NORTH AMERICA’S NEXT TOP BLOGGER – DAY FOUR


It’s Day Four on North America’s Next Top Blogger… and for many of our contestants… it’s been an amazing journey! And they’ve all learned some incredible life lessons.

But these contestants are taking this game very seriously… and late last night… we caught some exciting footage of a NANTB alliance forming:


Worst. Reality Show Contestants. Ever.
YOU ARE NOT HERE TO MAKE FRIENDS!!!

The rules are simple… each day this week, we are going to feature a potential new writer for The Royal Half and post their answers to the TRH Questionnaire. (Check out Days 1,2 & 3 here!) Then… it’s up to you, loyal TRH reader, to decide who is going to move on to the next round by posting your comments below and voting in the poll at the bottom of the page. Tonight, we are truly putting the NORTH… in North America’s Next Top Blogger!!!

Please welcome to the stage Ben Saltiel, who is our only potential Next Top Blogger from America’s Largest National Forest… Canada! Ben lives in Montreal and you can find him on Twitter @BenSaltiel. Ben understands the stakes that are involved in being North America’s Next Top Blogger… and he’s been mounting a viral campaign to get out the vote. From the comments of The Royal Half’s LA Kings League of Nations post on Yahoo’s Puck Daddy:

Here are some of Ben’s answers to the TRH Questionnaire, as well as his sample post.

1) Please give us a brief history of your level of Los Angeles Kings fandom.

With the typical Montreal upbringing I was skating at three years old and playing in a “competitive” league by four. My playing career ended two years ago when I was forced to retire from contact hockey due to serious reoccurring back spasms. Unlike most from Montreal, I have never claimed to be a Canadiens fan (nor do I ever wish to). Seeing as I was born only a few months before they ousted our favorite team for the Stanley cup, by the time I was old enough to watch and comprehend what was going on, the Canadiens were at that point, a sack of shit. Children are the most horrendous bunch of bandwagoners (other than Penguin fans of course), so naturally I grew up cheering for the Colorado Avalanche. I stuck with the Colorado Avalanche for approximately 10-12 years before I decided it was time to move on; it wasn’t them, it was me.

1. Even if the team was laughably horrendous at the time I liked certain players on the team; namely Brownie, Kopitar, Jack Johnson).
2. I wanted a team nobody else in Montreal would possibly cheer for because Habs fans are nearly annoying as Leaf or Sharks fans.
3. All the parents on my teams growing up would compare me to Robitaille (sick mitts with awful skating) and he randomly showed up to my hockey camp one day and it was one of the best experiences of my life (at least back then). While I liked LA for a couple seasons, I only claimed them as my favorite team once they replaced Crawford with Uncle T because I still hated Crawford from his days as the ‘Nucks coach. Needless to say, I was teased mercilessly for cheering for the Kings but I put up with it because I believed eventually they would go somewhere and I did not want to be labelled as a bandwagon fan so I was willing to bite the bullet for as long as it took for it to become cool to cheer for LA (only a couple of seasons it turned out).

2) Besides the LA Kings winning the Stanley Cup, what is the greatest moment in LA Kings history for you?

Other than when the Kings won the cup my favorite moment of my LAK fandom had to have either been when Richards clobbered Burrows in Game 1 in the final minute of the game (I played against Burrows in a 3 on 3 league and he was a fucking dick, somebody called the cops on him once, true story but that’s for another time) or when I went to New Jersey for Game 5. I had taken a bus down to New York with my friend, a dedicated Devils fan.

3) Why do you want to write for TRH? What sort of stories/articles would you want to do that you aren’t seeing currently on The Royal Half?

Since I was five years old I have had an obsession for knowing players stats, junior team etc. beginning with the Upperdeck trading cards up until I was old enough to discover the internet (there was a two year gap between my discovery of using the internet for hockey stats and pornography, I won’t reveal which came first). I think I can be especially useful to you guys for following the East Coast teams because those are the games that I end up having to watch the most of; I can give an East Coasters impression on the LA Kings and poke fun at the East Coast bias. I wouldn’t mind to occasionally write pieces to do with either fantasy hockey, prominent issues across the league, stupid CBC, NBC or TSN reporting on said issues, my personal hatred of Sidney Crosby and other media darlings across the league.

4) Who is your favorite member of #TeamTRH and why? Who is your least favorite member of #TeamTRH and why?

I don’t know if I really have a favorite member of Team TRH, I started following TRH back in like 2010 and I enjoyed it from the start; Pumper, Indiana Matt and the others all came later. Mark Spector has to be my least favorite member of TRH. “But he isn’t a part of TRH!” Trust me, with the amount of jokes you make at “Marky Marks” expense, he’s a part of the team

 5) What is your least favorite part of The Royal Half? Please be honest.

My favorite part of the TRH is that while you guys won’t turn down to chirp other teams or players, you guys will just as happily complain or poke fun at the Kings. TRH is great for Kings and non-Kings fans alike because you truly capture the true essence of the frustration that comes with being a dedicated fan for an inconsistent team in a non-traditional market. *TRH NOTE: Obviously, we forgot to send Ben the Canadian version of the TRH Questionnaire and something got lost in translation with the US verison. Or Ben is so Canadian… that he refuses to say anything bad about anyone.

6) Gretzky or Robitaille? Please explain.

I claim Robitaille over Gretzky for a couple reasons;
1. Gretzky never taught me how to shoot nor is he from Quebec.
2. While Gretzky was a big part of growing hockey in California and he defined an era for the Kings, he played the majority of his career elsewhere and is known best for time as an Oiler (at least where I’m from).
3. Luc spent much longer with the Kings and currently works for the organization.
4. Paulina Gretzky almost won it for Wayne decisively but when he forced her to shut down her twitter account for a couple months…not cool bro!

What is the biggest missing piece heading into the season for the LA Kings?
By Ben Saltiel
***This Article Was Written Before Kyle Clifford Was Re-Signed***

The NHL season is roughly two months away offering hockey fans a fresh stream of hopefulness or pessimism depending on who you cheer for and where you reside. After an offseason that was uncharacteristically swift as a result of the lockout labor dispute waste of everybody’s fucking time shortened season. The off-season is the time general managers use to address their team needs in order to best achieve that franchises goal. Some owners strive for their teams to be perennial contenders (Chicago, Detroit), to sell playoff tickets (Montreal, Toronto) or to not be the punch line of every internet blogger (Calgary, Winnipeg, pretty much any Canadian team). The Los Angeles are no different; after consecutive trips to the conference finals the Kings can be classified as a team striving to remain a perennial contender.

As a result of the lockout the Kings were not left with much financial flexibility which caused the departure of key defensemen Rob Scuderi, a potential star caliber goaltender Jonathan Bernier , fan favorite pancake aficionado Dustin Penner and most likely Kyle Clifford. One could argue they could have potentially kept one of Scuderi or Clifford if they didn’t fucking re-sign Roybyn Fucking Regher!! had gone about their business in an alternate manner. The roster as it currently stands features a strong forward group that specializes in strong two way play and puck possession (evident by some of the best Fenwick numbers last season) albeit heavy among right handed shooters.

The defensive core now has a gaping hole caused by the departure of Scuderi, having to rely on Willie Mitchells health is as sound as hoping Brian Burke will keep his tie knotted up during a trade negotiation. Assuming Mitchell is unavailable the Kings will have to rely on one of Martinez, Ellerby, Regher, Muzzin or Jeff Schultz to play even strength top four minutes. LA has a strong enough team to make the playoffs and contend for their division title with this current squad but I have a tough time envisioning them returning to the finals and making a serious run at the cup with a defensive unit looking suddenly thin. LA has Muzzin, Voynov and Doughty who are all capable of creating sufficient offense from the back end but I would like LA to produce a solid but unspectacular stay at home defensemen who makes few mistakes and will not hurt the team. Unfortunately, these players are not easily acquirable even if your team is fortunate enough to have cap space.

I would like LA to find a way to keep Clifford on the roster without getting rid of any regular forwards, because I love the physical element he brings to the team and that he’s still a very young player. Ideally I’d like to see them dump Ellerby on another team and use the cap space to keep Clifford on a bridge contract to give them time to restructure their cap space.

In conclusion; while I would feel more comfortable with a replacement for Scuderi, I understand that with the cap situation being what it is, we will have to pray one of Ellerby, Regher, Muzzin, Martinez or Schultz is capable of playing sufficiently well so not to hurt the team. The only move I am realistically expecting is for management to create cap space to sign Clifford and keep him an LA King.

Alright, North America! It’s time for you to decide.
Place your vote above and let’s hear what you have to say in comments below!
And now, let’s welcome our 2nd Contestant for Day Four of…
North America’s Next Top Blogger!!!

Up next is Mikey P, who you can find on Twitter @sigtauez188. Here are some of Mikey P’s answers to the TRH Questionnaire, as well as his sample post.

1) Please give us a brief history of your level of Los Angeles Kings fandom.

I would describe myself as a super-fan, currently with FULL season tickets. I live vicariously through the athletic achievements of others and claim they are my own by referring to the Kings as “we.” My parents were OG fans from 1967 and raised their kids right. I went to college in AZ and attended as many Kings games as possible at Jobbing.com and also paid an extreme amount of money to watch all games on Directv center ice. I actually feel bad that the Kings won the cup when I was 24 because there are so many other fans who waited longer. I also hate basketball if that means anything.

2) Besides the LA Kings winning the Stanley Cup, what is the greatest moment in LA Kings history for you?

I would say the Game 7 victory over San Jose this past season because as all you fellow Angelinos know: Fuck NORCAL! However I don’t want to sound like a piece of shit bandwagoner so I’m going to have to go with May 6, 2001 when the Kings won 1-0 in 2OT off a gorgeous shot by Glen Murray to force a game 7 with the eventual Stanley Cup Champions from Colorado.  This was the first time in my life (other than when I was 5 in 93) that I thought the Kings had a chance to win the Cup.  But in actuality the Kings were a 7 seed and a team seeded that low never wins it all….Oh this is awkward.

3) Why do you want to write for TRH? What sort of stories/articles would you want to do that you aren’t seeing currently on The Royal Half?

I want to join team TRH because your watch parties seem like a lot of fun (I can learn to love Bud Light Lime) and I heard a rumor you like to go to the Yardhouse prior to home games and since that place is always packed by the time I get to LA Live, I figured you guys could save me a seat. I always thought it would be cool if TRH did a daily summary about what went on the previous day in the Pacific Division. I would like to write about what happened in the games, what it means for the Kings, and of course why those teams suck. There is a huge bonus this year because Calgary is now in the Pacific.

4) Who is your favorite member of #TeamTRH and why? Who is your least favorite member of #TeamTRH and why?

Favorite: gotta go with JackAWilson. He just like me has enough room in his heart for a second sports team from Los Angeles and also supports the Dodgers. Plus I am also a huge Trevor Lewis fan and the dude has a freaking Emmy! AN EMMY!

Least Favorite: PumperNicholl, quit living in the past dude get some new shirts.

5) What is your least favorite part of The Royal Half? Please be honest.

Hands down your twitter account during games. I’m still laughing at the Staples Center wifi jokes from the playoffs this past year. *TRH NOTE: Obviously, Mikey P. is not Canadian and is just a dumb American so he answered this question wrong. Wait… unless he’s saying his least favorite part of TRH is my Twitter Account and if so, fuck him!

6) Gretzky or Robitaille? Please explain.

Gretzky, come on! As much as I love Luc, you still see 20 on the backs of other NHLers however you don’t see 99 on anyones back anymore.

What is the biggest missing piece heading into the season for the LA Kings?
By Mikey P.

I could go the easy route here and say the biggest missing piece for the Kings going into the 2013-14 season is a LW or a true replacement for Bernier, I could try and brown nose TRH and discuss the need to bring back the Burger King jersey, or hell I could even discuss the number of D-men (which is excessive). But what truly is the missing piece for the Kings this season is absolutely nothing.  Yes that’s right nothing.  Would you like me to explain? I-WOULD-LOVE-TO-EXPLAIN!

Dean Lombardi has put together quite possibly the best team in the history of organized sports. But we lost Scuderi? Who cares we got Slava locked up. But we lost Penner? Thank god! No more house music, and less bitching about it from MayorNHL.  But Rob Blake is in the front office? Get over it, there will be plenty of injured opposing players to boo.

That’s right I’m calling it right now…The Kings are going 82-0 to win the Presidents Cup and go 16-0 in the playoffs on their way to capture the franchises second Stanley Cup (excuse me for a moment while I wipe my tears thinking about the day in June next year).

I mean look at this Pacific Division. Anaheim? Come on we all know if last year was a full season the Pacific crown would be the Kings.  Phoenix? Those fans are so busy trying to prove they exist that they forget their team sucks.  Edmonton? Someday they will be relevant again, just not next year. Calgary? Arena flooded joke edited for sensitivity. Vancouver? San Jose? HAHAHAHAHAHA come on chokers are chokers, always have been always will be.

 Insert Indiana Matt Photo of Luongo Choking

Now on to the actual players, with the forwards first.  Carter is obviously going to score 100 goals this year and make every male Kings fan question their sexuality in the process.  Kopitar now that he’s married will actually put together a full season of greatness.  Brown is Brown; he will check every player into the next dimension.  Trevor Lewis is just a perfect specimen of hockey talent.  Top Titty is going to have a coming out party this year and establish himself among the NHL elite and make the name Sydney Crosby a thing of the past. Richards will continue to set up Jeff Carter like a boss.  Stoll hasn’t lost a faceoff since 1974 so we are solid at the dot.  And since the Kings are going to go 16-0 in the playoffs, Williams will not need to bring out his game seven beast mode setting.  The rest of the Kings forwards will do their thing and chip in occasionally with Dwight King winning the ugliest player in the NHL award for the third straight year.

Onto the defense.  Drew, the dudes going to average 40 minutes a game and have a +99 on the year (see what I did there, 99). Slava will win the Norris trophy by barely edging out Doughty and Brad Doty (who comes in third).  Willie Mitchell will come back stronger than ever after his year off to save the wildlife and become a foodie.  AMart will again cause the fans at the Stapler to scream Viva Martinez (that might just be me).  Regher will be the best Brazilian born player in the NHL again, and Muzz will Muzz everyone else up!

Insert another Indiana Matt photo of Luongo choking, because why not? 

In goal the man the myth the legend: Ben Scrivens, have you seen that dudes twitter account? He attends Shakespeare in the park! But I jest; Jonathan Quick will lead the USA to Gold and Los Angeles to a Stanley Cup.

We also have Sutter behind the bench…enough said.

Now I know the Kings probably won’t go 82-0, or that Doughty will have a +99 (but Carter will score 100 goals and look good doing it damnit!). However I do believe the Kings will have a special season and the right tools to do it.  And if Carcillo, Frattin, or Scrivens can successfully replace Dustin Penner on Twitter, then we really don’t have any weaknesses this year on the team.

*Thanks for reading, hope you all at TRH enjoyed.  I know I’m probably not the best writer in the world but I’m a pilot and got my degree in Aeronautics so what do you expect?  And for real TRH watch Breaking Bad and Friday Night Lights already!

Alright, North America! It’s time for you to decide.
Place your vote above and let’s hear what you have to say in comments below!

The Royal Half has been a Los Angeles Kings fan since 1988 and a Half-Season Ticket Holder since 2002. He has seen the following goaltenders play in person for the Los Angeles Kings… Kelly Hrudey, Grant Fuhr, Byron Dafoe, Jamie Storr, Stephane Fiset, Felix Potvin, Cristobal Huet, Roman Cechmanek, Mathieu Garon, Adam Hauser, Jason LaBarbera, Barry Brust, Sean Burke, Dan Cloutier, Yutaka Fukufuji, Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Erik Ersberg, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones.You can follow The Royal Half on Twitter @TheRoyalHalf.
  • Karen Rae

    This is like last week’s America’s Got Talent – Everyone was good and I was pissed they put so many of the good acts against each other. Both Ben and Mike (I refuse to call him Mikey unless he’s actually 5 years old) would be great additions to TRH team!

    Would love to have a Canadian view of the Kings and I like his option of covering East Coast games and bias as well. Good thing you didn’t have this contest LAST year!

    Would also be good to have someone break down other Pacific Division games and how they affect the Kings, upcoming games and standings.