Los Angeles Kings Brass Address “State of the Franchise”

Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Photo by John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images /

The Los Angeles Kings addressed some important issues during their annual state of the franchise address.

The Los Angeles Kings hosted their annual “State of the Franchise” gathering for season ticket holders on Thursday, August 30.  This event gives the team’s most loyal and ardent fans an opportunity to hear directly from the men at the top. On hand were President Luc Robitaille, general manager Rob Blake, and Head of Player Development Nelson Emerson.

Moderated by the Kings TV broadcast team Alex Faust and Jim Fox, the evening offered an in-depth peek behind the curtain at how decisions are made when it comes to the draft, pursuing/signing free agents, and finding undrafted gems who either flew under the radar (such as Alex Iafallo) or players toiling in Europe and elsewhere.

Kings Core Four Remains

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After acknowledging the undeniable, all-world core of the team captain Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick, Blake noted that there will be added emphasis on systems that can increase secondary scoring from the top line wingers including newly signed free agent Ilya Kovalchuk who will most likely line up with Dustin Brown on Kopitar’s wings. Similarly, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will need to light the lamp with more consistency serving as Carter’s wingmen.

On the defensive side of things, the perennial strength of Kings teams for nearly a decade, nothing seems to be standing in the way of challenging for yet another Jennings Trophy which they won once again last season.

Joining the dazzling Doughty will be Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Derek Forbert, Dion Phaneuf, and Paul LaDue. As good as that group is that top six is not locked in stone thanks to players like exciting free agent defenseman Daniel Brickley who was heavily recruited by numerous teams after completing his college career. He ultimately signed with the Kings thanks to a multi-pronged effort to lure him to the left coast.

It began with visits by Blake, a Hall of Famer who Brickley explained he was in absolute awe of, and even included a personalized video pitch (SoCal sunshine and all) that invited him to join a franchise eager to welcome him into the fold.

The audience viewed the video and saw how the Kings went about pulling out all the stops including a direct on-camera appeal from comedian/actor/Kings Fan, Will Ferrell. The pitch worked and Brickley found himself on the Staples Center ice during the final week of the season, even recording an assist. Now, where does his future lie and at the expense of which player’s ice time?

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Perhaps the number one question on the minds of those in attendance was which youngsters might crack the opening day lineup. Emerson fielded the question and began by proudly boasting that he was the one who predicted unknown Iafallo, who spent most of the season alongside Kopitar and Brown on the top line, would surprise everyone. Who did he think could make the big club this year?

The obvious favorites are last years first and second-round draft picks Gabe Vilardi and Jaret Anderson-Dolan. Sheldon Rempal was mentioned as a possible breakout from training camp. He also offered up a couple of sleepers that could come out of nowhere and pull an Iafallo – Matt Luff and Austin Wagner.  Keep those names in the back of your mind and if they make it you can give a stick tap to Nellie (and FanSided) for being the place where you heard it first.

Meeting Tidbits

Several season ticket members asked why the Kings don’t do a stick salute to their fans. This question caught all three execs by surprise. They asked, “Do you guys want to see that?” When the crowd answered with a resounding “Yes”, Blake said, “OK, we’re going to look into that for sure”.

A video was shown demonstrating the power and skill behind Kovalchuk’s one time shot. The Kings then showed a graph demonstrating that the Kings were near the bottom of the league last year when it came to scoring off one-timers.

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Now with Ilya in the fold, they feel that will change dramatically. Luc pointed out that the NHL team most people believe the Kings resemble is the Washington Capitals now that they had Kovalchuk playing the Ovechkin role, especially on power plays. If it means there’s a Cup to be raised at the end the playoffs, the Kings welcome the comparison.