Friday, Sept. 28 (whoops...this was supposed to be published Friday, but LAKings.com has been busy in England)
This week's mailbag was full of questions on topics ranging goaltending questions to scheduling to what happened to some of the veterans from last season’s edition of the Kings. Find out those answers and more in this week’s Royal Mailbag. LAKings.com will get your questions answered every other Friday in its usual time slot. So send in your questions early and often.
Are the Kings playing Washington this year?
Pete, thanks for the question. Unfortunately, the Kings do not play any of the teams in the Southeast Division this season, playing Eastern Conference opponents from the Atlantic and Northeast Divisions. The Kings will travel to play teams in the Atlantic (New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins) on the road and the Northeast (Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs) will visit STAPLES Center.
Since the NHL came back from the lockout, the teams have gone to a more ‘rivalry-based’ schedule, playing each of its own division opponents a total of eight times per year and each Conference opponent four times each. That left a total of 10 games for the season and pitting each team against just two of the divisions of the opposing conference, one at home and one on the road. This of course meant that one division would not be played, this year being the Southeast.
This agreement, however, comes to an end after this season and there has already been much discussion on a new format and two of the options discussed thus far are:
- Drop to seven games against each divisional opponent play each team in the other conference once. That would mean a team from the West would play in each Eastern city at least once every two years;
- Or drop to six games against each divisional opponent and play a home-and-home with every team in the other conference. That would guarantee a visit each year from each team in the league.
I don't see Alyn McCauley listed on the roster. I know he signed a 3-year free agent contract last year but was injured most of the season and only appeared in 10 games. Was his contract bought out or has he retired? He was a Selke Trophy candidate just 2 seasons ago with the Sharks and I enjoyed watching him play. Any news would be appreciated.
Thanks for the question. The Kings bought out the contract of McCauley this summer. He is currently a free agent and has yet to sign with any club and I have not read of him retiring as of yet, though I may have missed the article if he had.
McCauley, who was the Devils’ fourth round selection in 1995, had skated in 478 games scoring 69-97=166 with a +25 plus/minus rating in nine seasons with the Maple Leafs and Sharks.
He joined the Kings on July 2, 2006 while recovering from surgery. McCauley could not really get healthy last season and appeared in just 10 games with the Kings, scoring 1-0=1.
I am curious about L.A.’s goaltending. Is L.A. going to attempt to get a high caliber goalie? When can we expect to see Jonathan Bernier get his feet wet? Also, who is the captain of the team this year?
If this mailbag had been finished on Friday as it was originally scheduled, the answers to these questions would have been somewhat prophetic. But over the course of the last two days, most of these questions have been answered. Rob Blake was named Captain on Friday in an announcement made in London. Michael Cammalleri, Scott Thornton and Lubomir Visnovsky are the assistants. You can read that announcement here, as well as watch exclusive video of it.
As far as goaltending is concerned, the Kings have three goalies on the roster in J.S. Aubin, Jason LaBarbera and rookie Jonathan Bernier. Bernier started on opening night, making 26 saves in a 4-1 win, LaBarbera will start tonight. Bernier could still be returned to juniors if he is not on the Kings roster for nine games, so the depth of having three goaltenders may help the Kings in this area, should they decide it is in the best interest of Bernier to return him to Juniors. That decision has yet to be made, but Dean Lombardi and staff will do whatever is in the best interest of Bernier’s development.
In the Crown Points for Sept 15th, you noted that Joe Piskula was a University of Wisconsin, Beaver. Being I actually went to school in Wisconsin, I guess it should be corrected to University of Wisconsin Badgers. Thanks for the updates. Being I am stuck out in the Midwest, it is great to get updates about the preseason when I am so far away from my team.
Egg on my face. That should have been Badgers, not Beavers. Apologies to both the Wisconsin Badgers and the Oregon State Beavers as well as Kimberly K. from the Midwest…I guess that is the danger in live blogging. Is this a feature you fans are enjoying? Feel free to submit feedback.
What happened to Sean Burke? Did he retire or sign on with a new team?
Newton C., Los Angeles, CA
Former Kings goaltender Sean Burke retired on Sept. 18 after 19 seasons in the league.
Kings Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall, a former NHL standout goalie himself, had the following to say about Burke: “Sean was a true professional who earned the respect of his teammates, opponents and the hockey world over his long and illustrious career. He stabilized our goaltending position last year under tough circumstances.”
Burke went 6-10-5 with the Kings last year with a 3.11 GAA and a .901 SV%, including one shut out. Burke finishes his career with an all-time mark of 324-341-106 with a 2.96 GAA and a .902 SV% in 820 games with the Devils, Whalers, Hurricanes, Canucks, Flyers, Panthers, Coyotes, Lightning and Kings.
I am a big fan of Jamie Heward can you tell me if he is still on the team or where he is? I have followed him since he was in Cleveland Ohio.
The Kings did not resign Jamie Heward and he is an unsigned free agent at the moment. Heward, who was obtained by the Kings from Washington for a conditional draft selection on Feb. 27, 2007, played in 19 games for the Kings last year, scoring 2-6=8 at the end of the season. Heward also played for the Washington Capitals in 2006-07, scoring 2-4=6 in 16 games.
For his eight-year career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders, Columbus Blue Jackets, Capitals and Kings, Heward scored 34-71=105 in 326 games.
Heward spent two years in the IHL in Cleveland during the 1992-93 to the 1993-94 seasons.
Thank you for all of your questions and comments. LAKings.com would like to answer as many questions from Los Angeles Kings fans as possible. E-mail your query to LAKings.com for possible inclusion in a future mailbag column. Letters can be addressed to any member of the organization and may be edited for brevity, length and/or content. Please include your name and location along with your question and email firstname.lastname@example.org.