Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

So you want to be a Kings blogger, Episode I

Well, well, well, Kings do have fans with typing fingers, it seems. Meet 'Rudy Kelly' (another solid blog-alias) who was brave enough to answer our call for another Kings voice in this Ducky/Sharky world we live in. He's definitely a front-runner in that (a) he's the only one who's submitted anything, and (b) he's actually got opinions as to the direction of the Kings.

As I wrote back to RK on our first e-mail exchange, I'm a long-time Ducks fan, and it is pretty telling that I don't have much of an opinion on long-time King Derek Armstrong (who RK addresses below). He's a guy I generally don't notice on the ice, am not afraid of in any sense, nor do I worry when he signs a 2-year extension. I believe the term I used was "strong indifference".

So any way, here's a little 'try-out-post' for RK: take a look and see how a Kings fan feels. Oh, and if you're a King fan who can do better, follow the link above and we'll make this a regular "American Idol" (without the prestige, of course).

Armstrong Can’t Do the Heavy Lifting

I’ve always had an indifferent attitude towards Derek Armstrong. When a friend asks me about him, my first response is usually, “Who?” That’s followed by, “Oh, yeah, he’s alright, I guess.” I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by Armstrong because I’ve never expected anything from him. He’s been the guy who plays until the Kings improve and find someone better. The new contract he signed with the Kings on Wednesday (for two years, 3 million dollars total), however, implies Derek Armstrong is a bonafide hockey player; that is not something I’m willing to accept.

Derek Armstrong’s path to the NHL was not an easy one. A 6th-round draft choice in 1992, Armstrong floundered around between the NHL and the minors until 2002, when he joined the Kings. Since then, he’s been a fairly solid contributor, averaging around 62 games played and 38 points the past three years. He’s set to blow by both numbers this year (he’s at 54 games and 39 points as of Friday) while anchoring the Kings’ top line alongside Mike Cammalleri and Alexander Frolov (although on that line Armstrong plays the role of “the other guy.”).

That being said, why do I dislike Derek Armstrong now? First of all, he’s 33; I don’t think we signed him because of his upside. I have a hard time believing that money couldn’t have been used to sign someone with similar ability that’s younger. Secondly, I can’t really see where Derek Armstrong fits into GM Dean Lombardi’s grand scheme. Anze Kopitar has locked down one of the Kings’ top center positions for a couple of years to come (and a top spot in my heart) and Armstrong is not quite talented enough to play second-line center for a Stanley Cup-contending team. At the same time, he’s not a defensive center, and even if he was, the Kings already have Alyn McCauley tied up for next year. Perhaps his destiny is as a 4th-line center, but 1.5 million dollars a season is a little much for that position (though the Kings have shown they have no problem signing veterans and then have them play on the 4th-line, like Brian “Career-High 19 Goals” Willsie and Scott “The Wrong” Thornton). The problem with Derek Armstrong is that he does not really have a set position; if he played basketball Armstrong would be a ‘tweener, in baseball a swingman.

I wish that I could see both the Kings and Armstrong succeeding, but it’s more likely that he’ll join the long list of Kings players that I hate (right before Len Barrie). He seems like a good guy, what with the Mohawk and his penchant for practical jokes (sewing someone’s pockets together? Oh Derek, you card!). It’s also never a bad idea to have a back-up plan at a position like center, especially since it seems that Alyn McCauley’s knees are weaker than Joe Thornton’s hold on heterosexuality (zing!). Maybe I just don’t like this signing because it embraces mediocrity. With Armstrong, what you see is what you’re going to get. That’s the problem.

I’ll make a deal with Kings management: as long as this signing was done with the idea that Armstrong will play on the 4th-line, I’m perfectly happy with the signing. Nobody likes the idea of a front-office that’s disloyal to its players, and if the Kings want to reward a player who has only done what’s asked of him, great. If this signing is supposed to quell the voices of those who scream for another legitimate top-line center, then I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a Sharks fan with barely any idea who Derek Armstrong is, I am impressed with Rudy's ability to write an entire post about him. A strong first effort!

hockeygirl said...

Hmmm.... He's kinda funny. Does he get airsick? Just in case I need to pop down to see Crazy Eyed Kopitar and have to pick up RK on the way.

Anonymous said...

It cant be easy being a fan of the "other" team in Southern California. Kudos for the great post and even greater name. Quack Quack

Anonymous said...

I have a strong feeling of indifference towards the Los Angeles Kings, some of which does not border on the negative.

Seitz said...

It cant be easy being a fan of the "other" team in Southern California. Kudos for the great post and even greater name.

Actually, it's kind of strange. I'm a Kings fan, and I came into this season with such low expectations that I haven't really felt disappointed. Sure, I'd like to see them win more, but I'm satisfied with the long term direction, and I still paid for the Center Ice package so I could see every game (I live in Chicago), and I haven't felt like it was a waste. As bad as their record is, their still, for me, an interesting team to watch. Kopitar, Cammalleri, Frolov, and Visnovsky are worth 2.5 hours of my time.

And it hasn't in any way diminished my hatred for the Ducks and Sharks.

Temujin said...

If this signing is supposed to quell the voices of those who scream for another legitimate top-line center, then I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Simon says: You're going to Hollywood!

Somebody crown this new BoC King Idol.

Margee said...

I like him. "Oh Derek, you card!" Clinched it for me. And I especially like him if he picked out that picture to go with that post.

dbushik said...

Hey, I've just found this site and was thinking myself of applying for the position, but this guy isn't bad. He does strike at the essence of what any King's fan not drinking the team's kool-aid by the gallon would have a problem with in the Armstrong signing, which is the point about mediocrity. The organization during the Dave Taylor regime made an art form of shooting to neither be good nor bad. However, we're talking about three years minimum (at least two more) before this team is truely going to be where Lombardi has told fans he wants to be. So, yeah, signings like McCauley and Willsie and Thornton are unexciting, but I view them as place holders. Giving Army two years is along the same lines. I can think of two positive things to say about Army though (and like I said, I'm not thrilled by him either). First, he's gotten better every year he's been with the Kings and has shown commitment tot he team. Second, although not a defensive forward, this guy makes a great third line center because he can effectively play with guys who really do have talent. My reasoning there is that injuries are unavoidable (don't Kings fans know it...), and this is the type of guy who can step into a top six position temporarily and not look completely out of place. Basically that's what he's doing now with Cammy and Fro as "the other guy".

Frankly, right now with the Kings there is not a lot to be happy or upset about. Yeah there's Kopitar and Frolov and Cammy all up and coming on the bright side and the current abysmal goaltending to be disgusted with, but that should all be taken for granted for the most part. Hell, if we don't have solid kids developing, the team may as well fold considering the trials and tribulations they've taken fans through in recent history. And same thing with the losing. True enough, we are doing a bit worse right now than anyone could have foretold coming into this season, but no one expected to be good at this point. Once the Cloutier drama came to a close this season, that pretty much finished off any suprises for this team. (I mean I never thought he was 'all that' in Vancouver, but that guy would have to drastically improve his play to even climb up to being as bad as I thought he was before he got here with what he showed this season.)

So anyway, this guy seems reasonable. But what the hell do I know? I've know about this site for going a week now...

dbushik said...

It can't be easy to be a King's fan? How the heck did you manage latching onto the Quacks? I've lived in Anaheim for 20+ years and have been a hockey fan and King's fan for about as long. When they annouced expansion into my back yard I was thrilled. Then we get "the Mighty of", cartoon characters, and Disney ownership.

I couldn't do it. The NHL put a team in my backyard (from where I work I can hit the Pond with a thrown stone) and I can't bring myself to root for that team. And the fans...wow. Up until this year, going to a Ducks game was like visiting someone in the hospital. They used to regularly pipe artificial crowd noise through the sound system to make it seem like anyone cared. No lie. Last year, I was able to get Western Conference Finals tickets days after they went on-sale (i.e. no where near selling out even when they were deep in the playoffs). And people talk about California fans lack of dedication leaving early to "beat traffic". In the first round down by a goal with a few minutes left in one of the Ducks home games, Colorado scores to go up by two, and I swear before the game was over the ushers were picking up trash from the empty seats. It was like a waterfall of humanity pouring down the ailses while the best players in the world were still skating in front of them and time left on the clock. In 2002 at the All-Star Game at Staples I had four Ducks fans sitting directly in front of me. First off, they didn't recognize half of the all-stars on the ice, and second, they left the game early. They left the ALL-STAR GAME to beat traffic. (That's actually what they said too, "hey, lets go and beat the traffic...so we can hurry home and put bullets through our pathetic little brains." Okay, so maybe I added the last part of that quote.)

Anyway, I told myself that the team had to get rid of the cartoon characters, change the name (lose "the Mighty of" at a minimum), get real hockey management (instead of entertainment industry idiots), and then maybe I could bring myself to root for them. I mean, I'm a lesser fan of the Sharks too, and wouldn't it be nice to be copacetic with all three CA teams? Well, they did all that. I was all ready to start not hating the Ducks this year (really, truely)...but try as I might I can't bring myself to do it.

Being a Quacks fan is so much harder than being a King's fan. Assuming you aren't just a band waggoner, which of course two seasons of playoff success has brought the Ducks tons and tons of. Well, or if you have any self respect I suppose.

Okay, got that off my chest...

Ian said...

Watching Lombardi in LA it's hard not to see the similarities to what he did with the Sharks when he took over the front office. He's filling in holes with cheapish veteran character guys (Tony Granato, Stephane Matteau, Mike Vernon, etc.) and holding on to as many kids and picks as he can. Armstrong probably slots into that chemistry/locker-room guy that Lombardi thinks is important for the kids development.

I think that strategy gets you pointed in the right direction, but I don't think Lombardi has proven that he is a finisher. His instincts are just a little off. The Lombardi/Sutter Sharks were never quite as good as they should have been.

Temujin said...

Canucks Rule!

Earl Sleek said...

dbushnik, thanks for reading, but honestly, send me that in a word document and we can post it all formal-like. :)

I think I'll respond to some of that (why I'm a Ducks fan) in a coming post, when I'm a little less travel-weary. But short answer, I don't think I'm any bandwagoner.

p.s. I'm just poking fun, but maybe if you spent a little less time hating Duck fans, you might have noticed that that first round opponent was Calgary. If you recall, Colorado only in their wildest dreams had a two-goal lead on the Ducks last spring.

hockeygirl said...

when I'm a little less travel-weary.

You should have called! The hgcopter is quite luxurious and leaves you well rested at the end of your trip.

Wait... That doesn't sound right...

dbushik said...

Yeppers, my mistake. You are quite correct that the Avs did very little against the Ducks. Hey, I got the round right at least...