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I’m not a naturally talented writer and I’m not particularly funny.  It’s just the simple truth.  (It’s ok, I know my true talents lay elsewhere.)  There are a lot of worthwhile hockey bloggers that fit into this category - our collectively lack of literary skills or sense of humor is made up for by a passion for / knowledge of the game.

Then there are naturally gifted people who choose to apply their talent  to a hockey blog.  LA Kings blogger ChrisKontos (The Royal Half) is one of these folks.

To make myself look good level the playing field and I took humor out of the equation and forced Chris to answer 5 serious hockey questions about his surprising Kings.  As you might expect, I’ve done the same for him on his blog.  This isn’t our first team up: in January, we worked on this joint point for olympichockeyblog.com on why Burke chose Quick over Andy for Team USA.

Without further ado…

1. Big trade between the two clubs this summer when the Avs sent Ryan Smyth to LA in exchange for Kyle Quincey, Tom Preissing and 5th rounder. Your thoughts on the trade?

I was so glad that the Kings made this trade over the summer. Ryan Smyth was exactly what this team needed... a goal scoring winger that's not afraid to get dirty in front of the net. I've been a fan of Smyth since I led my college NHL '96 league in scoring with him and Todd Marchant as young Oilers, so I consider it a pleasure to be able to watch his glorious hair flow each night as a member of the Kings. It's easy to forget how great Smyth was for the Oilers.
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Sure, there are 2 more years on his contract left at $6.5 million per, but GM Dean Lombardi has been able to give this team adequate cap space to take on a contract like this. And Smyth's been worth every penny... he's given this team another veteran leader (even though he's only 33!)... he's made Kopitar more confident in driving to the net... and that hair. Man oh man, that hair.

To get rid of Tom Priessing was an absolute stroke of genius on Lombardi's part and yes, Kyle Quincey has a promising future in the NHL... but again Dean Lombardi has a treasure chest full of young puck moving defensemen, so even though Quincey led the Kings in defensive scoring... he became very expendable. I guess it all depends on who the Av's are able to draft with that 5th round pick next year to see who is the true winner in this trade.

2. I recently read that you were very happy with Brad Richardson's game lately. Is he really worth that 2nd round pick?

I hated Brad Richardson when he came to the Kings. HATED. In a Brian Willsie kind of way. You know, with pro athletes we forget that sometimes they can doubt themselves. And since the start of this season, Brad Richardson has gained one of the biggest intangibles that a pro athlete can't put on at the gym... confidence. He's playing on scoring lines, killing penalties and seems to get better and better each game. He does have good offensive instincts and I think Kings fans have turned around their opinion on Richardson in a way I haven't seem them do for a player in a long time.

In terms of him being worth a 2nd round pick? Well, Dean Lombardi obviously saw something in this guy that no one else did, and with the stock pile of draft picks the Kings had in 2008, this isn't a bad trade to make. Now, if goalie Peter Delmas (the player the Av's chose with the pick) turns into the 2nd coming of Patrick Roy... then this trade is a different story. But even then, the Kings still have Quick and Jon Bernier between the pipes for the next few years.

3. Do you guys miss Ian Laperriere and his crooked nose as much as us Avs fans?

Here is the thing about fan favorites... they are easily replaceable. Ian Laperriere... meet Wayne Simmonds. Eric Belanger... meet Oscar Moller. Mattias Norstrom... meet Matt Greene. As a fan you care so intensely about these role-type players but quickly realize it's the Ziggy Palffys and the Anze Kopitars that are the hard ones to replace. I loved Lappy during his Kings tenure and saw many a broken nose taken by him... but I'm happy for him that he's moved on to richer pastures.

4. Ok - you're the Kings GM on trade deadline day and you can make 1 move to help the club address the most glaring need before the playoffs - what do you do?

This is a tough question because the chemistry on the Kings is very strong right now and a late season trade doesn't always work out. Just check out #5 here: But if I'm the Kings GM (a job I've turned down a few times, by the way) I'm bringing in the most un-sexy of moves... a 4th line center UFA who is great with faceoffs... like a Eric Belanger type. If I want to be sexy... then I trade for Paul Karyia. But let's be honest... the Kings look like they'll make the playoffs, but are they good enough to beat San Jose or Chicago? Even with a big trade, I don't know how much better this team can be this season. Don't forget, Justin Williams should be back in time for the playoffs, so that will help on the wing.

5. Give us your favorite Kings playoff series of all time. (Maybe one in 2001 that was ended by a certain player with Avalanche ties?...) Editor’s note: I was trying to get him to talk about the 2001 series against the Wings when Deader ended it in OT!  Oh well, Chris is right, those Kings / Avs series were great.

I feel that hockey fans forget (or never even knew) what great playoff battles the Kings and Av's had in 2001 and 2002. Both series went to 7 games and the Kings even stole Peter Forsberg's spleen from him in 2001. The last hockey playoff game I attended was in 2002, when the Kings won Game 6 on goals from Jason Allison, Brad Chartrand and Bryan Smolinski. The atmosphere at Staples Center was amazing as the 7th seed Kings were sending the 2nd seed Av's back to Denver for a Game 7. This 2001-2002 Kings team had a great season with a 40-27-11-4 record and the future looked incredibly bright for the Kings... and that was the last time the Kings even came close to making the playoffs. This season, it very well could end up a 4th v 5th playoff battle between the Av's and the Kings. With the Kings as the 4th seed of course.
Avs and Kings drop the puck at 8:30 MST on Saturday night.  Go Avs!