Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Monarchs Look Like Kings

If there's one thing I know about monarchies, it's that I don't know much. I know there's someone who occupies the throne and they call the shots, and there's usually someone in line to take over the throne if something were to happen to the king or queen. While all of that is great, usually there is some distinction in terms of how each rules and, to a lesser degree, how each dresses while on the throne. The men in King Richard's time, for example, wore tunics with billowy sleeves, skirts, velvet hats, and overcoats similar to what King Richard wore. It seems that history has a way of repeating itself, though, as the Los Angeles Kings are building a monarchical dressage for those that serve them.

The Manchester Monarchs debuted the new uniforms they will be wearing next season, and they look a lot like their NHL affiliate. Gone is the purple that the Monarchs used to wear, and they've brought in a very recognizable look to their coast. Basically, the Los Angeles Kings will now book-end the country from New Hampshire all the way west to California. In fact, if it wasn't for the logo on the chest, you could be forgiven if you said these were the jerseys of the Los Angeles Kings. Chalk this up to one more AHL team falling in line with their NHL affiliate.

From the Manchester Monarchs' release, "The new design for the jerseys features a black, grey, and silver Monarchs lion head logo on the chest. The home jerseys are white with black and grey strips along the waist and elbows. A black stripe accents the shoulders and sleeve of the jersey, and he Kings shield logo is featured as shoulder patches. The road jerseys are black with white and grey stripes along the waist and elbows, and a grey accent along the shoulders and sleeves."

"These jerseys tie us to our parent club, the Kings," Monarchs President Darren Abbott. "The Monarchs have so many players that have gone on to play for the Kings and have helped them win Stanley Cup Championships in Los Angeles that we wanted to bring their identity into our uniforms."

That's a nice, sentimental statement to make, but let's look at this objectively. The Los Angeles Kings spend a lot of money shipping guys across the country when they have a call-up from or return to the AHL. The average flight costs about a $1000 and is rerouted through Chicago when flying from Manchester to Los Angeles. There's also additional costs when preparing equipment for the player to use when he arrives in Los Angeles, and that equipment doesn't get re-used unless the player returns. By having Manchester in the same colors as the Kings, the Monarchs can send the gloves, helmets, and breezers of the player to Los Angeles with the rest of his equipment without having to prepare and store Kings' equipment for the player.

In other words, they're saving some cash without being too obvious about it. The sentimental statement from Darren Abbott is true in terms of sending players to Los Angeles who have helped the Kings in their two Stanley Cup runs, but it didn't really warrant a uniform change whatsoever. However, like the Calgary Flames, Boston Bruins, and Winnipeg Jets to name a few, the NHL and AHL franchises will look like long-lost twins now, removing any identity the AHL affiliate had in the past.

The other announcement out of Manchester today was that the Kings and Monarchs have hired former Moose Jaw Warriors head coach Mike Stothers as the Monarchs' new head coach. Stothers was a long-time AHL player, playing 11 seasons in the American League for the Maine Mariners, Hershey Bears, and Newmarket Saints. He served as an assistant coach for the Bears in 1991-92 before returning to the Bears in the same capacity from 1994-96. From there, he jumped to the Philadelphia Phantoms as an assistant coach from 1996-2000 before joining the NHL's Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant coach from 2000-02.

In 2002, he accepted the head coaching position of the OHL's Owen Sound Attack where he went 160-134-46 in his five seasons there. He joined the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins in 2007-08 as their head coach before taking a few years off, leading the Griffins to a 31-41-8 record and missing the playoffs, ultimately leading to his dismissal. In 2010-11, he resurfaced in Atlanta where he was an assistant coach of the Thrashers before accepting the head coaching position of the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors. He compiled a 91-97-28 record in 216 games at the helm in three seasons, including leading his team to the third-round of the WHL Playoffs in 2011-12.

Stothers is a good coach who should be able to get the young players of the Monarchs working hard for every puck. Stothers and Mike Futa, who is now the LA Kings' Vice President of Hockey Operations and Director of Player Personnel, inherited a mess of a team in Owen Sound and made it competitive during their time in the Ontario city. He expects a high fitness level from his players, and his team will be tough to play against as he enjoys a hard-hitting style of play. Losses, especially careless or listless games by his team, will result in hard skates. He expects his team to work hard, and they get rewarded for winning the "right way". In other words, there are no shortcuts with Mike Stothers, and the Monarchs will be better off for his approach.

A few changes for the Monarchs should make the Kings' monarch a little better. And there's nothing wrong with cementing a legacy like that.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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