After two seasons making many on-ice changes that were supposed to put the Kings among the NHL's elite, the team's biggest changes for this season will be in the broadcast booth and the television production truck.
Gone after 23 seasons are radio-television simulcasts. Instead, when the Kingsplay host to the New York Islanders Thursday at 7:30 p.m. for the first of 69regular season telecasts on Prime Ticket, it will be an all-television show.
"We made the change so we could have more control over the production of thegames," said Don Corsini, Prime Ticket's vice president of programming andproduction. "When you're married to radio, there are some elements in theproduction of the show you can't get in. Because what is heard on TV is going tobe heard on radio, you can't elaborate on a special feature unless it's going tobe on radio as well."
Corsini said the result will be better telecasts. "We'll be able to do morefeatures, have new graphic elements and give fans more information," he said."Hockey is a relatively new sport in Los Angeles and we want to educate theviewers. We would not be able to pull all that off with a radio simulcast."
Another improvement will end the long-exasperating problem of missing key playsbecause of low camera angles at the Forum.
"When (fans) stand up in the Forum, it's like shooting through trees," Corsinisaid. "We'll be raising our high cameras about 20 rows so it will enable us toget clear shots to the ice and eliminate the problem of people standing up."
The decision to go to separate television and radio broadcasts also resulted intwo chain-reaction announcing changes. Nick Nickson, the analyst for the pastnine seasons, has become the radio play-by-play announcer on XTRA-AM (690). JimFox, who retired last November after 10 seasons as a Kings right wing, succeedsNickson as the analyst.
Amid all the changes, there will be one constant. Bob Miller will be returningfor his 18th season as the play-by-play announcer.
"My main concern was that they were going to want me to change my style and do astraight television play by play," said Miller, accustomed to the more descriptive radio style. "That concerned me quite a bit and I told the Prime Ticket people that. After 17years people get used to listening to someone and the style of play-by-play thatthey do. All of a sudden to change that, I was afraid that there would be a lotof people coming up and saying, 'What's wrong with you? You're not doing thetype of job I've listened to all those years."'
However, Miller will not have to face those questions.
"A straight television play-by-play is boring," said Miller, who will do theradio for 11 Kings games not carried by Prime Ticket. "When I'm watching astrictly television play-by-play, I find myself reading a newspaper or magazine,and all of a sudden a goal is scored. I've missed the original play, and have towatch the replay. I expressed those concerns and was told to keep doing whatI've been doing."
Keeping with the theme of unprecedented changes, Fox is the first former NHLplayer to serve as a Kings analyst.
"Jim will bring a different insight to the broadcasts--the insight of havingplayed with and against the players we're watching," Miller said. "When we'retalking about a player's strengths or weaknesses, he can comment on those. Hecan add things about strategy and what the players and coaches might be sayingon the bench. That's an insight the Kings fans have not had before."
Although this season will be Fox's first as an analyst, it will not be his firsttime making a contribution to the broadcasts. For the last two seasons hesometimes answered questions from Miller and Nickson between periods.
"I enjoyed the opportunity to do that when I was hurt," Fox said. "I startedgetting more and more comfortable as I went along."
However, Fox realizes his new job will be more difficult.
"Hockey is a real quick game, and things are described incorrectly because theannouncers don't know the things that should be taking place," Fox said. "SinceI'm coming from playing for the Kings, I have an idea of what's supposed to begoing on. I'll be a lot more analytical and looking at the game from thecoaches' point of view."