Friday, August 20, 2010

Future Fridays - Interview with NHL prospect Nick Bjugstad

On a Saturday afternoon earlier this summer, things were lining up perfectly. Almost too perfectly.

Twenty one summers prior, Scott Bjugstad signed with the Kings after spending one season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.  While he scored only five goals over the next three years in Los Angeles, it still allowed him entry into a very small club - players who could say they were teammates with Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.

Two decades later, as the first round of this year's NHL draft reached pick #15, Nick Bjugstad was still available.  Scott's nephew could possibly be taken by his former team at #19...he just needed to survive four more picks.

Then, there was a buzz on the floor at Staples Center, followed by the Commissioner announcing a trade.  The Kings had worked a deal to acquire Florida's #15 selection.  Had Dean Lombardi just traded up to take the 6'5" center?

No, he ended up taking another defenseman - Derek Forbort.  However, in a twist of irony, Nick Bjugstad was taken by the Florida Panthers in the #19 slot, the one originally owned by the Kings.

Adding to the confusion, Nick says "After the draft I heard from several people that thought I was taken by the Kings, instead of selected in the spot the Kings traded out of. And some other people I know thought I was traded to LA right after I was drafted.  It was a little crazy at first."

That June weekend was just another of the many high points Nick has experienced this year.  A few months prior he won the 'Mr. Hockey' Award as the top player in the state of Minnesota.  Just a few weeks ago he was one of the stars at the Team USA evaluation camp for the upcoming World Jr Championships.  And next month he'll start classes at the University of Minnesota, his dream school.

In the interview below he opens up, taking us on a journey from his early days on the ice to his whirlwind summer.  There's another Bjugstad headed to the NHL, get to know Nick...

As you look back now to those early days, what's the most vivid memory that really stands out in your mind?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tuesday's 10 Tidbits - Turning the Page

At what point is last season really over? Was it when the Kings were eliminated from the playoffs? Was it draft weekend, with it's heavy emphasis on the future? Was it July 1st, when the free agency window opened? Perhaps, it's when training camp finally opens in a few weeks.

If the truth is somewhere in between all those points, let's try to put a bow on the 2009-10 campaign once and for all...with a partial tribute to the season that was.

Along with a special 'thank you' to the numerous guests that graciously donated their time this year for interviews...we proudly look back at 10 Tidbits from the past 10 months...

1. October 2009 - The Mayor's predictions on where the Kings would finish and why, it's all right special correspondent Jim Fox's first High / Low article, he calls out Drew Doughty for his "worst game as a King."...Clean up on Aisle 11 - Anze Kopitar scores his first career hat trick and the Kings create a mess of their own on the ice as well...10 Tidbits on Scott Parse - yet another college hockey player gets a chance to play in LA.

2.  November 2009 - Remembering a Rivalry - preview of the Calgary Flames vs. LA Kings...What Shoulda Been - Ryan Smyth, the Kings and the Oilers.

3.  December 2009 - Interview w/ Mike Modano - on the eve of a Kings-Stars game Mo' looks back at his career...Interview w/ Ethan Moreau - the Oilers captain offers up a special preview of the LA-Edmonton game and talks about his near-nude photo shoot for ESPN.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Minutes in the Box with... Bobby Ryan

They say that retail is in the details. And while it might not have the same ring to it, hockey is in the numbers.

Take number nine for example, it's one of the most famous digits in hockey. Gordie Howe wore it. So did Rocket Richard and Bobby Hull.  More recently, Mike Modano built a Hall of Fame career in Dallas as #9.

According to Marcel Dionne, he almost wore it here in LA.  If original Kings' owner Jack Kent Cooke had gotten his way, there'd be a different number hanging in the rafters at Staples Center right now.

Across town in the OC, the original Mighty Duck - Paul Kariya - wore it back when he called The Pond home.

These days, Bobby Ryan wears it in Anaheim...and if everything works out as planned, he'll continue to wear it there for many years to come.  For now, he's working on some other numbers, as in contract numbers. The team and his agent continue to discuss terms - number nine reportedly wants a three year deal, versus the team's preference of five years - with nothing agreed upon just yet.

In a move that caught some people by surprise though, Ryan recently attended the launch party for Dustin Brown's new DLO-23 line through Combat Sports.  Even for an event held in Anaheim, seeing a Ducks player out supporting the Kings' captain was a bit curious at first.  In reality, he was there as a fellow member of the Team USA hockey program.  The two "hit it off" during the Olympics, thus he "didn't hesitate" when Brown invited him to come down.

So, thanks to D-LO, we had the opportunity to catch up with Bobby Ryan and get his take on a few finer points of the Kings-Ducks rivalry...after, of course, first touching on his Team USA experience.

Let's start with the Olympics...excluding Brown, who you're now friends with...who was another guy on the team that you learned something about and came away impressed?