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Rate the GM: Rob Blake

February 12, 2020, 1:25 AM ET [13 Comments]
Matt Ross
Los Angeles Kings Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
When the dust settled from the day’s responsibilities, I sat down and caught up on some Kings news.

As we know, it’s been a rough go for LA leading into the ASG/bye week and beyond. There’s been a lot of losing...which is sort of expected. It doesn’t make it any easier to take (or watch), but keeping in mind the plan for the future, and you hope there will be some kind of payoff down the line with what’s in the system.

That being said, I read an article on Jewels From The Crown that I found interesting for its tone and openness.

If you haven’t read it, it’s an opinion piece where the author uses humor (I think?) and sarcasm to paint Blake as a super villain to Kings hockey by using various examples of blunders the author feels he’s made since becoming GM.

There’s some points I agree on, like the hiring of Willie Desjardins via phone and never meeting in person (if true).

There’s also things I don’t agree with.

The reason I bring this article up is because I like hearing other viewpoints on these types of things and you guys always have some good opinions - especially in a season like this.

Personally, I don’t think Blake is all smoke and mirrors and torpedoing Los Angeles hockey as the author seems to suggest. Do I think he’s had some blunders? Sure, most GM’s do, but I think if the future plan is to get this team into a position where youth and speed is the focal point, then he’s making steps towards that.

To that point, the article states:

“Okay, okay, I hear the pro-Rob contingent chanting about last year’s draft. I acknowledge that you did a good job in that spot picking all of the players your scouts told you that you should. Actually, I’m not sure you should be applauded for that. Most of us understand that prospects are fool’s gold until the picks pan out. Do you?”

Of course prospects aren’t a guarantee - you have to hope your coaching staff prepares them and that the players themselves do what is asked of them and they work out. But to discount a good draft that the majority of fans and industry folks deemed solid, sort of seems like sour grapes. Why not be pumped on the potential of a bright future down the road instead of putting your dislike of Blake first? Giving all the credit to the scouts is also kind of petty. To me, it shows good teamwork when the front office can come together to make the best decisions.

When it comes to Blake’s trades/signing history, there’s good and bad.

I always thought the Kovalchuk deal was very strange. Why bring him in if the idea was to go young soon? Maybe they felt there was the possibility to still be competitive with what they had at the time? Who knows...all we really (sort of) know is that it sounds like there was some behind-the-scenes stuff going on that may have contributed to ice time cuts, a diminished role, etc.

I think the author’s analysis on the Kovalchuk trade to the Canadiens benefits from the hindsight is 20/20 perspective. It’s always easy to shout when a guy goes elsewhere and plays well. In Kovi’s case, he went to a team in MTL that is fighting to get into the playoffs and ultimately in a better position talent-wise than LA. Kovi still has a bit left in the tank and is able to contribute that in a role that makes sense for him and MTL. I also think that some teams have better systems and coaching in place that benefit different players. You see it all the time. Guys get traded and come alive in a different systems. The opposite also happens. This could be what’s happening here.

The Kuemper trade is a bit tougher to me and maybe a bad call. Again, hindsight...but the difference bing that he played well in LA and seemed like he could be a good backup option. Maybe they felt they wouldn’t have been able to resign him? I know some of the talk at the time was that the Kings were looking for scoring at the time and that’s why they got Rieder in the deal. Regardless, Kuemper has gone on to be solid for the Coyotes since being dealt and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

The big point the article points to is the recent trading of Campbell and Clifford for Moore and picks.

I understand the argument made regarding Clifford being a “heart and soul” player and leader in the locker room. Like every team, they’ll that’s important, especially when the youth takes over. But to say this is the worst thing Blake has done? I’m not sure....in my mind, no one should be safe on this roster. If you can be moved for the right return, then pull the trigger.

Blake and Co. have a lot of old guys with big contracts that are very difficult to move. They’re going to have to move what they can to get back picks and prospects at this point. The deal actually made a lot of sense to me and I think both teams benefitted nicely.

Actually, I found it ironic when the article mentioned Clifford and his leadership skills and then dogged Phaneuf. Granted, Dion didn’t have the the skill he once had, but I always thought they signed him for his years of experience, locker room prescience and to be a guy to help help mentor the young blueliners.

While I was bummed to see Campbell go, I’m looking forward to seeing Petersen really get a shot because, if all goes well, I believe he’ll be the guy to take over when this rebuild is complete and they’re hopefully competitive again.

The article’s dismissal of Moore seems a bit shortsighted to me. The piece states:

“Not to be missed, Jack Campbell for a third rounder and some kid who doesn’t have a point in 19 straight games for a Maple Leaf team leading the league in forward scoring (175 goals and 400 points)? I mean at least you can spin the fact that Trevor Moore is from Thousand Oaks to the fan base. Anytime you can get a 5’10” undrafted, career minor leaguer for one of the best backup goalies who’s primed to be a number one, you have to do it! Amirite Rob?”

I don’t think the point of getting Moore was for scoring. I think the point was to get a guy that’s a hard worker and who busts buns every shift. I really like what I’ve seen of him so far - great energy and forecheck. He seems to encompass the type of player Blake has said he’s looking to build this team with. What’s more...it seems a lot of Leafs fans spoke very highly of him and his drive.

The article uses his size and undrafted status as a knock on him, but I see it as a positive. Some guys in that situation feel they have something to prove and carry a chip on their shoulder. They can be sneaky good pickups.

I don’t know... overall I think Blake has made the right calls when it comes to keeping things on track for the plan they have in mind for this team, though not without his hiccups over the years. I guess I think there’s more positives than negatives in this process thus far.

With around two weeks left until the deadline, I can’t wait to see what moves are made. I’m thinking there will be some relatively significant ones coming...

I enjoyed reading/analyzing and debating the JFTC article. I look forward to hearing what you guys think have been some of Blake’s hits and misses throughout his tenure.


Kings pick things back up against Calgary tonight.

[Image from NHL.com]

Lastly...I thought this was a cool little historical tidbit:

Go Kings Go!
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