Friday, October 30, 2009

HIGH / LOW: Kelly Hrudey on Duty

If you've been following the High/Low series here on MayorsManor you know we've had guests like Jim Fox, Mark Hardy and even ESPN's John Buccigross stop by already this season.

Well it's time to dip into the Kings past once again to call upon a former player turned broadcaster, Kelly Hrudey.

Kelly played for eight years in Los Angeles, minding net for the team during one of its real glory periods - including the famous 1992-93 season when they went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. He now works for the CBC in Canada and still watches plenty of hockey. With October about to end we thought it was the perfect time to get Kelly's take on the first month of the season. Here's what he had to say:

  • Colorado Avalanche - off to an unbelievable start
  • Craig Anderson - ditto (a fellow goalie...but of course!)
  • LA Kings - no pandering here, you have to respect them
  • Minnesota Wild - thought they'd be better
  • Florida Panthers - surely thought they'd be better too
  • Toronto Maple Leafs - hoped they'd be better
As most predicted, the race in the Western Conference is as tight as ever. While we had Kelly's attention we played word association with those 15 teams and here were his answers:

Anaheim Ducks - gritty
Calgary Flames - interesting
Chicago Blackhawks - exciting
Colorado Avalanche - surprising
Columbus Blue Jackets - unsure
Dallas Stars - work in progress
Detroit Red Wings - respect
Edmonton Oilers - building
Los Angeles Kings - underrated
Minnesota Wild - feel sorry for
Nashville Predators - model of consistency
Phoenix Coyotes - pretty good actually
San Jose Sharks - love them
St Louis Blues - should be better
Vancouver Canucks - love them too

To wrap up this part of the interview I asked Kelly if he were a GM of a new team given the ability to pluck six guys off of the 30 NHL rosters (3 fwds, 2 dmen, 1 goalie), who would he take:

Forwards - Malkin / Crosby / Ovechkin

Defenseman - Nicklas Lidstrom ("Not sure how many more seasons he could give me, but I'd have to take him.") and Shea Webber ("Tough bugger...very hard to play against.")

Goaltender - "Brodeur is the obvious pick, but I would need a guy for the future. I really like Ryan Miller and Luongo. But, I'd have to go with Marc-Andre Fleury. I just love him. He's a big game goalie and I'm not as critical of him as others are. Last year he played exceptionally well. He'd be my guy."

Kelly provided many more opinions about the current game, as well as the guys he played with and against. We went all the way back to him growing up in Edmonton, being drafted by the Islanders and later being traded to the Kings. The full interview should be posted by the end of the weekend. Keep an eye out for it.

UPDATE: the full interview with Hrudey has been posted - click here to read



Interview with Robb Stauber - the man who battled Hrudey in net during the Kings '92-93 season

Interview with Rob Blake - the most controversial player in Kings history stops by MayorsManor

20 Questions with #20 - Luc stops by MayorsManor a few days before entering the Hall of Fame

Interview with Gary Shuchuk - Kings playoff here in 1993

Reflections of a Cup - Roy, Melrose and Blake comment on the Kings vs. Canadiens


photo courtesy of

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Closing the Book on October

The season is moving along fast, with the first month wrapping up tonight. While last night's game in San Jose left a certain sense of satisfaction - even though the Kings lost in a shootout - tonight's game ended with a sense of disappointment.

This was a home game and the visiting Canucks were playing without their mega-star goaltender Roberto Luongo. The Kings needed to find a way to grab two points. You can't really lay blame on their performance though. Come on, they were playing the second game on back to back nights. Defensively they looked very strong. Heck, they even out shot Vancouver 31-15. How do you double up your opponent like that and lose the game? It's a head scratcher.

Other thoughts as we close out October:
  • Last weekend I posted the 10 Tidbits on Scott Parse article. If you didn't read it at the time, go back and check it out. This guy has been a breath of fresh air for the team. He's played solid in every game since being called up. While averaging about 12 minutes of ice time in his four games, he has 3 points and is a plus 1. Tonight was the big one - his first NHL goal!

  • College update: Two weeks ago the Kings were already ahead of the NHL mean with a roster loaded full of former college hockey players. Since then, they've added Scott Parse (University of Nebraska-Omaha) and ANOTHER college d-man, Randy Jones (Clarkson University). That's nine guys now on the starting roster with college hockey backgrounds. Incredibly, that's five college d-men, six if you include Harrold. Read about the Kings collection of college players vs. the NHL average by clicking here.

  • Point Break: If you break the season down into 10 game chunks, the Kings need to average about 11 points per 10 games (explained here). After the first 10 of the new season the team had 12 points, slightly ahead of what's needed. Four more games have been played since then, with the Kings picking up six points. Meaning - in the next six games (@ Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Nashville, @ Chicago, @ Carolina, @ Atlanta) they need to pick up five points to keep pace. Sounds very doable if the team continues to play at the same level of the last week or so.

  • The top line - Smyth/Kopitar/Simmonds - was held scoreless for the second straight game. The trend should end in Phoenix Monday night. I'll take Smyth in any "first goal" pools out there.

  • This weekend the Kings will be home practicing at TSC in El Segundo. You think they'll be practicing one-on-one shootout type drills?

The Mayor

When One is Enough

They say one is such a lonely number, but there's no need to be greedy. Leaving San Jose with one point last night should be satisfying at this point of the season...and at this point of the team's development.

Check the numbers: The Kings were 3-5-2 in their last 10 games vs the Sharks prior to last night, an indication of how tough it's been to play against them. More specifically, LA was 0-3-1 in their last four trips up north. Plus, San Jose was hot, winning four of their last five games - all on the road! - coming into the contest Wednesday night. While the Kings had won four in row themselves, you have to give a slight edge to the home team most of the time...especially to a team that went 20+ games last year without a loss at home.

While it's easy to get excited about the Kings with as much as they've been winning so far this season, fans need to keep the big picture in mind. This team is still figuring out how to win. The last big road trip provided plenty of proof. So, when they play a tough division opponent on the road and it's 1-1 after 60 minutes of hockey, the team is taking small steps forward. Sure, they had PLENTY of chances to win it in the shootout. They didn't though. So, take the point and move on. There is a new war to wage tonight when the Vancouver Canucks arrive at Staples Center. Fortunately for the Kings, the Canucks will be without all-world goaltender Roberto Luongo.

Speaking of injuries, it was just reported this morning that the Pittsburgh Penguins will be without the services of Evgeni Malkin for 2-3 weeks. That means he won't be in the line-up when the Pens come to LA next Thursday. I'd like to believe there were a few Kings players really looking forward to that game after this little ditty late in the game last season...

Oh well. So much for circling that one on the calendar. There's always next year.

Back to tonight - it will be another tough Western Conference match-up, one with playoff implications on the line even though it's only October. In addition to Luongo, the Canucks will also be without high scoring forwards Daniel Sedin and Pavol Demitra; as well as defenseman Sami Salo.

For the most part, the Kings are fairly healthy. Justin Williams is the only key player unavailable tonight. However, the new line combinations have been doing just fine without him.

One will not be enough tonight. Two is the magic number.

The Mayor

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A View From the Minors

While most of the top flight talent in the Kings minor league system is out east in Manchester, the team does maintain a lower level presence here in Southern California. The Ontario Reign began play in the ECHL last season and already are set to host the All Star game in just their second year. Before that rolls around in January they have plenty of regular season home games left, including this weekend against Bakersfield and Las Vegas.

But selling tickets to hockey fans in Southern California - especially in this economy - is no small task. It's even more difficult when you are essentially a class-A farm team. In an effort to connect with the community and fans the team utilizes all sorts of non-traditional marketing tactics. For example, last night the team hosted a Q&A session with defenseman Shawn Germain.

Primarily a stay at home defenseman, Germain was reunited with his long time coach (Karl Taylor) in Ontario last season. He had previously played for him at the University of Waterloo and again with the Reading Royals (also of the ECHL). Germain was named the Royals defensive player of the year both seasons he skated with the team and put up almost identical numbers in his first season with the Reign last year. Here are a few highlights from the Q&A session:

  • His favorite player of all time is Ryan Smyth. He said he realizes that is easy to say now that he's with the Kings, but that he's liked him "from way back when he was drafted sixth overall." His admiration grew exponentially when Smyth tried playing with a broken ankle.

  • When asked about his playing time with goaltender Jonathan Quick while the two were together in Reading..."He never quits on a puck. I've never seen another goalie work harder."

  • Over the summer he returned home to Canada where he did a lot of concrete work and trained some guys at various hockey clinics.

  • He was very happy to play for the Reign last year, in part because he considers the ice in Ontario to be "one of the best, if not the best, in the whole league."

  • When he retires he wants to be a coach. He has already talked to Taylor about it and hopes to be an assistant under him one day when his playing days are over. However, he hopes that is "down the road a bit," he still loves to play.

Tickets to the Reign are pretty cheap and you never know who'll be playing in the game you attend. Last season the Reign line-up included Bud Holloway, Jeff Zatkoff and Geoff Walker - all now playing in Manchester. Heck, one of the top defensive prospects in the Kings organization - Colten Tuebert - even stopped by for a dozen games at the end of the year. So, if you're hockey starved while the Kings are out on the road sometime, click here to get some tickets. Go discover your favorite King to be.

Tomorrow it's back to the big boys as the Kings will be skating in San Jose against the always tough Sharks.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Kings Win Again - Achtung Baby!

While I didn't commit a cardinal sin yesterday, for some of you I did do the unthinkable...I missed a Kings home game last night. With Columbus in town to play LA, I had a decision to make. Head to Staples Center for the hockey game or visit the hell hole that is the Rose Bowl. Yes, I chose to go see U2 instead of the game. Prior generations had the Beatles and the Stones. For my money, the two most important and influential bands of the last 25 years are U2 and Metallica. So, with the boys from Dublin in town for only one show, the choice was one of those easy - yet hard - decisions.

By now you already know that the Kings took care of business against Columbus, winning 6-2 in pretty dominating fashion. Kopi continued to burn up the ice, Quick stopped the man-beast Rick Nash on a penalty shot, Scuderi took out Chimera with a "once legal" hip check (click here for the video)...and Frolov had another strong game.

With that in mind, I've taken a different approach with today's article, using the set list from last night's U2 show and dedicating each song to one Kings player...

Breathe - Scott Parse
Get On Your Boots - Erik Ersberg
Magnificent - Anze Kopitar
Mysterious Ways - Alexander Frolov
Beautiful Day - Ryan Smyth
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For - Jonathan Quick
Stuck In A Moment - Michal Handzus
No Line On The Horizon - Justin Williams
Elevation - Teddy Purcell
In A Little While - Oscar Moller
Unknown Caller - Trevor Lewis
Until the End of the World - Jack Johnson
The Unforgettable Fire - Wayne Simmonds
City of Blinding Lights - Matt Greene
Vertigo - Jarret Stoll
I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight - Rob Scuderi
Sunday Bloody Sunday - Raitis Ivanans
MLK - Richard Clune
Walk On - Alec Martinez
One - Dustin Brown
Amazing Grace - Drew Doughty
Where the Streets Have No Name - Sean O'Donnell
Ultraviolet (Light My Way) - Davis Drewiske
With or Without You - Peter Harrold
Moment of Surrender - Brad Richardson

It was a good show. If you missed it, hurry...U2 is streaming the Rose Bowl event all week on their YouTube channel. Simply use the video player above to start watching the concert!  Just be sure to do it before they take it down.

As for the Kings, they're back in action Wednesday night up north in San Jose. Then, the following night they return home for their first match up this season with the Vancouver Canucks.

If you don't like my song/player pairings, feel free to suggest your matches below.

The Mayor