Futa/Yannetti interview II

Here’s the second part of the interview with Mark Yannetti and Michael Futa, in which they start to go into some detail about what their lives are like these days, and how hectic the weeks leading up to the draft can be…

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Question: When I’ve talked to Dean, he often mentions how much easier it is this year and how much more comfortable he feels. Can you put that in tangible terms, leading up to this year’s draft?

Yannetti: “The difference from 12 months ago, as you might have noticed, is that we’ve had a little bit of turnover in the staff. And I’d been doing pro (scouting). I came over from the pro side, cold turkey. I saw my first amateur game in January. Luckily, Brent and Tony were kept over, and for good reason.”

Futa: “Last year, this pretty much would have been the week I walked in the door.”

Yannetti: “We squeezed 16 months of work into five months. If you would have been here at this point last year, you would have seen NoDoz and coffee and Vivarin. Our days were doubled, and we didn’t have the same comfort level as a staff. We’re still growing as a staff. Realistically, it’s our first year. Tony and Brent knew each other a little, but the comfort level of the staff is growing quite a bit.”

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Question: You talk about your strengths blending together, and as you talk about things you’re not afraid to disagree…

Yannetti: “As you can see in (the meeting), right?”

Question: Yeah, there are a lot of opinions flying around. So how important is it to understand your own strengths and weaknesses and accept other people’s opinions?

Futa: “The biggest thing for me is that we all, at some point, played (hockey). This, to me, is so close to a dressing-room atmosphere.”

Yannetti: “That’s a good point. That’s a really good point.”

Futa: “There’s no ego in here. The amount of camaraderie, and the number of shots we take at each other… But the fun that’s involved, and the professionalism that’s involved is great. As co-directors, at the end of the day we’ll have seen everybody. Brent is kind of the third, a guy who has seen a great deal of the list. He gives tremendous support in all areas, because he’s been to all the tournaments. There’s an understanding, with the area guys, that their job is to get their group in the correct order, then have the faith and trust that we — having seen everybody — will get the final grouping in order. The fact that there is no ego, it’s so huge. Nobody’s got an agenda, and I think Mark said it best when he said, at the beginning of the meeting, `We don’t ever want to hear the term, my guy.”’

Yannetti: “We don’t want people fighting for `their guys.”’

Futa: “We’re all Kings. We’re not players, but we consider ourselves Kings, and a big part of the organization too. That’s our dressing room, where we’re going to argue, and it’s probably the same thing with you covering the Kings. There are going to be times when it’s not going to be as fun, but there’s a professional respect. Nobody has a hidden agenda and everybody wants to get the best players into Los Angeles for Dean and the Kings.”

Yannetti: “The lack of ego, for me, is what separates things. Arguments are a problem for me. Debate isn’t a problem for me. Once in a while, you’ll get an argument, but in this room — and I think it’s due to the lack of ego — I find that they are far outweighed by debate. The main concern is getting the list right. It’s funny. This is the closest thing to playing on a team that I’ve seen since I stopped playing hockey. This is my eighth or ninth year…I can’t even remember. I’ve spent a little while now, doing this. Not that anything else was deficient in my past, it’s just that this is the exception to the rule. I’m not sure that I would see another atmosphere like this, going forth. I hope I would, but I’m not sure.”

Futa: “When Dean hires you, there’s no gray area for you, with regards to…”

Yannetti: “What, having a life? (laughs)”

Futa: “Seriously though, the amount of hours that goes in… There aren’t too many bosses that I’ve known who are going to match you, hour for hour and shift for shift. I think that’s huge for us too.”

Yannetti: “It’s kind of hard to leave at 11:30 p.m. when your boss is sitting there.”

Futa: “He’s there from the national anthem to the last shift of overtime, and that’s huge for a staff. When you see the guy that you’re working for — and it’s the same thing with (assistant GM Ron Hextall) — it’s like, `I would never ask you to do something I wouldn’t do myself.”’

Yannetti: “Especially when you’re talking about this type of hours. This is a different level of work than I’ve ever been involved with.”

Futa: “If we got paid by the hour, we might be able to get a place down here. (laughs)”

Yannetti: “We could move in next to (Rob Blake). (laughs) We could at least pool our money and get a place. But it’s also the right way. There’s a way you can attack this and there’s a way you can do it. It’s not always easy, but everybody is here, grinding it out. (Futa) has three kids at home. Tony’s got three kids at home. What did Dean say to you at the beginning of the season? `Kiss your wife goodbye. Tell her you’ll see her in June.’?”

Futa: “Say hello to them, and then you’ll see them in about 12 months.”

Yannetti: “That’s obviously a caricature of the whole thing, but it’s also based in some reality.”

Futa: “One thing we don’t get when we’re on the road is, obviously when a team has the kind of year that the Kings had…”

Yannetti: “There’s a little disconnect.”

Futa: “Yeah, because you don’t feel it. When I was a general manager and my team was struggling, your sleep patterns are all messed up. When you know what they’re going through, having a tough year like this, it drives you even more, to not feel bad about your hours or your drives in the bad weather. Shortcuts aren’t going to get us to where we want to be, where we will be.”

Yannetti: “It’s funny. You go from September until the end of March, worrying about the placement of the team. Then all of a sudden, in March and April, everyone is coming up to you saying, `Hey, you got the first pick!’ You get two months out of the whole year when the team’s standing doesn’t bother you. And you only have two years where you can think that way. If you’re thinking that way in the fourth or fifth year, then it becomes a problem.”

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  • Anonymous

    Great interview. Thanks and keep them coming Rich

    Roger

  • Anonymous

    Well it sounds like things have changed this year over last year. With “Nobody’s got an agenda” and “We don’t ever want to hear the term My Guy”. Last year Lombardi definitely had “his guy”.

  • Maverick

    If there is one thing I respect Lombardi for it is his dedication to his vision in that he is willing to work the long haul and spend the time in the rinks to really scout and make this team better step by step. The Kings are lucky to have a GM that is really a top NHL scout in disguise. Like Futa said ‘[Lombardi] would never ask you to do something [he] wouldn’t do myself.’ I’ve always respected how he actually goes out and scouts the kids himself, spends time with the farm teams, and watches every game versus some other GMs that are stagnant and get all their information second hand from their administration and just makes decisions based on information passed to them.

  • Maverick

    Ugh. That comment was supposed to be under part 1. Oh well.