Yesterday David Backes, Mathieu Schneider and Kevin Westgarth of the NHLPA conducted an AMA on reddit. For those of you unfamiliar with reddit, a fairly new website which aggregates all kinds of internet content, an AMA (Ask Me Anything) is a live question and answer session. I sorted through the lengthy transcript and summarized some interesting insight given to us by the Kings enforcer.
Text in quotations has been copied verbatim from the AMA conversation
Q: Favorite city and team to play in/against?
A: Detroit, Michigan is 16 miles from Westgarth’s hometown of Amherstburg, Ontario so the proximity to friends and family makes Motown his favorite city to play in. The Philadelphia Flyers physical, grind it out brand of hockey coupled with entertaining comments from the crowd (Westgarth says Philly fans are insane, ie the best) makes for his favorite opponent.
Q: What players don’t get enough of the spotlight they deserve?
A: Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Jonathan Quick (among others…) although the Stanley Cup run has brought them into the attention of the NHL spotlight so they are gaining more of the credit they deserve as great hockey players.
“Dustin Brown is one of the most underrated players in the league, (though maybe not anymore) and is so valued because of his leadership, physical play and skill.”
Q: Best and Worst Experience in hockey?
A: “Worst: putting on wet equipment…best: winning the Stanley Cup.”
Q: Why was no CBA deal done during the summer?
A: “We were available throughout the summer, unfortunately it seems the NHL was hell bent on putting pressure on the players with the Lockout. I wish it was as simple as spending a certain amount of time together, negotiating, but its very frustrating to see how little progress can be made with a seemingly unwilling partner.”
Q: How has the hockey atmosphere changed in LA since you first arrived?
A: “Our Cup run was incredible to see. We have had great fans for many years, but it was amazing to have the support that won us the Stanley Cup. On top of that, it’s great to see the young players that are coming out of California these days. The best way to grow the game is to get people to play.”
The link to the entire AMA can be found here: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/13tpxt/we_are_kevin_westgarth_david_backes_and_mathieu/
A few things I gathered from this AMA. Kevin Westgarth is a smart, witty guy as he was a pre-med student at Princeton University. In terms of coming together on a labor deal, all the players mentioned that there has to be willingness on both sides to give, and since the beginning of these negotiations the NHL has been a stubborn compromiser. I think the Kings have the most to lose from this ongoing lockout as all the momentum from their epic Stanley Cup victory has been stifled by the lockout. Props to Westgarth for keeping his composure and not knocking out Gary Bettman with a swift punch to the dome! Many upset hockey fans would not hesitate if given the opportunity…
Late Monday night it was announced that the NHL and NHLPA have jointly agreed to have federal mediators aid the negotiating process. It is unclear how much a federal mediator will contribute to meaningful conversations, but a new approach is welcomed because clearly the status quo is not getting the deal done.