Q: Which AHL teams are annually the biggest Monarchs’ rivals?
Cail: As the saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt and that could not be more accurate than in the AHL where it’s common for rivals to meet as many as 12 times in a season. Without question, among the players, the Worcester Sharks would be the Monarchs’ fiercest rival. The fact that they meet as often as they do, the parent clubs being bitter rivals and both clubs having their share of players who like to mix it up. It all adds up to plenty of fuel on the fire.
Among Monarchs fans, the biggest rivalry is with the Providence Bruins. Due to the proximity of Manchester to the Greater Boston area, many fans show up wearing their Boston Bruins jerseys, jackets, T-shirts, caps and war paint. Monarchs’ fans don't always take too kindly to that which can lead to at least some spirited verbal conflict among those in the crowd. At a recent home game there was a banner draped over the facade of the balcony at the Verizon. It simply read: “Ruin the Bruins”....’nuff said.
Q: The Monarchs have shown the ability to consistently win while also developing future NHLers on a regular basis. How challenging is that to do year in and year out in the AHL?
Cail: Certainly not an easy task. The bottom line in any minor league system is player development. The Kings have been most successful in this regard. Witness the amount of homegrown talent on the current edition of the 2012 Stanley Cup Champions. In recent years, the Monarchs have been a very young team and very “coachable.” They are players willing to learn, play the L.A. Kings system, play with effectiveness in all three zones, work hard every day in practice and create a positive and winning environment.
Prior to every game I always look at the roster of the Monarchs opponent to compare how many NHL games the combined roster of that team has played versus that of the Manchester players. On most nights, the number of NHL games played by Monarchs players is far exceeded by those of their competition.
I used to wonder how the Monarchs could ever compete against some of these teams that had players with literally hundreds of NHL games under their belts. Finally, it dawned on me. It's not how many NHL games you've played, it's the fire in your belly to want to play that first NHL game. The mindset to play the system, finish the checks and do whatever it takes make your impact on the team and make that impact on those who make personnel decisions not only for the Kings but other teams that watch so closely from across the NHL.
Q: Does this year’s team have the ability to make a deep playoff run? Can you describe what you’ve seen from the team so far?
Cail: With the NHL Lockout still under way, the AHL is extremely competitive. Each team has three or four players on its roster that will certainly be a part of their parent club if and when the NHL season begins. That being said, I'll match Dwight King, Jordan Nolan, Andrei Loktionov and Slava Voynov with the top four players on any other roster in the 30-team circuit. After all, those four have already been members of a Stanley Cup Champion.
In addition, the Monarchs added some outstanding players to their cast including young forwards Andy Andreoff, second round pick Tyler Toffoli and first round selection Tanner Pearson. On the blue line, solid defender Andrew Bodnarchuk was signed after four seasons with the Providence Bruins and some service with the Boston Bruins. In goal, third-year pro Martin Jones has been handed the keys and will no longer have to split time between the pipes. It's Jonesy’s job and the Kings and Monarchs are hoping that the 22-year old Jones will be able to play 50-60 regular season games. So far, Jones has responded to the challenge with three shutouts in his first 10 games, leading the Monarchs to first place in the AHL's Atlantic Division.
Q: We’re quickly approaching the two year anniversary of your induction into the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey Hall of Fame (Dec. 5, 2010). What did receiving that honor mean to you?
Cail: I was very much humbled when I first learned of being selected by those who know the game very well and, in many cases, played the game for most of their lives. I never got beyond playing hockey on Ell Pond in my hometown of Melrose, Massachusetts, but I was certainly blessed to learn so much about the game and how to call a game from one of the best radio play-by-play announcers of all-time, Bob Wilson. The long-time voice of the Boston Bruins, Bob is a member of the media wing of the NHL Hall of Fame in Toronto. While I was still a high school student, the booming-voiced broadcaster allowed me to help him in the radio booth and keep statistics during an era in Boston that included the likes of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and Gerry Cheevers. Without being able to sit next to Bob for many NHL games as well as some AHL games involving the Boston Braves, I would not be among the New Hampshire Legends of Hockey.
Q: You’re quickly approaching 40 years of broadcasting as a career. Beyond the Monarchs, what are some of the other highlights that come to mind when you reflect on your career?
Cail: I've been so fortunate in my career to be around and witness some great events. One of my first assignments in Boston at WBZ Radio was to cover perhaps the greatest World Series ever, the 1975 Fall Classic between the Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds with “The Big Red Machine.”
Prior to that, I was in the broadcast booth with Bob Wilson for much of the success of the Boston Bruins in the early 1970s.
I've participated in coverage of major tennis championships, the U.S. Open Golf Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, and many NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. There have been countless New Hampshire high school hockey, football, basketball and baseball title games along the way and I spent more than 20 years working in professional baseball with the Manchester (NH) and West Haven (CT) Yankees, the Nashua (NH) Pride and the Lowell (MA) Spinners in the Red Sox organization. On two occasions I've been voted New Hampshire Sportscaster of the Year and for the past three years have been selected as the Golden Mike Award winner for top play by play in New Hampshire for calling Monarchs Calder Cup playoff games.
Catch all of the play-by-play action of Monarchs hockey all season long with Ken Cail on the Monarchs Radio Network at WGIR 610 AM, WGIRAM.com and at ManchesterMonarchs.com.