It’s late, so here are just a few notes on opening night of the fest:
* Overall, I give it an ‘A’. Great job by McChris and his entire staff. Obviously, a lot of work (and thought) went into the event. Good job. Extra kudos to the video guys. Those were simply perfection.
* Dustin Brown‘s speech made me believe in him as a captain. I’ve always loved him as a player. Over the last year I’ve grown tired of people bitching about his questionable leadership skills. The story about the conversation he had with Greene on the plane home last year should have told you all that you need to know. His whole speech was incredible. “These 20 guys to my right are no longer 20 individuals…” WOW – I still have goose bumps. I’m pumped! Seemed to me to be very heartfelt. He looked deadly serious (sure he was nervous – yet, I believe he meant every word he said). It backed up what Dean told me earlier this month about how impressed he was to have so many players in town in July for their voluntary camp.
* It’s about damn time they pulled so many of the alumni together. Quite impressive to see so many former Kings greats all in one place. I hope the organization treats each one of them with class and dignity all weekend. Then word will spread on what a great event it was and more former Kings will want to come next year. I know its hard because lots of guys are employed with other teams (see Gretzky, Rychel, Granato, Robinson, Deadmarsh, etc.). Still. The more the merrier.
* We all have our favorites. However, if I could pick two guys that clearly deserve to be there it would have to be Kurri and Sandstrom. Jari has to be one of the most underrated guys in league history. He scored over 600 goals in his career, yet NOBODY talks about him when discussing the greatest goal scores of all time. He had such a touch. And Sandstrom? Come on! This guy gets taken out by Craig Muni (of the hated Oilers) in the playoffs…then comes back the next game and scores a goal – WITH A BROKEN LEG! Legend status for me, right then, that night. BTW – neither of you were ever Ducks. I’ve blocked that from my brain. UGH, it still hurts.
* Russ Courtnall – thanks for the cup of coffee you had here. You seem like a cool guy. However, your brother…well, we still need to talk about those playoffs vs. the Kings in 1996.
* Steve Duchesne – I still want my money back. You fleeced the Kings when you signed that big money free agent contract to return in 1998. However, at Luc’s retirement dinner in Marina del Rey you were a good sport about all the grief I gave you in the later years in Detroit (after you skipped town with all of that money). So, I’ll give you a 10% discount on the money owed all Kings fans.
* Will there ever be a playoff series better than ’93 vs Toronto? Doubt it. Funny side note on that series…back then Jim Rome just did a local sports talk show here in LA (long before he was such a big hit nationally). He had Wendel Clark lined up for an interview on one of the off days. I’ll never forget he missed the interview, so they booked Coach Burns instead. When he asked what happened to Clark, Burns said he was taking a nap. I love naps too. And I know athletes play at night, so they need their rest. Still, I found it funny. Not as funny as the Cubs’ Mark Grace explaining slump busters to Rome…but that’s a different story.
* Great to see the team mend fences with guys like Dionne and Taylor. Theses guys are major parts of the Kings history and should be treated like royalty.
* Where’s the beef? Noticeably absent during the player introductions was Raitis Ivanans. Although teams like Philly and Washington have been speculated, Dean isn’t saying anything just yet. If it is Washington, somebody better tell Kip Brennan (yes that Kip Brennan). The former King, more recently of the AHL, was reportedly trying to hook up with the Caps after Brashear went to the big apple. He thinks he’d be a good fit there. Whatever.
* According to several sources, it does in fact look like the Kings are looking for one more key player before the season starts. Interesting. However, it’s not Heatley (who appears headed to SJ after today’s deal). And it might not involve Frolov. Even more interesting.
* NHL.com did a piece on the fest – click here to read
* If you aren’t lucky enough to be attending this weekend in person, the Kings will be streaming the event HERE. Super cool. Some of the sessions with former players should be amazing.
Saturday includes –
* Noon – NHL Experts Panel with Jim Fox, Ray Ferraro & Kelly Hrudey
* 2pm – The Enforcers with (the lawyer) Stu Grimson & Brad Norton
* 4pm – The Triple Crown Line (no explanation needed)
More info tomorrow after what should be another fun filled day at the fest.
The PLAYOFF PUSH began tonight.