Kings general manager Bob Blake was easily distracted Wednesday morning. Somebody asked him if he had a chance to gather with friends and neighbors to play beach volleyball during the NHL’s suspension of play because of the coronavirus pandemic. Suddenly, the talk of the recent re-signing of defenseman Kurtis MacDermid, the cross-country drive of forward…Kings GM Rob Blake: ‘At the end of the day, there will be hockey’ — Daily News
Like everyone else in hockey, Blake has been quarantined at home during the pause in play. It’s been eight weeks since the Kings’ last game, a 3-2 victory March 11 over the Ottawa Senators that extended their winning streak to seven games and gave them a 29-35-6 record.
Play was halted the next day.
Like everyone else in hockey, Blake has been preparing for the resumption of play, whether it’s the Kings’ final 12 games of the 2019-20 season in the coming weeks or months or advancing directly to the 2020-21 season without the completion of the current campaign.
“At the end of the day, there will be hockey,” he said.
So, Blake said the Kings’ scouting department has gone about its business as if the draft will be held next month. There was no sense in delaying preparations since it’s going to be held at some point, whether it’s next month or next fall if the resumption of the 2019-20 season is delayed until summer.
Interviews with draft prospects are ongoing via video conference calls rather than in person.
The NHL is expected to announce in the next few days when the draft lottery and the draft will be held, and what formats they will take. The draft was originally scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal’s Bell Centre, but it’s expected to be held via video conference calls.
“Everyone’s in the same boat,” Blake said of adjusting to the new normal.
Blake also said he recently held meetings with Todd McLellan and the Kings’ coaching staff to review their play to determine what worked and what didn’t. Soon, Blake will take what he learned from the coaches and mesh it with the statistics produced by the Kings’ analytics department.
Players’ interviews, traditionally the final act of any given season, haven’t taken place yet. Blake said he’s remained in contact with the players, including but not limited to the eight or so who have remained in Southern California to self-isolate during the break in the action.
Blake said center Jeff Carter would not be available to play “in the next couple of months” because of a core injury that has sidelined him since Feb. 18. Blake said Carter has been doing rehabilitation work at home and could see a specialist soon.
If play resumes, Blake said he expected rosters would expand by as many five to eight players, giving the Kings a chance to find meaning to as many as 12 otherwise meaningless games. The Kings were seventh in the Pacific Division when play was halted, 14 points out of a playoff spot.
“We will find positives from playing these games,” he said.