Saturday, November 27, 2010

DVR Alert - The Trade That Changed Hockey

Make sure you set your DVR for early Sunday morning, as ESPN Classic will be showing an encore presentation of a film that's a must see for all hockey fans, 'Kings Ransom'.

"(It's) an LA Story. It's about a meandering franchise suddenly becoming one of the hottest tickets in sports thanks to a single athlete."

That's what Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports wrote about the mini-film / documentary when he originally reviewed it last year.

By now you know the high level points - Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski were traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings for $15 million in cash and three of LA's 1st round draft picks (1989, 1991, and 1993).

Here, you'll see detailed information about how the trade happened, why it happened and the moments when it almost fell apart. Former Kings owner Bruce McNall, former Oilers owner Peter Pocklington and Gretzky himself offer up vivid details of the event that will forever be remembered as 'the trade' in hockey, perhaps all of sports.

...And Now You're Caught Up

Now that everybody has had their turkey and a day of shopping it's time to get back to hockey.

In no particular order, here are the ten things you need to know heading into the game tonight:

* Brayden Schenn scored his first two professional goals last night in a 7-2 win for the Manchester Monarchs (AHL). Kings GM Dean Lombardi was recently quoted as saying he expects Schenn to stay there for the full two week conditioning assignment. He's more than half way home now, with his final game expected to be Sunday.

* The Kings put John Zeiler on re-entry waivers (per Bob McKenzie of TSN). That's a somewhat curious move.

* Defenseman Alec Martinez was called up a few days ago. If you missed it, be sure to check out '10 Tidbits on Alec Martinez', you'll be well versed in the young blueliner.

* Dustin Brown visited the gang from Yo Gabba Gabba yesterday during their live performance across the street from Staples Center. Video of him doing the Peanut Butter Stomp is available here.

* In more Brown news, he's moving to left wing tonight to make room for the newest option/solution/choice at right wing, Wayne Simmonds. The second line remains the same. And the Colonel, Kyle Clifford, moves up to the third line.  (nickname story here)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bernier a perdu une bataille! Mais Bernier n'a pas perdu la guerre!

Just a slight twist on the more famous quote where Charles de Gaulle said France has lost the battle, but she has not lost the war.

Jonathan Bernier has yet to find his groove this season.

Further, for people expecting a goalie controversy in LA, it hasn't materialized.

Yes, he was a first round draft pick. Yes, he was the AHL Goaltender of the Year last season. And yes, he went 3-0 during his brief appearances with the Kings last year - including a shutout in Nashville.

However, Coach Terry Murray went out of his way over the summer to remind everybody Jonathan Quick was the starting netminder entering this season.

Just a few months ago, the thought of having two strong players available to fill the crease on any given night seemed a very real possibility though.  Kelly Hrudey, the Kings' goalie when they faced off against the Montreal Canadiens in 1993 for the Stanley Cup, said "what a great scenario" when asked about the tandem.

10 Tidbits on Alec Martinez

Alec Martinez won't subtly return to the NHL tonight. He'll be joining a Kings team that's lost four of their last five games.

He'll also be facing some small little club you may have heard of, the Montreal Canadiens. Outside of Toronto, it may just be the most hockey crazed market in North America.

Fortunately for him, with just four games of NHL experience, he'll probably go under the radar for most of the local media. Besides, their big story heading into the game is named Jonathan Bernier.

Using our popular 10 Tidbits format, here is some information to help you get to know the newest addition to the Kings blueline this season...

* First off, you'll be glad to know his nickname isn't 'Ally.' According to Corey Elkins, his teammate in Manchester (AHL), they call him 'Marty.' After it was announced Martinez would join the team this week I asked Elkins about his recent play with the Monarchs and he said "Marty has been awesome on the power play for us. He takes smart shots that get through traffic and moves the puck real well. Its fun to watch." Coach Terry Murray is probably hoping he'll be fun to watch for the Kings!

* He's spent the last two years with Manchester, sans his brief time in LA last season. His rookie year in the AHL (2008-09) he posted eight goals and added 15 assists in 72 games. Then, last season, he led all defenseman with 30 points (7g, 23a...while playing in only 55 games!). Prior to his call up yesterday he was a plus-four in 20 games and his 16 points (5g, 11a) were leading ALL players on the team.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

POLL: At the Quarter Pole

After last night's game in Ottawa the Kings have reached the magical quarter pole.

Over the summer, Kings GM Dean Lombardi predicted you wouldn't see him make a major roster move until about this time. He first wanted to see how things developed. Now that he's had a chance to survey the cards, some shuffling may take place in the weeks to come.

Until then, how about a survey... The Kings started hot. However, the worm has turned, with them losing four of the last five games.

Before we get to Montreal tomorrow, what's been your favorite moment of the season so far?

Poll closes Friday morning.

The Mayor


Jonathan Quick  *  Willie Mitchell  *  Ryan Smyth  *  Dustin Brown  *  Home Opener


Monday, November 22, 2010

LA-OTT Game Preview w/ Ottawa's Chris Neil

The Kings are preparing to take on a fairly unfamiliar opponent later today in the Ottawa Senators. Over five plus seasons since the lockout they've only met four times, with LA winning the last three.

One of the game-within-the-game stories for tonight is Chris Neil, who will be celebrating 600 games in the National Hockey League.

Earlier today I spoke with Chris about his special achievement, tough guys in the league and preparing for the Kings...

MM: Looking back, your first NHL game was against the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Any thoughts about how you're feeling today versus how you might have been feeling that afternoon?

CN:  Playing my first game against Toronto - you don't even remember touching the ice, you're so wound up and excited with your adrenaline going.  After the first period you sort of settle in and you get your groove.  I think to be coming up on 600 games after not even really realizing you're in your first NHL game it's pretty exciting.

In an unusual twist you'll be sharing the milestone with your linemate Jarkko Ruutu (also celebrating 600 games). Have you ever heard of a situation where linemates share a milestone like this?