Kings hire their top blogger *

Sports teams everywhere are trying to figure out a way around the declining volume and quality of the free media they have long enjoyed. The Los Angeles Kings are adapting by hiring Rich Hammond, the beat guy for the Daily News, to work for the team writing game stories and other items. He will have a level of editorial independence — and his blog Inside the Kings is moving to the team's site. It has been one of of the best traffic generators at the Daily News, apparently. Hammond will also travel to road games, something the Daily News hasn't done regularly for years. Hammond explains:

To put it as plainly and simply as possible, I will draw a salary from the Kings, but none of the stories and/or blogs I write will be reviewed for approval by any member of the Kings' staff. Topics will not need approval and interviews will not have any additional supervision. I have been hired to blog, write stories -- including coverage of home and road games -- and produce other content for the website. This is not public relations. I have been told, pointedly, by the highest levels of Kings management, that I should continue to report and write as normal.

Be certain of two things: I will not ``go easy'' on the Kings out of any fear of retribution, just as I will not take gratuitous shots at the team and the organization simply because I have retained the right to be critical. Things will continue on course. Praise and criticism, to the extent I feel either is warranted, will continue to be distributed fairly....

For the first time ever in my career, I will be able to dedicate every working hour to covering the Kings....It's been four years since I've been able to travel with the team and truly cover a beat the way a reporter should.

For the Kings, this means at least one reporter will be covering the team daily. Sometimes there are none. Here's the DN's Tom Hoffarth on the move.

* Kings release: Team president of business operations Luc Robitaille says, "We feel this is a landmark step for us as Rich will have full editorial control in his new position. Kings fans deserve the best Kings coverage, and we’re excited that will be the new home for Rich’s insightful, objective and thorough reporting and analysis."

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