Saturday, October 9, 2010

Predictions for the 2010-11 NHL Season! What if....

They say it's best to go out on a high note. John Elway did it. Very few others have.

In my case, some probably think I should stay away from predictions from this point forward.

Prior to the puck dropping on last season, I perfectly called the Kings finishing in sixth place (link is here for you Doubting Thomases). Most thought I was crazy for even thinking that at the time, as the mainstream hockey media had the Kings sneaking in around 8th...if they even made the playoffs at all.

Boy have times changed. The Kings are one of the trendy picks coming into this season. It's hard to believe, yet some even have them winning the Stanley Cup this year. Now, I'm not going to go that far (just yet).

However, after carefully reading the tea leaves, consulting with Sylvia Browne and having my palm read on Venice Beach yesterday, I'm ready. Below are my predictions for the 2010-11 season.

Western Conference

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rob Blake joining the NHL Front Office?

Following up on our Season Preview article that posted earlier today, Pierre LeBrun (of ESPN) had some additional news to share...

It looks like former Kings defenseman, Rob Blake, may soon be joining the NHL's front office.

All indications were pointing to him possibly taking a job with the San Jose Sharks now that he's retired. However, LeBrun says hold everything. Another offer may be in the works.

This position could even lead to him revamping one of the NHL's marquee events.

Intrigued? I was...

MM: You recently broke news that Rob Blake might be joining the NHL front office. What's the story there?

Season Preview w/ Pierre LeBrun of ESPN / HNIC

So, you think you love the Kings?

Well, if you live in LA, you're thinking too small.

Pierre LeBrun is taking his admiration all across the U.S. and Canada via outlets like ESPN and the CBC's Hockey Night in Canada.

The veteran hockey journalist has some serious love for the Kings this season and he's not shy about it. Even though he's a self-admitted metal head, due to his soft spot for John Mellencamp let's just say that what he's feeling for the Kings right now Hurts So Good.

Too cheesy? Fine!

In this exclusive MayorsManor interview he shares his opinions and discoveries from a recent trip through camps in Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose and Vancouver. It's the latest in our Season Preview series - today we're joined by Pierre LeBrun...

MM: As you went on your training camp tour, what was the most surprising thing you observed with the Kings?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Season Preview w/ NHL Insider Kevin Allen

It's safe to say that Kevin Allen knows a thing or two about hockey. He's been covering the sport since the early 80's - including nearly 25 years for USA Today - and is a featured guest each week on NHL Home Ice (radio and television), as one of their NHL Insiders.

Today, he brings his view on the game and upcoming season to MayorsManor for an exclusive season preview.

Of course, we'll get into all the big issues in the Western Conference -covering topics like why did the Ducks keep Cam Fowler in Anaheim, what should the Sharks do with Joe Thornton, can the Coyotes have another 100-point season, which free agent signing last year was a major bust, who will and won't go through sophomore slumps, did the 'Hawks lose too many players, are the 'Wings too old and much more.

First though, we just had to find out how in the world he lists Slap Shot so far down the list of the best sports movies of all time. Not even top five? Really?

MM: Slap Shot only made it to #9 on your list of the greatest sports movies. How is that even possible?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Season Preview with Kelly Hrudey of HNIC

Continuing with our season previews this week, we visit with another returning guest from last year - former NHL goaltender and long time LA Kings fan favorite, Kelly Hrudey.

Fans here probably remember him best as the blue bandana wearing goalie from the '93 Stanley Cup Finals. Yet, north of the border he's been a member of the legendary Hockey Night in Canada crew for over a decade now, both on television and satellite radio. Thus, the man loves to talk about hockey!

In fact, Hrudey's plans for his post-NHL career were so well known towards the the end of his playing days, Dean Lombardi (then with the Sharks) once asked him "Why do I want to sign a 35-year old goalie who wants to be a broadcaster?"

In the interview below, we lean on his experience between he pipes to get some perspective on several goaltending related issues going on around the league, as well as some predictions for the Western and Eastern Conference standings.

MM: Roberto Luongo recently relinquished the captaincy in Vancouver.  What do you think about goaltenders wearing the 'C'?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Jersey Numerology

Among the many things that separate hockey from other sports are fans' obsessions with jersey numbers. It's just not something that the average baseball enthusiast, for example, makes a big deal out of.

Hockey is different though.

Earlier today the Kings announced number changes for their latest fab five - Jake Muzzin, Brayden Schenn, Andrei Loktionov, Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis (well, I guess that's more like a fab four, plus Lewis)...anyway, as Vince Vaughn's character, Trent, might say in the movie Swingers - the babies are all growns up.

Here are a few little historical tidbits on the changes:

* Schenn will wear #10 - this was previously worn by Terry Ruskowski (who served as the Kings captain prior to Dave Taylor taking over the C in 1985) was also the first jersey number assigned to to Bernie Nichols, before he eventually ended up with his more popular #9...Warren Rychel wore it during the magical '92-93 season...Don MacLean wore it for his five game stint with the team in 1997 (coming off the training camp where he scored the first goal in Frozen Fury history)...and Steve Carlson wore it in the '79-80 season - he's better known as a member of the Hanson Brothers in the movie Slap Shot.

2010 Season Preview w/ ESPN's John Buccigross

All week long we'll be talking with people around the world of hockey to get their take on the upcoming NHL season. Prior to posting my predictions later this week, we'll check in with experts from places like Hockey Night in Canada and USA Today.

Kicking things off though - making his second trip into MayorsManor - is ESPN hockey guru John Buccigross.

Last summer, Buccigross endeared himself to Kings fans while hosting the inaugural HockeyFest at LA Live, when he proclaimed the team would be returning to the playoffs. Then, he backed off those statements just a few weeks later in his ESPN article. So, of course, he was a natural to bring in last fall. Kings fans wanted answers on his about face. To his credit, he owned it, admitting he wasn't sold on their goaltending.

Of course, the Kings did make the playoffs. In the article below we'll see what he thinks about that, as well as look at some of the burning issues around the Pacific Division.

MM: After flip-flopping your opinion on the Kings and then seeing them in the playoffs, what do you think was the big difference for them and why did they end up having such a good regular season?

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 Eddie Joyal Award - winner announced

The hockey world has many sayings.

Over the last few years, one of the more popular ones is 'You have to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win.' It was applied to the Penguins - who lost to Detroit in the Cup finals and then came back the following year to win it all. It's also been used when talking about the Blackhawks run to the Cup this past June. Many people are even predicting the Canucks to win the Cup this year, with part of the thinking being they now know how to lose.

This probably isn't one one of those cases. Nonetheless, Jack Johnson bounced back from being a bridesmaid last year, to this year's Eddie Joyal Award winner.

Named after an early star with the Kings (who actually picked up two assists in the team's very first pre-season game on September 18, 1967), the award honors the Kings player scoring the most points during preseason.

Last year, Anze Kopitar beat out Johnson and Wayne Simmonds for the honor.

Entering play last night, Johnson and Kopitar were tied for the lead.  So with Kopitar sitting out the game in Anaheim, it was essentially Jack's to lose.  However, a four point night by Michal Handzus or Justin Williams could have made things much more interesting.  Neither happened.

Johnson picked up an assist in the game, thus breaking the tie with Kopitar.  With the helper, he finished the preseason with seven points (2 goals, 5 assists).  Worth noting is the fact that Jack had the exact same totals in last year's exhibition play...however that was over six games, versus just four this year.

He's now a winner.

Congratulations to Jack Johnson - the 2010 Eddie Joyal Award winner.

The Mayor


Jack Johnson - comments from Las Vegas

2009 Joyal Award winner announcement

Odds for the 2010 Joyal Award

History of the Joyal Award

Sunday, October 3, 2010

2010 Eddie Joyal Award - post Frozen Fury update

As the expression goes...It all comes down to this!

After two-point performances from Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson in Las Vegas, the race for the 2010 Eddie Joyal Award will be decided tonight.

Unfortunately, it won't be a fair fight. Coach Murray will be resting Kopitar. So, Jack - currently tied atop the leaderboard with six points - will have the advantage.

Even seeing their two names among the challengers for the award is somewhat surprising. Sure, in a normal situation, either would be a strong bet to be a top point producer on the team. However, with the Kings playing a shortened six game pre-season schedule, this year appeared to be anything but status quo.

For starters, there was the spilt squad series with Phoenix. Meaning, the most games any one player could participate in was down to five. That said, heading into game one Kopitar would have been a strong bet to repeat as the Joyal winner...and Johnson, who barely lost out on the award last year, had to be a heavy favorite as well.

Then came word that neither player would travel to Colorado for the first pre-season game - reducing their possible game total to four.

When Kopitar didn't register a point in his first pre-season game last Thursday vs. the Coyotes, his chances of going back-to-back weren't looking good.