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Los Angeles Kings Press Corps Left With Huge Hole In Lineup After Loss Of Jonathan Moncrief

Jonathan Moncrief (second from right) with some of the regulars of the west wing of the Staples Center press box covering the Los Angeles Kings. From left: Andrew Knoll,
Charles E. Smith, Jr., Brian Kennedy, Moncrief, Dave Joseph.
Photo: Charles E. Smith, Jr.

LOS ANGELES — Back in late March, the west wing of the Bob Miller Press Box at Staples Center was unusually quiet during Los Angeles Kings games.

The reason: Jonathan Moncrief, who covered the Kings for Examiner.com and for Inside Sports was not in his usual seat, nor was he in the Chick Hearn Media Room downstairs. He was nowhere to be found.

It was not until days (and home games) later that we learned that Jon had blacked out while walking home from the local grocery store, causing him to fall flat on his face. He was treated for facial injuries by paramedics at the scene before being transported to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, where they discovered that blood clots from his legs had traveled through his blood stream and wound up in his lungs.

He spent a little over a week there, and doctors were able to get rid of the blood clots, using blood thinners.

Jon rested at home for about ten days before swinging back into action, making his triumphant return to the Staples Center press box on April 2, when the Kings hosted the Dallas Stars.

Jon’s colleagues—Dennis Bernstein of The Fourth Period, Jimmy Bramlett of LAIst.com, Dave Joseph of ESPN Radio Los Angeles, Kat Kealy of pressboxperspective.com, Brian Kennedy of Inside Hockey, Andrew Knoll of Hockeysfuture.com, Charles E. Smith, Jr. of Inside Sports, and yours truly—welcomed him back in grand style.

Jon was all smiles and laughs upon his return, as we greeted him with gifts that included an old school goalie mask and an “air bag” shirt, both to provide “protection” in case he blacked out again.

Moncrief models the old school goalie mask, one of the “Welcome Back” gifts he received from his some of his colleagues in the
Los Angeles Kings press corps.
Photo: Charles E. Smith, Jr.

Although Jon would return to Henry Mayo Memorial Hospital for several days due to complications related to the facial injuries he suffered, he was right back at it for Game 6 of the Kings’ first round playoff series against the San Jose Sharks.

Jon was his usual loud, boisterous self, joking around with his colleagues while hogging all the Coke Classic in the press box refrigerator.

Little did we know that would be the last hockey game Jon would ever see in person, as he passed away during the wee hours of the morning on May 19.

According to Smith, Jon’s mother, Bethann Moncrief, said that he had experienced trouble breathing around 11:00 PM on May 18. By the time 3:00 AM came around, he was in a great deal of discomfort. Paramedics were called, and they treated him for approximately 45 minutes, but were unable to resuscitate him. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Although the cause of death was originally believed to be a pulmonary embolism, there was a bit more to it.

“I called the coroner who explained the cause of Jon’s death was ‘pulmonary thrombosis,’ a blockage of the main artery of the lung, or one of its branches, by an embolism (clot),” said Jack Moncrief, Jon’s father. “Severe cases can result in collapse and/or ‘sudden death.’”

The 43-year-old native of Illinois was raised in Montvale, New Jersey, and had been involved in the sports and entertainment industries for over ten years. He was the lead writer and associate producer for the North Jersey Sports Showcase, which aired on Regional News Network in the New York metropolitan area.

Jon was also the associate producer on the film, 4CHOSEN The Documentary, which won the Best Documentary Award at the 2008 Garden State Film Festival, and was a contributing screen writer and staff writer on several other films.

More recently, Jon hosted several Internet sports radio shows, including Moncrief in the Morning, SoCal Sports Weekly, SportsRock, Hockey Night in Florida, and Sunday Tailgate. He also wrote for numerous web sites covering a variety of sports and teams including web sites 90Ways, AllSports.com, Sports Central, and Sports Buzz, and he was Senior Editor and feature writer for That’s Life! entertainment magazine in New York.

Jon moved to the Southern California region a few years ago, working for Mahalo.com, and most recently, he covered the Kings, the National Hockey League, and the Los Angeles Dodgers for Examiner.com, and college football for BowlGamer.com. He also umpired baseball games and often served as the public address announcer for the Santa Monica Little League, and was the Creative Director and co-host of Inside Sports, a weekly web television series, along with Smith.

Moncrief shows off the “air bag” shirt, one of the “Welcome Back” gifts he received from his some of his colleagues in the
Los Angeles Kings press corps.
Photo: Charles E. Smith, Jr.

Smith, who met Jon during the 2008-09 NHL season while covering the Kings, sat next to him in the press box.

“Our bond and rapport was forged through watching and analyzing LA Kings games together at Staples Center night after night,” said Smith. “I started Inside Sports as a cable TV show in 1994, but was in transition in April 2010, when Jon and I mutually decided that he should join me on air.”

“Jon served as Creative Director for Inside Sports,” added Smith. “He not only co-hosted the show, but did a lot of work in lining up potential guests, and coming up with fresh ideas for content. He could break down and analyze sports as well as anyone out there. The show must go on, but Jon is truly irreplaceable and will be missed by all.”

Like Smith, I too met Jon during the 2008-09 season, when he joined the Kings’ press corps in December 2008. Being the new “kid,” he was rather reserved, and largely kept to himself. But all that changed on December 15, 2008, when the Kings hosted the Sharks.

On that night, backup goaltender Erik Ersberg got the start in goal for the Kings. But he suffered a groin injury, and was replaced by Jason LaBarbera. At this point, Kennedy, who sits next to me in the press box, wondered what would happen if LaBarbera (or whomever the backup goalie might be on a given night) was also injured.

After the game, Kennedy, as he recalled in his book, Living The Hockey Dream, asked Kings head coach Terry Murray about that potential scenario. Murray responded by saying that one of the other players would have to play the position for the rest of the game.

But then, in his inimitable, deadpanned style, Murray added, “Well, there’s no guarantee that any of the guys on the bench would want to do it, in which case, we’d probably look to one of you in the press box.”

That was my opportunity.

“He’s played in goal,” I said, with a huge grin on my face while pointing at Kennedy, who spent some time in the nets during his youth hockey days in Montreal.

“Well, then I guess it would be up to you,” said Murray, as laughter ensued.

The next game, there was a visible change in Jon, as he no longer kept to himself. Indeed, he started talking to all the regular denizens of the west wing of the press box covering the Kings, and was soon sharing stories and joking around with us. He quickly, and, I should add, willingly, became the most frequent target of our jokes.

Jon said it was that exchange with Murray that made him feel comfortable with those of us who had been covering the Kings for some time.

“That was when I knew that this was going to be fun,” he said.

That night, a new chapter in his career and life began. Already a solid writer who knew his hockey, having covered his hometown New Jersey Devils prior to coming to the Los Angeles area, he opened the door for himself, found a niche in the Kings press corps and earned our respect and friendship as we were able to get to know the real Jonathan David Moncrief.

I will always remember Jon, not just for being a professional and a good writer who was dedicated to his craft, but for always being willing to help. For example, he knew that due to the requirements of my day job, I could not usually attend Kings practices, and he always offered to interview players and coaches for me if I needed a comment or two for a story I was working on, and although I always gave him a “stick tap” in my stories whenever he contributed to them, he never once requested credit nor did he expect it.

But even more, I will remember Jon for his warmth, kind heart, sense of humor, and the friendship he extended to those of us who were closest to him among the Kings press corps. I am certain that I can speak for all of us in expressing our deepest condolences to his father, Jack, of The Villages, Florida, his mother, Bethann, of Burbank, California, and his younger brother, Zac, also of Burbank.

To say that Jon will be sorely missed is a bit of an understatement. Indeed, when the 2011-12 NHL season begins, the west wing of the Staples Center press box simply will not be the same without his larger than life persona.

Perhaps the Kings will dedicate his seat in the press box to him during the upcoming regular season…they certainly should.

Arrangements for a memorial service are pending.

Related Stories

A Stunned Goodbye To Jon Moncrief – Inside Hockey


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42 Responses to Los Angeles Kings Press Corps Left With Huge Hole In Lineup After Loss Of Jonathan Moncrief

  1. Michael Fischer says:

    sorry to hear about jon. remember the good times.

  2. Marc Nathan says:

    really sorry to hear that. He seemed like a very nice guy.

  3. Chris Wassel says:

    It is just a very sad day but he did so much in his short life. Just an amazing human being.

  4. Mindy Berman says:

    So sorry to hear of this. Tragic. Way, way too young.

  5. Jen Jen says:

    What a wonderful tribute. Thank you for sharing this. He was a wonderful person and will be missed by everyone who knew him.

  6. David S . says:

    i know those in my section that had the pleasure of spending time with Crief will definitely honor him during the up coming season and for my self as long as god grants me time to walk this earth ….

    thanks for a little more insight into the beginnings of Crief as we knew him ……R.I.P. CRIEF

  7. Marc S. Posner says:

    That’s terrible news. I didn’t know Jon, but your story made me feel as if I did just a bit.

  8. David Notko says:

    RIP Jon, u will be missed

  9. David Boettcher says:

    Great write up. Jon will be truly missed.

  10. Stacy Iwata says:

    Omg.. I’m so sorry to hear of his passing. This article made me tear up.. beautifully written, Gann.

  11. Buddy Oakes says:

    Thanks for the nice tribute. I’ve been out of sorts all day and this brought a little more closure to the situation. Prayers to all of Jon’s family and friends.

  12. Pingback: Fantastic Tribute to Jon Moncrief, Courtesy of Gann Matsuda of Frozen Royalty.net | Inside Sports

  13. Lauren Wheeler-Woodburn says:

    Beautiful article.. Hoping he is hanging with my dad and having some great debate on the Kings:)

  14. Kat Kealy says:

    Wonderfully said, Gann.

  15. Greg Brown says:

    Well written tribute Gann, and I echo Mindy’s comments. Way too young.

  16. Pete Demers says:

    I did not know Jon very well but he was always friendly and shared his smile around the locker room. Condolences to his family.

  17. William Moncrief says:

    Very nice article. I am glad to see that he was appreciated and that he will be missed. It was great having him join our families Thanksgiving weekends those last years that he lived on the east coast. He shared his with and his great smile. He looked forward to helping with the putting up the lights all around the Inn. He will be missed.

  18. Cindy Goulazian Leberman says:

    great article

  19. Eileen Burchsted says:

    What a wonderful article. You can see how much he was admired by his colleagues and how much he will be missed. So many lovely notes from so many…… Brings much peace and appreciation for a life taken way too early. May he rest now.

  20. Linda Reder Dohm says:

    What a beautiful and highly personal tribute to Jon…he has certainly left a footprint on this earth…Godspeed!

  21. Pingback: Dancing in the Reign: For My Friend @ LA Kings Hockey Club Podcast

  22. Sharon McDowell says:

    What a wonderful article. The outpouring of love on all these posts must be very comforting for you, Uncle Jack. May Jon RIP.

  23. Really well done, Gann. I’m still stunned.

  24. Peggy Moncrief says:

    I would just like to thank you for the wonderful tribute to Jonathan. I can’t begin to tell you how much your article means to my husband and the rest of the family! Peggy Moncrief, Jon’s step-mother

  25. Andrew Knoll says:

    I’m still bewildered by his passing, thanks for writing this up, Gann. Worst of all it seemed like after a rough spot, things were getting on track for Jon right when all these lung issues arose. I hope he is arguing with Howard Cosell and Ralph Wiley as we speak.

  26. Word says:

    RIP Jon. Best wishes and prayers for the family.

    Nice article Mr Matsuda. :]

  27. chitchattj says:

    Thank you for sharing your friend. My condolences to his family and friends. I will miss his tweets and am grateful to have had him respond to me….R.I.P @crief

  28. Paul Mouradjian says:

    Tragic news!….I am in shock…..I am so sorry……RIP Jon Godspeed. Prayers go out to his family and friends…..THis week two of my friends lost their fathers and now this news on Jon……We shall all mis you Jon.

  29. Sue Cerami says:

    what a tribute to Jon

  30. Derrick Wright says:

    Hey Gann,

    Thanks for the write up on Jon. Although Jon joined the press corps after my time with the Kings ended I always enjoy reading the corps write-ups on the team regardless of whom it is that does it. Helps the “stranded Kings fan” I have become up here in Puget Sound! RIP Jon.

    DW

  31. Pingback: A Stunned Goodbye to Jon Moncrief | INSIDE HOCKEY

  32. Jill Painter says:

    really special piece on moncrief, gann. Just read it. Wonderful way to honor him. I didn’t know him, but I wish I had.

  33. Gann Matsuda says:

    Thanks Jill. Coming from an accomplished journalist like you, that means a lot.

  34. Pingback: INSIDE SPORTS’ Expert Picks-Stanley Cup final | Inside Sports

  35. Pingback: Frozen Royalty Audio: LA Kings Split Their Split-Squad Exhibition Openers Against Phoenix « Frozen Royalty

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