Sunday, May 23, 2010

Last Kid Standing

And we're down to one.

Although the Kings made an early exit from the playoffs this season, nearly all of their top prospects were making significant playoff runs...until about 48 hours ago. Friday night it was the CHL scoring champion, Brandon Kozun and his goaltender Martin Jones calling it a season. Last night it was Bernier, Hickey, Voynov, Clifford, Holloway, etc. when the Manchester Monarchs were defeated in the AHL Eastern Conference Finals by the Hershey Bears.

So, who's left? None other than last year's number one draft pick.  The kid the Kings picked fifth overall.  Brayden Schenn.  His Brandon Wheat Kings were an unlikely pick to be playing in the CHL Memorial Cup finals later today...yet, after finally knocking off the Calgary Hitmen on Friday night (in a game where Schenn had three assists), here they are...just one win away from the Cup.

Today's final will be shown on the NHL Network at 4pm PST.  You should go out of your way to watch the game.  The semi-final was one of the best hockey games of the year - and this is in a year that included a great World Jr tournament and several incredible Olympic games.  The host crowd in Brandon was wild and boisterous throughout the game...while the action on the ice matched it...a back an forth affair that had you on the edge of your seat the entire game.

The defending champion Windsor Spitfires may prove to be too tough for the Cinderella Wheat Kings...but, that won't stop the home town crowd from trying to will their team to the Championship.

Oh, and did I mention that the likely #1 pick at next month's draft, Taylor Hall, plays for Windsor?

If you haven't watched any of the Memorial Cup action yet, here's something that should catch your eye...for all the negative press the hockey world gets for their generally antiquated presentations of games on TV, the CHL has come up with a rather novel idea...letting viewers at home listen in while the on-ice official talks with the off-ice officials about disputed goals.  This is pure genius.  Can you imagine if the NFL let fans listen in when the referee went into that little black box during the instant replay stoppages?

Kings season ticket holder and avid hockey fan, movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, was recently on NHL Live radio and provided a myriad of ideas to improve the game presentations on television.  My favorite may have been the overhead camera, ala the NFL.  I previously reported (via twitter) the Dallas Stars were going to test something similar a few months ago.  Wonder how that turned out, never heard anything more.

Along the same lines...Kings television analyst Jim Fox provided his own idea earlier this season on ways to bring the game closer to the fans...he suggested having the NHL actually explain why a player is suspended or not suspended, using video tutorials. Great idea.  Letting fans listen to the referee is similar, only it's in real time. Love it!

Anyway...plenty of story lines to follow at the Memorial Cup...including an important one for Kings fans...Schenn is looking to go out with a bang, as he's hoping to make the jump from junior hockey to the Kings roster next season.  As such, he's hoping to bring home some hardware today!

The Mayor

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