SOCHI, Russia — You’ve probably heard the term “mixed zone” a few times since the Winter Olympics started. If you weren’t sure what a mixed zone was, well, that there is a mixed zone. It’s basically a media gauntlet that athletes have to pass through as soon as they’re finished their games, performances, runs, or whatever.
For NHLers, it’s a notably different process than what they’re used to in North America, where they’re able to go to the dressing room and briefly collect their thoughts before meeting with reporters. They don’t get that brief luxury in the Olympics.
In 2010, Alex Ovechkin received a good deal of criticism for blowing through the mixed zone at the Vancouver Games. Which is partly why we mention this, given he’s been called the face of the Sochi Games. Will he act differently in his home country?
Yesterday, 15-year-old Swiss women’s hockey player Alina Muller was in tears as she walked through the mixed zone following a 5-0 loss to Canada. A Swiss reporter tried to call her over, and to her credit she walked over to him, but when he saw she was crying, he let her go. I don’t expect to see any NHLers in tears like that, and I’m not sure any of them are going to pull a Richard Sherman either, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be emotional, prone to saying (or doing) emotional things.
Remember, at some point in these Games, Ovechkin is going to come off the ice as one of two things — a gold-medal winner, or…not.
The gauntlet will be waiting.
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.