Sunday, August 30, 2009

LA Kings HockeyFest 2009: Sunday's 3rd Best Session

Day Three. A glorious day. A sad day. Why? It's the end of Hockey Fest 2009!

Keeping with the theme started yesterday, I've ranked the three sessions today from third to first. Please note - that isn't "from worst to first", as the third place selection was still a beauty. Think of it more like 1A, 1B and 1C.

In the Jack Johnson slot (#3)...or Gary Galley position for you more "seasoned" fans - Hockey Operations with Dean, Hex and the Coach.

Some of the gems at the morning kick-off:

* Dean referring to Doughty as a "Doughboy"...quickly realizing he might have a mini-riot on his hands given the adoration most fans have for the kid, he explained that such a body type was a good thing. You see, Dean likes to draft kids who have an upside. If you draft a kid that is "buffed out" he doesn't have any upside. With Doughty being a Doughboy they knew they could teach him how to attain an athlete's body. Dean later added that Ray Bourque used to be referred to as "Fat Ray" for the same reason his first few years in the league.

* Coach Murray is very impressed with Matt Greene and Kopitar. He admits that it took Kopi time to learn the defensive system he put in place last year and thinks he should have a break out year this season on offense.

* This just in - the Coach also said that "Brownie is a pretty damn good player too." He believes "nobody in the NHL cares more about the LA Kings than Dustin Brown." Ah, should a guy playing in Tampa Bay or Atlanta care about the Kings? Relax, I knew what he meant.

* Next up was the period I usually dread most - they opened it up for questions. Don't get me wrong, Kings fans are extremely knowledgeable. And there are always really good questions - some even surprise Dean or Hex with the insight behind them. Yet, I'm always thinking "please, no more questions about parking prices or why the Kings didn't sign (insert player name) to a $300 million contract just because there is cap space available." That said, overall, if you take all the questions asked to all the various panelists this weekend, I would rate the fan questions a strong B+...maybe even A-. I don't even remember one lame question that made me sink in my seat. Maybe it was the cover charge. Kept those people at home. Back to the story... A fan asked Dean about expanding their marketing efforts out to the Inland Empire (you know, the "IE", formerly known as "the 909"). Dean looked around like he wanted to use a lifeline or phone a friend. Thus his initial answer: "Um, not my area." (Can I have your attention please...will McChris please pick up a white courtesy phone...paging McChris to a white courtesy phone).

* Somebody then asked Dean about Brian Boyle and the decision to trade him this past June. In short, he said things similar to what was shared at the last Breakfast with Ops meeting at Health South (for TSC comments, see my earlier blogs), i.e. work ethic, does he get it, does he bring his A game every night. Dean mentioned he wasn't sure that Boyle staying for his senior year at BC was the right decision. Several fans didn't like his "leave school early to turn pro" stance. Either way, Dean said they even talked to Boyle's father earlier this year to try and get some outside help. Experiment over. When he showed up to the draft and only had three teams interested he knew he had to do it now. In fact, he believes he waited too long to trade him and said he should have listened to Hex (who wanted to trade him sooner).

* Coach Murray has been impressed with former college hockey player Davis Drewiske from the day he first met him. He sees lots of upside to his game this year. Says he "might just need to drop the gloves" a few times this year to establish himself. He had 18 penalty minutes in 17 games last season with the Kings. We'll have to wait and see on that one.

* One of the true pleasures of listening to Dean speak is his constant expansion of the hockey vocabulary. You may recall from previous meetings he's taught us all the value of an "asset" (player or pick) or the fact that some guys are brought in to be a "bridge." (Fun little game to play - what's your favorite Deanism? Post a comment below) Well, we have a new one. Prospect Garrett Roe is a "dirtbag." Apparently, it's a term of affection. Which caused Daryl Evans to remark how much fun Dean must be on a date. Rowe is what Dean likes in the 7th round, "no vanilla."

* Many of us have heard Dean espouse his displeasure for slogans and the like. However, he gave us a good one today..."There's no cap on character." It's more than just the cash cost when evaluating who should be a King these days.

As things wrapped up in the morning session Dean acknowledged they may be one or two players light as camp approaches. Rather than fill that void from outside right now - and guess wrong - they'd rather wait and see how things develop during camp. Somebody may come along and surprise them, like Wayne Simmonds last year. For now he doesn't see an "impact move" on the horizon. There could be a "depth move" during or shortly after camp.

I've said it many times since Dean landed in LA. He is consistent. Today he spoke freely when asked a question, was intense about winning and tried to connect with each fan speaking to him. All consistent with past fan forums.

Later I had a chance to follow-up with Dean and Coach Murray on a number of other topics:

* I pressed Dean on the Ivanans situation and Westgarth looming in the background with his new three year contract. Ivanans is on the team "for now." Westgarth's first year of the contract is a two-way deal, so he may be in and out quite a bit. However, he likes the added "chirping" that Westgarth brings, saying that is an element that North American born players bring with them. He explained that "sometimes those one liners hurt as much a a punch."

* Dean jokingly (perhaps) suggested they should play both guys against Anaheim. He says it might be kinda fun after going in there and getting pushed around the last few years. He chuckled pretty good at himself over that one. Murray went on to talk about Richard Clune and his potential to fill a role with the team. Dean agreed, he loves that kid too.

* I mentioned to Dean that I heard they tried to bring back Lappy on a short term contract. He said "absolutely true." They were talking to his agent and Dean feels Lappy was interested. When the longer term was offered by Philly, he didn't want to try and match. No hard feelings. Lappy being interested was somewhat shocking to me. When we spoke at Luc's retirement dinner he was still very bitter with the Kings organization and the way things fell apart. Perhaps time heals all wounds. Perhaps Lappy wasn't holding Dean accountable for things that happened before he started. Either way, it all turned out fine. A great guy got a big money three year deal and the Kings wisely didn't offer him something similar. One year would have been great. Three wouldn't have been the right move for this team.

* Coach wants to see Doughty start to come out of his "cocoon" this year. #8 has leaned heavily on Odie as a mentor (good decision). Those two will be paired again during the pre-season. He also plans on keeping Frolov and Zeus together. Interesting nugget was him not being sure there was room on this year's team for both Moller and Purcell. I got the impression it was Purcell's job to lose.

Whew. All of this info and it wasn't even lunch time yet.

The Mayor

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