would be too risky of a move to take a chance on Heatley right now while the core is still forming. Basically, he doesn’t want to guess if he doesn’t have to.

If anyone is surprised by this, you should go back and read everything Lombardi has preached since he’s arrived. He wants to be sure that any big move the Kings make takes "the team to the top." Getting Heatley could potentially do more harm than good, which would move the team backwards effectively stunting its growth. If he ends up a bust, he’ll add a negativity to the forming core while taking up the most dollars on the salary cap, which I’m sure no one else would want to deal with. The improvement of Kopitar is the key to this team making a jump. Lombardi emphatically said to look to Kopi for "that dynamic goal"and that "great things start to happen off the fundamentals of the game."

Preaching to the choir.

DL also addressed Teddy Purcell's roster spot saying that college players have no clue how to play in tight corners and that "he's not going to play unless he pays the price."


It's no surprise that the ex-goalie of the management group is the one to take goalie-related questions, right? Of course!

During the Q&A, Hextall said he considered Quick to be the number one goalie with Erik Ersberg as the backup, and Jonathan Bernier would be best served going back to the Manchester Monarchs. I'm sure the knowledge of Bernier's impatience of getting to Los Angeles isn't foreign, so I won't feel too badly in completely agreeing with Hextall. Bernier's cocky confidence is felt 3,000 miles away and I'm in the mood to keep him at arm's length from the roster. The unknown for Hextall is definitely Ersberg. He's a solid goalie but isn't sure if he has the physical ability to play 60-65 games a season due to his size. To add to the bottom line, Hextall stated that there were no plans to move Ersberg. That being the case, anything can happen during the season. It appears the goalie situation hasn't deviated from the end of last season up until now, which makes me a whole lot more comfortable than this time last year.

I got a rare insight into Quick from Dustin Brown that I'm sure the everyday fan is unaware of; the fact that he has a cocky attitude both on and off the ice. You'd never know it from watching the way he plays, but Brownie spoke very highly of him when we lobbed a few questions his way. Of Quick: "He's cocky in a way that you actually like him," and he ended that by saying, "You can have an average team in front of you. If you're a good goalie, you have a good team."


Terry Murray said what Terry Murray usually says; the Kings don't want to lose sight of last year and will focus on getting more pucks IN the net starting at training camp. He would like the team to be an aggressive forechecking team, which I am completely on board with. He also mentioned that his lines were already down on paper so he'll have set lines to try out at training camp. The definite lines he said out loud were the first line (Ryan Smyth - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams) and the first two defensive pairings (1 - Drew Doughty - Sean O'Donnell; 2 - Rob Scuderi - Jack Johnson). The only line up in the air for TM is the 4th line. Who could it be?

Raitis Ivanans - John Zeiler - Peter Harrold? (Whoa... I just threw up in my mouth a bit.)

Other than this little tidbit, there weren't any earth-shattering bits of insight. But one thing I asked specifically was if he had a surprise rookie forward in mind who could make a statement out of training camp. He responded by saying he wasn't 100% sure on anyone but that Richard Clune might make a name for himself. Regarding the playoffs, he said if they didn't make the top 8 spots in the West, it wouldn't be a huge disappointment but that they had to show improvement. This was a bit different than what Lombardi said earlierabout the playoffs. If the Kings didn't make it, according to DL, it "would not be a major disaster but would be a major disappointment."

I honestly can't disagree with anything said during the weekend. Everything was inline with how the Kings are being built up and, in the end, I'm happy with how everything went. The venue was very nice, clean, and sent the message that the Kings were continuing to move forward in the players' development. From the fan perspective I was pretty pleased at how everything was presented although the area could have used a bit more signage on the exterior to showcase what was going on and where to go. The heat was killer but that didn't stop the street hockey tournament even on the black asphalt. Much thanks to the Kings for providing this opportunity

Make sure to check out all the news on the event on KingsCast, Frozen Royalty, The Examiner, and the Press Box Perspective!

Next stop: the playoffs! (...or not...)


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