Ian Clark's On Hockey: Lockout would have minor impact on Monarchs
If the NHL lockout does indeed go into effect Sept. 15, Manchester Monarchs fans won’t notice much difference on the ice come October.
That’s because any effects from the lockout felt by the Monarchs will mostly be behind the scenes. Many of the medical aspects that would have been taken care of in Los Angeles during the parent club Kings’ camp will now need to be handled in Manchester.
“The main thing is physicals. Usually that’s all taken care of in L.A. It’s a well-oiled machine (there),” said Monarchs director of hockey operations Hubie McDonough. “But if we have to do everything here, concussions testing, all of that, there’s so much more involved.”
L.A. would have those logistics taken care of on the West Coast, but in Manchester it will be a matter of finding medical staff with the time to perform everything. Adding complication, the Verizon Wireless Arena is booked during training camp, which is set to open Sept. 28.
“We’ve got to get someone to administer the tests. That’s the biggest thing. Then there’s dentists and all that to deal with,” McDonough said. “The circus will be in the building, so we can’t be here.”
Lockout or no, the AHL agreed to go to camp on the 28th and that will move forward as planned, but might require some adjustments to the preseason schedule.
“I don’t think it will have much effect on us. We may have to ramp up our exhibition schedule, if anything,” said Monarchs president Darren Abbott. “We’d have a more full roster down here, but I don’t think the fans would notice any difference when we drop the puck.”
The larger roster could include callups to the Kings from last season such as Dwight King, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov. But just which players will be able to play at the AHL level is not clear yet. Further muddying the waters, some players may opt to play in Europe rather than wait it out in the NHL or play in the AHL.
Contracts are also a concern. A one-way contract would mean a player has to clear waivers or risk being snapped up by another team.
“Waivers are still in effect. If you get picked up on waivers, you have to stay with the NHL team a set number of days,” McDonough said. “Then, if they try to sneak you back down, the team that had you can reclaim you.”
The players also will not arrive in town in the same physical shape. Without the benefit of two weeks of practice, getting back up to speed will now be done on shorter notice.
Other behind-the-scenes fallout would include an increased presence in Los Angeles Kings front office folks staying in town.
“We’d probably have a lot more Kings’ staff in our building, some high level front office people here watching the Monarchs,” Abbott said.
The hope, of course, is that a deal is reached between the owners and players and that the NHL season goes on as planned. Many analysts believe that even a worst case scenario would see the season start around the new year, possibly with the Winter Classic serving as a kickoff event. That marquee game makes the NHL a lot of money and the prospect of losing out on that will serve as a heavy motivator to get a deal in place and salvage at least some of the season.
As for the Monarchs and the Kings, coming off its first Stanley Cup championship, Los Angeles will want to enjoy its defense of the Cup and raising a banner.
“From a Kings and Monarchs business perspective, it would be a shame to have the Kings momentum get slowed with this,” Abbott said. “We want it to get done and have the Kings celebrate the Cup.”
- - - - - - - -
Ian Clark covers pro hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.