December 3rd, 2009, 01:42 PM #1
State of the Union - Some reflections around the Quarter turn.
i apologize in advance. it is nearly impossible for me to be brief about anything i love. to quote the great Count Dracula: With you, never a quickie. Always a longie!
- the owners -
yes the Kings owners are making the necessary steps and doing the right things... technically. but one question persists - is the endeavor's ultimate goal to cover their nut, or is it to plant a flag? the Dodgers and Lakers are the Dodgers and Lakers because they win (historically) and are identified as such - pan-generationally. Somewhere in all this, the Ducks are the Ducks because they've won and can be identified by a generation as well. that latter statement can almost certainly bring a respectable level of glee to this writer because it can clearly be argued in whatever direction you choose.
the loose and firm to fully of THIS organization have WHAT to identify with exactly? Wayne Gretzky - a player belonging to someone else who with that someone else, tortured us for almost a decade prior even to coming here? ONE measly step from beyond in over 40 years? a few laughs, really? without the occasional and completely beside the point "yeah but," it has downright sucked to be a Kings fan.
i won't even begin to speculate on the recession's effect toward AEG's final number, but i hope when the recovery reaches the Group's identified "permissible" point, the Los Angeles Kings will become more about the Dodgers and Lakers than they are about the bottom line... by all appearances, of course!
else i'm crazy and it's time for new ownership. and not any of these New Era mumbo jumbo 3rd jersey pimps either. i'm talking a full-on harken to a dyed-in-the-wool mulletous throwback to a bygone age.
and do we really want that? i mean, have you actually "watched" a treasured relic like Don Cherry lately? it's like watching water circling the drain in some bathroom halfway between here and Australia. i can't help but constantly imagine if those Sunday morning WWF shows i grew up with in the mid-1980's had a segment that ran between Piper's Pit and the next Wrestling "match," it'd be today's Coach's Corner. face it, he isn't exactly John Madden... OR Dick Vitale.
and his "look" is a cheap mobius strip of anachronisms.
if the owners truly want to be trend setting New Jacks, they need to understand that WE never left. we're IN the building to eagerly experience what you want to be OUR team. our diligence should be rewarded with yours. this is our Kings... this is our HOME, DIG? so please don't treat us like an asset.
that isn't culture, that's Capitalism.
hand in glove, though, right? of course. but we (the fans) HAVE bought in and taken ownership of winning from goal line to goal line and from the dots to the boards, in the face-off circle and in front of the net. playing hard, north / south - chip, chase & cycle - slash style skating - make the simple play - puck possession - blue area hockey fan who STILL promises to drop enough "pretty goals" into the occasional narrow gaps in our "compete..." AND your concession stands... trust me on that last one one!
- the General Manager & Coaching Staff -
all in all, i think Dean Lombardi has done a great job. i STILL think his biggest challenge is to shake loose himself the chains of the Chomp pa-Chuey Chomp ethics he's held so dear, and pop off with a little loose. he dabbled a bit in the off-season (Smyth), though he remained with the appearance of someone uncomfortable in that chair.
right now both teams have been performing admirably in the wake of injuries, call-ups and injuries to call-ups, and that ALL points to the general overall good health of the organization from top to bottom. so that next step he's demanding his players take, yeah, he needs to be able to take that next step in his respective position as well. and it's about to become a little dicey from here on out as any decision he makes to impact the big club is bound to affect the little club. not only were the injuries to two key young players a blown year for their development as individuals, it represents a large wrench in the process organizationally. it's a setback.
and i know he's started to sweat at least a little about the whole Ryan Smyth thing.
we have bought his good Old Fashioned, North American game plan and the 4th forward powerplay. now we'd like to buy a coaching staff with a 4th dimension. it might be time for Deano, Harpo, TeMu and Hex to look long and hard at the fact that Kompo(n) may be their Gummo, and decide to move forward without their Ball Hockey mastermind calling the shots on the powerplay.
establishing a winning culture, right?
- the players -
ah, where to begin about the players? it seems as though right now everyone is either ignoring or really ARE completely naive to several aspects of the (overall) much bigger picture, and instead content to debate the least of the lesser qualities looking out over the shoulder from the foundation they've firmly rooted behind their favorite player.
i'm no different either. we are all "Peppers" in this game. so i stop you 'cuz i think that you've shaved this Fro before. but fantasy sports, videogames, and even Center Ice around to help you "watch" other teams and players, isn't going to make you more knowledgeable about the game. actually watching the game is.
it has been 6 games since they lost Ryan Smyth and (they) are 3-3 in that span. .500 at a glance is respectable, but closer still reveals that though they went 1-2 and then 2-1, it's been 2-straight and 3 of their last four in the 'W' column. hopefully that trend points to them adequately fighting off an adjustment period after losing such and important piece and soon enough prove the recent across-the-board offensive struggle merely an unfortunate coincidence despite the wholly natural and expected first blip (which happens to every team) showing up on the radar prior to Ryan Smyth getting hurt.
it was recently asked by one "excited" fan - Hey...hey...so, is anyone else excited about our play. Without Smyth..? to which my answer was - i was excited with the way they played against Chicago and liked the way the played against Philly despite the loss. (i suppose i could add some positives in those games against Edmonton and Vancouver as well.) i do however appreciate their latest attempt to define the term - secondary scoring as they clawed their way back to par with Smyth out of the lineup... and boy Wayne Simmonds has really been bringing it!
as the scoring problem has proven to be team-wide, it has become a moot point and non-argument in terms of player assessments for a team supposed to be taking that next step. now you've GOT to look elsewhere because the numbers are bound to eventually return. are they in position, are they reading the play, are they hitting the spots and controlling the gaps, are they generating traffic and playing with a heavy stick... are they competing for 60-minutes regardless of the result? that is what you have to look at without being distracted by the same errant pass, flubbed shot, bad pinch, penalty or call, that happens to EVERY team multiple times throughout the entirety of EVERY game. in other words, Wayne Simmonds played an A game against Anaheim, period. it doesn't all of a sudden become an A- because he took a bad penalty late in the game which had us all nearly chewing one of our hands off.
we've seen a team capable of "shutting the door" by having yet to lose a game in regulation this season when leading after two periods... a big step toward how those good teams are always "finding ways to win."
truth be told, i'm pretty dang happy with the game the role players are bringing to the table right now, with the exception of one... the most important role player... the Captain.
Alexander Frolov doesn't have to worry about the play of guys like Scott Parse and Wayne Simmonds... Dustin Brown does. it could be you or someone you grew up with, but we've all known someone who was an A student content with a C.
getting by is not good enough... not for your leader.
i know that many of you have this wonky idea in your head that i hate Dustin Brown. and quite honestly, you couldn't be any more wrong. in fact, i can be cited as having to explain myself when i listed Brown among the three players i wouldn't trade. i had to give a why because it was assumed that i had "chosen" Brown over Anze Kopitar. that wasn't the case (i actually chose Drew Doughty over Kopitar) but i wouldn't doubt THAT choice as signaling some newer more wonkier idea somehow that i now hate Anze.
i cautioned when his play was off the charts because i knew Kopi would slow down. some of YOU didn't. right now, he's playing well and doing a number of little things in lieu of scoring (particularly in his own zone)... as many of the other players are. and should he fail to achieve a new level statistically yet play consistently like he should for the duration... well in April or May (or June!) i will remind you all again that "turning the corner" or having a "breakout year" has far less to do with a jump in numbers than you think. it's about owning your station. i know i made mention once about his having to put up some gaudy totals, but that's a different argument... one about becoming an elite center.
i love this team and i love Anze Kopitar, and i am NOT going to be happy if he becomes Mats Sundin. one day the top six CAN look something like - Kopitar, Brown, Simmonds, Moller, Schenn, Loktionov, etc. whatever, and HE'LL be the veteran and conductor. but it starts now. he needs to really buckle down and begin to develop that ability to take over on a nightly basis. that is what some of us meant by his needing to make that first line HIS line. regardless of who's on it. the fact that there's even an argument about his apparent inability to find chemistry with anyone other than Smyth should set off an alarm in your head about Kopitar and where he's at... THIS season, rather that an indictment of those asked to perform in Ryan's stead.
there's a reason why i keep mentioning Dean Lombardi's oft mentioned apprehension about bringing in players like Ryan Smyth.
if you hold to the belief that the Coach's word is the law because Coach knows best, Murray has been happy with Teddy Purcell's play, so let it go now... he's also made similar comments about Frolov recently, so that applies to Alex as well.
as an aside, i was really disappointed by Segal's unfortunate injury... i was just getting to know him.
Jarret Stoll & Matt Greene remind me more and more about how good that trade was and less about my fondness for Cookies.
i think i want a Drew Doughty jersey.
Drewiske... from the bottle, baby. though as much as i'm thrilled about his play and the consistent level of "game" he brings every night, i can't help but think Jack Johnson has just been handed another Kyle Quincey to overcome. i really like Davis, but i still can't help but at least imagine the idea that like Quincey, his biggest asset may be what he brings in trade. now hold your horses, i'm not saying they will or they should trade him, but look down the list... at the bigger picture.
for every Tom Preissing there's a Randy Jones... a gut bet based on familiarity. a Jonsey / Odie platoon should be in the near future as long as Scuderi is able to return without any lingering lingeration.
Jack be nimble, Jack be slick, Jack make mistake... thank GOD for Jonnie Quick! and even though Erik Ersberg is only about half as adorable as Oscar Moller, he really DOES need to get some action.
- more on Frolov -
i've been warm to the idea of moving Alexander Frolov and have often opined on it since July. i had played with that thought briefly before, beginning about two years ago prior to the Cammalleri trade because i thought that his contract had crossed over into an area where it had now become both too good to move AND too good to not consider moving. going into this season, i felt that the time to trade Frolov was before the season started... and more preferable still, before training camp started. the cap era has now made it so that almost every team remains in a holding pattern until the new calendar year. and if you're winning (as the Kings are right now), you've enabled yourself the luxury of allowing players like a Teddy Purcell, for instance, to work it out on the ice, and there's generally less of a rush to "git er done."
here's what i believe will happen with Frolov - it'll be tough to move him in order to obtain what they're looking for other than a back to the drawing board type of move heavily slanted in future returns (like the Cammalleri trade). with the last resort being one of those "last ditch" attempts to trade his rights on or around draft day, the second to last resort (and equally toublesome), which would quite possibly represent something indicative of a larger issue, would be the trade deadline.
he's proven to the organization that he can score, and has been asked to prove he can compete for an entire season. there was a bump on the road for him and he got benched for it. but since then has been working his tail off, and come hell or high water, meaning whether he scores or doesn't, the foundation of his audition begins there. the number and final determination will be rendered once he has or hasn't proven finally able to put both of those facets together as he gets his feet wet for the first time in the playoffs.
there isn't any real need to sign him until the end of the season and there shouldn't be any real need to move him at the deadline unless the Kings were either beginning to fall or have clearly fallen out of the playoff picture.
barring the unexpected, i think it's either re-sign him or let him walk... and i wouldn't expect to see a new deal for Alex until the season is over IF they go that route.
that said, given the recent events with the Chicago Blackhawks, Alex DOES offer a pretty interesting solution to their potential tagging issue.
- back to Cherry and the personalities in the league, and the desire for more cohesiveness in the hockey blogosphere -
if any of you have ever met CBGB (er, Matthew Barry) in person, you'd know that not only is he a terrific guy and one of the most generous people you'll ever meet, he's a real character. a character he's artfully cultivated as an actor cum Casting agent cum THE signpost - a rabid over-the-top Kings fan once operating under the guise of a Dancing Boy. he has an innate understanding of spectacle, and a place like HockeyBuzz is the perfect vehicle for him to flex his station as he becomes more and more connected to thing he loves most outside of his family, and to share his very unique and emotionally filled take on the team at the very center of that love.
when viewed from above, HockeyBuzz in and of itself is terrific for the game. it generates - hits, harrumphs, yays and nays in a veritable free-for-all of laughs, jabs, smacks, kicks to the shins and many an I-Speak - For The Wins!. but most important of all, it brings about the gamut of wild pride and emotion we have about this sport.
it's time for some of the old guard to take up stakes elsewhere and become Mike Modano... you are not the franchise first line center anymore, you're a veteran role player. you need to go out and provide on your shift, "stepping up" if and when the moment arrives, and NOTHING more. your adherence to a forgotten ago will not help this sport evolve to develop a viable level of respectability any more than force-feeding the mutli-pronged rule-gimmickry brand of hockey the League has already put on our plates. here is where the purist elitism of the romantics needs to ride in the backseat for once and understand that this is where a personality like Don Cherry ultimately belongs and should be relegated to in the "NEW" NHL. the game is becoming a bit of an opinion carnival as junkies spend their time quibbling over the lack of commensurate discipline, the viability of the Instigator Rule, the haphazardly thought out "points" system, and have often given in to the compulsion to behave like a Tazmanian Devil, starting useless discussion threads around the internet on every hit you didn't like and every goal you did.
because of this rush to be heard and position ourselves among an endless queue of know-it-all bloggers, we're missing the game!
unfortunately, the more academic contributions (-ors) find a fail in the zone and people like Daniel Tolensky (A.K.A - dizzyd) often become a washed out portion of the bigger picture. since we are annually heralded by our own frontmen as "the most knowledgeable fans in the world," we "obviously" don't do go that site to find and gather information (right?)... we go to that site so's we can talk about it on the rest of the internet.
what i think would be interesting (at least to me) would be a corralling of these types into something i think could prove special. as an alternative to what i get from HockeyBuzz i personally would enjoy a similar resource with interesting characters providing interesting content about the Kings. a place where i can go and read people like Danny Tolensky, Gann Matsuda, Marc Nathan, maybe a small handful of others, and perhaps even someone like our old pal Neil. people who not only have an unmatched understanding of the game, but are equally as understood in terms of writing skill. we are fortunate to have Rich Hammond provide us with a play-by-play of the mundane, so i'd like to see some of that explored more and given a touch of anecdotal personality. this has nothing to do with Hammond. the information he provides us on a daily basis is invaluable. but something like this would most definitely have to come from outside the organEYEzation and it can't be a Romper Room with links to these individuals on the side of the screen.
December 3rd, 2009, 04:15 PM #2
December 3rd, 2009, 04:24 PM #3
Love the suits...
Originally Posted by mitchrock
December 3rd, 2009, 04:45 PM #4
i'll start with JUST his collars.
Originally Posted by mitchrock