The meeting I had at the Kings’ offices Wednesday lasted more than two hours, and I want to share as much of it as possible, so I’m going through the process of transcribing quotes and sorting it all out. I’ll share the first part now, which deals with the Kings’ vision for the future and, specifically, why the fans should have faith that things are improving. Dean Lombardi and Luc Robitaille address the issue…
“ When you’re in the thing for the long run, you really have to have vision. And that’s seeing things that other people can’t. But I think slowly, as it evolves, it’s getting closer to where other people can see it. We’re just not quite there, to where everybody can see it. Your hardcore people, who really pay attention, they can see it, but you really want to broaden that audience. Slowly, I can see that starting to happen, but you just have to stick with it. Those are the things that get you through these tough times.”
“We did some surveying at the end of the year with our fans, and we went as broad as we could, from the casual fans to the diehard fans. We realized, going through that, that they understand the process. I think the GM breakfast was an eye-opener for a lot of people, and then the word of mouth went around. To a certain degree, and to our surprise, they love what we’re doing. They know we’re sticking with something, and we’re going with our young guys and we’re building from within, and they’re seeing the progress of the young guys. Obviously our diehards, they follow all our guys in the American league and juniors and they see how they’re doing. We were greatly surprised to see that they understand that. They actually are excited to see young guys next year. So, going from there, what we want to try to do right now is build and be the best organization we can be.
“As an organization, a lot of people were doing different things in the past. Now we have a lot of guys who, they just live and sleep hockey. On our business side, they do the same. So we’re building a culture, and that trickles down. Everybody feels it; the fans will feel it, the players will feel it, the trainers will feel it, and that’s the way you have to do it in order to become a great organization. You don’t make decisions to just patch up things. You set a goal and you want to get to that goal by doing the right thing. The greatest thing for us is that we saw that our fans understood. We’re going to ride the wave of what we’re doing now. We’re excited about the young guys, just like the fans are, and we want to grow that going forward.
“Basically what we want to do now is…we’re in L.A., so we have to start acting like it. We’re at the bottom of the league and we want to get better, but we don’t want to gouge our fans at one point (with increased ticket prices) and surprise them, so we want to communicate that. At the same time, if the cap goes up and the time comes and Dean needs to make the decision to get the right guy, that’s not when you go to the fans and say, OK, prices are going up. We want to go up together. And we know that’s not going to be an easy process, but we feel this is the right way, and the way that we’re going to improve as a business and as an organization.”