Lombardi, Part 4

My apologies for the delay in getting this to you. As you know, there’s still a local hockey team playing these days, so I’ve been down in Anaheim this week. By the way, I ran into George Parros in the locker room after the game tonight. I had hoped to be able to say hello to him down there and was happy to be able to do so. George wasn’t in L.A. long but he left an impression as a truly good guy. Which reminds me…on the way into Lakers practice a couple weeks ago, I walked through the parking lot in El Segundo and almost literally ran into Mattias Norstrom. He was in a conversation so I just said hello and moved on, but it was good to see him as well.

Anyway, here’s the last part, which will answer the numerous questions about the Scott Parse situation, as well as some longstanding questions about Brian Boyle and Brady Murray.

Another interview with Lombardi is in the works, as soon as next week, so I’ll keep in mind the follow-up questions that have been posted here. If there are others, feel free to post them, but please remember that I have to use my discretion in asking them. Last time, Lombardi peaked at my list and said, “You got all those questions from fans?” I’ll try to get through the topics that seem to be of the most interest. For now, here’s the last part of the first interview…

(Where do you stand with Scott Parse?)
It’s been a little tougher than the other (signings), obviously. Everyone else kind of got done … Lewis, Boyle, the college free agents … but you just run into a loggerhead there, trying to get the right contract. I think we’re still confident that it’s going to get done, but it’s taken a little longer than we would have liked. We would have liked to have him (in Manchester) right now. But basically we got everybody in, from that group of young kids. He’s the only one, so overall it’s pretty good to be down to one. But to answer your question, we’re still pursuing him and there’s still time and we’ll see how it plays out.

(Some people have been surprised by the number of players signed in the last few weeks…)
We have to get these young guys in here. We’re not that young, compared to our peers. Cammalleri, Frolov, Kopitar, Brown…the one good thing is that the young players were a major part of producing (last season). Jack Johnson comes in, but we have to continue to build that reserve list. We were very aggressive with the college free agents. They don’t all pan out, but it’s about getting assets.

(Have you thought about where Brian Boyle might play?)
You don’t want to put a square peg in a round hole. If he could (play defense), that would be huge. He was really good there at the end of the year. We kind of dropped the idea (of him playing defense) but then B.C. put him back there and he was really good. Actually, that’s when he started scoring. We wanted him to play there in the (AHL) playoffs, but we didn’t think it was fair to him to put him in a pressure situation at another level of play. But then we played a double-overtime game and we had a couple guys get hurt, and he went back there and played really well. Then I’m like, `Holy smokes.’ So we didn’t want to experiment, then we were forced to and he does really good. We might revisit that during the development camp. I’ve got a lot of hockey people here, and we’re almost split on it. The good thing about having him back there is that he’s big. So you’re big there and then you’re big with Kopitar up front, so then if you have to go small with (a No. 2 center), that’s OK. He sees the ice better as a defenseman. He makes more plays.

(Some people thought Brady Murray wouldn’t be part of the organization. Did anything change there?)
Well, one thing that changed is the rules. In the old game, it was harder for small guys. Unless they were top-six, dynamic guys, you had to be able to be high-end offensively. The rule changes put more of an emphasis on skill. Now your third line sometimes doesn’t have that same old identity. The best third line I ever had was Thornton, Ricci and Sundstrom. That was a great third line. That was a great third line, and clearly had that third-line identity. Now you look at a lot of third lines and you don’t know what they are. Sometimes you can’t tell it from the second line. That’s just the way the game has gone. Not only is it harder to play gritty, in the old sense of the word, but there’s more of an emphasis on skill. In Brady’s case, it’s like (Ville) Peltonen in Florida. When I had him in San Jose, he really struggled. But like Brady, he’s a smart player and he competes. That’s kind of like Peltonen. Peltonen couldn’t play before the lockout. Then he comes back after the lockout and plays for Florida and with the new rules — you can’t hook and hold — he’s effective. We only got a glimpse of (Murray) at the development camp, but what we got was that he was smart and he competed. You couldn’t write him off anymore because of his lack of size. And to go over to Europe and play with men, I mean, this isn’t an old guy. It’s not like he went over there at 26 or 27. We saw enough during the development camp to think, `Jeez, he’s not bad.’ We were seeing him for the first time. It made sense to give him a two-way contract. We need young assets, and we thought there was enough there to say, `Hey, let’s make sure we take a look at this kid and not let him get away.’ He’s more mature and there’s two assets there. He’s a smart player and he competes. That’s usually a pretty good combination.

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  • Michael McCall

    Going into the off-season where do you see our attention being? Making the playoffs or another year specifically, dedicated to re-building.

  • Scott

    Great interview, Rich. You are an oasis in the desert of LA hockey coverage!

  • Josh

    Questions:
    -Can you shed some light on the numbers policy for the team? I know it’s different for every team.
    -Have you considered the captaincy situation for next year at all or is that exclusively under Crawford’s jurisdiction?
    -How involved are you going to be in the upcoming draft?

    Thanks.

  • BringAveryBack

    Since you are semi-taking questions, could you probe the area of our goaltender prospects? I would like to know how he projects and sees the timeline for Bernier, Zatkoff, Quick, etc. Are these goalies good enough to fulfill our need a few years down the line or are there still question marks. He has mentioned before looking for an 80-82 year born goaltender, but is that just to fill a gap or for a goalie serious about taking the #1 spot. Kings fans have suffered through terrible goaltending for decades, what is he going to do that will change this?

  • Stephen Hawthorne

    Did we sign Merkler?

    Are we going to sign McGinnis?

    Are we going to sign the two swedish defensemen?

  • deacon blue

    Wow! Thanks Rich for the great insights into what the Kings are up to. Sounds like Mr. Lombardi has his sharp eye on every level of the organization. Now, if they can turn into a winner…

  • Phil S.

    That’s funny Rich. I was having lunch with a buddy down in M.B. a week and a half ago, we went to the Wahoo’s on M.B. Blvd. As I was going in, Matty Norstrom was walking out with beach shorts, a T-Shirt, a big bag of Fish Tacos (or whatever) and a smile on his face. Glad to see he didn’t give up the summer home.

  • puckboy25

    thanks again Rich….For the next interview I would be willing to carry your list of questions if i could sit quietly in the interview……just askin’

    great insite…..

  • BobMillersHair

    Thanks Rich.
    Good news about Parse and Brady Murray.

    Geez what do you do with Brian Boyle….he can become an imposable force in front of your net or in front of the oppositions. My vote is defense. The guy would play more minutes and could develop into an all star caliber defenseman.

  • http://www.letsgokings.com Michael Zampelli

    Rich,

    What you are doing here is great for us fans. Being able to have questions fielded to the GM by a reputable and qualified non-management web source is a welcome addition for information hungry fanatics, especially in the off season. Keep up the outstanding work! We are savoring every word.

  • Fletch

    Rich, thank you. You are literally saving us info-starved Kings fans from a summer of boredom. I can’t wait to read your blog when draft day comes around.

  • Geoff

    So still no mention of O’sullivan…… What’s the deal? Is he part of his plans? Why not 2nd line center ?

  • kingofdodgers

    Thanks for all the info Rich. Im looking forward to reading your blog for the next Lombardi interview.

  • Nick

    re: O’Sullivan

    i think they’re looking at him more as a winger than a center. My guess is that Dean/Crow would prefer Cammalleri or a FA signing as a second line center over O’Sullivan.

    Pure speculation, but that would be my guess.

  • Kevin

    Thanks for COMPLETELY avoiding the Cloutier issue. He briefly mentioned it and moved on and you just let him off the hook. Does no journalist have the balls to ask “What the hell were you thinking?”?

  • Rich Hammond

    He “briefly mentioned it”? He gave a 400-word answer in which he outright admitted that he and Crawford made a mistake in only keeping two goalies to start the season, until they saw how good Cloutier was or wasn’t. He defended the signing by saying Cloutier was a 30-game winner. Then he said nothing was guaranteed to Cloutier going into next season. What else do you want to know? I have zero interest in beating dead horses.

  • Michael

    Thanks a lot for the interview Rich, it’s highly appreciated.

    I would like to know wether the Kings still have the rights to Patrick Hersley and if yes if they want him to come over.
    As far as i can remember they tried to sign him last year but either the contract fell through due to some deadline hick-up or he rejected because he was still under contract to his swedish club.

  • Jeffrey Dean

    With Lombardi’s major directive to rebuild the reserve list, and with only so many spots available in Los Angeles and Manchester, how important is Reading going to be in the development of young prospects. There seems to be many parallels to baseball in Lombardi’s managerial philosophy, so it only seems natural that the “AA” franchise would get a little more attention as well. Also, is there any talk of moving/swithcing our ECHL affiliate to somewhere more geographically attractive? Keep up the good work.

  • Ranma

    Rich,

    I’d also like to express my gratefulness to you for giving Kings fans something to follow this offseason as we look forward to the entry draft next month. Speaking of which, can you ask Mr. Lombardi if he has already identified who is atop his draft board?

    I know he has met directly with my favorite prospect, Kyle Turris, as well as heavily scouted him and am hoping he will be the Kings’ selection. I’m sure he won’t be able to divulge much information given the sensitive nature of the proceedings but I am curious if he and his staff have already targeted a specific individual or few as their first round choice. Thanks again and please forward my appreciation to Mr. Lombardi for his participation in keeping the fans engaged.

  • Peter-Norway

    Great work Rich! this is really inside of the Kings.
    Do I see u in London? I will finally see my favorite hockey team live..

    32#Pete

  • JD

    Maybe you can also ask Dean about Vladimir Dravecky, a 21-year old Slovak the Kings appartly just signed (according to the Slovak hockey federation’s website).

    JD

  • BobMillersHair

    Been trying to follow some of the Memorial Cup. Pulling for the Maineiacs for obvious reasons. (Cliche and Bernier)
    Here is a link to a story of Cliche regarding his recent injury. Good news. No broken bones. Story also shows how he is such a great asset to the Kings organization with his leadership.
    Good Stuff. From SoCal…GO MAINEIACS!!!!!!

    http://www.sunjournal.com/story/213398-3/LocalSports/Cliches_return_doubtful/

  • Kevin

    Maybe I missed it, but did has anything been said about working on an extension for Visnovsky before next season starts? Would love to lock him up and avoid any distractions during the season.

  • JIM MCGINNIS

    THANKS FOR ALL THE INFO HERE ABOUT ANYTHING RELATED TO OUR KINGS,AFTER MORE THAN THREE DECADES AS A FAN THIS IS A VERY HARD OFF SEASON WHAT WITH ‘THEM’ PLAYING FOR THE CUP,AND ALL WE CAN DO IS HOPE FOR KANE OR TURRIS TO FALL TO 4.THANKS AGAINFOR THE INTERVIEW WITH DL VERY REVEALLING IN WHAT HE THINKS ABOUT THE VERY NEAR FUTURE…..GO KINGS GO

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