Saturday, March 6, 2010

Roy, Melrose and Blake on '93 Finals

It was perhaps the highpoint in franchise history. The Kings had made the Stanley Cup Finals.

What a season - Gretzky had been out hurt for much of the first half, Luc Robitaille was called upon to wear the 'C', an eccentric rookie coach was leading the team from behind the bench...and low and behold, fan favorite Jimmy Carson returned to the team. He arrived back in LA via a trade with the Red Wings that sent #99's good friend Paul Coffey to Detroit - causing a several week rift between the Great One and then Kings owner Bruce McNall.

The success, the fun, the excitement of 1993 will forever be marred by the incident. Call it StickGate or whatever you want. Nearly everybody finds it impossible to talk about the Finals that year without mentioning Marty McSorley's illegal stick in the second game.

With the Kings already up in the series 1-0, they were leading game 2 late in the third period. Jacques Demers, the desperate Canadiens coach at that point, called for a stick measurement with less than two minutes to play.

In a recent interview I asked former Kings defenseman Rob Blake if that was the turning point in the in the series:

"I think it's the most publicized turning point of that series. I don't know if it was the real turning point. I mean if you look, we were still up by a goal when that happened. We should have been able to put the game away. We should have been able to kill that off. They scored it overtime. They won three games in a row in overtime. I think Desjardins, LeClair and LeClair. wasn't just that we lost that game. The next two games were very close too. The series ended up 4-1 and in the fifth game they kinda took it to us. There were a lot of different key points, but I think the stick incident will always be the most talked about just because it gave them that power play late, late in the game."

Kings netminder for the series, Kelly Hrudey, had a few interesting takes on things when he spoke at the Kings HockeyFest back in August. He claimed, according to rumors he heard, Montreal was planning to have the ref check his stick for possibly being illegal. However, a scout watching the Conference Finals noted the curve on Marty's stick. So, late in game two, it was Marty that Montreal went after. Hrudey said he remembers feeling the team was emotionally spent when they were in the locker room prior to overtime. He wasn't conceding the series, just thought they'd be going home 1-1...which the did. (click here to read the entire HockeyFest recap)

Former Kings coach Barry Melrose told the NY Times in a post game press conference that he didn't "believe in winning that way." The Times article said Melrose wouldn't have done such a thing to an opponent, that he would have tried to win with players only, not by appealing for equipment violations.

Perhaps lost in all of the drama surrounding the stick situation were some of the antics of Hall of Fame (to be) goalie Patrick Roy. One of the most intriguing was his wink at Kings forward Tomas Sandstrom.

Roy had this to say to Sports Illustrated regarding the infamous wink:

"Always Sandstrom is in my crease, bothering me, hitting at me when I have the puck. When I made the save on Robitaille, Sandstrom hit me. So I winked. I wanted to show him I'd be tough. That I was in control."

More than 15 years have passed. Although the '93 Finals will probably forever be mentioned when these two teams play in the future, the reality is that game and that time frame are well in the past.

The Kings organization has new leadership, new players...and the fans have new hope. All involved are hoping the future of the Kings will forever trump their troubled past.

The Mayor


Exclusive interviews with:
Luc Robitaille
Rob Blake
Kelly Hrudey

Interview with Robb Stauber - the man who battled Hrudey in net during the Kings '92-93 season
Interview with Gary Shuchuk - Kings playoff hero in 1993

Friday, March 5, 2010

Draft Watch - Lots of prospects on TV

Want to see some Kings prospects on television this weekend? How about some of the kids that will be drafted by NHL teams at the 2010 Draft being held in Los Angeles? How about some college hockey tournament action?

All three can be seen over the next three days, including a Calgary Hitmen game - which features LA Kings goaltending prospect Martin Jones in net and possible WHL scoring champion Brandon Kozun at right wing. So fire up the DVRs...

Here is a quick rundown on games you can choose from:

Seattle Thunderbirds vs. Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Unless you've been living under a rock (or not reading this site), you know how much Kings GM Dean Lombardi loves the Western Hockey League. So much so that the last three years running he's taken a player from the Dub in the first round - Thomas Hickey ('07), 'Mr. Nasty' Colten Teubert ('08) and Brayden Schenn ('09).

Tonight's game starts at 7pm PST on Fox Sports NorthWest (DirecTV channel 687). The showcase player in the game will be T-birds goalie Calvin Pickard. He's currently ranked #1 among all North American goalies by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. The 6'1" netminder is expected to give Team USA phenom Jack Campbell a run for his money at the draft. One of them is expected to go early in the opening round as the first goalie taken this year.

Kelowna also features two ranked players of their own...Mitchell Chapman (ranked #151) is a 6'2" defenseman who loves to drop the gloves. To see his latest fight, as well as some other clips of his physical altercations, click here to see some clips from

Brett Bulmer, a 6'2" right wing, is ranked #164.

Also playing in the game are Tyson Barrie (selected in the third round of last year's draft by the Avalanche) and Prab Rai (a 5th round pick of the Canucks in '08). Both are among the top 20 scorers in the WHL's Western Conference.

Becuase the Olympic talk never ends around here...Nashville Predators and Team Canada defenseman Shea Weber played his junior hockey for the Kelowna Rockets.

And one final note on two weeks the Detroit Red Wings will take a very rare late season bonding trip to Kelowna. It seems that GM Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock figured it would be a great way to spend the off days between a Monday game in Calgary and a Friday game in Edmonton. They'll be hosting an open practice for the town and have a few other events planned. To read more about their unique plans click here.

Saskatoon Blades vs Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

This game is on Sunday afternoon and will be a double can catch five ranked players for this year's draft in catch two Kings prospects.

Martin Jones has been an outstanding free agent signing for the Kings. He played a little at the recent World Junior Championships for Canada (winning a silver medal) and has been rock solid in goal for the Hitmen all year - winning WHL player of the week honors in February.

Meanwhile, last year's 6th round pick by the Kings, Brandon Kozun, has been a one man wrecking crew. He also played for Team Canada at the World Jrs and is the only 2x player of the week this season in the WHL. He currently has 94 points, only 3 behind league leader Jordan Eberle of the Regina Pats.

Saskatoon's ranked players for the 2010 draft:
#56 - Curtis Hamilton 6'2" LW
#68 - Charles Inglis 5'11" C

Calgary's ranked players:
#85 - Matt Mackenzie 6'1" D (to read a scouting report on him click here)
#181 - Cody Beach 6'4" RW

Mackenzie also played for Team Orr at the recent CHL Top Prospects game. He finished the night with zero points and a +1 rating.

Calgary and Saskatoon are two of the top three teams in the WHL, with Calgary leading all teams at 97 points. Saskatoon has 93 points, good for third best in the Eastern Conference. So, on paper, this looks to be an outstanding game.

It will be the first WHL game of the year to be broadcast in the U.S. on the NHL Network (DirecTV channel 215). The puck is scheduled to drop at 4pm PST on Sunday.

NCAA College Hockey

Friday 4:30pm PST - #5 ranked Boston College at #10 New Hampshire (Rob Scuderi went to BC and helped take his team to the NCAA hockey championship game three of his four years, finally winning it all in 2001...his final season as an Eagle) - NESN (DirecTV channel 628)

Friday 5:30pm PST - Michigan Tech at #7 ranked North Dakota (Kings d-man Matt Greene played for the Fighting Sioux, losing out on the NCAA championship to Denver during his final season there, 2004-05) - NESN (DirecTV channel 628)

Friday 6:30pm PST - Colorado College at #1 ranked Denver - FSN Rocky Mountain (DirecTV channel 683)

Saturday 4:30pm PST - CCHA Tournament - Lake Superior State at Michigan (like Jack Johnson says 'Go Big Blue') - Fox Sports Denver (DirecTV channel 663)

Saturday 6pm PST - #1 ranked Denver at Colorado College - FSN Rocky Mountain (DirecTV channel 683)

Take lots of notes, there will be a quiz later.

Read. Watch. Enjoy.

The Mayor

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kings lose some tread in Nashville

It was just one of those games.

Since 1996 the Predators building has been called the Nashville Arena, the Gaylord Entertainment Center, the Sommet Center - then for a few weeks it went back to the Nashville Arena...and was recently changed to the Bridgestone Arena. Unfortunately for the Kings, the same ol' Predators play there...the same Predators they had lost five straight games to coming into Thursday night.

The streak continues...and now stands at 0-5-1 vs. Nashville. They'll get another crack at them on Sunday, March 14th...a rare noon start for the Kings on Anze Kopitar bobblehead day.

Things looked good early when Frolov scored in the opening minute of the game, after a face off win by Jarret Stoll. Ryan Smyth picked up his 700th NHL point with an assist on the play. That may have been the highpoint of the night for Los Angeles.

The game did include the debut of two new members of the Kings, Jeff Halpern and Freddy Modin (both were acquired at the trade deadline on Wednesday). Neither factored in the outcome, each playing about 10 minutes.

A fluke goal put Nashville on the board and then late in the second the Kings season long nemesis reared its ugly head again - an EPG. With just seconds remaining until the end of the period Jason Arnott found the back of the net to end things at 2-1 Preds after forty minutes. The goal also continued Arnott's recent hot streak, he had the Preds game winning goal on Tuesday night and started Thursday's game with eight points in his last nine games.

Jordan Tootoo came out half possessed in the third - even willing to fight Matt Greene. The box score said he had seven minutes of ice time in the game, yet it sure seemed like he was always on the ice or in the penalty box for the final twenty minutes. And although the Kings picked up another goal when Drew Doughty scored early in the third, the Preds added two more, including an empty net goal in the final minute.

It was just one of those games. All of the hype coming in surrounded the four Olympic medal winning defenseman that would be featured in the game. Each team had an American and Canadian Olympian on the team, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber for Nashville...and of course, Doughty and Jack Johnson for the Kings. By the end of the game, none of that mattered. In fact, the Olympics seemed much further away at the end of the game than they did three hours earlier.

Reality is upon us. The regular season is ending soon and each night will be a battle for points...much like it has been all year long.

The Kings get a rare visit from the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday (note the 7pm start time) and then will host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.

Coach Murray will round 'em up and get 'em refocused for the Habs. For sure.

As an added bonus, the Kings will wear their third jerseys when they return home Saturday night. A little Black Magic certainly can't hurt.

The Mayor

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Welcome to LA - Freddy Modin

Goodbye Teddy, hello Freddy!

Earlier today the Kings shipped Teddy Purcell and a 3rd round pick to Tampa Bay for center Jeff Halpern. Then, right at the deadline, the Kings acquired another former Lightning player - this time, left wing Fredrik Modin.

Like the Halpern deal, this was a depth move. Modin is a 6'4" winger who has won a Cup. Additionally, he is one of only 23 players ALL TIME to become a member of the Triple Gold Club - winning the Stanley Cup ('04), an Olympic Gold Medal ('06) and the World Championship gold medal ('98).

To read more about the Triple Gold Club click here for my report from Vancouver last week.

He was wearing an 'A' in Columbus, where he had six point in 24 games this season.

In 51 career playoff games he has 11 goals and 11 assists.

Dean Lombardi gave a conditional pick to Tampa for Modin, believed to be around a 7th round pick. Not a lot to give up for a player with Modin's experience.

The Mayor

Welcome to LA - Jeff Halpern

In a move to add depth and experience to the LA Kings, GM Dean Lombardi swung a deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning today. It was a deal of threes. Three assets traded...He sent a 3rd round pick and Teddy Purcell (and his 3 goals) to Tampa Bay for Jeff Halpern.

In Halpern the Kings get another former college hockey player - he went to Princeton - and a veteran leader. The 6'0 center has previously served as team captain three times in his career - with the Washington Capitals, for the U.S. national team at the 2008 World Championships and his senior year at Princeton.

In 24 career playoff games he has 6 goals and 6 assists.

He's expected to play on the Kings 4th line.

He'll wear #22 in Los Angeles.

Are there more moves to come? We have about an hour to go...

The Mayor

photo courtesy of

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuesday Tidbits from Kings-Stars game

Nice 5-1 win tonight for the Kings in Dallas. Truth be told though, it was a little strange watching the Kings game tonight. It almost had a preseason feel to it after not seeing the Kings for nearly a month.

The games played over the last few weeks in Vancouver just had so much riding on them that each pass, stoppage and penalty seemed like life or death. Tonight's game, while important in the standings, had more of a ho-hum feel to it.

That said, here are a few observations from the game in Dallas:

* Frolov might have played the strongest game of the year. Or did it just seem like that since I haven't seen him play in a few weeks?

* I might have to disagree with Jim Fox on this one...I think I prefer the international rule on icing better. Why waste time sending guys down to touch the puck? If the NHL wants to shorten the time needed for regular season games, those Olympic games seemed to fly by with just a few tweaks to the rules.

* Taking in the local flavor is always part of the fun when you're on the road. Checking out the boards in the arena usually gives you a feel for some of the larger corporations in the area that support hockey. Tonight in Dallas - Chipotle...yum, sounds good. Dr Pepper...tasty. JCPenney...born in Wyoming, but headquartered in Dallas. State Farm insurance...fairly standard around the league. The Dump...what? Yes, in case you missed it (see picture above) of the boards was sponsored by THE DUMP?!?!

* Wayne 'the Train' Simmonds is all motion...and some commotion. Did you see him jawing at the fans after being sent to the penalty box in the second period. Too funny.

* Why Ott, Why? I'm sure the Stars fans are happy you resigned in Dallas...yet you would have looked so good in a Kings uniform.

* How ironic - Marc Andre Cliche makes his NHL debut in Dallas. Cliche was acquired by the Kings in a deal with the Rangers for Sean Avery. Yes, the same Avery that was run out of Texas soon after signing a big money contract there a few years ago.

* There are few things in hockey that make me laugh as much as seeing the look on Marc Crawford's face when the Kings score against him. That vein in his forehead always looks like it's about to explode.

* According to the Stars Blog 'Defending Big D' their local tv coverage tonight was going to include a test of an overhead cable camera - similar to what they use in the NFL. Sounds interesting. Would like to see more views from there. Different angles usually add to the overall coverage. One more thing...every time I see the cable cams when watching football I'm reminded that the XFL came up with that idea. Has there ever been a bigger debacle in pro sports than the XFL? In case you didn't know, the LA franchise won the one and only season championship. Fun fact of the day.

* What was worse - having Team USA on the ice in Vancouver while Team Canada celebrated and received their gold medals...or making Michal Handzus sit there tonight and listen to Drew Doughty talk to Bob Miller about it? Seriously - Zues and the SlovaKings had an awesome tournament and came home with nothing to show for it. Such a bummer.

* There have been some reports that Jack Johnson was avoiding Drew Doughty and/or giving him a little bit of an attitude leading up to and during the Olympics. JMFJ disputes all of the reports. was somewhat interesting that Coach Terry Murray chose to pair them together tonight instead of playing them with their normal d-partners. Was Murray trying to send a message of solidarity now that the Olympics are over?

* With the Penguins acquiring Ponikarovsky they're out of the Ray Whitney sweepstakes. Will this help the Kings chances? A deal with Carolina that brings the Wizard and Gleason to LA would just be to awesome for words. More likely - Andy 'Ronald' McDonald, Paul 'Once a Duck, Always a Duck' Kariya or Raffi Torres. Ethan Moreau has been rumored for weeks, but you would think if that deal was getting done, it would be done already. Eric Belanger would just make too much sense...a center that wins face offs - something this team struggles with at times. Those are some of the forwards that are likely to get moved. Rumor is the Kings are looking for a defenseman too. Then again, with Dean's track record, he's probably going off the grid with any trades. It'll be a name out of left field.

Tomorrow will be fun...and there's not even a game!

The Mayor

Monday, March 1, 2010

Olympic Cloud Has Silver Lining

Vancouver, BC - A mere two weeks ago things looked awfully murky on the international hockey front. Sweden entered the games as the reigning Olympic champion, having won the gold at the 2006 games in Italy. Canada was the heavily favored team entering these games, while Finland and Russia felt they deserved to be included in any conversations about medals this time around.

On the outside looking in for most people were two teams far apart geographically - the U.S. and Slovakia.

With a team stocked full of current and former Kings, team Slovakia might have accomplished the most in this year's Olympic tournament - yet, left town with the least. They beat perennial powerhouse Russia, the defending champs from Sweden - plus, gave Canada and Finland all they could handle...falling just short in each game. Ziggy Palffy will now retire without a medal.

The other afterthought played on Sunday for the gold medal. Brian Burke, architect of the Anaheim Ducks 2007 Stanley Cup championship and current GM in Toronto, was tasked with building Team USA's roster for the games and he utilized a team of fellow NHL GM's - including the Kings Dean Lombardi - to complete the task. In every interview he uttered his now famous 'nobody is betting a dollar on us' statement, usually followed with something like 'but, we're coming to win the whole thing.' If nothing else, his team gave it a valiant effort...coming into the final game undefeated and having never trailed in a game.

Team Canada seemed to be a mess from the start. First, they needed overtime and a shootout to beat Switzerland. Then, the Sunday prior to the gold medal game - a week that seemed like a lifetime in the hockey world - they lost to the U.S. in somewhat embarrassing fashion...getting outplayed on every inch of the ice.

Somehow, that woke them up. Canada came back and destroyed a German team that was sadly over matched talent wise. When it came time for their next game with Russia, in-arena host Marc Denis told fans this was the most anticipated game in Canada since 1974. Somebody forgot to tell the Russian defenseman though because it was basically over before it started. After a day of rest on Thursday, Canada survived a scare by Slovakia on Friday to advance to the game they desperately craved - a rematch with the U.S., this time with gold on the line.

On the other side of the tournament ladder, Team USA was a methodical, workman like group. Never rattling, continually pushing forward towards their unlikely goal of gold. After handily dispatching of the Finish team in the semi-finals they looked more than ready for a rematch with the host country.

Sunday was a tight contest from the very beginning. You had to think the U.S. needed to score first - as much for their own confidence as to keep the mental pressure on the Canadian players and fans packed into the arena temporarily known as Canada Hockey Place.

It didn't happen. Canada was up 2-0 before the U.S. began to claw their way back into the game. A goal in the second period by Vancouver Canuck Ryan Kesler served notice to all that the U.S. wasn't going to pack their bags and head home without a fight.

Team Canada kept the pressure on throughout the third, while Ryan Miller didn't let anything past him in the U.S. net either. Just when all hope seemed lost, as timed ticked away on the clock to less than a minute left in the game...and with Miller on the bench...Zach Parise tied the score with about 30 seconds left in regulation.

The reaction at that point would most definitely depend on which side of the rivalry you were sitting. For Americans, pandemonium ensued. We're alive! For Canada, instant panic and concern. We're about to lose the gold medal!

Wednesday's game between Russia and Canada was supposed to be the Crosby and Ovechkin show. It never happened, with both players non factors in the outcome.

Sid the Kid wouldn't let the same thing happen again on Sunday. He scored 5-hole on Miller seven minutes into overtime to end the drama. Canada got what they HAD TO HAVE for the entire psyche of their country - the gold medal.

For the U.S., it was a well deserved silver medal in a year few picked them to be among the top three teams in the tournament.

You'll rarely see a group of people look so sad while receiving their medals. Someday soon they'll appreciate their silver. However, they were so close to perfection. So close to running the table. So close to beating Canada twice and skating off with the gold.

But, you know what they say about being close.

Silver will have to do for now...Sochi is only four years away.


For more Olympics coverage on MayorsManor - including some exclusive photos - simply type OLYMPICS in the search box near the top left corner of this page.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

OLYMPICS: Forgotten King Steals Bronze From SlovaKings

Vancouver, BC - With five current or former LA Kings, the Slovakian national hockey team had a decisively royal feel to it throughout the Olympics.

Michal Handzus has scored 40 goals over the past two and half seasons for the Kings. Lubomir Visnovsky scored 70 goals with the crown on his chest and was arguably the Kings best defenseman over the last decade. Jozef Stumpel netted 76 goals between his time at the Forum and later Staples Center. Pavol Demitra posted an amazing 25 goals in just 58 games during the 2005-06 season in LA. Ziggy Palffy tallied 150 goals for the Kings after being acquired just prior to the team's move into Staples Center in the fall of 1999.

All were wearing the sweater of Slovakia at the 2010 Olympics.

Tonight they faced a Finish team led by Anaheim Ducks legend Teemu Selanne. His team also featured a guy who once wore a Kings sweater, albeit briefly.

Olli Jokinen was drafted third overall by the Kings at the 1997 NHL Draft, behind only Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. He made his debut with the Kings in 1998, playing 8 games. He came back the following season - the Kings final at the Forum in Inglewood - posting nine goals in 66 games. He scored in the final regular season game at the Forum and fans seemed to have something to look forward to as the team was about to move downtown.

Then, partially in an attempt to bring a 'star' to the team, he was dealt to the Islanders in the aforementioned deal that (ironically) brought Ziggy Palffy out west to Los Angeles.

After already beating Russia earlier in the week...and then pulling a major upset over the reigning Olympic champions from Sweden...Ziggy and the SlovaKings were looking to earn their first Olympic hockey medal.

Standing in their way was Teemu Selanne and Team Finland. Like Palffy, this was Selanne's last kick of the can on such a grand stage.

Demitra, who was within inches of scoring at the end of the semi-final game with Canada...and entered the game with the most points in the tournament...scored again in this game. Either he or Brian Rafalski of the U.S. have to be the Olympic MVP at this point.

With a 3-1 lead in the third period it seemed like the SlovaKings were well on their way to a bronze medal. It would be an incredible accomplishment for their entire country. It would also mean that all LA Kings players would return to SoCal with medals on their necks.

However, the 'other' former King - perhaps, the forgotten King - had other ideas.

Jokinen, scored two goals just minutes apart and Team Finland survived a last minute rush by the SlovaKings to earn the victory and the medal....denying Palffy the grand goodbye he so desperately sought.

What a sad ending to a memorable tournament for Zues, Lubo, Demitra, Stumpy and Palffy.

So close!

And for many of them, there won't be a next time.

The Mayor

For more Olympics coverage on MayorsManor - including some exclusive photos - simply type OLYMPICS in the search box near the top left corner of this page.