Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We've moved - come see the ALL NEW website!

MayorsManor has moved to our new location. 
Please CLICK HERE to visit the new website!

It's been a long journey to get here and we couldn't have done it without a lot of people. A special thanks goes out to you, the loyal readers - through all the tweets, facebook posts, articles and radio appearances - you keep coming back for more! Additionally, thanks to all the players, General Managers, coaches, scouts and everybody associated with the NHL, AHL, ECHL, college and junior leagues for their endless cooperation, quotes and insight provided through the years. And a special appreciation to Mike Altieri, Jeff Moeller, Mike Kalinowski, Jeremy Zager, Aaron Brenner, Jim Fox and the staff of the LA Kings for their ongoing support.

What can you expect going forward? Well, the all new site is brand new from head to toe - just with lots more coverage.  We'll have more interviews, more stories, additional audio and exclusive video and much more.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

LA Kings prospect report - checking in with Nick Shore

Shore at Kings Camp, July 2011 (photo: Ikiri)
Nick Shore has scored 13 goals for the Denver Pioneers this season.   And in the 11 games he's found the back of the net (there were two multi-goal games), his team has won all 11.

"I guess we need to do a little more of that then," he jokingly said when we talked last night.

The WCHA Tournament - better known as the Final Five - begins later this afternoon, with DU set to take on Michigan Tech in their opening game. Asked if winning that match-up was as simple as making sure he scored then, Shore was quick to look at the bigger picture.

"As a team, if we just have a good effort and play the way we can, I think we'll have a pretty good chance of winning."

Their determination was certainly tested last weekend when tournament play began. In a best-of-three series vs. Wisconsin, they dropped the opening game 1-0 and then took the next two. Things came right down to the wire though, as the last game needed overtime to decide the outcome.

"Nothing came easy that entire series," Shore noted. "But, I thought we did a pretty good job of bouncing back."

He also played a big factor in the series. While the score sheets show that he had two goals, the first one on Saturday was into an empty net. The big goal came on Sunday, with his team trailing.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

MayorsManor LIVE call-in show tonight 3/14 8pm PST

MayorsManor LIVE returns tonight at 8 pm PST. Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period will join me as co-host for another night of hockey talk galore. Call us up - (347) 426-3754 - we want to hear your questions and opinions.

Among the items on tonight's show:

- Full discussion around the players and teams impacting playoff races in the Eastern and Western conferences.

- Legendary punk rock guitarist Greg Hetson (of Bad Religion and the Circle Jerks) will join us to share some stories. The self-proclaimed 'Gordie Howe of Punk' is a life-long hockey fan and has watched games all over the world while on tour.

- A recap of last night's Kings win vs. the Red Wings and a look ahead to Friday's game vs. the Ducks.

- A possible 'surprise caller' from the Manchester Monarchs to discuss their playoff hopes and a new player set to join the team tomorrow.

UPDATE: If you missed the show, here's the replay...


Listen to internet radio with MayorsManor X Hockey Chirps on Blog Talk Radio

We'll be back with another show next Wednesday at 8pm PST.


LA Kings sign one of the top college hockey free agents

In something that's becoming quite the norm around this time of year for Kings GM Dean Lombardi, he added another college hockey free agent today.

Forward Brian O'Neill, who just finished his senior year at Yale, has reportedly signed a one-year deal with the team. According to reports, O'Neill was offered a similar deal last year, but chose to return to college for his final season.

Over the last three years, O'Neill has been remarkably consistent, scoring 45, 46 and 46 points. He also picked up a hat trick last February against Clarkson - where Dave Taylor and Willie Mitchell played their college hockey. This season, he posted 21 goals (one better than his previous best from last year) in 35 games.

Some additional highlights from his NCAA career:

- As a freshman he only missed one game and led all newcomers with 12 goals and 26 points.

- The following season he led Yale in points (45) and his 1.32 points per game ranked 7th in Division 1.

- Last year, he was a first-team All-ECAC player and led the Bulldogs in goals and points.

- After finishing his college career with 163 career points, second best in Yale history (Jeff Hamilton had 173), his coach Keith Allain told the local paper, “As the total package, I can make the argument that he’s the greatest player in Yale history...In terms of what his teams produced, leading the team in scoring three years in a row — and he’s so much more than just a scorer. I could go on and on about the contributions he’s made to our hockey program."

On a side note, the kid appears to have personality too - he was voted "most humorous" by his Yale teammates

The 5-foot-9 Ivy League Player of the Year is apparently on his way to Manchester (AHL) today for practice and will make his pro debut on Saturday vs. the St. John's IceCaps.

Other college free agents signed during Lombardi's tenure include Kevin Westgarth, Davis Drewiske and Ray Kaunisto.

UPDATE: O'Neill did not make it to Manchester in time for practice today.  However, he is expected on the ice for Thursday's session and we should have an interview with him up on MayorsManor a few hours after that. Stay tuned.


NOTE: Information from the Yale University website, including the photo, was used to prepare this article.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Special announcement re: first goal and ticket contest

First off, a huge thank you to all who have entered the First Goal Contest over the last few seasons. And a special congratulations to those who have won some of the myriad of prizes to be given away - from t-shirts to Kings tickets and much more.

Don't worry though, this isn't an announcement that it's ending. In fact, it's quite the opposite! Later this week, MayorsManor.com will go through a complete upgrade to our new website, call it MM v3.

One of the most common pieces of feedback we've received of late is the difficulty in leaving a comment on the current platform. The 'issues' don't seem to happen for everybody, so you may not have experienced the same thing as other users. That said, among the many reasons we've spent the past few months creating a new site is to make things easier on you - including better navigation, flexibility of content (i.e. audio, video, etc.) and, of course, the entire process of commenting on articles.

To kick things off, we're going to have a 'soft opening' today (to use a retail or restaurant term). The full site will launch later this week.

However, we'd like all readers wanting to enter the First Goal Contest tonight to post their guess here.

After submitting your entry - which should be SUPER easy with the new form - feel free to take MM v3 for a test drive. You can click around, see what you like, see what's there, explore away. The only thing we ask in return is that if you have ANY feedback (good or bad, doesn't matter), please send it over via the CONTACT tab on the new site. We've even made that easy now too and we'd like your input!

Please note, this is a COMPLETELY new website. In many ways we've tried to keep a similar look to the current site. But, you'll quickly notice many changes - like all new navigation, a new logo, a new layout on the home page and improvements to the 'article' pages. There are LOTS of changes.

Get started by clicking HERE.

Good luck!


Monday, March 12, 2012

VIDEO: What type of music do the Kings players listen to?

You might have seen the tweet we posted a few weeks ago of Colin Fraser taking a lap around the Kings locker room with a microphone and camera in tow. Here's his report, as he finds out what type of music his teammates listen to on the way to the rink...




VIDEO: Jeff Carter's 200th career goal

In yesterday's win over the Blackhawks, LA Kings forward Jeff Carter scored the 200th goal of his career. It was game number 508 for Carter. As a comparison, Anaheim's Corey Perry has scored 202 goals in 519 games and Mike Richards has picked up 147 in 514.

If you missed Carter hitting the milestone, here's a replay...




Sunday, March 11, 2012

Can Jeff Carter get five tonight for the LA Kings?

Five seems to be the magic number for the Kings newest forward, Jeff Carter.

In seven games since being traded to Los Angeles, Carter has scored in two of them - and both times he had five shots on goal. The other games saw zero shots on goal (vs. Columbus), one (vs. Nashville, the 3/6 game), two (vs. Minnesota and Nashville) and four (vs. the Blackhawks).

With Carter in the line-up the Kings are 4-3. However, the biggest change has been an overall increase in scoring by the team as a whole. For the first time in a quite a while, LA has two legitimate lines for their opponents to worry about. And guys on the Kings top unit have taken notice of another key element Carter has added to the team's offense.

"He definitely has wheels," said Anze Kopitar. "In the middle of the ice in their zone, that's where he makes the most damage. He gets open in a hurry. Then, he gets rid of that puck in a hurry and that's what makes him such a goal scorer."

It hasn't taken Dustin Brown long to like what he sees as well.

"The biggest thing that stands out is his speed," said the Kings captain, when talking about Carter. "(Against Anaheim), he broke around and had that breakaway after getting the puck in stride, probably a step behind or even with the defenseman from the redline, and separated himself. When you have a guy finding holes...they create a lot. Having those jump-though-hole opportunities is a (direct) result of him being big and fast."

Can he generate at least five shots on goal tonight? That seems to be the magic number for Carter.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

VIDEO: Bernie Nicholls and Charlie Simmer on After Hours

Charlie Simmer and Bernie Nicholls share some funny stories during a recent edition of Hockey Night in Canada's After Hours program...



The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

POLL: Who should the LA Kings honor next season?

It's been confirmed to MayorsManor that the LA Kings will keep the same jersey rotation for next year, including the purple (Forum blue) and gold version for three Legends Nights. As of now, the names haven't been finalized. However, a list of possible candidates is being pulled together. So, let's take a break from the playoff races for a moment and see what you guys think...

Over the course of 45 years, a lot of names have come through the organization. In an attempt to make things a little easier, we'll break this up into three eras. First up, we'll give you a list of pre-Gretzky stars (see below). In the next poll, we'll look at the 1988-2000 era (i.e. Kelly Hrudey, Marty McSorley, etc). Then, later in the week, we'll look at the Staples Center years (i.e. Ziggy Palffy, Ian Laperriere, etc.).

Most of the names on the list are obvious - such as Dave Taylor, who played more games in a Kings uniform (1,111) than any other player and has his number retired by the team. Yet, if you're not as familiar with some of the guys from the very early years, Brian Kilrea scored the very first goal in LA Kings history (something he talked about here). And Eddie Joyal was probably the first superstar hockey player in LA (discussed here).

Please select three people you think the Kings should honor next season:



Poll closes Wednesday at 8pm PST.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

Friday, March 9, 2012

Matt Greene on Kings v Red Wings, plus tonight's ticket contest

For the Kings, their last visit to Joe Louis Arena wasn't pretty. An 8-2 loss in mid-December stands as perhaps their worst game of the year. However, to be fair, it came just a few days after the firing of Terry Murray - at a time when the team was in limbo wondering what would happen next, while John Stevens stood in as interim coach.

Prior to that game, LA had experienced rather unusual success in a building that's normally tough for most opponents. They were winners of three straight there, including a 5-0 shutout last year that was one of Jonathan Quick's best games in the NHL. He stopped 51 shots that night, something he's not likely to have to repeat tonight.

The Kings will be facing a banged up Detroit team - playing without Nicklas Lidstrom, Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsyuk, Todd Bertuzzi, Jonathan Ericsson and a few others.

Still, it's the Red Wings. Just ask Matt Greene, who shared the following comments with MayorsManor about tonight's game...

"Detroit in Detroit? It is what it is - everybody knows that. Those aren't easy points," said Greene, who leads all Kings defenseman with 201 hits.

On Wednesday night's MayorsManor LIVE show, Greene talked about what it's like to play in front of friends and family back in Michigan. Dustin Brown also shared his thoughts on the challenges younger players have when going to Detroit for the first time. If you missed the show, you can hear their interviews here.

The Kings are expected to make one line-up change tonight, with Brad Richardson joining the fourth line in place of rookie Jordan Nolan. Last weekend, Richardson took himself for 'first goal' vs. the Ducks - saying he had 'a pretty good feeling about himself.' However, he was a healthy scratch that night, so we'll have to see if his confidence is still in place vs. the Red Wings.

If you'd like to participate in the MayorsManor First Goal contest, we'll be giving away a free pair of tickets to an upcoming Kings home game. It's easy to play, simply leave a comment below with the LA player you think will score first vs. the Red Wings...or reply to the facebook / twitter updates that will be posted around 4:00pm. All correct answers will be pooled together and one random winner will be awarded the tickets. Good luck!


The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

Mike Richards reacts to recent praise from Ian Laperriere

After Mike Richards was traded to LA last June, his former Flyers teammate Ian Laperriere came on MayorsManor and spoke very highly of him. Soon thereafter, Richards shared some memories of their time together in Philadelphia.

Then, Laperriere was back last week - this time, to talk about Jeff Carter coming to the Kings. As part of that interview though, Laperriere was again talking up Richards - saying if he was to start a team, Richards would be on his short list of five players he'd have to have.

Here's how Richards reacted upon hearing the comments...

"Coming from him, that means the world to me. He's a guy who helped me out a lot, just being a professional. You take a lot of things from a lot of different players that you play with. But, he's - I don't even know the word to describe how awesome he is in the dressing room and on the ice, how much care and how much effort he gives. If you take half the knowledge that he put out there the year I played with him, you're going to have success. So, coming from him, that means a lot. I have a lot of respect for him. It's sad the way it ended for him. But, he's a hell of a guy and I really appreciate that."

To read more from Laperriere's visit to MayorsManor and/or subsequent comments from Richards, please see the original articles linked below.


The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

RELATED ARTICLES:

Ian Laperriere on Richards vs Pronger feud

Mike Richards - Laperriere guided me in the right direction'

Laperriere on the newest King, Jeff Carter

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

Trevor Lewis dishes on his new roommate - Mike Richards

MayorsManor podcast with Ian Laperriere - health update and memories of his time in LA

Audio: Coach Darryl Sutter post-game comments vs CBJ

Kings coach Darryl Sutter usually provides some great quotes during his post-game pressers. Last night wasn't one of them. Following his team's disappointing loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, few Sutterisms were offered up. Basically, he's looking for a better effort and a more focused game from just about everybody except goalie Jonathan Bernier. Take a listen...



The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor 

Audio: Anze Kopitar post-game, Kings lose 3-1 to Jackets

After the Kings loss to the Blue Jackets in Columbus, here are some of the questions Anze Kopitar was asked in the media scrum. He wasn't offering any excuses for losing to the last place team in the NHL...



The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor 

Audio: Jeff Carter post-game, Kings lose 3-1 to Jackets

After the Kings loss to the Blue Jackets in Columbus, here are some of the questions Jeff Carter was asked in the media scrum. For a good laugh, be sure to listen to his answer about the promotion run in the arena last night where fans could get their Carter jerseys converted to a Jack Johnson version for free...



The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor 

VIDEO: Johnson post-game vs LA - 'I wanted to get this win'

Jack Johnson continued his hot play of late for Columbus last night. With his tenth goal of the season, he now has goals in back-to-back games and points in three straight for his new club. After the Blue Jackets downed the Kings 3-1, he sounded like a guy taking a few subtle shots at his time in LA as much as he was pumping up his current environment...


The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

RELATED ARTICLES:

Matt Greene and Dustin Brown pre-game comments

Daryl Evans previews Kings/Carter vs. Blue Jackets/Johnson

Doughty on the Kings trading Jack Johnson to Columbus

Jack Johnson reacts to the trade

Why the LA Kings should trade for Jeff Carter and not Rick Nash

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Greene on Blue Jackets, Westgarth on tonight's 1st goal contest

Tonight marks the fourth and final meeting between the Kings and Blue Jackets this season, but none of the prior games had the same feeling as this one. Of course, the big story line coming in surrounds Jeff Carter and Jack Johnson. However, Columbus can't be taken lightly, they've won three in a row and the records for the two teams are pretty similar since February 1st - the Jackets have gone 8-7-1 and the Kings 7-7-2.

Columbus has only managed one win in the previous three games vs LA this year, it was a 1-0 victory in LA in early January. That was the Kings only regulation loss in the first month of Darryl Sutter's tenure behind the bench.

Defenseman Matt Greene shared these comments with MayorsManor about tonight's game...

"They have some juice right now," he began. "They have guys who are playing for roster spots and playing hard. I've been in that situation. They're not giveaway games. Guys are getting ready for next year, tyring to solidify their spot on the roster. It's going to be another tough game."

Here's Dustin Brown on the match-up...

"When a big trade like that happens, everybody understands everything surround the game. But, at the same time, I think everybody understands, it's pretty minor in comparison to (us getting) two points at this time of the year," said LA's captain. "In Columbus, the headlines might be about Jeff Carter coming back, but for this team it has to be about winning the game."

As for who will help get the Kings on the scoreboard first, Kevin Westgarth predicts it will be Drew Doughty picking up LA's first marker of the evening.

If you'd like to participate in the MayorsManor First Goal contest, we'll be giving away a free pair of tickets to an upcoming Kings home game. It's easy to play, simply leave a comment below with the LA player you think will score first vs. the Blue Jackets...or reply to the facebook / twitter updates that will be posted around 4:00pm. All correct answers will be pooled together and one random winner will be awarded the tickets. Good luck!

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor 

RELATED ARTICLES:

MayorsManor LIVE - Stoll, Westgarth and Mitchell share funny Jack Johnson stories

Daryl Evans previews Kings/Carter vs. Blue Jackets/Johnson

What I've learned so far this season... by Matt Greene

2011-12 Season Predictions - timing is everything

Daryl Evans previews LA Kings Carter vs CBJ Johnson

LA Kings radio commentator Daryl Evans helps preview tonight's game vs. Columbus. As you'd expect, much of the talk has to do with Jeff Carter and Jack Johnson.



Click here if you want to see what Johnson - now wearing number seven - had to say after scoring his first goal in a Blue Jackets jersey the other night. At the end of the video he also refers to tonight's match-up as 'just a game.'

Also, on last night's MayorsManor LIVE show, we featured Jarret Stoll, Willie Mitchell and Kevin Westgarth sharing some funny stories about Johnson.  If you missed it, click here to listen to the replay now.


The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

MayorsManor LIVE call-in show tonight 8pm PST

MayorsManor LIVE kicks off a five-week run on Wednesdays later this evening. We'll be talking about all of the players and teams impacting the playoff races in both the Eastern and Western conferences.

Tonight, we'll also recap last night's Kings win in Nashville and look ahead to tomorrow's big game in Columbus - where Jeff Carter returns to town and a familiar face will be in a strange sweater, as Jack Johnson is now wearing #7 for the Blue Jackets.

To help us preview that game, Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell will stop by with some funny stories about his former D-partner. And Jarret Stoll will share one of Johnson's quirks when traveling, something that always made Stoll laugh. Plus, Kevin Westgarth will talk about a little pre-game ritual he and Johnson used to perform and who was injured when things went awry.

Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period will join me as co-host for another night of hockey talk galore. Call us up - (347) 426-3754 - we want to hear your questions and opinions.

UPDATE:  If you missed tonight's show, give it a listen in the player below...


Listen to internet radio with MayorsManor X Hockey Chirps on Blog Talk Radio

Also, if you missed our trade deadline special from a few weeks ago, it's available for free right here.

We'll be back next Wednesday at 8pm PST with another show!

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

Marcel Dionne on Jonathan Quick and NHL goaltending

Jonathan Quick in retro gear (photo: Ikiri)
Fresh back from a five-day trip to Russia, Marcel Dionne arrived in LA last week to participate in the LA Kings Fantasy Camp. The night before he joined several other members of the Kings Alumni and this year's campers, I met with Dionne for a one-on-one interview, where we covered a wide range of topics.

[note: His thoughts on Anze Kopitar were posted here]

On his trip to Moscow, Dionne spent time with another Hall of Famer, Phil Esposito. They were there to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Russia-Canada Summit Series - including an outdoor game on legendary Red Square, a contest that featured former NHL greats Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny.

Dionne's 735 goals alone were enough to give some goalies nightmares. But, add in the more than 1,500 scored by that trio of companions and you're talking about an unlimited highlight reel of how to pick up points in the NHL.  Yet, in this feature, we'll take a look at the other side of putting pucks in the net - the guys wearing pads and a mask and trying to stop those snipers.

We began with an obvious one, Jonathan Quick - is he the real deal?

Sutter, Clifford and Nolan on fighting, being physical

Fighting is down in the NHL about 20-25%, according to recent statements by Commissioner Gary Bettman.

Scoring for the LA Kings has been, well until recently, down significantly since last year too.

For Kyle Clifford, it's been a bit of mixed bag in those two areas. True, his fighting majors are down - he had 18 last season and with only seven so far this year, he should come in significantly below that number.

Yet. on the offensive side of things, he's actually not that far behind his pace of a year ago - which is rather shocking considering (a) the Kings offense as a whole is down and (b) he's been used in a different role, especially since the hiring of Darryl Sutter.

With 10 points already in the books, and 16 games to go, he'll likely come close to the 14 points he tallied last year.

Playing along side Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan of late may be freeing him to do concentrate on other things too, rather than just be a physical presence on the ice.

"Yeah, it definitely takes that kinda pressure off," said Clifford. "We have guys that have done that all year though. You look at Greener, even Brownie - he stepped up and dropped the mitts (vs. Shane Doan, here). So, it's always nice to have that extra piece here with Nolan, and Kinger can grab 'em too. I've seen him fight. He's a pretty good fighter. It's always nice having the extra physical bodies."

Cam Jannsesn - then of the Blues, now with the Devils - came on MayorsManor last season and talked about using websites like HockeyFights.com to scout opponents, including Clifford and Kevin Westgarth.  However, not every player puts as much thought into things ahead of time.

"I try not to analyze it too much," Nolan explained. "I don't like to square up with guys or tap them on the shins and fight. I like to fight in the heat of the moment and the battle, when you're into the game. Those are your best fights."

Elvis must love playing hockey in Nashville

Trevor Lewis and Music City, they just seem to go hand-in-hand.

Nicknamed Elvis, due to both guys sharing the same birthday (January 8th), Lewis made a rare appearance on the score sheet Tuesday night.

Entering the game vs. Nashville, he had only three points on the season (two goals and one assist). But, after assisting on Matt Greene's goal and adding one of his own, he nearly doubled his totals.

Also, by scoring the fifth goal in a 5-4 victory for LA, Lewis was officially credited with the game-winning goal - his first such marker of the season. Last year, Lewis picked up his first ever NHL game-winning goal in...you guessed it...Nashville as well.

Here's video of last night's goal, set up by some aggressive play from Anze Kopitar:


Just prior to leaving for the road trip, Jeff Carter had some positive comments about the 25-year old former number one draft pick.  When asked which of his new teammates has caught his eye in the first week, he said - "I think (Lewis) doesn’t get much credit, but he does a lot of dirty work for the team. He’s out killing penalties, and I think on that line with Stolly and Pens, he gets in, he wins battles and stuff like that. He’s been a good player."

In the first few weeks following Darryl Sutter joining the Kings as coach, he too had some thoughts about Lewis' game and what he brings to the team.  Those statements and other related articles can be found below.


The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

RELATED ARTICLES:

Coach Sutter offers early reviews of Lewis and Loktionov

Exclusive:  Trevor Lewis dishes on new roommate - Mike Richards

Lewis hopes they can 'find the back of the net soon'

Summer 2011: Lewis ready to make some noise at center or wing

Lewis responds to benching and Murray's comments

Exclusive:  Pics and stories from the player's Halloween Party

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dustin Brown's game plan vs Nasville, plus LA ticket contest

Nashville's Pekka Rinne (photo by: Ikiri)
Last week, the Kings traveled to Nashville, outshot the Predators 31-28 and still came away with a 2-1 loss. Revenge isn't the top priority for LA captain Dustin Brown at the moment though.

"Considering the situation, at this point in the year, you're not looking at the opponent as a team we just played a week ago," he said. "It's just another game we have to find a way to win."

Actually, 'two-points per night' has sort of turned into the unofficial rallying cry for the next four games. "There are some teams on this road trip that are really playing really good hockey and we have to be prepared to grind games out," Brown declared.

Tonight in Nashville, it certainly won't be as an easy one, as the Predators have earned at least one point in 12 straight games at home.

"I thought we played a good game last time though," said the Kings leading goal scorer. "We went in there and did a lot of good things last time. Now, we have to have the same effort and find ways to score more goals."

Which means, in part, finding a way to beat Nashville's Pekka Rinne. The Preds' stellar netminder leads the league with 36 wins and sports a .927 save percentage.

So how do they beat him?

Exclusive: Kopitar responds to criticism, facing crossroads

Anze Kopitar is 24 years old.

Although he's about to complete his sixth full season in the NHL, it's an important fact to remember.

Drafted in the first round by the Kings in 2005 - and signed to a long-term, big money contract after only two years of pro hockey in North America - pressure and expectations come with the territory.

Yet recently, there's been extra heat heaved in Kopitar's direction. First, coach Darryl Sutter called him out last month, saying he wants his big center to be a 'more determined and purposed player.' Then, in an exclusive interview on MayorsManor just last week, Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne - he of 731 goals scored in the NHL - claimed LA's points leader needed 'a wake-up call.'

"Could it be better? Absolutely," replied Kopitar when I asked for his response to the criticisms and a personal evaluation of his game at the moment.

"I always take pride in being better everyday and working on things. Yeah, I do feel I can put a little more into my game. It hasn't been (recently) where it's been at times (in the past). I know I can dominate games and lead the team by example, definitely. It's just a matter of doing it every night. That's a challenge for me."

Yes, consistency has been a big part of the issue.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Honestly, Simon Gagne is just trying to be honest

Gagne in no contact jersey (photo: D. Sheehan)
When Ryan Smyth was traded to the Oilers last summer, the Kings were left with a big hole on the left side - a position they were already thin in. So, it wasn't much of a surprise when GM Dean Lombardi signed free agent Simon Gagne to take his place. The seven-time 20 goal scorer, was given a two-year contract. But, he had missed about 20 games each of the two seasons prior with various injuries.

Even so, his 17 goals in those injury-shortened campaigns were enough of a hope for a team needing offense. With only seven goals for the Kings this year though, LA sure could have used 10 more.

Yet, these days, stats aren't the primary focus for Gagne. He's been out of action with a concussion since the day after Christmas.

Having already missed 29 games and without any real timetable in place for his return, Gagne has recently started skating again - by himself and usually before or after the Kings practice. It's given him a chance to be around the team again while he and the doctors assess what's next.

Over the weekend, we caught up with him...

First question, of course, was how's he doing?

"Not bad, it's getting there," began Gagne. "Still not 100%, but there are no setbacks right now. It's improving and that's a good sign. Sometimes with these injuries you see guys having a setback, they need to take it easy. Sometimes they push themselves and (the symptoms return). So, right now, every time I'm pushing it's OK. So, it's a good sign."

How difficult has it been to sit out on the sidelines the last few months while the team has struggled to score...and, more recently, to not be able to play with Jeff Carter, his former teammate from Philadelphia?

POLL: LA Kings Player of the Week - 3.5.2012

It's Monday, so we're back with another edition of 'King of the Week' - a poll we run in conjunction with All the Kings Men podcast.

You can listen to this week's show in the player below, I cover the LA Kings' week that was and Buddy Oakes from Preds On The Glass checks in with a Nashville Predators report (the Kings next opponent). Plus, for added fun, everybody's favorite wisecracker The Royal Half also makes a guest appearance.



As discussed during the above podcast, here are the three Kings players nominated this week:

Jonathan Bernier - first star of the game vs Wild, shutout, 15 saves

Dustin Brown - two goals, two assists, plus-1, 10 hits

Jeff Carter - two goals, plus-1, nine shots on goal (including a team leading five SOG vs Anaheim)

Of course, if you don't like any of those choices, feel free to nominate your own...



Voting ends Wednesday night at 8pm PST.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

RELATED ARTICLES:

Flyers Ian Laperriere on the newest King, Jeff Carter

Jim Fox talks Dustin Brown trade rumors - do the Kings want to move him?

Talking LA Kings trade rumors with goalie Jonathan Bernier

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Even with half the numbers, Stoll is twice the man of most

Stoll gives a fan a souvenir (photo: M. Zampelli)
It's one of the many cliches in sports, 'Player X is in a contract year, so expect him to put up big numbers this season.'

For Jarret Stoll, the saying couldn't be further from the truth.

With five goals on the season - and only 17 games left on the schedule - he's on pace to add one, maybe two more. Since becoming a full-time player in 2003-04, he's scored 20 or more goals twice and has scored at least 16 goals in each of the last three seasons.

Much of that drop off can be attributed to being used as a third line center now, due to the Kings off-season acquisition of Mike Richards.

Yet, if you go all the way back to July - soon after the deal happened - he said he didn't care where the Kings played him.

"I consider myself a guy who will play any role, any situation in order for us to win and to be a good teammate," Stoll said in a MayorsManor interview last summer. "I'm happy to play anywhere, as long as we win, have fun and get into the playoffs."

Even so, there's a very good chance his season totals will end up right around half of the 45 points he's averaged over the last two seasons.

VIDEO: Guest spot on Inside Sports after Kings-Ducks

Following the Kings 4-2 win over Anaheim last night, I joined Charles E. Smith, Jr on Inside Sports to talk about the game and LA's upcoming road trip to Nashville, Columbus and Detroit. After my opening segment, Smith also chatted with Dave Joseph of ESPN LA. Take a look...


If you're interested, I also joined the Inside Sports show after the Kings big win over the Chicago Blackhawks on February 25 - you can view that show here.


The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor 

Quotes from Ducks locker room after 4-2 loss to Kings

Visnovsky, Ducks defenseman (photo: Ikiri)
With both teams fighting for their playoff lives, Anaheim may have just seen their faint hopes of post-season play fall by the wayside. An early goal by Kings captain Dustin Brown, a pair from newly acquired Jeff Carter and Jonathan Quick in net was more than enough to shut down the Ducks offense.

You can't really fault the visiting team for trying though - they outshot LA 31-20, won the battle at the faceoff circle (52% vs 48%), plus were neck-and-neck with hits (29 to 31) and blocked shots (10 to 9). The difference was special teams, where the Kings picked up a pair of goals and the Ducks came away empty-handed.

And that was one of the key themes back in the locker room following their third loss of the season in LA...

Ryan Getzlaf on the overall game - "It’s a tough one. You know what, we’re pretty disappointed in this locker room, mostly with our effort. We weren’t as good as we needed to be to play tonight. They came out and played a strong game, and we didn’t respond the way we needed to, especially our special teams."

Getzlaf addresses if their playoff hopes gone - "No, we’re excited. We’re excited to play every night and excited to get back in this thing, and working hard to get there. We lost the special teams battle tonight, and that was the difference in the hockey game...There’s no doubt in here that we can still make this thing happen...Our group tonight has never stopped believing this whole time, and we’re not going to now."

Lubomir Visnovsky on the overall game - "Right now, we go like one, two wins, and two losses, and we go up and down. This is a very tough time for us. We need more wins. It’s hard to say something."

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ducks Kings primer - Where is all this confidence coming from?

Who will score the first goal of the night for the Kings?

Here's what the players had to say when asked that question yesterday after practice. It should be noted that all season long, the only player to not take somebody else was Doughty. He went with himself for a game about a month ago (but, didn't turn the trick).

This time around, the whole room was feeling lucky...

Jarret Stoll - "I'll take myself, I'm due."

Kyle Clifford - "I feel pretty confident in myself, I take me."

Trevor Lewis - "I'm going to say myself."

Jeff Carter - "Probably me...I want it, I need it"

Doughty - he just pointed at himself and said, "Me!"

Brad Richardson - "I have a pretty good feeling about myself."

Not so sure how that's going to be possible from the press box, as he's scheduled to be a healthy scratch.

Richardson went on to say, "I'll give an honorable mention to Carts. But, most likely, it will be me."

Colin Fraser, who sits next to Richardson in the locker room at TSC was willing to double down on the idea, chiming in with "It's going to be Richie, on a pass from me."

Dwight King had other ideas - "I'll go with my right winger, Carts. I think he's due. He had quite a few shots the last game and he's bound to have one go in."

If you'd like to participate in the MayorsManor First Goal contest, we'll be giving away a free pair of tickets to an upcoming Kings home game. It's easy to play, simply leave a comment below with the LA player you think will score first vs. the Ducks...or reply to the facebook / twitter updates that will be posted around 7:00pm. All correct answers will be pooled together and one random winner will be awarded the tickets. Good luck!

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

Friday, March 2, 2012

VIDEO: Hockey Player Problems - with the LA Kings

Four players from the LA Kings - Mike Richards, Jarret Stoll, Dustin Penner and Matt Greene - describe various hockey player problem in this edition of Cabbie Presents...


Can't wait to talk to Stoll tomorrow. 'Hey Strollsy!'

For some more fun with the Kings, click here for their unique takes on the trip to Europe earlier this season.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor 

Marcel Dionne - 'Kopitar needs to make a decision'

Anze Kopitar, LA Kings (photo: Ikiri)
"I told (Anze) Kopitar 'You aren't touching the puck enough. I don't like your breakout.' I think Kopitar can make magic with the puck" - Marcel Dionne on MayorsManor in 2009.

Getting a chance to speak with a legend is always an honor. However, to chat with somebody as open as Dionne, it's always a chance to learn and gain insight from one of the greatest goal scorers of all-time.

He's back in town for the Kings Fantasy Camp this weekend and we spent some time together last night on a variety of topics, which I'll post over several articles.

First up, here are some updated thoughts from Dionne on the Kings highest paid player...

"I think Kopitar's at the point in his career where he has to decide what he wants to do. Does he want to be the guy? If I was him, he should be looking at the situation and what's going with (Evgeni) Malkin. When (Sidney) Crosby was playing, Malkin was happy to be second fiddle. Then, when Crosby went out, Malkin took over. He wins games on his own. Kopi has to do that! You can't wait for wingers. You gotta make it happen. Some nights he's gotta be the guy. And if he's not, now it's getting to the point in his game where it's going to be tough to get up to the level he wants to be. Everbody knows him, everybody knows how he plays.

Ian Laperriere on Wayne Simmonds and hurt feelings

In pro wrestling terms it was a classic heel turn. The babyface (good guy) loved by millions, says something ever so casual - yet instantly turns off his longtime admirers.

This one is going to be pretty simple to follow...


And with those few little sentences, Wayne Simmonds turned from a guy who was universally loved by hockey fans in LA into public enemy number one back in December.

Having played in both cities himself, when I spoke with Ian Laperriere a few days ago, I asked him for his take on the situation...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Frozen Fury XV details, plus Kings-Ducks pre-season game

Somebody warn Elvis, the Kings are returning to the Las Vegas desert for another tilt vs. the Colorado Avalanche.

Frozen Fury XV will take place on Saturday, September 29th - at MGM Grand Garden Arena, just like usual. Although this will be the 15th edition of the annual pre-season spectacular, it will actually mark the 17th time the Kings have played a game in Vegas.

Back in 1991 they hosted the New York Rangers for an outdoor game at Caesars Palace (video) and Frozen Fury II was actually a double-header, with games on Saturday and Sunday nights.

LA holds a 10-5 record in Frozen Fury games and Colorado is 5-8, including a decisive 4-1 victory this past October.

In addition to the 13 games vs. the Avalanche, the Kings have also played one game each against Phoenix and San Jose (losing both). The were scheduled to play the Anaheim Ducks in 2004. However, that game was cancelled due to the NHL lockout.

The weekend after this year's edition of Frozen Fury, the Kings will host the Anaheim Ducks at Citizens Business Bank Arena - home of the Ontario Reign, LA's ECHL affiliate. It will mark the second time the Kings have played there, having lost to the Sharks 2-1 in a shootout in 2009.

Earlier this season, the Kings and Ducks split their annual pre-season series, with each team winning on the other's home ice by a final score of 3-1.

Ticket information and additional pre-season games will be announced at a later date.

If you've never taken the Frozen Fury Trivia Challenge, give it a try here.


The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

LA Kings vs Colorado Avalance - Saturday, September 29, 2012 in Las Vegas, NV
LA Kings vs Anaheim Ducks - Saturday, October 6, 2012 in Ontario, CA

Sutter explains the future for rookies Nolan and King in LA

Dwight King (photo: Ikiri)
On Friday, February 10 the Kings made a few roster moves, allowing them to call up Jordan Nolan and Dwight King from Manchester (AHL).

Monarchs Director of Hockey Operations Hubie McDonough notified King first and gave him an assignment - please tell Nolan that he's going with you to New York to play the Islanders. Now, that's not normally how things are done, but it was warranted due to a tight schedule. After all, a car was coming to get them and they needed to pack.

Although athletes are known to prank each other, King says he played it straight when informing his roommate he was about to make his NHL debut.

"It's a little different, I guess, for your first time call-up," King explained. "But, I'm pretty nice. You don't want to spoil a moment that like that. So, I just told him the basics."

A six-game call-up last year did little to help prepare King for what he was about to get himself into. For starters, he was thrust onto a line with Mike Richards - who wasn't even with the team last season. And Darryl Sutter was behind the bench, not Terry Murray.

"I met him, or ran into him in the hallway and shook his hand," said King, when describing his brief encounter with Sutter a few weeks prior in Manchester (the coach went back to observe two games during the NHL All-Star break). "One of his brothers, Rich, was the assistant coach on my junior team in Lethbridge.  He didn't really know me though.  So, that was the extent of our little chat."

Since then, King has played nine games for Sutter in LA and scored a pair of goals.

Flyers Ian Laperriere on the newest King, Jeff Carter

Jeff Carter comes to LA (photo: Ikiri)
This piece doesn't need much of an introduction. Ian Laperriere is one of the most honest and straight forward guys in hockey. He'll tell you exactly how it is and he always speaks from the heart.

In a MayorsManor podcast two years ago he had some choice words for former teammate Sean Avery and he shared his admiration for Mike Richards immediately after the Kings acquired him last summer (note: both of those interviews are linked below).

So, when LA GM Dean Lombardi traded for Jeff Carter last week, of course, the first person I reached out to was Lappy. He's sort of become the unofficial Flyers correspondent for MayorsManor.

We played part of his interview on Sunday's MayorsManor LIVE show. However, here's more of what he had to say about the Kings' newest forward...

"He's a goal scorer," Laperriere began, when describing Carter. "I think the Kings went to take care of their weakness. They've had a hard time scoring goals this year. One thing that Jeff Carter can do is score goals, and big goals too. He's a big body out there who can shoot the puck. He's really good on the power play (too)...That's why Dean and his staff went and paid a pretty good price to go get a proven goal scorer."

As for Carter's much publicized problems in Columbus, his former Flyers teammate understood part of what was going on...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

VIDEO: Kings rookie Jordan Nolan gets his first NHL fight

Rookie Jordan Nolan had another memorable game for the Kings last night - not only picking up his second NHL goal, but also introducing himself to the Wild's Marco Scandella...


It was Scandella's first NHL fight as well.  Perhaps he bit off a bit more than he can chew for his inaugural tilt though.

You can check out more of Nolan's handy work from Manchester over on his page at hockeyfights.com.


The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

MayorsManor LIVE call-in show returns Wednesday March 7

Many of you have been asking, so we wanted to go ahead and make the announcement now, MayorsManor LIVE (the call-in show) will be returning on March 7th for a weekly run through the remainder of the season. We'll be on each Wednesday at 8pm PST.

A special thank you goes out to all who have listened and called in - including Ian Laperriere, Jim Fox, Kings prospect Ray Kaunisto and other special guests - as we've been getting this new project off the ground. Most of all, thanks for the ongoing support provided by the MayorsManor readers. We couldn't have done it without you!

Next week, Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period will join me as co-host for another night of hockey talk galore. Call us up, we want to hear your questions. Here's the show page - Hockey Chirps Live, March 7, bookmark it.

If you missed our trade deadline special from Sunday night, it's available for free right here.

The Mayor
www.twitter.com/MayorNHL
www.facebook.com/MayorsManor

Penner weighs in on the one-year anniversary of the trade

Pennermania, circa 2011
Happy Anniversary.

Those just might be the least honest words to ever appear on MayorsManor.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of what's turned out to be one of the most disappointing trades in LA Kings history.

After struggling for long stretches in the first half of last season the team went on a hot streak in the month of February and GM Dean Lombardi swung big at the trade deadline, picking up the most coveted name on the market - Dustin Penner.

While Lombardi paid a steep price - prospect Colten Teubert, a first round draft pick last year and a third rounder this year - conventional wisdom, at the time, was it was a good trade. The Kings added a proven goal scorer (he had averaged 25+ goals the prior four seasons) and they didn't have to move anybody off of their current roster.

The fan sentiment around Penner today is far different than it was a year ago though.

With a goal vs. Vancouver, in just his second contest wearing a Kings uniform, he began a career-best six-game point streak. Pennermania was truly running wild in Los Angeles.

Since then, he has five goals and thirteen points, and most of the cheers have turned to boos.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sean O'Donnell on Jonathan Quick and the Stanley Cup

Sean O'Donnell (photo by Cikiri)
Long time followers of MayorsManor - especially those who've listened to any of my radio interviews - know that when talking about Jonathan Quick, I often make mention of a passing comment Sean O'Donnell made to me in Las Vegas in the fall of 2009.

To set the stage properly, it's important to understand that the season before that conversation took place, Quick had split time between Manchester (AHL) and Los Angeles. And the year prior to that, he was in the ECHL. So, with only 47 games of big league experience, very little was still known about Quick.

Yet, O'Donnell told me that he saw big things in Quick's future, including a Stanley Cup.

From talking to players over the years you develop the ability to cut through some of the rhetoric and fluff. Make no mistake about it, O'Donnell wasn't pumping the tires of a teammate when he said it. In fact, he's the one that brought up Quick.  With such praise coming from a well respected veteran (one with over 1000 games played, a former team captain, Stanley Cup winner, etc.), I took note.

Then, as if O'Donnell knew the script, Quick went on to win 39 games that year - setting the Kings' single-season franchise record in the process. He went on to top that with a stellar season last year and a Vezina Trophy worthy campaign is underway at the moment.

So, when I had a chance to catch up with O'Donnell over the weekend, I just had to know... What did he see in Quick way back then?

10 Tidbits on Jeff Carter - Welcome to the LA Kings

Jeff Carter, LA debut (photo: M. Zampelli)
The trade winds aren't the only weather related activity surrounding the LA Kings these days, as there was a flood of information on Jeff Carter to dig up and get to the bottom of this weekend. Here are 10 Tidbits on LA's new forward, using a hodgepodge of notes and quotes...

- He was drafted in the first round of the OHL and NHL drafts. His dad was also taken in the OHL draft - between Mike Gartner and Dino Ciccarelli in 1976 (both are in the Hall of Fame). At just 5-foot-8, Jim Carter played one season for the Oshawa Generals and gave up hockey. By the way, Jeff's listed at 6-foot-4.

- Carter on why he chose jersey #77: "I wore seven all the way up until I got to Philly. Seven is obviously retired there (Bill Barber). So, I was given 17. I've worn 77 a few times here and there. So, I thought I'd switch it up for a bit...I asked for it. Darren (Granger), the equipment guy, said he had to ask a few people. Then, he came back and said it was alright. I told him I'd wear 17 if it as going to be a problem though."

- Represented Canada twice at the World Junior Championships. In 2004 he had Richards as a teammate (when the U.S. beat Canada for the goal medal) and Colin Fraser was with him in 2005. Carter was named a first team all-star at both tournaments.