Thursday, January 10, 2008

I Respectfully Disagree

I applaud Helene Elliot's most recent article in the LA Times because it was refreshing to finally see a hockey columnist rightfully rip the LA Kings. I've waited weeks to read a similar column from a professional sports journalist but, excluding game recaps by the AP and other Times writers, I have hardly heard a peep. Maybe it's because the Kings weren't picked to do well this season or maybe it's because we're in the Western Conference and don't get much press. However, I do not agree with most of what Elliot says in her article.

She practically demands Dean Lombardi to bring up the highly touted prospects that are doing well in Manchester. I agree that it would be nice to see them in action in the NHL and if they underperformed, well, so what, there's practically zero chance we'll clinch the 8th spot. BUT, I agree with Lombardi that you don't want to rush prospects. Case in point: Bernier. He appeared ready for the job but couldn't be our saving grace when the team tanked in front of him. When he went back to Juniors, he was, as Lombardi bluntly put it, "God awful" and had to rebuild his confidence to return to norm and continue to improve. Her argument is:

"If [the fine prospects] don't pan out Lombardi would still have time to
retrench through trades and good selections in the June entry draft."

Why, so we can repeat the process next season?? Do we really want to bring up these youngsters this deep into the season and feed them to the wolves? I'm sure they would jump at the opportunity to come up and prove themselves but what if the team continues to lose game after game...where do you think their confidence level will be after another 5-game, or God forbid, another 8-game losing streak? Additionally, how well would you be able to separate the NHL-ready players from the AHL-career guys if the entire team sucks and make each other look horrendous?

Then she strikes my Lubo by saying:

"And why not bring up 24-year-old defenseman Peter Harrold? He can't be worse than puck-shy Lubomir Visnovsky, caring but hardly mobile Rob Blake, so-so Tom Preissing and contact-shunning Jaroslav Modry."

I remember Peter Harrold very well from last season and he wasn't very good. His AHL stats from this season cause one to believe that he's greatly improved, but should we take the chance? And did she just describe my dear Lubo as "puck shy"? WHAT?? Maybe she meant, "trigger shy". He hasn't put up a high number of goals this season but his 21 assists are third on the Kings behind Fro and Kopi who have 24 and 23 assists, respectively and is tied for 11th in assists among all defensemen in the NHL. He continues to be one of the few Kings defensemen who can bring the puck from behind his own goal cleanly into the offensive zone so I don't understand where she gets "puck shy". I have no comment on her description of Blake, Preissing, and Modry...but I'm searching high and low for her criticism of Stuart? What, no harsh words for Stuart? Has she turned a blind eye on all of his turnovers and sloppy play?

The organization of the second half of the article is all over the place. Case in point:

"If Marc Crawford can't advance the kids' development, a coaching change might be in order. There's nothing to gain by firing him now and Lombardi isn't inclined to do it.

'I don't see that. I think we have to continue to fight through things,' Lombardi said. 'Look at some of the things he has confronted this season. I have not gone there at all in my mind.'

But in assessing the progress of the core youngsters Lombardi said Kopitar 'hasn't gone backward' and spoke of an 'over-reliance' on the 20-year-old Slovenian, who is in his second NHL season. Those aren't ringing endorsements of Crawford.

Nor was Lombardi's assessment that 'we haven't been able to manage' Blake's minutes and have relied too heavily on the 38-year-old as he recovers from hip surgery. The stalled progress of Alexander Frolov and Michael Cammalleri also go in the minus column.

If Crawford can't bend, he must be replaced next season"

First of all, I am not even going to comment on Lombardi's quote...he's such a liar. (Never thought about it?? right...)
Ok, so first she states a coaching needs to happen, but then doesn't really clarify whether she also thinks he should stay for the remainder of the season or if that was solely Lombardi's sentiment. And I'm a bit confused as how we got from Crow to Kopi then back to Crow...I sort of understand what she means, but it's just so jumpy and requires a lot of assumptions of what she's thinking.

I don't think Fro's progress has stalled...the guy's been injured! He started the season slow because he was recovering from an injury and just as he was getting his stride he got injured again. If you look at his stats he's not that far off from last season. When he's healthy he's been on and I think he'll continue to play well and improve his stats from last season.

I wouldn't necessarily say that Cammalleri's progress has stalled but rather it's at a more expected level. He did very well last season and I was definitely surprised that he ended the season with 80 points. Dean must have thought Cammy wouldn't be able to reproduce those efforts this season since he only offered him slightly more than $2 million during the off season. He blew out of the gates at the beginning of the season which caught everyone off guard. His scoring has slowed as of late but I think it might be because Cammy just isn't an 80 point/season player. finally she says Crow might be deserving of a pink slip at the end of the season...could she not have included that statement earlier??

QUICK NOTE: it's fucking 4-0 Kings in the first period. WHAT. THE. FUCK....they couldn't have done that on Tuesday? ckim and I are crapping our pants right now because we're both listening to the game and chatting through Google. Every fifth word in our chat is either "OMG!!" or "WTF??" This is unbelievable. However, I'm still keeping my fingers crossed because we have been known to collapse in the third period...


CKim said...'s 5-0 in the second.

Kirsten said...

If I hadn't been watching the game, I would not have believed it.

Too bad the destruction of Bernier didn't help Team Canada too much. Good thing for us that Mason stood on his head.

CKim said...

Isn't it sad when the local fans can't even watch the freaking game on tv but someone MILES away can?? What the crap is that.

Mason was a stud. But to me he'll never be as studly as Bernier. Altho, I think they tie on the "ridiculously adorable" scale.

Kirsten said...

We have Centre Ice, plus occasionally in Minnesota we can get Canadian TV all the way in the Cities. The top half of the state always has Canadian TV in addition to American TV. I agree though, that is fucked up.

JFJ better kiss his ass goodbye. He's fucked after this roadtrip...

KMS2 said...

Kirsten, I am so jealous that you were able to watch the game. Too bad SoCal college basketball is more important to broadcast than professional hockey.

The only thing I know about Mason is that he played in the Gold Medal game. Based on looks I have to go with Bernier.

Kirsten said...

That's true, Bernier is much more squee worthy than Mason.

Centre Ice online is highly useful in that respect, since tomorrow I'm heading back to a place that doesn't get ANY hockey games. EVER.

CKim said...

kms - There was a lot going on during the WJC about the coach putting Mason in net during the medal rounds instead of going with Bernier. I guess the bottom line was that they got their gold medal, which I'm confident they would have gotten with Bernier in net (and without having to go into overtime in the gold medal game). But what are you gonna do when you have two outstanding goalies? Flip a coin?

Kristin - Don't you have to pay a buttload for Center Ice online?

Kirsten said...

If you have regular Centre Ice, it's half off, otherwise, I think it's like 150 dollars. Perhaps if you were to really, really have an intense NEED to see that game I could let you borrow the feed for a day provided the Wild aren't playing the Oilers.