Lombardi interview

Here’s the quotes from tonight’s interview with Lombardi. For those who would like the abridged version…

— He’s happy to get the deal done, and thinks it came at a reasonable price because a) it got done early and b) Visnovsky’s desire to stay in L.A. made things easier.

— Cammalleri and arbitration? “It looks like it’s headed that way,” according to Lombardi, although they’re still looking to get a deal done before it comes to that.

— The camp has been good, but Lombardi is more concerned with improvement than rating players.

— The schedule is a concern, particularly since the Kings have to return to the West Coast after the trip to London. Lombardi also shares his thoughts about the challenges faced by playing in Staples Center.

Here’s the interview…

Q: You were able to get Visnovsky’s deal done, and at a price that seems reasonable, at least comparatively…

A: Well, it’s a combination of things. Remember that we got it done a year early. It’s kind of funny. Sometimes you have all the hype about free agency and you forget that you’ve got your own good players and you’ve got to take care of them. That’s the thing. When you plan for free agency, you’ve also got to plan for him, you’ve got to plan for Kopitar and Cammalleri and all these guys. I think it was a combination of doing it early and secondly, it’s nice that a player wants to be here. I think he liked some of the players we brought in, and that we’re trying to get better. I think it’s a reasonable (salary) number. It’s a big commitment by us too but it’s fair. It’s not one of those seven- or eight-year deals. So I think it was a combination of acting early/he wanted to be here. He’s a good player and he’s a real quality person. He is the type of guy you want to have on your team to build around.

Q: I guess the last big thing you’re looking at internally is Cammalleri’s contract? Do you have hope on that?

A: (Jeff Solomon) is our point guy on that but right now it looks like he’s putting all his energy into arbitration. It looks like it’s headed that way. That’s the way the process is. It’s actually a good thing. It beats a holdout. The other thing about arbitration is that it does kind of set a deadline, so there still is a possibility (of agreeing to a contract). We’re still discussing it. Just because you’re preparing your case for arbitration doesn’t mean you don’t continue to try to work on a long-term deal. I guess anything could happen right up until the bell. Again, you’ve got to fit it in with the big picture and where we’re trying to go. So, we’ll see.

Q: What have you liked from the camp this week?

A: When you’re in this stage, you’ve got to be careful. You evaluate them for the purposes of them getting better, making them better. That’s very important. You’re not running a development camp if you’re sitting here saying, `He can play, he can’t play.’ You’ve got to try to show that you’re going to make them all players. I know that’s not practical, but we’re in a teaching/development situation. You look at the birth years too. We had some ’89 (borns) out there playing with some ’83s. That’s not ideal. Even if you have an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old, that four years is a big difference versus when it’s a 25-year-old and a 29-year-old. So you have to be careful on that. A lot of these kids here are seeing pro(-caliber) players for the first time. But it’s fun. For me, it’s the fun part of the job. So many of them are young and eager to learn and good kids. It’s been a long two months of grinding. We start here at 7 in the morning and go until 9 at night. It’s a grind, but at least now you’ve got players in here, so it gives you a lot of juice. It’s a lot better than just preparing for free agency.

Q: We got to see the schedule today. You have five days off between London and the home opener. I had thought you were going to open on the East Coast to ease the travel coming back but that didn’t happen. Is that a concern for you?

A: Well, we’ll go first class and we’ll do everything we’re supposed to do. On one hand, it certainly is difficult. On the other hand, you can’t use it as an excuse. I guess you like a challenge and you have to make the most of it. Yeah, it’s a concern. I guess Marc (Crawford) in particular is going to have to looking closely at how we train before we leave and then at how he gets them acclimated when we come back. So that’s probably a question for Marc, but it certainly makes it difficult. But we can’t use it as an excuse, like I said.

Q: Did you get an explanation as to why they didn’t have you open back East?

A: With the schedule-makers, it’s a huge chemistry project. Whenever they make your schedule, it’s almost like you’re picking a jury. You might get three challenges and if the other guy overrules you, you might not get them all. It’s a limited negotiation when you get your schedule. You submit your dates, and that’s what it usually comes down to. Every building has to submit its dates. If you want certain dates, you basically have to trade those for the ones you don’t want. So the tradeoff is, you either get the ideal dates in your building or on the East Coast. You can only do it so many times. We would have liked to have been back East to get some of those games out of the way, with only a five-hour time change (from London). A lot of it comes down to our building. We’re the only building with three (pro) teams in it. That’s another thing we tried to chip away at, all these home games early.

As hockey people, we have an ideal schedule and we try to block out the dates to get the schedule we want, but then you’ve got to work with your building. It’s not easy with two other teams there. It’s not so much the events. Then it’s the fact that they’re NBA teams. Because we’re hockey and we start earlier, the building wants us in there early. The ideal thing is what the Bruins and Islanders did starting in the 70s, and they still do it today. The East Coast teams come out here first. It serves the purpose of getting (the West Coast trip) out of the way while your players are still fresh and it also serves as a good bonding thing. It’s good to have those trips early, because you bring in new guys and they have to hang around each other. Ideally, I’d like to do the same thing. I’d like to be on the road early, for the same reasons. Whether you’re going to London or not, that’s what the hockey people would like. But then you’ve got to work with the building that wants you here early because of the NBA.

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  • Troy Crowder

    Will Cammalleri be an RFA or UFA after this next season?

    Also, Rich, any word on whether the London games will be televised?

  • Frolovian

    Wow, love you rich!

    Thanks for the interview

  • Rich Hammond

    Troy…Cammalleri won’t be a UFA until the summer of ’09. And good question about TV. Someone in my office raised the same question, so I will find out. I would bet that they won’t be televised, unless there’s some local feed from London someone could pick up. It would be nice to see Versus do those games but I’m not certain.

  • Mike

    Sounds like Dean needs a little R and R.

    Any truth to what is on the boards about you covering the Lakers exclusively and not the Kings? Say it isn’t so Rich …say it isn’t so.

  • Patrice Tardiff

    So, I don’t get then what everyone is so paranoid about regarding Camm. Worst case, the extension doesn’t get done now or even during the season, its not like management will be forced to trade him due to a UFA status. They will still have his rights after next season.

  • Chazz Loeks

    One would think that Versus would be all over those first two games. They’re the only games going on, they’re on the weekend and at noon eastern time. I’d be surprised if Versus doesn’t air them.

  • Rich Hammond

    Rumors on the Internet? About me? How did I miss this?

  • Goallum

    Oh-oh… a response featuring the lack of a denial. Say it ain’t so!

  • matt

    can someone explain the arbitration process? still a little confused by it all.

  • John

    Yeah I heard that rumor was an e4.

  • BallPointHammer

    If my memory is good, and correct me if I’m wrong, but the NHL televised the regular season games from Japan a few years ago. What is the point of the London games in the first place if they are not televised?

  • Daniel

    Versus may be wise to televise these Hockey games. Remember, the weekend of Sept. 29-30 is week 5 for college football and week 4 of the NFL. And there are a ton of noon games. Leave it to the NHL to bury their season opener.

  • RustyMath

    If Versus doesn’t want the London games, I’d bet FSW does. Kings and Ducks! Why wouldn’t they? Send one production crew and both announcing crews… season openers… defending SC champs… much improved Kings… cross town rivalry. It’s a ratings bonanza!

  • Rich Hammond

    The NHL hasn’t yet announced its national TV plan. On the press release announcing the schedule I would have expected to see, “The season-opening series will be televised live by Versus,” but then again, this IS the NHL…

  • JB

    To Tardiff:

    The big deal is if the Kings don’t like the arb number they have no choice but to pay him and work on a trade while he plays or don’t pay him at which point he doesn’t play. He’s still their property but it’s hard to trade a guy that isn’t playing.

    Other teams won’t want to trade until later in the season when most of his salary has been paid by LA and they need some additional scoring help. I believe arbitration is a 1 year figure. So your not going to be able to trade him for much because he’s a free agent the next season.

    For a GM your damnend if you do damned if you don’t. Look at Briere. Buffalo wishes they could have extended his arb # from last year and locked him up long term. They didn’t trade him because they needed him for their playoff run. But then they lost him for nothing in return.

    So if DL doesn’t like the # he has to make a calculation as to whether he sucks it up and works on an extension which will now have to be at a higher # than he planned. Or he trades a key offensive guy keeping in mind he wants the highest possible value.

  • Rich Hammond

    Here’s a solid fast-and-loose explanation on arbitration, which I lifted from NBCsports.com:

    The arbitration period lasts from July 20 until August 4. A player can be awarded a one or two-year contract by an arbitrator. Once the case has begun, the arbitrator has 48 hours to decide the terms of the player’s contract. The NHL club may accept or reject the terms of the contract. If the club rejects the terms, the player immediately becomes an unrestricted free agent.

  • fletchmoney

    Keep up the great job I can’t remember the last time I had this much KINGS info to read and it’s only July.


  • JB

    Trying to read the legal ease of the CBA at NHLPA site I believe the player only becomes a UFA if the team requested arbitration and rejects the ruling. It also says that party that was filed against (this case the Kings) can pick if it’s a 1 or 2 year but default is 1. Look at Briere. His was one year. I would think if given a choice Kings would want 1 year. Why get stuck w/ 2 years at a price higher than what you offered.

  • Anonymous

    good read

  • JB

    One correction to what I said about arbitration. Teams have to accept or walk away as Rich said above. But no way Kings walk away unless it’s so sky high no team would take his salary in a trade. Better off accepting and working on a trade but again it would be hard to get value back in a trade.

  • Chris H

    Another thing about arbitration that could come back to bite the team on the a** is the fact that you’re arguing against the player getting the raise on his salary. So in other words the team rep(s) from the Kings are supposed to point out all the bad things in Cammalleri’s game and explain that he isn’t worth the salary he’s submitted. Not a great way to build a good relationship!

  • BJ

    JB, again, where do you ‘assume’ that the Kings HAVE to trade him if they don’t like the ruling? So, they accept the one year arbitration ruling, they still have time to negotiate, being he would still be and RFA after next season.

  • Jim

    I think Cammy is gone if a deal is not done before the arb. hearing. I would guess any player going through arbitration does not stay with a team more than a year or two. Judging by what Vis got I do not think DL was low balling him and he just wants too much. He did have some good numbers but that was on a very bad team. Most were on the PP and he will never get that much PP time on a good team. He just may have had his career high for pts. I say DL should use a strategy that Cammy is gone and how can he get the most value.

  • JB

    After this arbitration contract he’s a free agent. And as Chris H points out arbitration can get ugly.

    They don’t have to trade him. Maybe they can sign him to an extension during the season. Arbitration just makes it more difficult.

  • Smacklby

    Kings should try to sign him to a three to five year contract, anywhere up to 6M/yr, in my opinion. I realize Cammy is in only his what 2nd full season, but with Drury, Gomez and Briere all netting contract over 6M/yr, if the Kings think Cammy is going to consistently score 80 or more points a season, then dont you think its worth it to lock him up to a decent contract mid term (5 years)?

    I realize its a lot to pay a guy in only his second season, but apparently he wants to be paid, and look what Vanek got.

    Try to sign him 4M – 5M/yr on a mid term (5 year) contract, but I’d think the Kings should go as high as 6M/yr. At least it would be a long term deal, and likely more tradeable than an arbitrated contract for maybe a little less, but for only one year.

    Kings have some room under the cap. I’d think they could make something work. It be a shame to lose Cammy to a team like the Sabres, who are licking their chops at these kind of opportunities. Although they dont have much more room than the Kings, not under the cap, but given their budget retraints.