On August 3, 2008, NY Post writer Larry Brooks wrote "Switches Brew – NHL Investigating KC Connection" and I’d like to take some time and space to address some of his comments. I'm going to discount what he's saying concerning AEG and connections to Kansas City. It's no secret that AEG has built a new arena there and I can't deny its efforts to get butts in the seats, but I don't have any inside information concerning that. What I AM interested in addressing is Brooks' seemingly uninformed opinions on the Kings, specifically, because I have taken some offense. Just because the Kings aren't following what other franchises are doing, doesn't mean that the path they're following is incorrect. Building young with high draft picks means that they're going to have to get paid at some point in time. I'd rather pay millions for Anze Kopitar than millions for someone in their 30's who's a mediocre player.
"They are likely to have the league's lowest payroll this season while GM Dean Lombardi sheds anyone with market value over the age of 25, yet have raised prices this offseason while promising to do so again next summer."
This is true; they most likely will have the lowest payroll. This is mostly due to the fact that the Kings only have one of those weird, but all too common, contracts in Michal Handzus ($4 million for 4 years). Why shouldn't they overpay their OWN YOUNG DRAFT PICKS? Oh yeah, because the CBA doesn't allow for that. There are restrictions on what a player can make while they are in the entry level phase of their hockey careers. Yes, the Kings management has explained to the fans that the ticket prices will be raised over the next few seasons. I think this is a better strategy than raising the prices by an exorbitant amount in one summer, which is exactly what Luc has told us. This isn't a secret. I would rather the increase happen in this manner than by being blindsided by the costs. I mean, it’s not like the payroll is going to stay in its bargain basement for long. Maybe what Mr. Brooks doesn’t realize is that after next season, there are going to be a number of RFAs to re-sign and we're going to need the cap space. Let's take a quick glance:
This list honestly scares me; that's 2 pure NHL studs, one AHL Rookie of the Year, and 2 potential high-performance work horses. respectively. I'm not sure what Drew Doughty, Thomas Hickey, and Oscar Moller will make, but if they meet their performance bonus conditions, their combined salaries could take a huge chunk out of the available payroll. I'm not saying I see Hickey and Moller in the lineup for next season, but you never know what could happen.
Here is a list of players who, as of this moment, remain questionable as to whether they will stay with the Kings past the 08-09 season:
Kyle Calder (UFA)
Derek Armstrong (UFA)
Matt Ellis (UFA)
Denis Gauthier (UFA)
Jason Labarbera (UFA)
Erik Ersberg (UFA)
Danny Taylor (UFA)
Matt Greene (RFA)
The goaltenders will be more of a roster issue than a salary issue. We don't have a clear #1 goalie but I like that there are 3 who could potentially earn that spot for next season. As of this moment, Barbs is the projection for the top spot, so we'll see how he, Ersberg, and Taylor do this coming season. I have a feeling that if Barbs again can't stay healthy and play like I know he has the ability to play, then he'll be released after next season is over. As sad as it would be for me because Barbs is so freaking cool in person, Jonathan Bernier is the future and there's not too much leeway in terms of goaltenders in this franchise. I hate to say Barbs is the expendable one because he's the oldest, but that may just be the ugly truth. (*sad face*) From the end of last season to this coming season, we've already shed 8 roster players and I foresee next summer not being any different.
"LA owner Phil Anschutz and Leiweke have somehow amassed real power within the league despite running one of the NHL's eyesore franchises."
Look, I know that the Kings aren't the model franchise. But what do you mean "somehow amassed real power?" Los Angeles is one of the largest markets with one of the richest ownership groups in the NHL. I thought that money equaled power. This writer is failing to mention just how much AEG owns and is worth.
"Ownership could not care less about putting a winning product on the ice, instead it's consumed with manufacturing a scheme that will place an NHL team in AEG's arena in Kansas City."
I resent Mr. Brooks saying that "ownership could not care less." I’m not saying that I do or don’t agree, but AEG is a worldwide corporation with a million things going on, which is why Phil Anschutz named Dean Lombardi the President and General Manager of the Kings. Get that? PRESIDENT of the Kings. The guy who runs the franchise, makes all the decisions, hires and fires who he feels is necessary, etc. If any national writer needs a scapegoat, go to Lombardi, not Anschutz. They can make all the accusations they want; I just want them to have the ability to know where to place the appropriate blame. And if he did actually accuse Lombardi, I'd be defending DL as well. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse.
"It's time for the league to take a hard look at Anschutz, Leiweke and AEG, and to apply meaningful punishment if in fact the Kings did violate NHL financial regulations."
Excuse me? What do the Kings have to do with Anschutz giving a loan to Del Baggio?! Once again, Lombardi runs the Kings and the last time I checked, Deano wasn't the one who handed out that loan. Get your facts straight, sir, because you're annoying me.
In moving to a different article, we see something worth taking note of. Sean O'Leary brings up an interesting notion from the offices of the Sprint Center in Kansas City in his article titled "Kansas City, Omaha Are Glad They Built, Even Without Pro Teams." The events that are being booked after the new arena was opened are doing more than enough to sustain the area. Shania Tate Ross who is the director of Marketing and Communications is quoted throughout the article with the most prominent being at the end of the article. "There are so many more expectations in terms of amenities from performers, athletes and spectators. You can't compete if you don't have the most updated arena." When you read this, you realize that the new arena was built more to accommodate a diverse group of events to the city, not an NHL franchise.