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Welcome to the Tom Preissing Blog. Every other Wednesday here on LAKings.com, Tom Preissing will share his thoughts on the team, on life in Los Angeles, on well, anything he feels like.

Entry No. 8, Jan. 28

Wow. It took a mere (almost) four months but I am now convinced that my blog life does exist outside of my immediate family. I will say there were some friends (some real old school ones to boot) that padded the in box questions a little, but all-in-all it was a pretty good turnout.

Alright, I feel I shouldn’t waste any time in getting down to the dirt here, so here goes…

*As a disclaimer, I will say that our wonderful media relations department weeded through all your great inquiries and came up with a concentrated list of questions. Now I know that some questions were asked by multiple people, so if I don’t attribute a question to you that you asked…I apologize. I plead ignorance (as they only forwarded me one name per question). If you do have a gripe, contact the media relations department. Actually a better idea is to just insert your name where I say “good question Sue” or “a lovely query J-Bird”.

Do you miss having snow in winter?
From Karen in NY

That is one that I get often Karen…invariably from people in cold weather environments. The real answer is yes and no. When I’m in California and I hear about it snowing 6 or 8 inches in Colorado, I get jealous and I miss the snow. However, once I go to a cold weather environment, the snow (more importantly the frigid cold that often accompanies the snow) loses its excitement after a few minutes. My official stance is I love the snow…but off the record it is very easy to get used to year round warmth and sun.

How does where the team is now compare with where you thought you’d be? Not being from and never having been to LA, how often do you get recognized around town?
From Anne in Buffalo, NY

I would say Anne we are probably a little behind where I was hoping we would be at this point in the year. Although we are currently just outside of the playoff picture, our playoff hopes are still very much alive. With so many home games early in the year, it would have been nice to set ourselves up a little better for the second half of the year…but we are still in the hunt and that’s what matters. And speaking for myself on the second question, the answer is never. As for our big dogs like Dustin and Anze (and it’s just a guess), I would say they rarely get noticed. In a town with so many celebrities and such, it’s pretty easy to stay anonymous.

This is Ben Reyer, do you remember me?
From Ben Reyer in Rosemount, MN

That’s a tough one Ben…of course I do. The red-rimmed glasses were a great reference too, as they were the first thing that jumped out at me when I read your email. Thanks for writing in…and tell your brother hello.

1.How has the state of the economy affected you, the Kings, and the NHL? 2. Are you and your wife able to eat home cooked meals or do you find it difficult with your schedule? 3. What are your thoughts about the possibility of using California’s public funds for helping make alternative energy affordable to the public?
From Kirk in Wisconsin

Alright Kirk, I’m just going to dive right in.
1. The weakened economy has been a big blow to everyone and everything that is the NHL. I’m sure the powers that be would like to present a rosy picture, but the truth is that most every human is suffering to some degree right now and we are definitely not immune to this. I think for the most part, as players we are just happy that
a. we still have great jobs
b. we still get paid pretty darn well for the job
c. that we can hopefully give some reprieve to people that are experiencing hard times, even if just for a few moments.

2. My wife and I do try to eat at home as much as possible, but with our lifestyle it is very difficult at times. I wouldn’t say that we are fanatical about our food (or supplements), but we just really try to emphasize a clean, healthy diet. I guess my feelings on the matter are that I try to get as much as I can by eating the right foods, as opposed to supplementing everything…and eating at home is the easiest way to achieve that goal.

3. To be truthful, I didn’t know that this was/is being discussed…but I am completely for it. California is such an enormous economy that I think it is forced to be far-sighted with a lot of it’s energy strategies, which is why it seems like the state is a leader in a lot of carbon emission reduction programs, alternative fuel programs, etc. In reality, I am for almost any energy program that will help wean us off our oil dependence.

*Kirk also had at least 7 (seven) other questions, but since I know him I feel okay with cutting him off at 3. So sorry Kirk, we can have this conversation one-to-one at some point if you want.

Do you think it’s wrong for a fan to actually want his team to lose so come draft time you get a higher draft pick?
From Scotty in Melbourne, Australia

Well let me start off by saying I’m assuming that your name is actually Ted and you are from Los Angeles, but didn’t want to get beat down by all who know you so you changed your info. That’s savvy. In defense of “Scotty”, he did go on to make a valid rebuilding argument. I will say that I think the Kings have been rebuilding for long enough, and at some point you have to make the push to rid yourself of the “rebuilding” moniker. We already have a lot of good young talent in our ranks, and I think we just need to start shedding our past aliases. I will also add as a fan, good or bad, you are entitled to feel and think how you want to.

In my opinion one of the great things about sport is that it can give you such extreme highs one moment, and then it can kick you in the rear…all in 1 breath.

I’m not really embracing the whole number writing thing like I thought I would. 1 still looks odd to me. Maybe I need more time. I was 100% into it when I started the movement…but maybe I should have slowed down a bit before taking on rules of English grammar.

Do you guys get to pick the Gatorade flavor on the bench or during practice? Does it rotate?
From Mel

That is the kind of great, off-beat question I was hoping for Mel, so thank you. Mel also made a comment on the episode of The Office where the whole crew was running past one of the police radar setups to see how fast they could run…and I agree, it would be a lot of fun for us to do something like that (not sure if it would work though unless we had some metal on us). To answer your question, yes they do rotate the Gatorade flavor, but we do not get to pick it. If you are ever watching an away game, you can usually tell what flavor (or color) the Gatorade is on that day by looking at our jerseys just below the neckline. It seems that drinking from a bottle isn’t quite as easy as one would assume.

Can you describe the different leadership styles of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Matt Greene both on and off the ice? On the bio it says you are a published author, what have you published?
From Steve in Buena Park

Well Steve, I think Dustin has the quiet intense quality and he kind of says, “hop on my back guys, we are going to get this done any way possible.” Anze is also quiet, but he leads with his confidence, meaning guys gain from seeing his confidence and watching him play confidentially. Even though they are relatively quiet guys by nature, both have taken great steps this year in being more vocal. And Matt is definitely the talker, the rah-rah guy. He is the kind of guy that people just naturally matriculate to.

As for the author question, it’s really a lot more glamorous than it sounds. In order to fulfill my graduation requirements for college, I had to write a thesis. I was fortunate enough to have a thesis advisor that was really into sports economics which was and still is a relatively unexplored field in economics. At any rate, I wrote my thesis on the determinants of competitive balance in the NHL and it became the basis for an article that was published in an economic journal (the paper was co-authored by my advisor as well as a couple other professors). The name of the article is “The Influence of Structural Changes and International Players on Competitive Balance in the National Hockey League” and was published in the Atlantic Economic Journal.

Pretty bland.

How hilarious is Jack Johnson?
From Mrs. Parry

I would put him in the quite hilarious to super hilarious realm. Although, sometimes his hilariousness is only average. Then again, sometimes he is less than hilarious.

What do you like to do when you have that rare day or two off during the season?
In all honesty, because we do get so few days off during the year, I usually just like to sleep in, get a great breakfast, then do as little as possible and just hang out with my wife. All-in-all, days off for me are days to recharge the batteries a bit. I am excited for that to drastically in a few months when I have a little boy eagerly waking me up at all hours (please repeat sentence with dripping sarcasm).

Have you ever watched the UK version of The Office?
From Jacob van der Ploeg in the Netherlands

It’s great to have Kings fans in such far off lands and Adam Deadmarsh is also one of my all-time favorites. Sadly, I have not seen the UK version of The Office yet…but I know I would love it and plan to watch it at some point in my life.

Does a trade have an impact on the guys as a team both on the ice and in the locker room? Also, do you think the team really has a chance to make the playoffs this year?
From Somer

Ideally, you want a seamless transition when a guy gets traded, but more times than not, it doesn’t happen that way. The new player has a whole new environment to get used to, which takes time. For some, it takes longer than others. It’s really no different than moving schools or changing jobs. And yes, I truly do believe we have a good chance to make the playoffs this year. It’s definitely not going to be easy being on the road so often from here on out…but we should be right there.

If you weren’t playing hockey for a living, what would you be doing?
From Veronica

I get this question fairly regularly, and to be frank…I don’t have the slightest clue. The only thing I do know is that I want to continue my education in some fashion. I really wish I had a better answer for you Veronica, but I don’t. This blog has reminded me that I do enjoy writing…but I’m not sure I would ever want to parlay it into a career. Maybe I could write a monthly article for a golf magazine, there you go! In case you didn’t know, I heart golf. A lot.

*Epiphany: If anyone out there has some connections in the golf world please let me know. I am willing to work hard a few times a month, for the right golfing incentive.

Thanks Veronica…now when people ask that I question I have an answer. People helping people, this is really great stuff.

Have you considered any names for your baby? Also, which of your teammates would you trust to baby sit?
From Brook in Vancouver

Danielle and I do have a name picked out for our baby Brook, unfortunately she is not too excited about me sharing the name quite yet. I have noticed that people are very protective about giving away their baby names, but I’m not quite sure why (if that kid is going to carry around its name forever, shouldn’t the parents at least give the name a test spin for a while to see if it works well?).

As for your second question, I would be scared to death to let any of my teammates baby sit my boy…actually I might let John Zeiler, because if anyone in this world could successfully communicate with a newborn, I have no doubt it would be him.

How many people attend a breast feeding class, and where does it take place?
From Brad Weber
Probably the best questions of the bunch Brad, thanks for writing in. Seven people attend a breast feeding class and the classes take place at breast feeding buildings. The buildings generally look like any other building, but what goes on inside is a big mystery (until you join the club, that is). Big business has taken over most of the smaller breast feeding shops, the biggest ones being Feeding is Fun and Just Wait Until They Hit Their Teenage Years. I think that second company might be a subsidiary of Halliburton. Other than that, I don’t know a whole lot about breast feeding.

PS-you and your wife better be ready to do some heavy amounts of babysitting this summer…and for that matter, the next 8-10 summers. And just to be up front, there will be no monetary reward for said babysitting…just unwavering friendship. No questions from Richard, but thank you for the kind words. Also, thank you Heidi from Burlingame, I won’t tell anyone you cheer for the Kings too. Ole Scott Giller, sorry I left you in the lurch…but if I see you sometime, I will gladly discuss your question. Wow, that seems like an extremely long blog. Thank you so much everyone for writing in and asking those great questions….hopefully I haven’t disappointed anyone. More importantly, thank you for taking the time to read what I write. Double more importantly, don’t be afraid to hook me up with a sick golf writer’s job (when my hockey life is done, of course).

Talk to you soon and keep the questions coming, please write to: feedback@lakings.com

Tom



ENTRY No. 7 - Jan. 16, 2008

I haven’t written in a while so, I’m not sure if I need to apologize for taking a blogging cycle off. I just wrote it, but for some reason, I don’t feel "blogging" should be a word. Not sure why, just don’t. And I don’t know how you would fill the blog tenses if blogging was discontinued from the master word list of whoever decides such things. As I stare at blogging on the screen, it conjures up the word “bludgeoning” in my mind. That doesn’t seem right. So from now on, numbers are not written out and blogging doesn’t exist. At any rate, if anyone out there does feel I owe them an apology for making them hang on the edge of their seat constantly clicking refresh, just waiting for the new installment to come out…well then I’m sorry mom and dad.

 

To catch up on a few things, yes I did get the most presents at Christmas…and that can mostly be attributed to the Cheez-Its and other food items my parents decided to throw under the tree. Some habits never die. They did enlighten me as to why the practice began, they said it was started to combat the “I have more presents than you, therefore am more loved than you” syndrome that I undoubtedly perpetuated in my house. Oops. I’m a big believer in karma, and I’m pretty sure that one will come back to haunt me with my kid(s).

New Year’s was good, but to be frank I watched the ball drop from bed (out of one droopy eye) with my wife asleep by my side. I told you 30 is old. Plus my parents were in town and they are slightly over 30 years old. I think that last sentence was more for my own justification of the early New Year’s bedtime, than for the reader’s. Plus I’m old (not sure if I’ve mentioned that). Oh, and the spacebar has made a miraculous comeback. If it were still Christmas, I might have to wrap my spacebar up and count it as another present.

On a bit more serious note, Danielle and I went to a breastfeeding class tonight…and as this pregnancy goes on and on it’s impossible not to take notice at how amazing the human body is. It’s easy to take for granted because you are you every single day…and most people would consider their lives pretty unamazing (pretty sure that’s not a word). I know I consider my life pretty mundane. But to look at my wife and see what is going on in her body everyday is nothing short of wondrous. And it’s not like she is telling her body what to do on a daily basis, she doesn’t have to…it just knows. She is creating a human life inside her body. All I can say is wow. And from what I hear about watching the actual birth…I will probably be speechless. I do know that I will have a more profound respect for Danielle…and all mothers for that matter.

As of Monday's game, we are officially halfway through the year…and I think some of our younger guys are learning that January is probably mentally the toughest month of the hockey season. I can remember back to my rookie year, and it was almost instantly after Christmas that I felt like I had run into a brick wall. My legs felt like cement blocks, and mentally I was just very tired. I was coming off of four years of college where we would only play about 40-50 games a year (including playoffs). On top of all that, the games started getting more intense, and little mistakes that didn’t seem to be too big a deal 2 weeks before, become amplified. So it had already taken me so long to feel decently comfortable with the pace and intensity of play…and it was getting turned up. I say all that because I think some of these things might be going on with a few of the guys on the team. Most guys aren’t used to playing this many games that mean so much. An NHL season is by no means a sprint…and this time of year is when I think it really hits a lot of younger guys. The remarkable thing about the situation however, is how fast guys learn to adapt. It really doesn’t take long for the legs and mind to reshape themselves…and in the end, I think a better hockey player comes out of the fire for having gone through the tough time. As individuals (but more so as a team) we need to come out of that fire.

Alright I think it’s about time I take off, I need to eat some produce. My wife decided to buy $25 worth of apples and oranges (to which she is prone to do) without regard to the fact that we are going to be out of town for almost a week. Maybe she just loves supporting our farmers. As an aside, I have this romantic ideal in my head that all farmers absolutely love what they do, in particular the ones that grow peaches and corn…because there is nothing better than fresh peaches or corn in season.

Even though The Office is on reruns right now, my sister has been sending me Office quotes so I thought I would share an oldie with you…
Michael Scott: I've never met anybody that does that. You wash dogs. Very cool. Woman: That's one aspect of small pet grooming. What do you do?
Michael Scott: I am a bank teller.
[cut to talking head]
Michael Scott: Ryan told me to always tell women you work in finance.

Also I was thinking it might be fun to hear what anybody who actually reads this blog thinks. I have had a few people write in, but it would be great to hear from anybody with any questions (hockey are great, non-hockey even better).

So write away, and maybe next blog could be a question/answer type thing. Plus it will help me gauge if anyone besides my immediate family actually has the patience to weed through what I write.

So any questions or anything like that, please write to: feedback@lakings.com
Tom



ENTRY No. 6 - Dec. 17, 2008

Since we are coming perilously close to the beloved/dreaded (depends on who you are) Christmas, I just need to let it be known that whomever coined the phrase “it’s quality not quantity,” was obviously never a little kid on Christmas. I fondly remember back in the day, when I had to count every single present I received. Not only that, but I would count every other person’s presents in the room. From year to year, nothing has ever made me so happy or upset. “Look at dad, he only got six presents…he must have had a rough year.” The only person whom I was okay with having a bigger take than me, was my grandma. She would annihilate everyone every year. “Good for her” (I was pulling for grandma). I felt like I had achieved something if I had the biggest stack. You can bet that my kids are going to have the exact same number of gifts each year, even if it means throwing in a box of half eaten crackers and some dirty socks. For the record, my dad was (maybe even still is) notorious for giving us kids food items for Christmas…in his defense, the crackers and chips were always unopened.

 

My birthday lies close enough to Christmas that people eventually started just morphing the two holidays into one. I suppose birthdays aren’t technically holidays, but try to tell that to a kid. I think that until the sixth grade, on your birthday, you should get the day off. Tough break if your birthday is in the summer, the only major holiday in the summer is the 4th of July…and maybe flag day. You try competing with Christmas and see who wins. The best man in my wedding’s birthday is the 29th of December, you think he didn’t suffer? Jeff said during his most memorable birthday he was enjoying his chocolate ice cream when Grandpa Dick jumped out of a cake and shouted, “Recognize!” It’s a long story. Poor Jeff.

The whole point of the previous paragraph was to say that my birthday burden was light compared to what my sisters had to endure far too late into life. Most parents reading this know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the same gift plague. “Oh Jim, this amber striped shirt with flying pig accents would look so cute on Beth. As a matter of fact, Patti would die for it as well! Even though they are more than a year apart, they are always talking that they want to be twins.

This Christmas is gonna be the best ever!” Now I know that Christmas shopping is or can be a tedious, stressful gig. These stresses however, do not license the giver to get the exact same gift for two different siblings. It is okay occasionally, when the siblings are really young (because it’s hard to argue with how cute that is), but that is it. And getting the same shirt in a different color does not count. That may in fact be worse, it shows that you gave enough thought to realize it was lame to give the two people the same shirt, yet you didn’t care enough to do something constructive about it.

I think at this juncture, I need to take a quick break and apologize. I am that @#! whom is impossible to shop for. I am super picky, yet I can’t ever come up with a gift list. How are other people supposed to figure out what I want, when I don’t even know? It’s so bad that it’s rumored my mom, who is far and away the best gift giver I have ever come across (except for my wife of course), was in tears one year trying to figure out what to get me. So for anyone that has ever bought me a present, I am sorry. My final Christmas thought, even through all I have said…I love it. I have so many great family and life memories that revolve around this time of the year.

For the record…please insert holiday or holiday season anywhere you see Christmas.

Also for the record…my computer is very close to "accidentally falling out of a third floor window" in my house. The spacebar on my keyboard isn’t working properly, so I have to slam my thumb on the spacebar to get the desired outcome.

Iknowisaididon’tedittheseblogs,butimagineifyouhadtoreadlikethisthroughtheentirething.

So things on the hockey front have been a little up and down as of late. We lost those three games where we were leading going into the third period, but I think that ship has been righted, and as we near the end of this four game home stand, we have the possibility of taking all but one point away from those games. Our only loss has been to San Jose (in a shootout), a game which we did a lot of good things against a very good hockey team. Not to get too high on San Jose, but they play a pretty simple game very effectively…and probably the biggest thing I noticed about them is how much they work together as a line/unit/team. I think a lot of that togetherness is because the core of the team has played together for such a long time. Our togetherness is something that has improved drastically from last year, and I think you will continue to see more out of us as the season progresses simply because the core group is getting stronger.

On an individual level, I do have to talk up one of my fellow defensemen, Kyle Quincey. He has been an absolute great pick up for our team, both offensively and defensively. I think as a fan, one of the things I appreciate the most out him is his ability to get pucks to the net from the blue line. Getting shots to the net is not as easy as it looks, but he’s got a heavy shot and it almost never gets blocked. His shot is a big reason why he has had so much offensive success this year. Plus, all forwards love d-men that get shots through…as evidenced by fro and brownie’s tip in goals against the Blues. Those were two of the better tips I have seen in some time.

There is going to be no “Office” quote of the week, because Richie, Harry and I were supposed to go onset (yes ONSET!) on Tuesday but it got cancelled. We are (notice it’s not were) all devastated. I’m not just throwing “devastated” around either. I am therefore boycotting “the office” temporarily.

Have a great holiday…talk to you soon.

Tom


ENTRY No. 5 - Dec. 3, 2008

Plaxico Burress…wow.

Sean Avery…double wow.

Actually I think Plaxico deserves the double wow. The man shot himself. Now I don’t have much gun experience, but I think I can safely assume it’s pretty hard to shoot yourself. HE SHOT HIMSELF! First off, why would he even put himself in a situation where he felt a gun was necessary? Second, if he needed to go to a club that bad I think he has enough money to hire people who wouldn’t shoot themselves. Maybe Elton john was singing “Benny and the Jets”…that is the only thing that I would risk my life for, and only if he was wearing 8 (eight) inch platform shoes with a gaudy white outfit and 80’s style pimp hat.

What good can come out of carrying a gun? He is lucky he shot himself and not someone else. I’m not even going to address the Avery thing because the sole reason he said what he said is to garner publicity. I think as hockey players, as a whole, we pride ourselves on being decent humans…but some of Avery’s antics do not reflect that ideal.

I wanted to segue into a bigger issue about the two incidents by wondering aloud if professional athletes should be held to a higher standard than the general public. If yes, why? I don’t think there is a right answer here and it’s certainly not an easy question. We (hopefully) hold the President to a higher standard, and of the last two, one lied about WMD and the other was unfaithful to his wife. Not to mention Whitewater. And Clinton was one of the most popular presidents ever. I guess the big thing here is that no one is without faults. Pick your heroes carefully. Even I have been known to mess up on rare occasions. I have not, however, shot myself…which up until this week was something I was unaware I should be proud of. I will say I think that the players in the Los Angeles Kings organization know that we are potentially role models for kids and adults alike, and we take that very seriously. I mean come on, how could you let this little kid down?

The above, coupled with the NFL's substance abuse suspensions, and I guess you could say it’s been a pretty disappointing week for professional sports. At least it’s only Wednesday…maybe we can bring our stock back up by Sunday. I’m pinning a lot on Pacman Jones’ return to the Cowboys.

On the hockey front, we had been on a pretty good run up until the beginning of the third period of the Toronto game. We led that game 1-0 going into the third and lost. We were beating Phoenix 2-1 going into the third and we lost. As a team, those games are games you need to win. And to grow as a team you need to experience those wins together. In my years playing hockey, I have learned that there is really nothing better for team growth, then winning close games. I have also learned that in times when you look like you might be taking a step back, that’s when you have to put the cement shoes on and trudge forward. Together. As a team we have addressed our issues and we will move forward.

I will say that it is easy to let yourself get into a funk when things aren’t going well on the ice. There was something said by coach Murray which really struck a chord (I’m not letting any locker room secrets out here so don’t get too excited), he reminded us that we have the best job in the world. He is right, we do. But it’s not always easy to remember, and sometimes we need to be reminded of that.

Man, there’s a lot of glum so far in this blog, and while it may not be by design, it’s not entirely unforeseeable…it’s my birthday today. Birthday No. 30. I have never been much for getting too up or down on birthdays, quite frankly for me they are usually just another day. For some reason though, I woke up this morning and actually felt old for the first time in my life. I feel the exact same as I have felt every other day, there is just a huge neon pink sign following me around flashing “old man” on and off everywhere I go. If you see me on the street, please don’t laugh and point. I’m serious. If this is what 30 is like, I’m scared for 40. I better start preparing myself.

I want to wrap it up by saying a bit about Thanksgiving, probably the best holiday there is. I absolutely love Thanksgiving. I get to eat truckloads of delicious food, nap, hang out with family and watch some football (even though the games were awful this year). All that goodness and I don’t have to go through the stress of buying presents, and (at least as far as I know) Thanksgiving does not have religious ties so you only offend turkeys and PETA by celebrating it. And lest you forget the day after, maybe one of the most underrated food days of the year. If Thanksgiving is a stressful day for you, Leftover Day should bring you back. I love Leftover Day. I’m already excited about Leftover Day for next year. It will be my first Thanksgiving as an old man. Maybe my carving skills will improve exponentially.

Oh, the new Bond film…not what I was hoping for. Pretty good action, just not a very clear or concise storyline. I’m not even sure Imax could’ve saved it…but maybe. Best "Office" quote from last week was Michael Scott, “I learned a while back that if I don’t text 911, people will not return my calls. Uh, but now people always return my calls because they think that something horrible has happened.”

Talk to you soon.

Tom


ENTRY No. 4 - Nov. 19, 2008

I will try to concentrate as best as I can today, but the constant whine coming from the jackhammer six feet from my house is a little overbearing. At least it has only been three days and at least they won’t start a second before 8 a.m.

I heart construction.

It is especially nice when you only get a few days off a month and one of those days is jump started by a large construction device. Sorry to start off on a slightly bitter note - and it is my fault since I waited until the last minute to write this week’s blog - but sometimes it is just nice to complain a little. I feel I should add that procrastination is one of my top five under appreciated talents. Sleeping is also in the top five. It used to be No.1 one, but since I have graduated from college my sleeping skills have diminished exponentially. Maybe that’s a good thing considering I will be a father in about five months.

I had a middle school teacher that taught me you should spell numbers out lower than 10, but reading the last paragraph I’m not sure how I feel about that grammatical rule (assuming it’s a rule). Maybe it’s time to start writing, “I like Harry. He has 5 fingers. Harry loves to high 5 his peeps.” Just a thought.

It’s a lot easier to talk about hockey when we are winning. The last probably seven or eight (7 or 8) games, we have really been playing like a team that should make the playoffs. I might be a little biased, but I think we are a very exciting team to watch when we are on our game. If you look at the games we have had success in, everything positive has started in the offensive zone. Our forwards have been doing a great job of pressuring the opposing team’s defense, causing turnovers and general pandemonium. For me, when we are buzzing around the o-zone, creating plays, getting hits, it is exciting hockey. I get the sense the fans feel that way too. So I guess as an easy indicator as to how we are playing, look at if we are creating positives off the fore check. Obviously, that’s not the end all to winning or losing, but it should be a pretty good gauge.

The team I started my NHL career with played a similar (reliving heavily on the fore check) game with a similar (younger) team, and we were pretty successful. Sunday night (against Anaheim) we stumbled a bit, but we will be back on our game versus the talented Washington Capitals and then the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. While we’re talking about Saturday night’s game, is it well known that we are unveiling our new third jerseys that night? The theme is “Back in Black,” but don’t we already wear black jerseys? Should the theme be “Reback in Black”? or how about “Back in Black…Again. For the first time. Or second?" Maybe we are unveiling a throwback jersey…I’m starting to get it now. I hope I’m not getting myself in trouble here, I’m just kind of writing and thinking this out at the same time. I have no idea what the new jerseys are like and really hadn’t thought much about it…other than Back in Black is peculiar. I guess if the last part of this paragraph is deleted, we’ll know I’m on to something.

Well, at least I will know.

The only other hockey thing I have to mention, is Brownie’s hit on Dallas’ Stephane Robidas. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It probably didn’t hurt too much, but it was one of the coolest hits I have seen in a while…and I had a pretty good view. I think you can still find a link to it via this link.

Obviously, pregnancy has been on my mind a lot lately and I have a confession, well it might not be a big confession because maybe everyone knows it and I’m just ignorant. Whenever anyone asks would you rather have a boy or girl, most people won’t give you anything more than the “I just hope it’s healthy” line. While that is true, if you really pressured people I bet you every single man, if they had to pick, would want a boy. If they say they truly, deeply don’t care…they are lying. I played that game, said the “healthy” line. Deep down, I knew I wanted a boy. I really couldn’t tell you why though. I know that boy or girl, this is going to be the most amazing experience of my life. I don’t think it’s the whole I have to carry on the bloodlines argument because I’m not English royalty circa 1800…I just really deep down wanted a boy. Most girls want girls too…but there are still a lot that would prefer a boy.

Now that I know we are having a boy, I don’t feel so guilty. I want our next child to be a girl. Seriously.

Alright all (or most) ages appropriate, “Office” quote of the week. Andy Bernard to the bartender (while trying to set Oscar up), “Beer me dos Long Island Iced Teas.” If you are an avid “Office” watcher, there was an episode a couple seasons ago with Jim and Andy, where Andy was saying “beer me…” to everything. As in “beer me that CD.” Awesome.

As much as you probably want to hear me ramble on, “Quantum of Solace” is calling my name (the new Bond flick.) I wanted to see it on Imax, but oops, I think the studio made a poor decision and didn’t release it in that format. There is nothing better than an action movie on Imax (think Batman). If anyone ever builds an Imax theater in their home, I will befriend them immediately.

Talk to you soon…or really soon if you have a home Imax theater.

I heart construction. Especially jackhammers.

Tom

Oh man, Happy Thanksgiving…I almost forgot.



ENTRY No. 3 - Nov. 5, 2008

 

I'm sitting here the day after the election wondering how much I should really talk about politics. Most people don't want to hear rants from athletes about their political views (at least I'm assuming that's the case) and a lot of us athletes in general might not want to share where our leanings are in that area. With that being said, one thing that I have been excited about with this election is how much more vocal guys have been this year about the Presidential Race, at least within the confines of our locker room. But it feels like our locker room echoes what has taken place all over, and in my opinion, it is a great thing (even though at times it gets way too emotional). I really cannot fathom being in the shoes of the Schwarzenegger/Shriver family and some of the disagreements they must have. In the end though maybe they are on to something, it's a lot easier to sympathize with someone you disagree with, but love. Still, I don't think there's much of a chance I could do it.

I had another few paragraphs written about the election, but I think my time here would be better spent writing about things less emotionally charged, so I deleted them. I will therefore not be touching on the volatile Proposition 8.

You're welcome.

The team did have a fun Halloween party. We had it more than a couple days early though, so it was a little creepy walking down the street in tight, high-cut yellow shorts dressed as Paulie Bleeker from "Juno." Great movie. I think I mentioned that my wife is pregnant in the first blog, so she was a pretty believable Juno. As for me, too many of my teammates had to ask me what I was, so I don't think I pulled it off very well. I hope I'm not blowing up his spot, but I have to say, far and away my vote for best costume was Greener [Matt Greene]. He was a bathroom attendant. He bought all the products: gel, mints, etc. had the tip jar out, turned the water on for you, and made sure your bathroom experience was a pleasant one. But the absolute best part was that he stayed in the bathroom (in character) for the entire night. Who even thinks like that (besides maybe Andy Kaufman)?

Maybe I should write a little about hockey, since I moonlight as a hockey player. I will tell you that losing really sucks. We are really working hard as a team and I hope you guys as fans realize that. Just as I don't think it's reasonable to assume that Obama will step into office and instantly turn the economy around, winning isn't just something you can turn on. While we're still winning some games, to be a team that wins takes a lot more building and a ton of commitment and it's not something that happens over night. But, I think, as a whole, we are moving in the right direction. Now with all that being said, at some point we are going to have to put all the pieces in place, take the reigns, and go with it. As a team, we are hoping that happens soon, as our schedule is so front-end home loaded, we need to start winning some games if we want to put ourselves in position to make some moves in the standings in February and March. If we dig ourselves in too big of a hole now, it's just going to be more difficult for us late in the year because those road games in the late winter/early spring become tougher and tougher to win.

It's a little weird because, as an athlete, you are taught to think small, i.e., one shift, one period, one game, but you also need to have the big picture in the back of your head. Quick side note, I will forever remember the famous "i.e. vs e.g." argument between Ray Bones (played by Dennis Farina) and Chili Palmer (played by John Travolta) from the movie Get Shorty, a great movie if you haven't seen it. It may have been Travolta's first movie after his resurrection in Pulp Fiction (which was, of course, another great movie).

While we're on the movie topic, I did see a pretty funny one last week, one that has been banned in the state of Utah. Being that this is the Kings Web site I won' t say the entire name of the movie, but lets just say it is called "Zack and Miri Akemay A Ornopay." Isn't it a little skewed when our children are allowed to be inundated with violence from the time they are fetuses, but a movie that portrays sex in a comedic way is not to be tolerated. I'm not saying kids being exposed to either is right or wrong, I just want to know who is controlling the scale that decides it's okay to show "Saw V" but not "Zack and Miri..." (as an aside both movies are rated ˜R').

I think that's about all for now, hopefully I wasn't too preachy this week. I will say that I feel complete again now that "30 Rock" is back on. I think I enjoy that show more than "The Office," which is saying a lot. For me, Alec Baldwin is the funniest man on television. Since my favorite "Office" quote from the last couple weeks involves Michael Scott saying "that's what she said" (which might not be appropriate in this forum), I was going to go with my favorite "30 Rock" quote, but all of those seem inappropriate as well, so I guess we'll talk to you in a few weeks.

Oh, and a special happy birthday to my dad, we won't get into numbers, but he's got a few good years under his belt.

Tom


ENTRY No. 2 - Oct. 22, 2008

Alright, for starters I just need to say that I am ashamed of myself for turning the TV off during Game 5 of the ALCS when the Red Sox were down by six (or seven) in the 7th inning. I know some of you may still be stewing after the Dodgers lost, and I’m sure major league baseball is too…I don’t think a better story could have been made than Manny vs. the Red Sox. But that game (Game 5) epitomizes exactly what is right in sports, with their backs completely against the wall, the Red Sox (yet again) found a way to win. Now I’m sitting here typing this, watching Game 7. That is why, for me anyway, it’s tough to cheer against the Red Sox I can’t say I love them, but it’s just too hard to hate ‘em.

As an aside, generally when I type casually, I try not to worry too much about punctuation, capitalization, etc…so my apologies in advance, especially to my mom, who will probably be seething if she reads these blogs.

Sorry mom, I promise those years weren’t wasted.

I hope you guys enjoyed both the wins last week, because neither of them were of the easy variety. I think the Carolina game was probably a better win for us, but I understand the Ducks game probably meant more to the fans. Carolina was a good win for the team because we had to come from behind, we won in overtime and we didn’t have our best stuff, and in an 82-game schedule, as hard as you train and work, there are nights where you have to win with less than a full tank. And that’s a huge lesson when you have a young team.

I have to add that I spent a couple minutes in the penalty box in the 3rd period of the Carolina game and that has to be one of the biggest mood swings in sports. I got whistled at a time in the game where if Carolina would have scored, it would have been very difficult for us to come back. So I was sitting in the box, mad at myself…for those two minutes, every good play we make is a great play and every little mistake is magnified by 10. It seems to me that hockey is a real team game when your teammates are bailing you out of a situation you put them in. Believe me, no one in the rink is more nervous than the guy in the penalty box in the third period of a close game. Then, at the end of those two long, drawn out minutes…that elephant that has been weighing you down in the box hops off your back and you become one of the happiest people in that rink.

I would be remiss to not talk some about Jack getting injured. Without a doubt it sucks. For us, we are going to be without one of our top young d-men. For him to work so hard and have a major injury occur so early in the year just sucks. There’s no way around it. Not only that, but he will get to spend the next three months or so almost exclusively with the training staff. Although they are great guys who smell nice, I don’t think there’s anyone who would want to spend hours a day rehabbing an injury with the same trainers, day after day, for three months while the rest of us are out doing what Jack wants to be doing. If it sounds depressing, it probably is. I’m getting depressed writing it. Hopefully Jack doesn’t read this, but everyone who plays understands the risks involved and most guys at some point in their lives/careers have a significant injury. With how young Jack is, hopefully he’ll be able to come back sooner than expected...and I know he and his shoulder will be stronger than ever.

Although Jack might get upset at me for letting this on, he has also always told me how much he loves homemade cards, so if you are out there and love to stamp… (Toyota Sports Center; c/o LAKings.com, 555 North Nash Street, El Segundo, CA, USA 90245). Jack needs you. Plus with all the extra time on his hands, he can write long drawn out thank you letters, unless his upper body gets tired, then maybe he can dictate something nice. He also loves dictation.

I think that’s about all for me for now, I need to start paying more attention to the Sox-Rays game, it’s the top of the 8th with two on, no outs. After that, it’s "Entourage." Great show. Not quite "The Office," but close. The best quote of last week’s Office…Michael Scott to Jan , “I was just gonna go talk to Holly about her hygiene. She smells like old tomatoes. And dirt.”

I will leave you with a Governor Palin skit from SNL, if you haven’t seen them, they are super. Hopefully that works.

Tom

Also if I don’t write again before the Nov. 4, please do yourself a favor and vote. I have yet to hear a responsible argument against using your voice in the democratic process.


ENTRY No. 1 - Oct. 8, 2008

Well, I think I can probably speak on behalf of everyone in this locker room that our summer was a lot longer than anyone wanted. You know, last year was tough. It was only my fourth year pro, but it was the first time I had played on a non-playoff team. It was well, it was "un-fun," I know that's not a word but it is just "un-fun" to lose. As a result, I did a lot of learning last year and basically it's a lot harder to lose than it is to win. Just the emotional toll it takes on you alone. I think that helped drive me a lot this summer and hopefully it helped drive a lot of the guys this off season.

I spent the first few weeks of the summer just not even thinking, not talking, not having anything to do with hockey. You know, just to get my mind healthy again. It's not easy. You kind of have to get to a place - not where you forget it, I don't want to speak in negatives – but to a place where it is in the back of your head. All summer, it was in the back of my head and it was driving me, but not to the point where I let it overcome me. So it is kind of a fine line there. Like I said, I used it as motivation this summer.

I did not even watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I watched a few SportsCenter highlights of the games and that's about what it boiled down to. It's hard, because I am a hockey fan, but I thought it was probably just healthier for me at that point to be done and get away for a little while, plus I had a few significant events, I got married, and I am having a child, due April 1. So it was a big summer. We'll find out in a couple weeks if it is a boy or a girl, my family will find out then. But it doesn't matter. I am just excited either way. We have names picked out, although I will not divulge them. You guys will know when the world knows.

I was married at a ranch where I live in the summer, which is in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. It was nice. It was a casual ranch wedding. They had a petting zoo there. A little pygmy goat petting zoo and my nephew tried to steal one of the goats. It was more casual and it was at a ranch, so it is not as formal as a lot of weddings. There was dirt around so you get a little bit dirty. But it was just a beautiful setting, up in the mountains. We got married outside, with the mountains all around, and then we had the reception just under a tent in kind of a field. A lot of my teammates came, Army [Derek Armstrong], Sully [Patrick O'Sullivan], Barbs [Jason LaBarbera] and former King J-S Aubin. I had a few guys from my former teams in Ottawa and in San Jose come as well, so it was a pretty good representation.

Then we went to Hawaii for two weeks, a nice way to forget about the season. It was my first time going and it was everything everyone said it would be, so I was pretty excited. Sometimes its not what you think, when something gets built up that much, but it lived up to what everyone said it was.

But in a sad twist, I had to have surgery like a week before the wedding, so I was on a cane for the ceremony. But it ended up working out great because then for the honeymoon, I was able to just relax. I stayed off of it as much as I could, which is a little bit of a bummer because both my wife and I love to hike and we had some big trips planned. We were going to do some golf trips and obviously the snorkeling, so it was a little bit of a bummer but it ended up working out great because if there is one place where you don't mind hanging out and just literally doing nothing, I would say Hawaii is that place.

I had some trouble with my knee at the end of the year last year and I was hoping it would repair itself. But it didn't end up happening, so I ended up having to have the surgery. It was something that needed to be done then, because it was either before the wedding or three weeks later…and if it were three weeks later, I would be three weeks behind where I am now, so it ended up working out alright.

It feels good now and it has definitely gotten a lot better through camp. It's still maybe a little bit slow on my first step, but it's only going to keep getting better. That was my first significant injury since turning pro. The rehab process sucked a little bit and no one ever wants to get injured; you don't want to really ever acknowledge that your body isn't exact.

For rehab, I worked in combination with the training staff here and where I live in the summer. It's a ski town, so basically all the rehab people there are good with knee injuries and are pretty experienced. The guy I worked with has worked extensively with the U.S. Ski Team, so I think I was pretty well covered for my rehab.

So now I am feeling pretty good and enjoying camp. I like what I have seen out of the kid Drew Doughty. There are not many people that can play in the NHL as an 18-year old, especially on defense, it takes a little bit longer to learn. It is just amazing that you are ready to play as an 18-year old, or even a 19 year old, which you know, we saw partly with Jack [Johnson] last year. Drew has got a lot of things going for him, you can see just how well he thinks the game and it's going to be fun to watch him develop and see how good he can get. I think he could be a really, really good player.

As far as the locker room, and the team is concerned, its fun this year because there is a lot of youth here. Sometimes, when you're on a kind of older team, you miss some of that excitement and some of that energy. So its fun to come to the locker room and have that youthful energy.

One addition this season is ping-pong tournament now going on here at the Toyota Sports Center and you will find guys staying here an hour, hour and a half after practice just to get in their ping-pong games. So it's definitely fun, something that has brought us together and helps work on your eye-hand coordination. I don't know if I consider it cross training, in a way it probably is - it's not going to hurt your hockey game at all.

Well, now training camp is starting to wind down and we get ready for our Season Opener on Saturday. I still get nervous for our season opener. I wonder if Sean O'Donnell gets nervous still after all these years. But I would assume even he gets nervous. Especially for the first few games, it's just the excitement of not knowing what the season is going to hold for the team and for you personally. It's like the first day of school, I guess, if you want to compare it to something. Most people are excited or a little bit nervous and don't know what to expect. You just have all this tangle of emotions, the season is just getting started, everyone has a chance to win and it is just a fun time to be a King.