Saturday, June 26, 2010

Tyler Toffoli Profile - Draft Video

Tyler Toffoli - LA Kings 2010 second round pick (47th overall)


NHL Draft - Day One - Kings Derek Forbort Notes

I'll have a full post-draft recap up later.  For now, here are a couple of quick notes on the Kings first round selection - Derek Forbort.

* From - His childhood hockey idol was Wendel Clark because of the way he could score goals and fight.

* NHL Central Scouting's Jack Barzee added "Derek Forbort has good top-end ability at both ends (of the ice). He's smart and skates so well, he's almost 6-5 and he's got everything there in front of him. It's just a matter of filling out and getting more experience. He's probably a top-two defenseman in the NHL if he reaches his potential."

* He spent the last two seasons with Team USA's development program.  Although many media outlets are reporting that he won gold with Team USA at the World Junior Championships this past January, they're wrong.  He wasn't in that tournament, which is the under-20 tourney.  He did win was with the under-18 Team USA team though.  That tournament was in Belarus.  Forbort played in all 7 games, had 2 points, 6 PIM and led the team with a +9 rating.  Read more about it on the IIHF website.

* Did he have a feeling he was going to the Kings in the first round?  "I had like a two-minute interview with them, so (it was) kind of unexpected," Forbort told media after the selection. "It's definitely a good feeling. I didn't really know. It was a great feeling."

* "He's going to a great program (see next note)," Dean Lombardi said. "He's clearly raw. He's young, but when you get a kid with that type of range, you have to do it. He's raw, but there are some things to work with there."

Friday, June 25, 2010

Interview w/ Scott Norton - an agent's perspective

Continuing with the draft coverage, in this article we're going to turn our attention away from the individual players and take a deeper look at the process of drafting a player - including the scouting, the draft combine and working with the teams in advance of the draft.

For some insight into these areas The Mayor sat down with Scott Norton, an NHLPA certified player agent, who has been doing this for 17 years. He knows a thing or two about managing NHL players...he represents the Kings former first round draft pick and current captain, Dustin Brown.

Let's start with the draft combine. How do you prepare a guy for that whole experience of physical testing and the interviews with all the teams?

Every player and every agent probably handles it differently.  However, I don't think it's an event that is weighted as heavily as the NFL combine. I've had some athletes that have just blown some people away at the NHL combine.  Yet, at the end of the day, it doesn't seem to really matter much in their draft position. 

Saying that, I had Nikita Alexeev, who went in the first round to Tampa Bay, 8th overall...and after the draft (General Manager) Rick Dudley told me "He just blew us away at the combine, with what great shape he was in.  Our thoughts were 'If he got into that great of shape for the combine, imagine what he's going to do to be in the NHL.'" That's a great story to hear, but now it's 10 years later and we're sitting here saying "Nikita who?" because he's back in Russia, having never panned out as an NHL player. 

So, I think hockey people are smart enough to understand that the combine is just one of 100 pieces to the puzzle.  Just because a kid is great at the V02 or the bench press...or gives a great interview...doesn't mean he's a great hockey player.  Most guys still try to put their best foot forward.  It's just that you also don't have the signing bonuses like you do in the NFL, where the difference in being drafted five spots earlier could mean a $20 million signing bonus.

Some teams are known for asking crazy questions at the combine.  Are you in the room with your guys and/or what do you do to prepare them for the interview portion of the combine?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Draft 2010 - Interview with Calle Jarnkrok

History is important.  That's why they make you take it from grade school through college.  It's a critical building block of knowledge.

Things aren't much different in sports.  Hockey fans need to know their history.

When it comes to the LA Kings and players from Sweden, there are three names you need to know - Mattias Norstrom, Tomas Sandstrom and Peter Forsberg.

Sorry Freddy Modin...nice audition you put in for a few months this season, but we're going to need to see a greater body of work for you to be included in this conversation.

Much has been made about the Kings-Red Wings rivalry during the first few years after the team moved into Staples Center to start the decade. Somewhat lost in the shuffle for many is their equally intense rivalry with the Colorado Avalanche.

After the Frenzy on Figueroa in '01, it was the Avs that took out the Kings in the second round (needing 7 games to do it). The following year it was another 7 game series with the Avs...and another loss for the Kings. Forsberg was front and center for the Avs during this period. He was a Kings killer.

For somebody actually wearing a Kings jersey, there is Norstrom. Having recently served as an Assistant Coach for his native country in the Vancouver Olympics, he hasn't strayed too far from hockey in his post-retirement life. He wore the "C" for 5 seasons with the Kings and was simply known as "the Warrior."

Which brings us to perhaps one of the most underrated and under-appreciated Kings of the Gretzky era (or the McNall era, if you prefer), Sandstrom. You wanna talk warrior? This guy had his leg broken in game two of a playoff series vs the Oilers in '91 (damn you Craig Muni!). That's fine though, all Sandstrom did was come back and play six nights later...ON A BROKEN LEG!

Draft 2010 - Interview with Cam Fowler

He'll be the first American player taken at the draft tomorrow night at Staples Center.  He's expected to go very early in the first round, perhaps even third overall.

If you guessed Cam Fowler, the 6'1" defenseman from Northville, MI, you're correct.

Although he was born in Canada (Windsor, Ontario), he moved to Michigan before his second birthday and has represented the United States in international competition - even though he technically has dual-citizenship.

Having already won a gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Championships in January, then picking up a Memorial Cup Championship with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires last month, the high point - call it the hat trick of happiness, if you will - should come tomorrow night around 5pm Pacific Time when one NHL team stands at the podium and says "We're proud to announce the selection of Cam Fowler."

What would a trip to LA be without a conversation with The Mayor though?  Well, Cam didn't want to find out.  So, we chatted earlier this afternoon and here's what he had to say:

Tomorrow is a big day for you.  What are you do you doing to keep the nerves from getting the best of you...and what are you going to do tonight to try to get a little sleep?

Actually, I couldn't sleep very well last night.  So, I'm a little concerned about tonight.  I'm like a little kid the night before school starts.  Doing things like this (the clinic at TSC with youth hockey players) is helping take my mind off of things for the time being.

Details on HockeyFest 2010 from Kings VP McChris

Earlier today while at Health South...err, TSC...I had a chance to catch up with one of my favorite Kings executives, VP of Marketing Chris McGowan (who, if you read my stuff regularly, I like to call McChris).

After such a phenomenal inaugural event last summer, I wanted to know what he had planned for HockeyFest v2.  As you've probably read, it's scheduled to be a one-day event this year - held at the training facility on Saturday, September 11th.

Here are some details to hold you over until the official press release comes out in a few weeks:

* Ticket info is probably the most important thing you should pay attention to.  They're lowering the price to around $20 and there will be a limit of 2,000 tickets sold.  Last year's event sold a reported 3.500 tickets over the three days - so, if you plan on going, get your tickets when they go on sale.

Draft 2010 - Interview with Stephen Silas

For their 18th birthday most kids like to have a party, spend it with some friends, maybe some family...or go to a local establishment, wink-wink.

Not many spend it sitting in a half-empty NHL arena waiting to hear their name called.

That's exactly what Stephen Silas will be doing this Saturday though. The 6'1" defenseman is ranked #60 by NHL Central Scouting, so he'll probably end up as a mid-round pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft.

His junior coach, George Burnett of the Belleville Bulls, says “Stephen is a smart player who possesses quick feet and a good stick. He is extremely competitive and has excellent vision.”

Although he mans the blue-line in the OHL, his earliest memory as a player was scoring a hat trick. More recently, with the draft quickly approaching, he's been focused on improving his game and preparing his body for the next level.

Throughout the process, it's the off-ice responsibilities that can be a tedious process for some players...with all the interviews and the testing.

So, that seemed to be the perfect place to start when The Mayor spoke with Stephen...

It was reported that one of the questions you were asked at the NHL Combine was "At a party, are you the guy upstairs with your girlfriend or the one sitting on the couch?"  And you said that question caught you off guard., so how did you end up answering it?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

NHL Draft 2010 - Interview with Brett Connolly

If you're reading this article, you've probably been following enough draft coverage already to know that Friday night's first round is being hyped as the Taylor vs. Tyler show.

Starting with the third pick things become a little more interesting, with a dozen or so names floating that are destined to be the NHL starts of tomorrow - like Swiss born Nino and Jack the Goalie.

Then, there's Brett Connolly.  NHL Central Scouting has him ranked third.  TSN has him projected 8th.  Any other mock draft you see will probably have him ranked somewhere in between.

His story reads like that of a a kid near the top of the board... a first round pick of the Prince George Cougars (10th overall) back at the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft, the CHL Rookie of the Year in 2008–09 (while scoring 30 goals as a 16-year-old) and he's been a member of the highly regarded Team Canada under-18 team.

So, what's the issue? Perhaps it's this... Connolly is a self-confessed former Mighty Ducks fan - “I was a huge Ducks fan when I was young, that was my first NHL jersey”.

Well, it's either that or some recent health issues. TSN's Bob MacKenzie says fear not though, reporting that "his agent maintain(s) those problems are all behind him" and Mac adds that Team Canada "remains bullish" on the 6'2" right wing, thinking his "lack of conditioning and game shape hurt him more than anything else." Something that will surely be addressed this summer.

In what has been one of the busiest weeks of his life, Connolly was kind enough to connect with The Mayor earlier today to talk a little stick and puck leading up to the draft.  Like a two two minute penalty, this one will be over before you know it...

First off, who got you started in hockey?

My dad brought me out to the local rink when I was about 3 or 4 and got me skating.

Besides the injury this season, what one other thing will you be glad to stop talking about once the draft is over?

Well, it will be nice for me to have one team and not a bunch of teams. I can focus on the team that drafts me and them only.

With all the crazy questions thrown at you from various teams at the combine, which team was the most intimidating to interview with?

2010 Draft - Interview with Luke Moffatt

When you're doing an interview it's common courtesy to thank the guy for his time after asking all of your questions. Occasionally they thank you back. Rarely do you hear "No, thank you. That was the most fun I've had doing an interview."

A surprising end to a beyond enjoyable conversation. Athletes today can be very boring at times, relying on cliches when answering questions.

Luke Moffatt is different. He had some of my favorite quotes of all the recent interviews I've done leading up to the draft. Saying "Let's show 'em who's boss!" when talking about playing for Team USA is sure to become an instant classic.

The kid is real. And in a world full of highly polished, generic robots he stands out.

He also values a toothbrush. The ladies will appreciate that.

Luke is currently ranked #95 by NHL Central Scouting, down from 75 at the mid-term rankings.  This has been a fairly consistent theme of his the last few years - dropping from mega-hype as the 2nd overall pick in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft (by the Kelowna Rockets) to this weekend, where he'll probably be selected in the middle rounds.  Don't count him out though.  Hockey's Future projects him a second line center and there are scouts that still believe in him.  Is he the sleeper of the draft?

Earlier this week he caught up with The Mayor to talk hockey, the Phoenix Coyotes, the University of Michigan and...well, the real highlights were probably when they weren't talking hockey at all...

First off, who got you started in hockey?

My dad.  Growing up in Phoenix, it's not exactly a hockey hot bed.  But, my dad is form Vancouver, so he's played hockey is whole life...even into college.  He drove me to a play a lot of sports and hockey was just one that stuck.  I've loved it ever since.

From what I've read, at 15 you were one of the best players in the world in your age bracket. When did you start to realize "Hey, people are really starting to pay attention to me?"

Sneak Peak - Dustin Brown's new DLO-23 hockey line

EXCLUSIVE IMAGE - As reported a few weeks ago, LA Kings captain Dustin Brown is set to launch his own line of hockey equipment and apparel next month.  In a partnership with Combat Sports, a company that promotes itself as "for players, by players", Brown will introduce the new DLO-23 branded items.

The image to the left gives you a sneak peak at of one of the items expected to be included in the line.

Stay tuned for more info in the next week or so, once we get past the draft.

To get the latest info on Dustin Brown, the LA Kings and DLO-23 be sure to follow the Mayor's tweets:

image provided by Scott Norton of  Norton Sports

Draft 2010 - Interview with Brandon Archibald

Defense wins championships...and you can't teach size.

Two truisms in sports that are rarely proven wrong.

In this prospect profile we introduce you to a Brandon Archibald - a 6'4" American born defenseman who plays junior hockey with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.  Currently ranked 64th by NHL Central Scouting, he hopes to someday parlay his size and skill into helping an NHL team win the Stanley Cup.  Once again giving credence to the above axioms.

He reportedly drew interest from big time college hockey programs like Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Michigan State. Ultimately, he signed with the Soo, where he just completed his second full season.

In his rookie season he had 8 points in 61 games and was named the team's Co-Rookie of the Year. He found the ability to add some offense to his game this past season, picking up 33 points in 68 games.

If you're only as good as the company you keep, he's doing just fine. His primary defensive partner was Kings prospect (and OHL Defenseman of the Year) Jake Muzzin. And another member of that team's d-core is Brock Beukeboom, who is also expected to go in the first half of the draft this weekend (we'll have an interview with him up sometime tomorrow).

To balance all the hype, it should be noted that Archibald's draft combine scores for fitness were not at the elite level.  Not saying he isn't in good shape, only noting that he placed in the top-10 in only three of the 31 tests given. What does that mean about his ability to play in the NHL? Nothing.

It's widely expected that this draft will be a real coming out party for American born players.  Archibald looks to be part of that high-end U.S. contingent - having already played for Team USA internationally, he was invited to attend the upcoming World Jr evaluation camp later this summer.

His interview with The Mayor gives you a glimpse into the mind of a kid that grew up a Red Wings fan and is now headed to this weekend's draft in LA...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Draft 2010: Interview with Ivan Telegin

The LA Kings know all about having a Russian forward on the team. For seven seasons now Alexander Frolov has been a key component in the rebuilding of the team. It's also the only NHL team he's ever known. Ironically, less than a week before he prepares to possibly depart the team via free agency, another high powered Russian forward could be joining the franchise.

As of now, GM Dean Lombardi's first pick in the draft will be at #19. One slot earlier than when Frolov was a first round selection back in 2000.

In addition to the slew of North American players vying to be picked, there are five Russians that may still be on the board when Lombardi and crew are given the mic on the draft podium.

Vladimir Tarasenko, Evengy Kuznetsov and Maxim Kitsyn are the three "pure" Russians in the group, in the sense that they play over there. Stanislav Galiev and Ivan Telegin have already begun their adjustment to North America by playing Canadian Junior Hockey this past season.

Telegin is a 6'2" left wing playing for the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL.  Interestingly enough, if he hadn't decided to come over from Russia, he'd be on the same team back home with Kitsyn.

The paths of all five have crossed throughout their youth in the Russian national program and most of them will meet up again at the World Junior Championships next winter.  For now though, they aren't a unit, they're five individuals looking to be drafted by NHL teams.

So while the debate rages on about how to individually rank the Super Five, James Paliafito - the Director of Scouting for Telegin's OHL team - had this to say about the player he knows best "Ivan works as hard as any player in the game. Always the first to the puck and very accountable in all three zones. He will score goals and win all of his battles on the boards. Great in front of the net where he enjoys physical contact. Ivan is superb on the power play; he has the ability to deflect shots as well as shoot without much preparation.”

Like his game on the ice, Telegin has been working hard to improve his communication as well. Through his broken English and the Mayor's broken Russian, they had the following conversation...

DRAFT 2010: Interiew with Taylor Aronson

It only seems appropriate that the draft be held in Los Angeles this year. While the NHL's signature event is usually reserved for cities in the northeast, the league has spent the better part of two decades tyring to establish a strong footprint in the southwest.

It seems to be working - with kids from Arizona, Texas and Nevada expected to be drafted this weekend. Even more impressive is the strong representation of players with ties to Southern California - including forwards Emerson Etem (Long Beach), Beau Bennett (Gardena), Jason Zucker (LA Selects) and Jake Fallon (former LAHC player). There's also a pair of defenseman Brandon Underwood (San Diego) and Taylor Aronson (Placentia) among others.

Yesterday we posted an interview with Underwood (available here). Today we're back to share a conversation between The Mayor and Taylor Aronson.

He's a kid that's ranked #88 by NHL Central Scouting, not bad for a player from California - where some people say the hockey choices are limited for youngsters.

Aronson has found no shortage of opportunities to date though, including being a first round selection in the USHL junior hockey draft last year.  He ultimately passed on that opportunity, as well as U.S. college hockey, to head north and play for the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.

That's an important part of his story, as he played this past season on a 'Hawks team that was the darling of many scouts and media, due to having five players ranked in this draft's top-100.  One could even argue that perhaps he'd be getting more attention if it weren't for the stellar play of his teammates Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Johansen - who are both expected to be long gone by the time the Kings pick at #19 in the first round.

Taylor will probably go a few rounds later.  Yet, whichever team gets him can thank the Kings, in small part, for helping...he says the Kings and Wayne Gretzky inspired him to start playing when he was younger.  See what else he has to say...

Talk about growing up playing hockey in California. What are some of the challenges in playing a non-traditional SoCal sport? And what motivated you to keep playing when most of your classmates were probably playing baseball or football?

DRAFT2010: Interview with agent Kyle Dubas

Question: What do Kings prospects Jonathan Bernier, Kyle Clifford and Andrew Campbell all have in common?

Besides being drafted by Dean Lombardi!

Answer: They're all represented by Uptown Sports Management, Inc...and one of their primary points of contact is agent Kyle Dubas.

There is so much more to the draft than just the players being selected. Sure, you have the stories about the scouts that have followed them. You also have GM's trying to forecast the short and long term needs of their teams. However, often one of the untold stories is that of that guy that is privately linked to the draftee...his agent.

And it's not just contract negotiations that a player uses his agent for anymore. For example, Uptown also has the ability to assist their players with individual marketing, financial planning, professional development, tax preparation...all the way up to post-career counseling.

Not exactly what you get when watching Jerry Maguire, huh?

In the interview below, The Mayor talks with Kyle about his background, a few of the players he has in this year's draft, dealing with kids wanting to play pro hockey, their parents, Kings prospects, junior hockey vs. college hockey, former Ducks coach Craig Hartsburg and some other stuff you'll like.

Monday, June 21, 2010

NHL DRAFT 2010: Interview with prospect Charlie Coyle

Every kid selected in this year's draft will have his own story to tell.

In this prospect profile we get to know somebody that could be tailor made for the Los Angeles Kings in the first round.  Charlie Coyle is ranked #24 by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau.  His favorite off-ice activity?  Working out.  His coaches say the 6'2" forward is a strong, powerful skater who protects the puck real well along the boards.  Teams around the league have taken notice too, as he had already met with 15 of them prior to the NHL Combine last month.

And for a star driven town like LA, how about this little gem of info - his celebrity look-alike...Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers. mock drafts have him going late in the first round, so he should be there at #19 when the Kings pick (assuming Dean Lombardi hasn't already traded it away for something different).

Charlie spoke with The Mayor about his past, present and future as he heads towards the NHL Draft later this week.

First off, who got you started in hockey?

Everybody on my dad's side of the family plays hockey.  I'm cousins with (former NHLers) Tony Amonte and Bobby Sheehan.

As a player, when did you start to realize "Hey, people are really starting to pay attention to me"?

DRAFT2010: Interview with Brandon Underwood

It's finally here. Draft week 2010.

Over the last decade, off the ice, the Kings have tried putting their stamp on the league - they opened a state of the art arena downtown, hosted the NHL All Star Game in 2002...and are back at it this week, front and center, hosting the draft.

People from around the world of hockey will be descending upon Staples Center later this week, as all 30 NHL teams will select players over seven rounds. Of the 200+ players that will be chosen, only about 40-50 will make the NHL.

Mayors Manor will have plenty of draft info to get you primed throughout the week. We'll have interviews with several people involved in the draft - we'll have Canadian kids, American kids, Russian kids, player agents - all sorts of different people.

Don't worry, we'll get to some of the kids looking to be drafted in the first round in future articles. In honor of the draft being in LA, let's start with some California Love. A kid at the other end of the rankings. NHL Central Scouting has him listed as #196 out of 210 players. That projects him out as a seventh round draft pick.

So what's so special about him? Well, for starters he's from right here in Southern California. He also played for the Jr. Kings before moving on to Kamloops of the WHL this past season.

Brandon Underwood, a 6'3" defenseman, connected with the Mayor over the weekend to talk about his past, present and future leading up to next weekend's draft.  For added flavor, he also had a few things to say about some of the Kings current prospects.

Coming from San Diego, a town not exactly known for hockey, how did you get you started in the sport?