Last week, Kings fans emailed in questions for Kings Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall. The following is what fans wanted to know and what Hextall's responses were in this month's Ask A King.
What new faces do you anticipate seeing in the lineup this year? --Thomas from Hollywood, CA Well, that's the type of question that will be answered at training camp. Obviously Scott Thornton, Alyn McCauley, Brian Willsie, Rob Blake, and Dan Cloutier will all be in the lineup. As far as the kids, that's a question that will be answered in training camp and decisions will be made by the coaching staff.
Seeing as how you are a former star NHL goaltender, will you be imparting your knowledge of the position to Cloutier, Garon, etc., even though Bill Ranford was hired as goaltending coach? --Carey from Ventura, CA Billy will handle all of the technical goaltending stuff as well as a lot of the mental stuff. I will be in the background and if they want to bounce some things off of me, I would be more than willing to talk to them. Obviously I've been there done that, as has Billy. If I can be of help, particularly maybe when Billy isn't in town, then I'll certainly help out. Ultimately though, it's Billy's responsibility for the most part.
What attracted you to the Kings organization? --Gabby from Sunland, CA The biggest thing was that I had a great relationship with Dean (Lombardi) in Philadelphia. I have a lot of respect for Dean and I like the way he operates. Also, moving up in job description and the Los Angeles market played a part in the decision. L.A. is a big market. The Kings have never won the Stanley Cup and I think the challenge for me was part of what attracted me to the Kings.
What is your favorite memory as a goalie: a certain save, a win, scoring of a goal? --Trey from Pasadena, CA I think probably Game 6 in the Finals in 1987 when we beat Edmonton at home. It was a pretty wild atmosphere. It was tough to get to your car after the game because the people were so excited. That was one of my favorite memories.
How do you bring your skills as a goalie to your position as assistant general manager? Do you see any similarities in the two positions? --Dona from Glendale, CA No, I think they are totally different. The hockey knowledge that I've gained over the years from being a goalie, being in locker rooms and being around the hockey atmosphere has helped in this job. In terms of relating the two, I'm not sure there are a whole lot of similarities there.
Is it true that you used to break 13 sticks in the parking lot before each game? --Bruce from La Cienega, CA Absolutely not true. I have no idea where that idea came from. Thirteen sticks? What do you think management would have done to me if I broke 13 sticks before each game? That's pretty expensive!
What would be the most important thing you could ever tell a rookie hockey player? --William from Rancho Cucamonga, CA I think the biggest thing is that they should appreciate where they are. Some players play in the minor leagues and some guys don't. I think the players that come up and don't play in the minor leagues might not appreciate the travel, lifestyle, and everything that the NHL brings to the table. Work hard, enjoy the game and respect the game.
What are the realistic expectations for the Kings this year? --Gary from Phoenix, AZ Given the fact that the Kings didn't make the playoffs last year, that's got to be the first goal. I think the goal for Dean and I this summer was to add some character people to the lineup and we feel like we've done that. Certainly making the playoffs has got to be the goal moving forward here.
Will Garon or LaBarbara have a chance to win the starting goalie position in camp, or are they competing for the backup spot behind Cloutier? --Leonid from Los Angeles, CA Realistically we expect Dan Cloutier to be the No. 1 goalie but things can change. Opportunities come due to injuries, poor play and everything else, so you've got to go in with an open mind. We feel that all three guys are very capable of playing well in the league. I would have to say from my point of view, and I'm not the coach, that it's an open competition. But I think I would be lying if I said I didn't expect Cloutier to be the No. 1 guy.