Saturday, September 17, 2011

LA Kings Training Camp 2011: Matt Greene gets serious

Brace yourself, this is a serious Matt Greene.

Don't worry, he'll be back on MayorsManor soon enough with more of his hilarious takes on his teammates, the game of hockey, music and a myriad of topics.

However, on day one of training camp, we talked all business...

On the difference between today and what's been going on the last week or so with the Kings volunteer workouts - "Structure. When you're skating on your own, there's really no structure, You're just kind of playing shinny and you don't really know where anybody is. Here, when you're doing drills, you know where people are going to be and you can get your head up. You make plays without really looking because you're getting back into the system. It's a lot easier for a guy like me, who's not really creative. If guys are in position, it's a lot easier for me to play the game."

What kinks in his game is he trying to work out? "Everything, just laziness. When you skate during the summer, a lot of laziness just creeps into your game. You have that extra second because guys aren't really working that hard. Then, you get out here and you have to make sure you're on your game right away. No extra stick handles. Really just taking the rust out of your game - just making sure skating gets back to normal and making quick decisions and getting your hands quicker."

On working with the three rookie defensemen trying to make the team this year - "Whoever you're out there with you're going to give advice to. But, I think in times like this, you're learning as much as you are hopefully giving to them. You see Slava (Voynov)'s puck skills, that's something that's pretty special. If I can pick up a couple things from him, even real minor, I'll be better off for it. You're always learning from each other. That's part of the organization. If you can help anybody with anything - if Willie Mitchell sees something or Rob Scuderi sees something positionally, where they can help me - hopefully they tell me and vise-versa with Muzzin, Slava and Hickey. If you can pass anything on, I don't think guys are going to hesitate to do it."

On the feel in camp this season - "There's a different feel coming into camp compared to any team I've ever been on. This is by far the most buzz, we as players, have put on ourselves compared to any team I've ever been on - from juniors all the way up. I think everybody in here realizes what we have and the chance we have to really do something good. So, speaking for myself, I don't want to be the weak link on this team because we have a real long list of guys who can get the job done. We have a lot of real components and I think, me personally, just in talking to the other guys on the team, everyone wants to be a catalyst here - rather than a guy who is the reason why this didn't work. I think guys are real excited and I think guys are ready to bring their 'A' game."

Now, all of that said, if you need a taste of Greene's comedy, check out one of these articles:

Matt Greene tattoos his Kings teammates

Matt Greene calls out Dustin Penner and Ethan Moreau

Both of those articles should be required reading for all Kings fans.

The Mayor

LA Kings Training Camp 2011: Penner and team conditioning

Although today is the advertised start of training camp, truth be told, it started yesterday with off-ice strength and conditioning tests.

Continuing with our 'stripped down' approach to today's Kings Training Camp quotes, here are some thoughts from Dustin Penner, Dustin Brown and coach Terry Murray...

Murray on the test results from yesterday - "Overall conditioning, the results were good. We dd the off-ice and on-ice testing. Most importantly for me, the actual hockey test - the on-ice test - was really good. The times, the heart rate recovery, that's what I look at as a primary number. And I'm seeing a real good look from every player that came into camp."

Murray on the shape Dustin Penner is in - "He really did put a lot of work in during the summertime. There's a recovery rate that's going to allow me to get him back on the ice in another shift. And that's what it's all about - getting your best players out there as often as possible."

Dustin Brown on testing - "I tested pretty well, I think. I don't know. I haven't really seen all my scores yet. It's one of those days where you're glad it's over when it's over because it's probably the least liked day of the hockey season."

Kings Training Camp 2011: the 'all injured players' quotes

It was a long, long day at the rink for day one of the Kings 2011 Training Camp.

There is just way too much info to get though tonight. However, knowing that people want to read some quotes, I'm going to post some guerrilla style threads. These wont have the normal MayorsManor polish and presentation. Just straight up quote-fests.

First up, here's a collection of quotes from and about players coming off injuries - including Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Scott Parse and Trent Hunter.

Coach Terry Murray - "Kopitar is 100%, as far as recovery. He's looking really good. He's skating, he's strong, he's enthusiastic. He wanted to get going even before I ended the video session actually. He said to me, 'It's been a long time since I've played.' So, I was real happy with what I saw."

Murray on Parse - "Scotty Parse had the hip surgery at the early part of (last) year. He's skating well and looks real good...He's a player that I was hoping for a big year from last year on the offensive part of things. That's clearly what he brings to us. A nice touch around the net, he's very creative below the hash marks in the offensive zone and it was unfortunate for the injury. But, he has put in a hard summer and a lot of work. I'm going to watch very closely and probably play him in every one of the exhibition games. Then, we'll see how things move along."

More from coach Murray - "Trent Hunter is here on a (tryout contract), coming off a very serious injury. He hurt himself about the middle of November last year. It didn't respond to therapy, so he had the operation. After being bought out by New Jersey, it was a great opportunity for us to bring in a veteran player and give ourselves the depth that's good to have in training camp...He's an experienced, veteran guy and hopefully he gets some good looks here. I'm going to play him in some exhibition games. If his game is on track, maybe he cracks the line-up here."

Hunter on his knee - "It feels really good. I worked hard over the summer to get it back to where it needs to be. It feels strong and I don't even notice out there. So, I'm excited to be back on the ice, that's for sure...I've had two or three physicals over the last couple of months, they've all seen the same thing - that it's healthy and good. I'm ready to go."

Williams on his shoulder - "It's been over four months now. So, there's no issue at all. There's no hesitation, the shoulder is fine and I feel good...I've been through enough injuries that I'm able to bounce back and get myself mentality ready to play hockey. Pre-season will be important for me, like it will be for a lot of guys."

Next up will be some quotes on Dustin Penner and the overall conditioning of the current Kings roster.

The Mayor

Matt Greene calls out Dustin Penner and Ethan Moreau

It was bound to happen sooner or later.

When you get a bunch of big personalities in one room, it's not always he who barks the loudest is the toughest.

For the past few months, the debate has raged on in Los Angeles - or at least among pockets of Kings fans - who is funnier, Matt Greene or Dustin Penner.

Greene perhaps gave one his best performances while recommending tattoos for his teammates in this article here back in June.

Penner then went big and took on the NHL Marketing Department, the environment and even the NBA with his epic blast early in the summer.

Once another former Oiler, Ethan Moreau, was added to the roster a few weeks ago, it didn't take him long to weigh-in on the issue. In fact, he wanted to throw his hat in the ring for the crown - claiming they both stole his material when they left Edmonton.

Now, with training camp getting underway and another (at least) seven to eight months of male bonding about to begin, Greene wanted to set the record straight...

"Chops (Chopper, aka Moreau) has been ridding my coattails for years. It's amazing. I think the only reason he wanted me to hang out with him when i was a rookie in Edmonton - obviously, he already knew I was funnier than him," Greene began.

"We started hanging out and the next thing you know, I walk into the locker room after I was talking to Chop in the back - you know, being a quite rookie. All the sudden, the locker room erupts into laughter. Next thing I see, he's stealing my jokes, right away. Taking everything I said, coming back out with it like it's his."

Oh, he wasn't done...

Dustin Brown not buying he lacks chemistry with Kopitar

Kopitar and Brown (photo: M. Zampelli)
Line combinations - they were one of the most popular topics in Los Angeles hockey circles last year.

With head coach Terry Murray back behind the bench for the Kings, things will probably continue that way. He's never met a line combination he hasn't liked - at least for a few shifts.

With training camp opening today, team captain Dustin Brown expects more of the same. In fact, he says he's even been joking about it with one of his teammates.

"Terry likes to juggle and Willy (Justin Williams) and I have already been talking about how we're going to be like numbers he's pulling out of a hat," Brown said, referencing who might play right wing on the top line.

Muray's preference is to put guys in pairs - like Dustin Penner and Anze Kopitar on the top line, Mike Richards and Simon and Gagne on the second line. Thus, all kidding aside, it most likely will be Brown and Williams rotating between those two lines on any given night.

"When you have guys who are interchangeable it makes things pretty easy," Brown added.

And interchangeable is exactly what he thinks he is, not buying into any of the critics who say he's lacked chemistry with Kopitar in the past.

Friday, September 16, 2011

LA Kings Training Camp 2011 - Player Groups A, B and C

Saturday morning at 8:30 am the Los Angeles Kings - well, about one-third of them - will take the ice in El Segundo for the opening of the team's main training camp.

Over two dozen of the participants have been in Rookie Camp for the last week or so and the majority of other players and have been around the training facility, working out on a volunteer basis, for the last few weeks as well.

Now, it's all for real.

Saturday's schedule:

Group A – Practice – 8:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Group A – Practice – 10:20 – 11:00 a.m.
Group A – Skate - 11:05 – 11:30 a.m.

Group B – Practice – 11:20 – 12:50 p.m.
Group B – Practice – 1:10 – 1:50 p.m.
Group B – Skate - 1:55 – 2:20 p.m.

Group C – Practice – 2:10 – 3:40 p.m.
Group C – Practice – 4:00 – 4:40 p.m.
Group C – Skate - 4:45 – 5:10 p.m.

Practice is on the main ice, skate sessions are on the Olympic rink.  Sunday's schedule will be group B, C, then A.  Monday will be C, A, B.

The entire training camp roster has been divided as follows:

Simon Gagne likes what he sees so far, even the travel

Which one is Gagne?
Simon Gagne was one of several big-time additions to the Los Angeles Kings roster this summer, even if his arrival has been somewhat lost in the shuffle. Signing on July 2nd, he fell between the blockbuster trade for Mike Richards, the heavy pursuit of Brad Richards and last month's arrival of Ethan Moreau.

Bringing him in at left wing could be seen as a solution to a collection of ongoing issues, including - one, replacing Alexander Frolov's points (51) from 2009-10 with Alexi Ponikarovsy's output this past season (15 points - yes, you read that right) didn't work out...two, there isn't a lot of depth in the Kings' pipeline over on the left side...three, with left wing Ryan Smyth requesting a trade back to Edmonton this summer, the apparent hole became even worse.

Enter Gagne, who says the Kings tried to get him once before - right before he went to Tampa Bay. No worries though, perhaps his time there was just a training period to get him ready for the travel schedule he'll now endure in the Western Conference.

"I'll get used to it as the season goes on. Plus, if you look at the travel we had last year in Tampa Bay, there was a lot of it. I was talking with some people who work here with the Kings and it looks like the travel we did in Tampa was similar to what the Kings did last year," said Gagne.

"So, it's tough. It will take time, I know that - with the time change being the hardest thing to adjust to, I'm sure. But, at the same time, I'm here for two years. So, I have no choice. It's about finding a way to take care of yourself - like, having good sleep, making sure you're eating well and stuff like that."

One place he's never traveled to for a hockey game is Las Vegas - a place he says he didn't even know the Kings were scheduled to play a pre-season game when he first agreed to terms with the club.

Jim Fox using gray area to create mental health awareness

Fox at The Guidance Center event last week
Like the Kings' new jerseys, Jim Fox is a black and white guy.

"I'm usually on one side or the other, little gray area," said Fox. "The thing that intrigues me about wine is there's a lot of gray area. There are so many different elements to learn about, think about and educate yourself about - so, it's tough to make a choice or be black and white with wine."

Perhaps, the same could be said for mental health issues.  And last week, Fox used his extensive knowledge of one to help raise awareness for the other.

Although his work with the youth-focused Guidance Center may not have a direct link to his other passion - hockey - he's able to draw some parallels there too.

"We're seeing mental health issues being discussed now in the NHL," began Fox. "That's always been an interest of mine, the mental part of the game - whether it's the positives or the negatives - and the struggles that everyone has."

Specific to The Guidance Center, Fox has a long standing relationship with the group's Executive Director, Patricia Costales. After years of trying to come up with a way to get more involved, last week's wine tasting event in Long Beach seems to have brought it all together.

The event sold-out well in advance and raised over $26,000.

"Trish works with kids who aren't getting help. They need a place like the Guidance Center to get that help," said Fox.

So, he's not only encouraged by the strong turnout and show of support, but also by a greater openness for society at large to talk about issues they may be facing.

"It's something that I think we're all getting better with. We're starting to talk about mental health issues. It's an illness. It's something that can be treated - sometimes you get better, sometimes you don't. But, you can treat it. Trish and everyone involved at The Guidance Center are a big part of that, trying to get people better."

Just like it takes a team of people at The Guidance Center to make a difference, Fox needed some help from his friends to make the wine tasting event more attractive to potential ticket buyers.

VIDEO: LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi on Doughty, rookies

Daryl Evans spoke with Los Angeles Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi earlier today - among the topics: holdout defenseman Drew Doughty and the just completed Rookie Camp. Take a look...

If you'd like to win a pair of lower bowl seats for this coming Wednesday's pre-season game at Staples Center, featuring the Kings vs. the Coyotes, visit for all the details.

The Mayor  

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POLL: Most impressive King in Rookie Camp game two?

After the Kings-Coyotes first rookie game on Wednesday night, readers of MayorsManor voted Brandon Kozun as the most impressive LA prospect in the game.

He captured 40% of the votes, just enough to beat out Andy Andreoff's 38%.

Yesterday afternoon, the Kings beat the Coyotes 4-3 (game recap here).

If you were at the game or watched it online, who do you think was the most impressive?

Poll closes Saturday at noon.

The Mayor

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LA vs PHX - Thursday's post-game notes and quotes

Kings v Coyotes Thursday (photo: J. Weinberg)
Brandon Kozun can rest a little easier.

Fresh off his rookie season in Manchester last year, he wasn't talking like a player in a meaningless training camp game after Wednesday's 8-7 loss to the Coyotes - where the Kings gave up five goals in the third period.

He was visibly upset and shared his frustrations following the game, calling the loss 'unacceptable.'

While not on the level of a Mark Messier playoff promise - still, though - he all but guaranteed a win on Thursday.  Per the plan, he and his teammates delivered.

Saying the Kings dominated the first period would be an understatement. After barely showing any signs of defensive life for the final 20 minutes of the game prior, they held the Coyotes to only three shots in the opening period of yesterday's game. Then, only gave up eight more in the second. Goalie Martin Jones could have taken a nap in the crease there was such little action in front of him.

Like the night before, Kozun was again front and center for most of the action. He followed-up his two goal performance in the first game by assisting on three of the Kings four goals Thursday - and two of them were things of beauty.

First, he set up Linden Vey to put the Kings up 2-0, after Jordan Weal opened the scoring.

Following the game, Vey said, "It was good to get the win, especially after the way we lost yesterday."

However, he also had some praise for the play of Kozun, saying "I thought Kozy was great in both games." Indeed.

As for the fewer fights and less physical play in game two of the Coyotes-Kings rookie series, Vey said "We were moving the puck better. It's tough to play physical when a team is moving the puck like that."

So, perhaps that's why Jordan Nolan - who's normally known more for his fists than his soft hands - was able to have such an offensively rewarding day. He scored two goals, including the game winner - set up on highlight reel-like passes from Vey and Kozun.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

LIVE STREAM: Rookie Camp - Kings v Coyotes (9/15/2011)

Notes and quotes from the Kings 8-7 loss last night to the Phoenix Coyotes can be found here.

Then, at 2pm PST today, the Kings will go for redemption in the second and final game of this series. Thanks to KingsVision we're once again pleased to offer you a live stream of the game.

The stream below will began around 1:45pm PST with a pre-game show, featuring former Kings player, now radio commentator, Daryl Evans.

HINT: I hear there may be a special guest - tune in to see!

At 2pm PST the game will begin.

To get you ready, be sure to check out the MayorsManor top 10 prospect rankings. It will give you a quick update on several of the key players to watch.

You can also check out these other articles to get you ready:

Coach Murray on what he wants out of tonight's game

Full roster breakdowns on today's players - forwards, defensemen and goaltenders

Why Andy Andreoff may be going from camp to Manchester

Like yesterday, I'll be at the game with live notes and interviews - follow along at the links down below to keep up with the action...

POLL: Most impressive LA King in Rookie Camp game one?

This poll is going to be a quick one, as voting will end at 1:30 pm PST today.

If you were at the Rookie Game last night versus Phoenix or watched the game online (right here on MayorsManor!)...who were you most impressed with?

Stats don't always tell the full story of a player's contribution on the ice. However, here are some numbers for your reference:

Andy Andreoff - two goals, plus-2, nine PIM, five shots

Martin Jones - 28 of 31 saves in 40 minutes played

Ray Kaunisto - one goal, one assist, five shots, five hits

Brandon Kozun - two goals, one assist, four shots

Jake Muzzin - two assists, plus-1, seven PIM, one shot, two hits

Michael Schumacher - two assists, plus-3, two hits

If you don't like any of those, feel free to suggest your own...

REMINDER: We'll have a free live stream of the second game between the LA Kings and Phoenix Coyotes right here on MayorsManor, beginning at 1:45 pm PST. Don't miss it!

The Mayor  

LA vs PHX - Wednesday's post-game notes and quotes

Goalie Chirstopher Gibson (photo by: Cikiri)
Rookie game tournament or not, the Kings brass can't be pleased with what they saw on Wednesday night - especially in the third period.

Leading 6-3 after 40 minutes, the Kings came from ahead to lose the game 8-7 after a disastrous final period - where goalie Christopher Gibson gave up five goals.

Brandon Kozun, one of the assistant captains in the game, called the loss "unacceptable" and declared, "We cannot let leads like that get away."

What happened? Well, "there were a lot of nervous guys in that dressing room," Kozun surmised.

Martin Jones started in net for the Kings and stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced in two periods. Coach Mark Morris (of Manchester) elected to put Gibson in for the third - a move he had planned out even prior to the game starting.

Gibson gave up five goals on 13 shots - three of them were with the Coyotes on the power play.

"All those goals weren't one guy's fault," said Kozun. "They were the entire team. I feel bad for Gibby because we put him in a pretty tough spot out there. It's tough, but everyone has to be reliable out there. It's not one guy, it's the whole team."

On the positive side, Kozun had a pair of goals and led all Kings players with three points.

Joining him with a pair of goals was a player who is quickly growing on coach Terry Murray, 2011 draft pick Andy Andreoff.

The 6-foot-1 center was exactly as Murray had advertised during his MayorsManor interview earlier in the week - gritty and a goal scorer.

Andreoff first scored midway through the first period, then just five seconds later got into a scrap off the ensuing faceoff.

After the game he said "I'm just trying to play hard and get used to the experience here at the camp - getting used to the speed and size and toughness here."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

LA Kings main training camp full roster and schedule

Quick note on the Kings roster for the main training camp, which kicks off Friday with off-ice testing, then on-ice activity beginning this Saturday...

The roster basically includes all of the Kings players under contract at the NHL level, the guys in camp this week for Rookie Camp and three additional invitees:

Trent Hunter
RW, 6-foot-3, 210 lbs, played 17 games for the NY Islanders last season

Shaun Heshka
D, 6-foot-1, 208 lbs, with Salzburg EC in Austria last season

Ray Macias
D, 6-foot-1, 198 lbs, Lake Erie AHL and two games with the Colorado Avalanche

Saturday schedule:

LIVE STREAM: Rookie Camp - Kings v Coyotes (9/14/2011)

Thanks to KingsVision we're proud to announce a live stream of tonight's LA Kings vs Phoenix Coyotes rookie game.

The stream below will began around 5:45pm PST with a pre-game show, featuring former Kings player, now radio commentator, Daryl Evans.

At 6pm PST the game will begin.

To get you ready, be sure to check out the MayorsManor top 10 prospect rankings. It will give you a quick update on several of the key players to watch.

You can also check out these other articles to get you ready:

Coach Murray on what he wants out of tonight's game

Full roster breakdowns on today's players - forwards, defensemen and goaltenders

Why Andy Andreoff may be going from camp to Manchester

I'll also be at the game with live notes and interviews - follow along at the links down below...

LA Kings coach knows exactly what he wants tonight

The time has finally arrived.

Tonight there will be something more meaningful than an intrasquad scrimmage taking place on the ice at the Kings practice facility.

Sure, it's not an NHL regular season game - we'll slowly build back up to that over the next few weeks.

However, a division rival is sending over their best prospects and rookies to take on a Kings team that will include Tyler Toffoli, Brandon Kozun, Jake Muzzin, Nic Deslauriers and others.

Phoenix Coyotes vs Los Angeles Kings at 6pm PST in game one of a two-game tournament. You can watch all the action live on MayorsManor, we'll post the video stream later today on the homepage.

Head coach Terry Murray walked me through the process of putting the line-up together for tonight...

"We (Murray, Manchester coach Mark Morris and the rest of the coaching staff) get get together with the amateur scouting staff also. Mike Futa (co-director of amateur scouting for the Kings) knows these guys very well. He gives us some advice, recommendations, opinions on what the players' strength and weaknesses are. So, we try to sit down as a community thing - get our heads together and put players in a position where they can be successful most importantly."

Second only to 'Who is starting in goal?' - perhaps the most often asked question last year of Murray had to do with the line combinations.

For tonight's rookie game, he said "It won't look too far away from what we've been looking at the last few days. It will be close."

Which means you can probably expect Linden Vey and Kozun together on one line, with Toffoli and Jordan Weal on a different line. The other line to keep an eye on features Michael Schumacher and Andy Andreoff. Closer to game time I'll post the official line combos on twitter/facebook.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rookie Camp Report: Coach Murray on Andy Andreoff

So far today, we've posted comments from Kings coach Terry Murray on prospects Michael Schumacher (forward, 2011 draft) and Nicolas Deslauriers (defenseman, 2009 draft).

Now, he shares a few thoughts on forward Andy Andreoff, selected by the team in the third round of the this past June's draft.

As you may recall from a recent interview posted with Andreoff, he's an over-age player, meaning he can turn pro this season or go back to the OHL for one more year.

And where he might end up is apparently already on Murray's mind...

"I've asked that question myself already coming into camp because I liked what I saw in the Development Camp in July. He's a pretty gritty guy. He's in everybody's face right away - 'You want to try me out, let's go!' Physically, he's a pretty mature kid. I don't want to talk in-house secrets, but he might be penciled in to be a player who gets a look here in Manchester at the start - go to the (main) camp, get into a couple of exhibition games, see what happens. Then, we can always make a decision from there. To me, he's right on the cusp of being able to make that jump."

Leave it to Murray to change the question. Just when it looked like the majority of attention for the games against Phoenix could be placed on Brandon Kozun and Tyler Toffoli, the coach stirs things up.

Tomorrow night should be fun.

To read Andreoff's interview posted a few days ago, click here.

For thoughts from Murray on some of the other campers this week, use these links - Deslauriers and  Schumacher...and to see what Kozun and Toffoli had to say after day one of camp on Saturday, click here.

Finally, just a reminder - we'll be on hand with live updates and interviews from the Rookie Camp Tournament against the Coyotes tomorrow night and Thursday afternoon.  Be sure you're following along at one of the links below to get all the real-time info.

The Mayor  

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Rookie Camp Report: coach Murray on Nic Deslauriers

After Development Camp in July, Kings coach Terry Murray weighed in with thoughts on several of the team's top prospects - including Brandon Kozun, Jake Muzzin and Christopher Gibson.

Yesterday I spoke with him about one of the other players recently named to our Top 10 Prospects list, defenseman Nicolas Deslauriers..

Murray - "Off the ice your seeing a difference in maturity, physical strength, the testing results, the skating results - which are very demanding tests. Those show improvement. I think Deslauriers, he's a hockey player, his best is always in the game. Sometimes he's resting in his game in practice. But, when you get into a competitive game situation - and we've watched him only a couple of times - his game changes. He's very intense, he's very focused. Again, he's a game player and ultimately that's what we want out of all these guys."

Originally drafted by the Kings at the 2009 NHL Draft (third round), Deslauriers finished last season as the top scoring defenseman in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) playoffs.

Earlier this summer, he signed a three-year entry level contract with the Kings and is expected to play in Manchester this season (AHL).

To read more of Murray's player evaluations, I've linked to them in the opening paragraph above for your convenience.

The Mayor

Rookie Camp Report: Coach Murray on M. Schumacher

Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray spent some time with me yesterday to provide insight on what he's seen from several of the attendees from Rookie Camp.

First up, we take a look at Michael Schumacher. He's the tallest kid in camp and is the only player who came over from Europe to participate. Drafted in the seventh round of this year's NHL Draft, he's scheduled to play in the OHL this season for the Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds.

Murray - "I think keeping up with the pace of the play in the camp right now is very demanding for him. So, it's going to be interesting to see how he rebounds. This is kind of a hump day for him and all these young kids, it's a very demanding skate to finish it off. I think when we get into the games (against Phoenix on Wednesday and Thursday), I'm going to watch him very closely. He's a nifty guy and he has lots of skill. I like what I saw in the Development Camp. He's a player who's the perfect example of what a process is all about. He's 6-foot-5. He's going to take time to mature, to get stronger, to catch up with where some of the players already are at this rookie camp. When you start comparing him to the NHL players, clearly on the physical strength and maturity side, he has a long way to go. But, he has skill - and that's something a lot of players don't have.'

After being selected by the Kings in June, Schumacher stopped by MayorsManor for an interview - you can read that conversation by clicking here.

The Mayor  

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View the store to see full line of shirts for men and women, dozen of styles and colors

Gagne - 'Mike Richards is the type of guy I want on my team'

Most old sayings are still around because they're often true.

In the case of 'familiarity breeds contempt' - it may make sense when applied to many other things, yet Simon Gagne sees his relationship with Mike Richards an entirely different way.

"He's a really quiet guy and he's really shy. But, on the ice, he's definitely the type of guy you want to have on your team. He's going to take a check for you. If somebody gives you a cheap shot, he's going to be the first one to go and respond on that. I had a chance to play with him for five years in Philadelphia. Even we he got to the league, he was 20 years old, I think - you could tell though that he was going to be that type of player. That's the perfect model for the type of hockey I think we're going to play here in the West. He's a guy that I want to have on my team when the playoffs come. I'm glad that I'll be able to play with him again."

I'll have more with Gagne up soon, including a TV show that he's been using to get tips on the LA lifestyle, some notes on a few of the 'firsts' he's already experienced as a member of the Kings and he he evaluates the team's training facility compared to those in Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.

For more on Richards though, check out the links below to read what others have had to say about him recently.

The Mayor  


Ian Laperriere on what really went down in Philly - Mike Richards vs Chirs Pronger

Exclusive: Jim Fox on LA Kings trade for Mike Richards

Kings captain Dustin Brown on the off-ice value of Mike Richards

LA Kings coach on leadership of Brown, Richards, Gagne

Mike Richards on his hatred for the Rangers, ready for game one of the season

Monday, September 12, 2011

Terry Murray helps temper high expectations for this season

You can call him the voice of reason.

While some fans wanted to pull their hair out as Kings coach Terry Murray calmly stood behind the bench during two disastrous losing streaks last season - lost points that ended up costing the team home ice advantage in the playoffs, but more on that later...GM Dean Lombardi didn't share the same opinion.

Once the season was over, Lombardi praised Murray's composure and calmness when reflecting on those tough times.

If nothing else, Murray has at least been consistent in most areas since talking over as coach here in Los Angeles a few years ago. He drives his points home (defense-first, shot mentality, etc.) until they're heard and his demeanor is usually led by a large degree of patience.

Meanwhile at Hockey Fest yesterday, many of the players were running around talking about the team being talented enough to win the Pacific Division or the Western Conference. Some sounded like they were on the verge of saying 'Stanley Cup or bust.'

And it may very well be true that this year's roster has the depth and mix to win it all. However, Murray didn't want any part of that when we chatted for a few minutes following this morning's Rookie Camp drills.

"We're looking to be a playoff team," Murray began, after I asked for his expectations. "In this league today, with 30 teams, and this Conference - which I think is the most competitive of the two - at the end of the day, on the last day of the season last year, you had Dallas out and Chicago in. The year before it took a shootout for the Flyers to get in and they ended up going right through to the Stanley Cup Finals. It is that close, that competitive and that level of a playing field right now. So, our goal is to be a playoff team. We want to shoot for home ice advantage. We recognize the importance of it."

Matt Greene pulls no punches about Penner's conditioning

Matt Greene (photo: K. Spatz)
This needs to be the final article on Dustin Penner's weight...

Matt Greene loves to joke around. He's sarcastic, witty and has some of the best comebacks you'll ever hear.

However, while on stage at HockeyFest yesterday, he became instantly serious about one topic - Kevin Westgarth's singing ability. Greene swears the Kings resident heavyweight does a mean 'Piano Man' at karaoke night.

Westgarth told me it wasn't good enough to break out at his wedding last month - yet, teammates Kyle Clifford and Jonathan Quick back up Greene's claim.

A few hours later, Greene went into serious mode again when Penner's name came up during a one-on-one conversation we had (which I'll post more of later).

"I've known Pens for a long time and I've been working out with him too," Greene began to explain. "He's not out of shape. He's not fat. He's one of the biggest human beings I've ever seen in my life - when you're talking about things like bone structure. If you look at him, he has a barrel chest of a rib cage and shoulders that are twice the size of any other guy that's about his size. He's a big man, a big skeleton. He's in shape, he's been working hard and doing his job."

As for the critics, Greene had this to add...

Kyle Clifford is not convinced he has spot on the LA Kings

If you think the Kings went though a lot of changes this summer, how about what Kyle Clifford experienced last year?

A small town kid playing junior hockey knocks the socks off the management group of his NHL team, makes the big club, moves to Los Angeles...and starts getting into scraps with men - often much bigger than him - a couple times a week. Oh, and then he starts scoring big goals in the playoffs.

No, this actually happened, we're not describing the plot of some new Disney movie.

Although he's been completely embraced by the fan base and his teammates, Clifford says he's coming into this season with a degree of caution.

"This summer my focus was that there isn't a legitimate spot that I have locked up. So, I want to continue working hard and just get ready for this season. I want to try and make an impact on this team this year."

As with most players, in addition to training, he found time for a few extracurricular activities too.

"Hanging out in small town areas, some people might not think it's exciting," Clifford began. "But, I just kind of kept it simple - bonfires with a lot of friends and family, things like that. I also made it out to a country concert. We took a little three-day camping trip to New York to see Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, Jared Neiman. It was a lot of fun."

Emphasising the important role friends play in Clifford's world, he made time to honor one with a tattoo on the inside of his right bicep last month. It's a few simple words in script lettering that will help him remember a close friend who passed away while Kyle was off in the NHL last season.

Bringing it back to the present, yesterday at Hockey Fest, young fans were eager to know more about Clifford during the Kid's Press Conference. Given how quiet he was last year around most of the guys though, I asked if he was a little intimidated or concerned when he found out he'd be up on stage with the always colorful Matt Greene and Kevin Westgarth.

"I was actually pretty excited, that's less talking for me. I don't really like to voice my opinion too much, unless it's needed. So, I was excited that they'd be up there to take over most of the talking."

Truth be told, Clifford ended up doing plenty of talking, answering everything asked of him - including his Halloween costume, what karaoke song he likes to sing, the weirdest thing he's been asked to autograph and much more.

For those that missed the Kings Presser, it was perhaps the highlight of Hockey Fest this year. I'll be sure to post video later this week when the guys over at Kings Vision make it available.

We'll also have plenty more notes and quotes from Hockey Fest later today and throughout the week. In the meantime, be sure to check out some related articles below.

The Mayor  


LA Kings Dustin Brown at Hockey Fest - 'This year is a different feeling'

Dustin Brown on the off-ice value of Mike Richards

Kyle Clifford helps evaluate the Kings' rookies

Matt Greene tattoos his LA Kings teammates

New Year's Resolutions with Kevin Westgarth

LA Kings Dustin Brown on off-ice value of Mike Richards

A few weeks after the blockbuster trade that brought Flyers captain Mike Richards to the Kings, coach Terry Murray made one thing perfectly clear - Dustin Brown is his captain.

Then, when Richards was introduced to the media soon thereafter, he let it be known - he didn't have any grandiose plans about taking on a letter in LA.

Still, one of the many questions Murray and GM Dean Lombardi were asked at the team's Hockey Fest on Sunday was 'Is there a change coming to the Kings captaincy?'

Of course, the answer was no.

And the questions aren't bothering Brown either. When I had a chance to talk with him later in the afternoon, he explained how Richards can help...

"I've known Richie since we were about 15 years old and we played against each other in the OHL. I think we kind of have that mutual respect for each other. Not to make a snap judgement on what he's done in Philly, but I think he's had to deal with a lot more - b.s., I guess - than I have as a captain. So, he's kind of been through that, having to dealing with stuff that isn't really hockey related. Thankfully, we don't have a lot of those issues here."

However, along with the changes to the roster this summer, expectations have risen. Thus, the pressure may be increasing as well. Again, Brown isn't too concerned - thinking he'll adjust through the growing pains, partly by draw upon Richards' experience.

"You're always learning as a leader. I could be having this conversation with you in 10 years and I'd still be learning. Having a guy like him come in really helps with - just the whole feel of the room. We have a lot of good leaders in there, including guys who have been captain, like Ethan Moreau. He's another good one. He's really good for the morale of the room and I think Richie brings a lot of that and more."

GM Dean Lombardi made some bold moves this summer to improve his club. At least based upon what the players were saying Sunday, he should be applauded for bringing in exactly what many think the Kings needed.

The Mayor


Mike Richards ready for first game as a King - talks 'hatred' for Rangers

Mike Richards on leadership and wearing a letter in LA

Flyers Ian Laperriere explains what the Kings acquirred in Mike Richards

Richards already has ideas to help the Kings power play

Mike Richards on Corey Perry and not doing stupid things

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

LA Kings Dustin Brown - 'This year is a different feeling'

As the captain of the Kings, Dustin Brown has seen things slowly evolve in Los Angeles - moving from a team full of prospects and role players into a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.

With the acquisitions of Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Ethan Moreau, he says this year is "entirely different" than any other year up to this point.

"We've been making steps and progress every year," explained Brown earlier today. "I remember three or four years ago though, everyone might have been saying 'I'm excited for the season' - but in their mind they knew there was no chance we were going to do anything here. This year, it's a different feeling. That's exciting and, in a sense, a lot more serious.  For this team, in talking to some of the other players, we're excited but we have to be focused because this is our time."

More later from Brown - including detailed thoughts about why the Kings had to add a guy like Moreau to their bottom-6 this season.  Plus, comments from several other players who attended Hockey Fest today.

[UPDATE:  Brown talks about the off-ice value of Richards here]

The Mayor  

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Deslauriers - Rookie Camp, day one
During the 2006-07 NHL season, Dean Lombardi's first year at the helm in Los Angeles, Kevin Dallman and Mike Weaver combined to play 92 games on the Kings blueline.

While I'm sure that wasn't what Lombardi was thinking about as he stood and watched part of Rookie Camp today from the Kings bench, he almost assuredly was smiling inside watching Jake Muzzin and Nic Deslauriers.

They're two of the brightest young stars in the organization. Entirely different players on the ice, they share the same problem away from it.

With a solid six d-core at the NHL level, when will they ever get their shot to make the big club?

That remains to be seen. However, it hasn't kept either from coming to camp with the right attitude. Here are comments from both following tonight's on-ice session...