Rich Hammond has moved on. He will no longer work for the L.A. Kings. He has accepted a position with the O.C. Register to cover the USC Trojans. We wish Rich the best.

John Hoven. We know him as the “Mayor”. I know you know him. We all know him. He has covered the L.A. Kings for years. His website, Mayor’s Manor, has steadily grown in popularity. I read it regularly. He is a terrific source of objective and intelligent coverage of the team. Why do I mention this? Because John is the best choice to replace Rich Hammond. When you look at his qualifications, there isn’t even a close second. Let’s go through the facts:

1. A respected journalist: John is a known commodity within the NHL journalist community. His fellow journalists respect him for the quality of his work and behind that work is a quality person. I have listened to him on NHL radio programs. I have read his work. I have listened to opinions of him by other journalists about his writing and coverage. The “respect” to which I refer was earned through years of hard work and dedication to hockey.

2. Respected by the players: If you follow John on Twitter, you will see that the players tweet him directly. If you watch John do an interview (which I have several times at practices), you will notice that he has the player’s undivided attention. Sure, John has been in the media scrums like every other person with a press pass and he has gotten quotes others have but his talent comes through on the one-on-one interviews. He hones in on the topic and gets candid answers. The players obviously feel comfortable with him and are engaged in the dialogue. When he writes a serious piece, it’s serious. When he writes a humor piece, it’s funny. I have not yet sat through an interview John has done with a player and ended it with “that was a waste of time.” There are not a lot of good interviewers out there. Fortunately, we have a skilled one in John.

3. Respected by the fans: This point cannot be underestimated. John has been part of the game for decades. He knows it. If I sat him down right now and talked to him about the X’s and O’s of a breakout, regroup, powerplay or penalty kill, he could have an intelligent discussion with me. If I engaged him in discussion about the team, he would know its history. That is why fans like and respect John. Covering hockey isn’t just a hobby to him. He takes it seriously. He takes the NHL and the L.A. Kings seriously. He has earned our respect.

4. Excellent writer and quality coverage: Have you sat through bad NHL articles? Have you listened or watched poor coverage? Me too. I have yet to sit through one of those written or produced by John. Whether written, audio or video, John does excellent work. His interviews are crisp and without unnecessary distractions. His coverage of the team is in-depth and rich with facts and not just uninformed opinions. John knows what he is talking about and it shows through his work product.

5. Paid his dues: With the exception of the Helene Elliots and Lisa Dillmans of the world, I look at others who cover the L.A. Kings and I see something that ranges between passive interest to poor quality. I look at John Hoven and I see someone who has continued to get better, to the point where he is on par with some of the consistently best journalists who cover big market NHL teams. For me, it’s not even a close call. Who brings to the table John’s consistent hard work, quality work product and years of dedication to the craft? Of those who could fill this position, nobody.

Why do I write this article? Because I care about the position of “Insider.” I want it to mean something special. I want to read it daily and look forward to reading it.

I want “Insider” to have merit and have someone in that position who has the necessary credibility and has earned the title. The L.A. Kings are Stanley Cup Champions. Nobody who has covered the L.A. Kings fits the position to serve as our Insider more than John Hoven.

I hope he wants the position…because he has my full support.