Posted on: February 24, 2012 6:47 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 6:49 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Less than 24 hours after adding what should be a key piece to the Kings organization (forward Jeff Carter), general manager Dean Lombardi managed re-sign another key player (one that was already on the team) on Friday evening by agreeing to a new two-year deal with defenseman Willie Mitchell.
The contract is reportedly worth $3.5 million per season, which is the exact same salary cap hit his previous contract carried.
Mitchell originally joined the Kings prior to the 2010-11 season after spending four years with the Vancouver Canucks, and in his first 112 games with the Kings has scored eight goals to go with 13 assists. His greatest asset (and value to the Kings) is his ability to play as a shutdown defenseman. He logs on average over 21 minutes of ice-time per night, and when he is on the ice the Kings rarely get scored on. This season he has only been on the ice for 1.37 goals against per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play, which is the best mark of any defenseman currently on the Los Angeles roster.
It's been quite a busy 24-hour period for the Kings defense, as Jack Johnson was shipped to Columbus in the trade that brought Carter to Los Angeles, which was then followed by Slava Voynov being called up from the American Hockey League.
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Posted on: February 22, 2012 5:19 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 4:04 pm
The list of teams rumored to be in on Nash isn't incredibly long and it's the usual suspects that you'd expect to be in on a big-name, high-priced star like Nash. His wish list -- put into song so wonderfully -- was supposedly five teams long with possible Wild cards in the mix too.
We're going to take a look at each of the rumored wish-list teams and how Nash would fit, looking today at the Los Angeles Kings.
There aren't a whole lot of certainties in this Rick Nash trade saga. Who's really on the list of teams he'd OK a trade too? Is that list exhaustive? Would anybody actually pay the Blue Jackets' asking price? They go on.
But if there is one thing that we can pretty much say without hesitation it's that no team involved in this conversation -- except for maybe the Blue Jackets themselves -- need Nash more than the Kings. It's been argued that nobody needs to get Nash more than Kings GM Dean Lombardi. His job literally could depend on it.
The Kings are an embarrassment to offense. Sorry Kings fans to put it so bluntly, but with 2.07 goals per game that's something you already know. The Kings are in the process of letting an exceptional season from goaltender Jonathan Quick go to waste. If they could have given him just a little more offense this season -- I'll be kind and say about half-a-goal more per game, which would put them in the middle of the league -- he'd be firmly in the Vezina conversation.
But they aren't scoring that man. And it's starting to increase the heat in L.A. Before the season this was seen as a team ready to make that jump, possibly compete. By so far falling short of those expectations, Lombardi's leash is getting tight.
In spite of it all, the Kings are still in the playoff picture, holding the eighth spot in the West. The postseason has to be the goal at this point to hopefully try and keep the momentum going. That's why Nash has L.A. hockey fans salivating.
The great thing about possibly going to L.A. is that it would give Nash the centermen he was waiting so long for in Columbus. He finally got one in Jeff Carter this season but injuries didn't allow them to play together for very long before the trade talk started up. But in L.A. he'd have a couple of quality centers in Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards to play alongside.
From L.A.'s perspective the fit is great. It's not just that Nash is a scorer, but he plays on the left wing. The assumption would be he would join Kopitar and Dustin Brown on the No. 1 line which all of a sudden doesn't seem so bad.
But of course it's all easier said than done. Because as we've noted, the Blue Jackets want a lot for Nash, as they should. The package from L.A. to get a deal done has long been rumored to be Jack Johnson, Jonathan Bernier, probably another prospect and a high pick.
As the Nash world turns, the indications are getting stronger that L.A. is a less and less likely landing spot for Nash at this time. There are other options that might pop up like Ales Hemsky or possibly even some of the Sabres. So as nice as he might fit and go a long way toward solving L.A.'s scoring issues, the asking price might prove too much for even a desperate GM like Lombardi.
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Posted on: February 21, 2012 11:06 am
We've not come down to the final week of the NHL's trading season and we've had so little action so far that you'd be forgiven if you mistook the deadline for a Kings game.
The only thing keeping this trade deadline interesting with all the non-action has been the discussion of Rick Nash's future in Columbus, which doesn't seem to be much anymore. That's because this season the Blue Jackets are the only real seller. Every other team is close enough to the playoffs to convince themselves they might still have a shot except for the Oilers, who don't really have many more players they would trade.
That's the price of parity in the NHL. At this point no team in the Eastern Conference is more than seven points out of the playoffs. That's pretty crazy.
So the only real blockbusters waiting to happen out there -- that we know of -- involved Nash or his teammate Jeff Carter.
It's just a matter of time before the Jackets swing a deal or deals. GM Scott Howson says he is getting closer but nothing is pending or anything right now. Here's what he told the Columbus Dispatch.
"We're waiting for the right deals," Howson said. "We're getting closer. But we're not there yet."
According to Bob McKenzie of TSN and the NHL Network, that "right deal" for Nash would involve a high-end player, two elite prospects and a draft pick. No word if the kitchen sink is part of the asking price as well or not.
Whether or not it happens this week or this summer, it certainly seems like the Nash and Columbus marriage has hit an end.
The trade deadline is also massively important for Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who could see his marriage with Los Angeles end with this trade deadline, too. The Kings need so badly to make a deal for an elite scorer and only Nash and Carter seem to fit that bill right now of available players. The fan base has reached the point of expectation to deliver with high hopes all around entering this season.
It's really not an exaggeration to say that Lombardi's job is on the line with this trade deadline. That's what Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times believes.
I'm of the belief that the Kings should take to upgrading the offense this offseason. I don't foresee any addition this season that's going to do any more for the Kings than get them to the playoffs, perhaps. It's not like they will transform into a true contender this season with Nash.
But if Lombardi isn't guaranteed a job, then I get the urgency to do a deal now from his standpoint. Desperate men will do desperate things.
With all of that said, don't expect the trade deadline to remain dull. There will be some deals and McKenzie has the latest on the buzz, including a few teams who are slipping into selling mode and the other hot names of the season.
Posted on: February 19, 2012 10:59 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 11:50 am
It's a good thing the Columbus Blue Jackets aren't involved in a playoff race this season or else these clock issues would be killing the NHL.
For the second time in a month, the Jackets were involved in a last-second clock controversy in their game against the Rangers in New York. But this time the call went in their favor.
With the second period winding down, Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto beat Jackets goalie Steve Mason and it was originally called a goal. We'll let the Fox Sports Ohio broadcast crew take it from here.
Just in case that video's not working for you, the replays show the puck going in with either 0.1 or 0.2 seconds left. Yet the ruling was no goal, it came after the period had ended. Huh?
That's right, the clock that you see on TV and at games isn't the official clock. As disorienting as that is, the video replay booth is staring at the actual game clock on their feed and in this case, the MSG clock was just a touch behind the actual one, leading to this discrepancy.
Pretty amazing that here we are in 2012 and we still can't have the actual game time on the broadcasts or in the arena. It makes for some unnecessary controversies like this one.
Not to mention it only lends the league to strong criticisms and opens up opportunities for people to start conspiracy theories. This was a makeup call for the Jackets for the blown call in Los Angeles. See how easy that was? There's your conspiracy. Now have fun with it.
The NHL has been looking at the clocks since the infamous situation in L.A. that introduced coulombs and Dean Lombardi's brilliance to everybody. Colin Campbell told Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times that the league is fixing this.
Obviously that hasn't been taken care of yet.
In the end, this turned out to be more or less insignificant. The Jackets did tie the game -- on a Rick Nash goal, no less -- and take it to overtime before losing. So the Rangers still got their two points and the Jackets got one that they likely wouldn't have picked up, but they're so far behind the other 29 teams it doesn't much matter. The only way the controversy will hear its read is if the Rangers fall into a tie situation and regulation wins are taken into account.
It's just something that needs to be fixed and ASAP. It's hard to keep having situations like this from an image standpoint.
H/t to Puck Daddy for the video
Posted on: February 2, 2012 8:38 pm
By: Adam Gretz
Everybody has an opinion or a thought on what took place in Los Angeles on Wednesday night when the clock appeared to stop just prior to Drew Doughty's game-winning goal with 0.4 seconds remaining in the game.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi offered a scientific explanation. Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson shared his thoughts in a blog post on the Blue Jackets website that has since been deleted (but don't worry, the Internet never forgets).
And now NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has weighed in on the controversey, via NHL.com, and unlike Lombardi, did not include "coulombs" as part of his statement:
"Not good, not acceptable -- if [the clock] had run straight through, the game would have been at a tie at that point, would have gone to overtime. And maybe L.A. would have won anyway, maybe not. That's not the point. We are taking this very seriously. We're investigating as to how it happened. Obviously it's either human error or a technology glitch. We don't know which, but we've already begun investigating and we will get to the bottom of it.
"Now I know lots of people are going to say, 'How can you have a mistake?' Well, unfortunately or fortunately, our game is full of mistakes -- by players, by coaches and occasionally by officials -- and on some levels it's no different than if a guy makes a bad penalty call, puts a team on the power play and they score the winning goal. It happens. We don't like when it happens and our job is to minimize mistakes. We don't want any, but obviously when you have a human element in any aspect of the game you're going to have it.
"If we had any reason to believe that this was intentional we would deal with it in a whole different way, but we're going to investigate it, get to the bottom of it."
Previously at Eye On Hockey
Clock error helps Kings, Jackets GM Responds
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 2, 2012 2:23 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 2:35 pm
(Note: We are not liable if your mind is blown by the following. Reader discretion is advised.)
All I can say to that is Wow. I'm speechless. So instead I'll leave it to Dr. Emmett Brown.
Yes, there are all sorts of politically correct or even less P.C. answers a GM could give to being asked about this error. Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson took the less P.C. route on his blog earlier Thursday.
Of course, none are even in the same realm as that Lombardi gem. I think. Maybe he could answer that one for me.
But seriously, here is the genius of it (besides the quantim physics involved): It's beyond almost everybody's comprehension that it sounds completely legitimate. Not that I'm implying it isn't true, but even if it weren't, who'd really know? Probably not many. Pure genius.
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Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:58 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 1:16 pm
It's been a little more than a week in the making, but Darryl Sutter is finally the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
The team made the announcement on Tuesday and Sutter will officially begin the coaching on Wednesday by leading the team practice. His first game comes on Thursday when the Kings face fellow SoCal underachievers, the Anaheim Ducks and their new midseason coach Bruce Boudreau.
No timeframe of the contract was released, but Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period points out that it's like Sutter's contract mirrors Lombardi's, which means it goes through 2012-13 and has an option for the following year.
The Kings, thought by many to be a true Stanley Cup contender this season, have been just a touch underwhelming. And by a touch we mean a lot. The Kings are just 15-14-4 and have scored only 72 goals, more than only the Islanders who have three fewer goals in three fewer games. It led to the Kings firing coach Terry Murray after 3 1/2 years on the job.
Sutter was target No. 1 as he and GM Dean Lombardi go way back to when they were together with the San Jose Sharks. So an agreement was reached in short order but visa/passport issues delayed the announcement and takeover, leaving John Stevens to hold down the job on an interim basis. Under his short watch, the Kings were 2-2-0.
With Sutter coming on board, the Kings will be hoping or the Ken Hitchcock effect in St. Louis. Out of the five new coaches (Hitchcock, Boudreau, Dale Hunter in Washington, Kirk Muller in Carolina and Randy Cunneyworth in Montreal), only Hitchcock has been able to turn around his team's misfortunes.
Interestingly enough, Sutter's resume is the closest to matching Hitchcock's as far as being an NHL coach is concerned. Sutter took the Flames to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004 when they lost to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: December 13, 2011 3:09 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 3:18 pm
Kings coach Terry Murray became the fifth head coach to be fired this season on Monday. Los Angeles was the first team, however, not to name a permanent successor upon the firing, instead naming John Stevens as the interim bench boss.
It looks like it could be a very short stint as the head man for Stevens.
Sutter, formerly the GM of the Flames who is without a position right now, is still under contract in Calgary. Thus, the Kings had to ask for permission first.
The only thing giving me pause is another blog from Hammond saying it might not happen quite that fast.
If the sides work out an agreement — Sutter would also have to reach a financial agreement with the Calgary Flames, in terms of the rest of his contract — Sutter could be announced as the Kings’ coach this week, although it’s unlikely that he would be behind the bench Thursday in Columbus.
Whether it happens in time for Thursday's road game or not, this much seems pretty evident. There is so much smoke the fire must be burning and Sutter will become the next Kings coach at some point in the very near future.
It certainly wouldn't surprise his brother Brent.
“There’s a history with him and Dean [Lombardi, the Kings GM], going back to San Jose,” Brent Sutter told the Calgary Sun. “It’s not a shock to me if it does materialize.
“To me, that’s where Darryl’s niche is.”
And I don't think that's going to win over all the fans in Los Angeles. Despite the fact that Sutter has a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on his resume as Flames coach and all in all is not a bad coach, Sutter's rep was soured by his GM duties in Calgary. Plus, his teams will play in the pretty much same defensive fashion the Kings had under Murray, just with a lot more edge.
It would come down to a matter of getting a new voice to try and get to the players. That's been the theme in all the firings this season, the coaches were being tuned out by the players, so new voices were needed (another cliché I'm growing tired of). Couldn't they just all go falsetto?
It's clear that by going from Murray to Sutter, GM Dean Lombardi really wants his team to play a defensive style. He had a coach he liked in Murray and, according to Darren Dreger, Lombardi let the team know they better get their butts in gear, because he didn't want to fire Murray, a coach he originally hired.
Lombardi expressed some of the frustration publicly too, courtesy of Frozen Royalty.
So what's your take, Kings fans and none; you like Sutter to L.A. or no?
Photo: Getty Images