Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hockey Fest 2011: Breaking Down The Event Schedule

In less than two weeks the hockey doldrums of summer officially end as the Kings kick off the pre-season with their 3rd annual Hockey Fest!

More information is up on the Kings website about the event and if you've already purchased tickets, you may have received an email from the Kings with a more detailed schedule. If you didn't fear not because The Queen is here to help. Since the schedule times aren't listed on the Kings website, I thought I'd share the information.

I'm also providing The Queen's suggestions on what to see and what to skip during the event. One of the things you'll notice about the schedule is that events overlap, so it isn't possible to do every single thing listed. Hopefully some tips will help you pick and choose what you would enjoy most.

Updated Schedule of Events

8:30: Doors Open

9:00 - 11:00: "State of the Kings presented by The Fanz Choice" - Led by Dean Lombardi, pep rally to follow with players, staff and Ice Crew to be introduced

The Queen's Take: It's a must do, in part because nothing else in the schedule overlaps this but mostly because this is your chance to SEE you Kings, live in the flesh, for the first time in far too long! Oh, and Dean Lombardi's pithy comments and charts are always fun too. Bobby Scribe will be there taking copious notes and apply his decoder ring in a later blog.

Hey boys!

11:15 - 12:45: "Meet The New Kings presented by Rocco's Old School Products" - Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Ethan Moreau
The Queen's Take: Required. These are the new boys, and we have a responsibility as Kings fans to make them feel welcome, We also need to find out more about what makes them tick. And ladies, they're ALL great looking, so eye candy is a factor.

11:15 - 12:45: Youth Hockey Game presented by Toyota
The Queen's Take: You're probably skipping this because you're getting to know the new boys. Sorry young-uns. Your time will come....

Noon - 4pm: Locker Room Tours
The Queen's Take: If you've done the locker room tour previously as part of Tip-A-King or some other event, this isn't a must do. But if you've never been or need a time filler, it's fun. One warning -- it smells like hockey down there, which can be good or bad depending on your point of view.

12:15 - 1:15: Alumni autograph session with Bernie Nicholls and Daryl Evans
The Queen's Take: If you can get to the front of the line and get out in 15 minutes, do it. Daryl Evans is a marvelous person and Bernie Nicholls is an absolute hoot! Just make sure you don't get stuck in line and miss the Kids press Conference.

12:30 - 1:30 "Kids Press Conference presented by Pizza Hut"- Matt Greene, Jonathan Quick, Kevin Westgarth and Kyle Clifford
The Queen's Take: DO NOT MISS! ABSOLUTELY a must-do. You will never laugh harder in your life. Prior press conferences included Brad Richardson singing and Wayne Simmonds and Teddy Purcell explaining why they weren't married and didn't have kids. Plus if Matt Greene is part of an event you KNOW it will be fun. Personally, I can't wait to see how Quickie is going to handle this because he has a wacky sense of humor. And something tells me The Big Red Dog will be worth the price of admission all on his own.

Kids ask the best questions.

1:00 - 2:15 Bailey's Family Skate
The Queen's Take: This event overlaps with a couple of other things, but it is BAILEY. Who doesn't love that lion? Skate on up and give him a hug. Just watch out for "Air Bailey." He's mean. Don't ask how I know, just trust me on this one.

2:00 - 3:00 Player Autograph Session
The Queen's Take: For me, this could be hit or miss depending on the players involved. If Drew is there, you know where to find me. Otherwise, maybe not. I personally think Tip-A-King is a much better venue to really chat with the players and get your autographs and photos. But if you think this is your one shot this season to meet your favorite player, have at it. Just keep in mind that the lines are always long and you may miss out on other stuff.

2:30 - 3:30 "LA Kings Shoot Out Showdown presented by The Upper Deck Company" - judged by Kings players
The Queen's Take: Every year the Kings throw in some new event and no one has any idea what it is. That may make it a must do by default, especially since the players are judging. The question is which players? One approach is to scope it out at the start, then leave if it doesn't look as interesting as you thought. That's probably how I'll play it.

3:00 - 4:00 "Miracle on Manchester" Q & A
The Queen's Take: I love the Miracle on Manchester stories as much as anyone, but for me the Kings told the story most perfectly at the first Hockey Fest. This one is probably a skip for me.  Unless Bob Miller is leading the discussion, and then I'll go just because I love Bob that much.

3:30 - 4:45 Alumni Autograph Session
The Queen's Take: Once again, depends on who's there.

3:45 - 5:00 Hockey Game featuring members of the LA City Fire Department. The Kings will unveil special LAFD Kings jerseys during this event that will be auctioned off (autographed by LA Kings players) at with proceeds benefiting the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Fireman's Fund.
The Queen's Take: This should be fun, plus it's actual LIVE HOCKEY. Firemen are usually gorgeous, and who doesn't need another cool jersey for their collection? And you might even find a player that would like to be a fireman!

Oh hi there, Matt Greene! How about a fireman's carry?

5:00 Hockey Fest '11 Officially Closed

**Events and schedule subject to change.

If you still don't have your tickets, what are you waiting for? Get on the Kings website NOW and don't miss this great event.  It's the best $20 you'll ever spend -- at least until the season gets started.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Kings Court Featured Fan: Michael Castillo

Michael Castillo is the Kings correspondent for The 110 Report, on Fansided blog that covers all things related to Los Angeles sports. I'm really glad he responded to the survey because it gives me a chance to remind you that if you have a Kings blog or site of any kind, Kings Court wants to hear from you! One of The Queen's goals with Kings Court is getting the word out about all the fantastic people that write about our kingdom. You can always find my most complete list here.

Without further ado, here are Michael's answers to The Queen's fan survey! Enjoy!


1. How did you first get introduced to hockey?
My father was a huge Kings fan, and he and my uncle would go to a bunch of games per season at the Forum. It rubbed off. 

2. When did you become a Kings fan, and what do you remember about your first Kings fan experience?
My dad talking down Gretzky, and loving Luc.

3. Who is you favorite Kings player of all time, past or present, and why?
Luc. Because he's Luc. Obviously! 

4. What is your favorite memory of the Kings?
The second goal in Game 3 vs. the Sharks, because it was the loudest moment I've ever witnessed in person, at Staples. 

5. What is your favorite item of Kings gear and why?
My Kings cap, because it's versatile.

6. If you could watch a game from any location in Staples Center, where would you be and why?
The lower bowl, in the corner, so I can see the play develop in both ends.

7. If you could be a King, what position would you play and why?
Defense, because I love passing back and forth and hearing the crowd yell "shoot the puck you idiot!!!!"

8. If you had a chance to address the team right now, what would you say?
 "Who wants to grab a beer with Mike Richards and I? He's paying. Quick, you in? I know you are, Cliffy!"

9. If you could have dinner with a current Kings player, who would you choose and what would you say to them?
See question #8. No, but seriously it would probably be Scuderi or Greene or Mitchell. They seem to be the most down to earth, nicest guys.

10. What is the best thing about being a Kings fan?
Not being a Ducks fan.


Don't forget Kings fans, if you'd like to submit your answers and become a Kings Court Featured Fan, click this link for directions!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Kings Court Featured Fan: Kenny Jones

When I was thinking about doing Kings fan profiles as part of this blog, I wasn't entirely sure how willing people would be to take the time to answer questions about themselves. But I figured, "Why not?" and put it out there, hoping I wouldn't have to endure the embarrassment of getting no responses. I never should have been worried, because some great Kings fans have already answered the bell!

I'm very excited the first response came from Kenny Jones. Kenny is proof that Kings fans are everywhere, because he follows the team from the UK! That's no easy task with a lot of time zones between his home and Los Angeles. Kenny is on Facebook so don't be afraid to look him up if you want to expand your Kings buddy list.

For now, here are Kenny's answers to The Queen's fan survey! Enjoy!


1. How did you first get introduced to hockey?
I remember first playing one of the NHL games on the Sega Genesis as a kid. My dad always said I'd play them just for the fights. I guess that's what got me started on the sport I now love.

2. When did you become a Kings fan, and what do you remember about your first Kings fan experience?
If I remember right, I became a fan around autumn 2005 just after the season started. I remember seeing we started off well and was hoping we can carry it on, I knew nothing of the game properly at the time and my heart was telling me that the Kings were to be my team of choice.

3. Who is you favorite Kings player of all time, past or present, and why?
Can I answer this both ways? (LOL)  But in the past, it's Robitaille without a doubt, for a guy to start his career with us, despite winning a Cup in Detroit he still came back to finish his career with us Kings, I can still remember reading about his record breaking 551 goals against the Thrashers, it's gonna be a memory that'll stick with me forever.

But currently, it's Anze Kopitar and I believe he'll be making an impact in the next few years, it's a shame he doesn't get the recognition he deserves because we're in the West.

4. What is your favorite memory of the Kings?
This goes both ways for me to be honest, both before and after I became a Kings fan.

In the past, I have to say it's the 2001 Playoffs against the Red Wings. When I watched that clip on YouTube I felt shivers going down my spine because it was just awe-inspiring, there's nothing like it.

Though as a fan, it's a tough call. I mean I've got the playoffs on one hand and the comeback against the Stars a few years ago, but I'd stick with those two.

5. What is your favorite item of Kings gear and why?
It's one of my jerseys, without a doubt, I'm a bit torn with this one because I've got my 1998 home jersey (which I affectionately love) or my now alternate jersey that's personalised with Rider/31 on the back.

6. If you could watch a game from any location in Staples Center, where would you be and why?
It'd have to be in the 300's with the Die Hards, I don't think it'd be the same if I was sat anywhere else to be honest.

7. If you could be a King, what position would you play and why?
I'd probably play Left Wing to be honest, I couldn't see myself as a defenceman or a goalie (The other half would love to see me as a goalie though LOL), but it's something I'd be comfortable with playing wing.

8. If you had a chance to address the team right now, what would you say?
This is what I would say, quoting Sun Tzu's The Art of War too. "I know we've had a few upsets lately, we've had bad years and we've had first round exits. But that doesn't mean anything, a new season erases the old one and you will go out there to win, no matter what. There's an old saying that if you know your enemy and yourself, then you won't be afraid in all 82 games you will play this year, if you know yourself but not your enemy, then we're on equal grounds. But if you don't know yourself, and you don't know your enemies, then we're going to lose. Failure isn't an option, you know what to do."

9. If you could have dinner with a current Kings player, who would you choose and what would you say to them?
I'd probably choose to have dinner with Doughty to be honest, there's about a 7 month age difference between us so I think the same-age thing would work out as we can relate to it. Though I'd ask him what it's like being in the NHL and what it takes to get in there, I'd want to get to know him as a person more than a player since that would make more an impression.

10. What is the best thing about being a Kings fan?
The best part? Definitely the people I've gotten to know on Facebook, I love all those guys like an extended family because that's how I see them. I may be over 6000 miles away but they know me, and I know them. And for anyone that knows me that's reading this, I love you guys.


Don't forget Kings fans, if you'd like to submit your answers and become a Kings Court Featured Fan, click this link for directions!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Free Agency Flashback: Oil Kings

If you stay a hockey fan long enough, sooner or later one of two things will happen. One -- tragedy will befall one of your favorite players and they will be traded to another team. Or two -- you get stuck with someone else's cast-off because your GM needs to fill a box on the depth chart.

Scenario number two led the Kings to (potentially) sign Ethan Moreau over the weekend.

Since he still needs to pass a physical to guarantee the deal goes through, I'm not going to expound on the pluses and minus of this deal for the Kings until later. But trust me, it's coming.

In the meantime, I was digging through old Kings photos this weekend and happened across a set from the Kings-Oilers game on February 11, 2010. Let's just say it was entertaining seeing the number of former and current Kings players on the Oilers roster at that point. Let's see if some of these faces look familiar.

Ah, Lubo. I can still hear you saying "Cookie for you? Vote for Lubo!" in my head.

It still makes me smile every time. Although I suppose being an Oiler was less painful than pretending to like being a Duck. You deserve so much better, but I appreciate your sacrifice so Matt Greene and keep me entertained in your stead.

Anyone remember this guy?

He looked better with hair, but yes, that is Patrick O'Sullivan. He was the first Kings player I ever loved, and he broke my heart by becoming a "suitcase." For those of you not fluent in hockey parlance, this refers to a player who gets traded so often he just needs to keep his gitch packed right in his bag. (If you don't know what "gitch" is, you gotta find that one on your own...) I think he should keep the razor he was using on his head packed too. The one for his face needs some use.

Then there is this guy, who you should all know well by now.

This best thing about this photo is proof that Dustin Penner can indeed be a big dude but still skinny, and darn good looking at that! If Tim Adams is getting the results I'm hearing about, strap yourselves in for a fun ride this season.

And speaking of looks, our new acquisition Mr. Moreau does have a few assets....

He's the one on the left -- with the long stick.

Maybe he's not so bad after all.....


If You Haven't Stopped By TSC In A While....

It's a mess, but for a great reason.

Bye-bye roller rink, hello third ice sheet! More ice is always a good thing! I wonder if it will be ready for training camp?


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Getting To Know YOU -- The Kings Best Fans!

The dog days of summer are tough for Kings fans. Unless you're  a member of #TeamDoughty and on constant watch for contract news or saving money for your trip to the season opener in Europe, there really isn't a lot happening in your hockey world right now. That makes summer the perfect time to turn some attention to the best fans in the NHL -- and that's YOU!

The Queen is a HUGE fan of the Gutowski family!

One of the things I love most about hockey is meeting other fans and hearing their stories about their personal history with the game, favorite players and memorable game experiences. So I came up with 10 questions I'd love to have YOU answer so the rest of Kings Court can get to know you!
  1. How did you first get introduced to hockey?
  2. When did you become a Kings fan, and what do you remember about your first Kings fan experience?
  3. Who is you favorite Kings player of all time, past or present, and why?
  4. What is your favorite memory of the Kings?
  5. What is your favorite item of Kings gear and why?
  6. If you could watch a game from any location in Staples Center, where would you be and why?
  7. If you could be a King, what position would you play and why?
  8. If you had a chance to address the team right now, what would you say?
  9. If you could have dinner with a current Kings player, who would you choose and what would you say to them?
  10. What is the best thing about being a Kings fan?
Just copy and paste these into an email with your responses and send it to The Queen at Include photos too if you like! I'll post responses as they come in, and I promise not to change what you wrote (other than spelling, grammar, etc.) as long as you keep your submission respectful and in good taste.

Kings Court to ready to hear your stories -- so get busy writing!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Help Say Hello To Mike Richards!

Ever since the news broke that the Kings traded for Mike Richards, Kings Court has been getting new followers -- and they're Flyers fans.

Mike, orange just isn't your color. 

Let's give this one a try.
I personally think it says a lot about the character of a player when fans stay loyal to them in spite of switching teams. And there is possibly no more loyal Mike Richards fan -- at least that I've met -- than Jamie Szymanski.

She contacted me on Twitter about a scrapbook she and a friend are putting together to give to Mike Richards in October when the Kings play the Flyers. They are including thank you letters from Flyers fans and would also love welcome letters from Kings fans!

If you'd like to contribute a letter to the scrapbook, send your submission to this email address:

Jamie would like to have your letters by August 31st to give them time to put the scrapbook together. I'll make sure to follow up with her as well to see if we can get some photos of the finished product! So get writing and make our new guy feel welcome!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Defending Drew Doughty

Before you get far into reading this post, I want something to be clear. I have no contract update, no insider information or other status on Drew Doughty's contract with the Kings. This is nothing more than an undisguised rant at portions of the Kings fanbase, the blogosphere overall and the general business condition of hockey that has whipped the contract negotiations between Doughty and the Kings into an embarrassing feeding frenzy.

This blog only states one opinion and it's from the most unapologetic and completely supportive Drew Doughty fan on the planet. If you want critique of this kid, there are a million other places you can do it on the Internet. If you believe, as I do, that this situation has gotten blown ridiculously out of proportion for all the wrong reasons, by all means keep reading.

Virtually from the start of these negotiations, Drew Doughty has been painted as a greedy, selfish cad who is more of a ladies man and party boy than a top 10 NHL defenceman. Claims have been leveled that his "goal" is to be the highest paid King, insinuating he's somewhere in Toronto rubbing his hands together in Don Meehan's office and dreaming of the piles of money he'll make for years and years by sticking it to the Kings where it hurts -- in the wallet. He's out for himself, otherwise why hasn't he signed a deal?

Let's get the obvious piece out of the way here -- of course Drew Doughty is protecting his own interests. More precisely, he's paying Newport Sports to do it for him, and it's good that he does because anyone who thinks a professional sports team is solely interested in protecting their players interests knows nothing about business. If that was the case we wouldn't need the NHLPA.  It's no different that any employee-employer situation. We all think our bosses don't pay us enough, so why should hockey players be any different? Frankly, I'd worry if he wasn't protecting his interests, because then he'd be getting used.

That brings up another other key piece to remember -- the role of his agency in this debate. Everything Drew Doughty hears is filtered through Don Meehan and Mark Guy, who want to get the best deal for their client AND themselves.  They can decide what to share and what not to share from their conversations with the Kings. It's not as if Drew is calling up Deano and shooting the breeze about contract terms and why this is dragging on so long. My guess is he hasn't talked with anyone from the Kings but his teammates since this whole mess started.

Someone actually suggested to me on Twitter the other day that Doughty should just get new agents and get the deal done. Tell me, when YOU were 21, would you have been comfortable firing a couple of adults with years more experience in the business of hockey than you have in the middle of a complex negotiation over millions of dollars? I doubt any player twice Doughty's age would be able to do it, so let's not get stupid.

Now let's talk about Dean Lombardi's role in this mess for a second. Prior to the start of these contract negotiations, every word out of his mouth during the past 3 seasons has followed along the lines of "This is our guy," "Our great young core of players" and "He's a special player." When you've been spreading nothing but sunshine around Drew Doughty, it's just a little insincere to start the critique just when the bill comes due. And for all his love of the well-turned quote, Dean might have done better to say nothing in a few circumstances. It's interesting how other GM's (Ken Holland and George McPhee come to mind) manage to get player deals done quietly and respectfully, while the Kings feed the media circus around negotiations (and if you don't believe the organization lets some tidbits leak out where they think it benefits them, you're too naive).

So get rid of the "Doughty as evil negotiating genius" thoughts in your head.

Now let's talk about the critiques that seek to justify why Doughty should get the short end of the contract stick. The majority of Doughty criticism you read focuses on alleged drinking habits and skirt chasing by people who have no direct knowledge of such behavior.  That tells me something. Since few people can find aspects of his GAME to criticize, they figure the next best negotiating tactic is to attack him personally. It's the oldest trick in the PR book. If you can't get to someone on the basis of fact, launch a media campaign to change the public perception.

Take Jack Johnson for example. Missed defensive assignments. Bad positioning. The list goes on in terms of performance flaws that need work. As long as Johnson keeps making mistakes, no one needs to talk about his girlfriend or his after-hours past times. By no means am I arguing Doughty is perfect. He had some bad giveaways last season (some which even led to Kings losses) and I'm sure he'd like every one of them back. But every great player -- every one -- makes mistakes. If they don't they're not trying hard enough to make a difference in the game.

I also love the people that argue Doughty shouldn't be paid well because he's not the best player on the team. Most people would argue Kopitar is, but guess what? The same people making that argument were bitching at various points last season that Kopitar wasn't living up to his rather large paycheck (this was most notably brought up during scoring slumps, of which Kopi had a few). Kopitar's contract was based not only on past performance but future potential. Drew Doughty should be no different, and that same analysis should lead you to similar numbers as Kopitar, if not more. If they don't, you're trying to argue a forward is more valuable then a defenceman which is not an argument you're going to win -- with me or with Dean Lombardi for that matter.

It's all a big game of smoke and mirrors -- perception versus reality -- which does nothing more than hide the truth. So for those of you who have forgotten, let me remind you who the real Drew Doughty is.

Image courtesy of Nichole Glaze Photography

He's a 21 year old kid who loves hockey more than anything in life. He takes the ice with a smile on his face every day at practice, and lights up the rink so brightly he gets his teammates smiling too. He's a good teammate and a loyal friend. Some of the best coaches in the game have called him "special", "gifted with God-given talent" -- even "a hockey savant." He plays through pain when needed because he can't stand not being on the ice. He gets emotional at times in games because he hates to lose, and when he plays he leaves his heart on the cold floor of the arena. He has growing up to do and he knows it. He admits it when he makes mistakes, then shakes them off and fixes them. He will never be the biggest gym rat in the world, but he does his job and works hard at it. He remembers where he came from and supports the people that got him where he is today. He is respectful to fans and grateful for the true among them that support him through thick and thin.

And right now, he's an anxious 21 year old kid, sitting by the phone, waiting for his agent to call -- waiting to continue living his dream.

Let's give him a chance to do it.