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What would it take to get Artemi Panarin to sign with the Los Angeles Kings?

Thirty-one.

That’s become a big number this season. After all, this is the position the Kings have occupied in the league standings as of late.

Some of the biggest questions that come out of every loss may never be answered, namely the big three:

  • What’s really going on in that locker room? How can there be no energy in games?
  • Why did Rob Blake pick Willie Desjardins?
  • Is Willie Desjardins really this clueless?

It’s depressing but there’s no sense crying in our beer and becoming the embodiment of a country song where nothing goes right for the protagonist. It’s time to start mapping a plan for 2019-20.

Let’s start with the obvious: Jack Hughes.

In a season where there’s been no puck luck, we really need some ping pong ball luck. Securing Jack Hughes through the lottery is just what the doctor ordered. This is what we need…want…desire. My gut feeling is that the NHL wants the Kings to be good. Statistics prove my point. The 2014 Stanley Cup Final was the most-watched Final on record that did not include either the Chicago Blackhawks or Detroit Red Wings.

Yeah, so Jack Hughes.

Second and most important is securing the services of Artemi Panarin.

This is going to take some real work. And, no, I’m not talking about Rob Blake and Luc Robitaille tampering on the behind-the-network channels. I’m talking about our celebrity contingent getting involved. This should be the mother of all recruiting—Campaign Breadman.

To make Campaign Breadman a reality, I am calling on the following to meet with me and sign on to one of the greatest recruiting hockey campaigns of all time:

  • David Beckham
  • Justin Bieber
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Will Ferrell
  • Andy Lassner
  • LeBron James
  • Alyssa Milano
  • Tom and Colin Hanks
  • Eric Stonestreet
  • Taylor Swift

This team of eleven (12 with me) will unite to master the free agent sales pitch. This is crunch time now. DEFCON 5 if you will. We need the speedy Russian in our lineup. We need him like yesterday.

For those of you with Kings myopathy, unfamiliar with the greatness of Panarin, let’s review the scouting report:

Panarin is a slightly undersized, highly-skilled forward who is creative and can consistently create scoring opportunities. His combination of skating explosiveness and stick-handling skill makes things tough on opposing defenders.

Now that we have that out of the way, it’s time to turn the Kings into the premier destination for free agents by selling prospective players on everything outside hockey.


NHL: Minnesota Wild at Columbus Blue Jackets

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Most UFAs (unrestricted free agents) go into their free agency pitches assuming they will hear plenty about recent on-ice success, their plans for playing time and usage, the supporting cast they envision and, of course, the boatload of money they will be offered to lure him over.

In baseball, for example, this is the secret weapon that has enabled the Chicago Cubs to practically hand-select talent: a compelling personal touch that goes beyond players’ value on the field. In many cases, that means appealing to the people most important in their lives—their families.

Here are the assignments for our Celebrity Eleven:

  • David Beckham—offer a spot in your House 99 grooming brand.
  • Justin Bieber—Show Panarin the best cars in Los Angeles. Take him for a spin in Calabasas. You and Hailey take out Artemi and his girlfriend. I suggest a night at Urasawa.
  • Snoop Dogg—You’re the Commissioner of Cool. So, I’ll leave it up to you.
  • Will Ferrell—A regular spot on the Ron Burgundy Podcast. A small movie role won’t hurt either.
  • Andy Lassner—a regular cooking segment on Ellen. Imagine a breadmaking lesson from LA’s newest Russian import.
  • LeBron James—courtside seats to the Lakers games.
  • Alyssa Milano—Befriend the Breadman’s girlfriend. She needs cool, empowered female friends to hang out in her new city. Befriend her. Take her into your sports clothing companies.
  • Tom and Colin Hanks—Walk-on parts in your next movie and television shows.
  • Eric Stonestreet—Artemi needs a buddy. I hear foosball is big with you. We can have some regular tournaments.
  • Taylor Swift—A private concert for fifty or so of Panarin’s best friends.

Also from each of you I need $3,500 for a media buy in Columbus. I’m talking billboards, television, radio. For my part, I’ll get freebies from the local reps and get them to match the $38,500 in equivalent space. Don’t worry, everything will be audited by Nielsen and the media companies will provide direct receipts.

You probably already know that $77,000 goes a long way in the USA’s 32nd ranked media market. I’ll do the media buy, write the spots and get them produced. I’ll design the billboards. You know those tourism commercials that run in other markets? This will be the flavor of the spots we will blanket the Columbus market with. Your personal brands will flourish, Panarin will take note, and then Rob and Luc can do the rest when it’s time on their end.

Win-win.

This is the secret weapon that will enable the Kings to practically hand-select talent: a persuasive personal touch that goes past players’ value on the field. There’s more than just playing. There’s a whole life outside hockey.

Our approach will transform the Kings into the most attractive free-agent destination in the sport. We need to show that we value the Breadman as a person. Sure, other teams try to do that, but the Celebrity Ten needs to start doing it at the highest level and putting that much weight on it.

I don’t want to make this a regular thing. We need to cast a relatively small net, homing in on only a few coveted targets, which validates to players Los Angeles’s level of commitment and desire for them.

Artemi Panarin will get offered big money wherever he goes. The key to get him to come to Los Angeles is to show he can be happy here. Money can’t buy that.

I’m tired of thirty-one. It’s time to get back to number one.

So, to my hand-chosen Celebrity Eleven…email me. It’s in my bio. We can assemble within the week and get this plan into motion.

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