Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hockey Fest 2011: State of the Franchise

Prior to Hockey Fest, Dean Lombardi had agreed not to publicly discuss the Doughty negotiations. So much for that plan.

The State of the Franchise session kicked off with the Kings general manager talking about critical situations -- game situations and business situations. The road to success is full of them, and he emphasized that this organization is ready to handle the critical situations coming at them and more committed than ever to success.

Since Dean and the Kings staff knew there was no getting away from it, Bob Miller had the task of lightening up the mood by asking if he could have the first question of the day since Dean was "pretty sure he knew what it was." The audience got the joke and laughed along.

When he did answer the inevitable Doughty status question, Lombardi referenced the lessons he learned from his tenure in San Jose dealing with multiple RFA holdouts and had this to say:
"I've been through this once before....I couldn't look them in the eye....I can assure you that is not the problem here."
With the ball firmly in Doughty's court with THAT answer and the elephant finally out of the room, Dean, Terry Murray, Jeff Solomon and Ron Hextall fielded a host of other questions from fans. Here are some of the more interesting comments of the morning.

  • Regarding what the Kings will do to improve their anemic power play, Terry Murray responded "Dean, you wanna talk on that?"
  • One brave (and possibly stupid) fan asked if captains will change because Mike Richards is on the team. After the booing subsided, Terry Murray settled the issue. "Dustin Brown is our Captain."
  • "I've never seen a player overprepared to play in the NHL." - Ron Hextall
  • On the latest "Mulletgate" update, Jeff Solomon stepped right up to the plate. "Dean will hand me the mic so I'm the one that gets hit with a fine this year."
  • "Maybe we got a little ahead of ourselves with the Brad Richards thing." - Dean Lombardi
  • When asked about the recent trend of Manchester players leaving for greener pastures in Europe, Lombardi said "You better get the muzzle Solly, because this is gonna get me irritated..."
  • And finally, a fan named Frank asked if there is truly any loyalty anymore with regard to players and their feelings about the organization they play for. "This could be a 3 hour conversation," responded Lombardi.

Once the questions were done, the most anticipated moment of the morning arrived as the Kings active roster members were introduced. It was a beautiful sight seeing them all lined up in those new road jerseys!

Dustin Brown also shared a few remarks, emphasizing that this year feels different for the team. They're on the verge of something amazing, and they know it. Hearing him speak sent chills up my spine.

Brown started by thanking team owner Phil Anschutz for his unwavering support and calling him "the best owner in hockey, if not the best owner in all professional sports."  He welcomed his new team mates, which I thought was incredibly classy. Finally, our Captain made the expectations for the season clear as a bell:
"Last season left a bitter taste in our mouths. It's time to get rid of it."

Is it October yet?


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