Visnovsky quotes

Lubomir Visnovsky had a conference call today, in which he discussed being “very disappointed” with how the trade from the Kings to Edmonton went down. wrote…“It started with a call on Sunday from his agent Neil Sheehy telling him he was traded to the Oilers, who were not among the six teams that had been discussed as possible destinations, including two unspecified Canadian clubs.”

“No one called me from the L.A. organization,” Visnovsky said Monday on a conference call from his home in Slovakia. “The general manager from the Edmonton Oilers, Kevin Lowe, called me, but no one from L.A. Big surprise for me.”

Visnovsky attributed his troubles last season, in part, to playing on the left side on the power play.

“I love to play on the right,” he said. “It’s easy for my one-timer. It’s my strong side.”

Visnovsky also discussed the fact that his fiancee is pregnant with the couple’s first child but said he’s not upset about the move to Edmonton.

“I told Kevin that for family, it’s a better life in L.A., but for hockey, it’s a better life in Edmonton,” he said, but quickly diffused fears that he may ask out after one season. “It’s OK – she’s strong and she helps me,” he said. “If I’m happy, she’ll be happy.”

Visnovsky also said about the move…

“I’m very happy to play for Edmonton,” he said. “In Canada, hockey is the No. 1 sport, just like in Slovakia. I love countries that love hockey. Edmonton has a big history, they won five Stanley Cups. They have great fans and one of the best ice (surfaces) in the league.”

Lombardi spoke to Visnovsky’s no-trade clause during his conference call this morning. His comments are earlier on the blog, here.

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Cloutier update

Here’s the situation with Dan Cloutier, with a bit of a refresher. The Kings sought to buy out the final year of Cloutier’s contract. This came after two doctors examined Cloutier and determined him healthy enough to play. Cloutier challenged this, and sought to have the buyout nullified so that he could receive his full salary next season.

So here’s the update. Cloutier found a (third) doctor who said he was NOT healthy enough to play. The process has been “suspended” because the two sides have completely different opinions, and the process is likely headed to an arbitrator. I don’t know who or when that would be, because frankly I’m not sure if there’s any type of precedent for this. That will probably require talking to someone at the league at a later date.

UPDATE: I should make the correct amendment that the Kings would only get salary-cap relief from a long-term injury if they’re in danger of being above the salary-cap limit. As we know, that’s a highly unlikely scenario.

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Lombardi, on his future

Finally, a reporter asked Lombardi a rather pointless question about whether he was concerned about his job status…

“When I took this job, I looked at two things. There were no young defensemen and no young goalies. I interviewed with five teams. I said, `If you want to be a contender and you want to do this right, you’ve got a massive rebuilding.’ (In baseball) you’re not going to win without good pitching and defense. You saw it with the Celtics, good defense. Defense wins championships. If you’re not solid on the back end, you’re not going to be a contender. It goes back to Jack Johnson and then why we had to be aggressive at the draft. It’s why maybe you you take a little chance on Hickey. It’s all about getting the back end fixed. If you’re going to take this job and make decisions based on the pressure, you’re going to be spinning your wheels. People in hockey know what you’re doing. When you’re in the building mode and trying to do it the right way, it’s just an occupational hazard.”

That’s all from Dean Lombardi today. I will post the quotes from Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene next…

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Lombardi, on O’Sullivan and goalies

First, here’s what Dean Lombardi said about the progress of contract negotiations with restricted free agent Patrick O’Sullivan…

“(Jeff Solomon) is down there working on him now. Solly has to get to work. That’s our team’s lawyer. We had some preliminary dialogue there before the draft but the next stage is getting some of these guys under contract.”

I asked whether he thought something was “close”…

“I’m not sure. After today we might know a little more.”

Lombardi was asked whether the Kings would consider signing a “bridge” goalie this summer…

“That’s a good question. I think I’ve been asked this before. If we do get a goalie, it would strictly be a bridge. I don’t want to get into a two-year deal. We were fairly aggressive on Vokoun (last summer) because I thought he was a proven No. 1. So i don’t see us taking a swing at a (long-)term deal. The bridge would probably be the only thing. The one thing we might look at is, we do have our development camp coming up and I’ll be curious to see where Bernier and Quick and Zatkoff are. Is one of them ready to back up Jason? We’ll see where Ersberg is. It’s dangerous to talk about that but it does allow us to see where they’re at. Ideally, I’d like to see them do the thing we did with (the goalies) in San Jose. So the most we would look at is a bridge.”

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Lombardi, on free agency

I asked Lombardi about free agency, and whether these recent trades made it more likely that he would spend more money on the free-agent market this week…

“Obviously we talked about Blakey. That’s a guy who is on the front burner. I do think what I’d like to look at is… I think our forwards are OK. I like the way our forwards stack up. A guy we’re looking at is a defenseman, with decent money, who has to fit with next year and the year after and fit with what we think our young players will become. I will look at a defenseman in that area who fits within the budget and fits with these young players. if that’s not there, we’re just not going to grab anybody. We try not to get somebody in that position. It’s dangerous with young players, to say, `Oh, he’s going to play.’ You like to be in that position on the back end, and have all those young players and say, `There’s a job there but you have to prove to me you’re ready.’ The first step is to try to get a guy who fits within our budget and within the future plan.”

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Lombardi, on the no-trade clause

This is what Lombardi had to say about Visnovsky’s no-movement clause, and how he felt about trading a guy who was 48 hours away from the clause…

“That certainly wasn’t easy. I talked to his representatives at the draft. That (clause) put us under the gun, in terms of being able to do a deal that made sense. It did heighten it a little bit. I don’t know why we do it like this, but it seems like nothing gets done without a deadline, whether it’s a draft deadline or a trade deadline or a no-trade thing.”

As a follow-up, I asked if that meant Visnovsky’s representatives were aware that a deal was possible…

“I think it was pretty evident. Like I said, I had met with his agent at the draft. Let’s get real. Before I even got to the draft it was evident that we were looking to move these two players (Cammalleri and Visnovsky).”

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Lombardi, on the coaching search

Here’s what Lombardi had to say about the ongoing coaching search…

“We’ve been inundated with some incredibly competent people. I could say the number has reached 30, from all areas of experience, from proven NHL coaches to minor-league coaches to junior coaches. We have them listed in those three areas and that’s it. First we had to deal with the critical nature of the draft, the critical nature of getting the business plan to match the hockey plan and the critical nature of free agency. If we spread ourselves too thin and try to do too much at once, that wasn’t smart. …. I told the candidates at the draft, no disrespect but we have to get through the draft and then tomorrow, as soon as (free agency is) over we will give all our energy to the coaching search. As a practical matter, maybe (the search) goes a little longer than you’d like, but it’s more important that you do it right.”

On whether he thinks it’s important to get a coach in place before signing players…

“I’d go the other way. If you’re in the NBA, where those players have to fit a coach’s system, there’s an element of that. We’re still in the process of putting this together. This is what we have to work with and this is where we’re going. So the question is, who’s the best coach to fit that model? If we were at Detroit’s level, it’s very clearly different. When you’re in the building mold, you’re going to get young players and develop a core. Putting that in place, you need a coach who will answer, `How are you going to handle those young players? What are you going to do to make Kopitar and Brown be better? What are you going to do if the goaltending isn’t quite there yet?’ The coach’s job has to have a builder’s sector to it. He has to be able to see the forest through the trees. When it’s over you have to find a way to make these players better. I had one of the best of the business with this with Darryl Sutter in San Jose. That coach has to understand that coming in. When you’re talking about young players with upside, your coaches have to trust your personnel.”

On whether it’s safe to say he’s looking for a “teacher” as a new coach…

“We all have certain strengths, whether we’re coaches or scouts or whatever. You’d like to have your coach be able to motivate and get respect and be a good bench coach. If you put down those qualities, you’d like to have all `A’s.’ We’re all stronger in some areas than others. When you put down qualities of the coach for this team, it’s safe to assume that being a teacher is a big part of it. You have to command respect and also be able you can win every night.”

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Lombardi, on contracts

Here’s what Lombardi had to say in response to a question about whether the trade would make it easier to resign players such as Kopitar and Johnson…

“That’s a huge part of it. There’s two things that have to happen here. The business plan has to match the hockey plan. It has to match where we’re going to be this year. If we’re going to do it right, whether it’s keeping the pick and getting Doughty or whatever, what sense does it make if we can’t keep them here for the long haul? It’s looking at next year and the year after. This is a function of young guys getting enormous (contracts) early. We have to have this cash base, from a business plan, and a business plan that matches the hockey plan.”

Lombardi, on whether he had permission, in advance, to negotiate a contract extension with Jarret Stoll, who is a restricted free agent this summer…

“We didn’t get to that point. Obviously that is an issue, that we’re going to have to sign these two players. I think it’s reasonable that we’ll have a good opportunity. Sometimes the mechanics of the deal don’t always allow for (prior negotiation).”

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Lombardi, on Visnovsky

Here’s what Lombardi had to say about parting with Lubomir Visnovsky, on his perceived struggles last season…

“He’s a very good player. I think the world of this guy. You’ve got the top guys… and he’s right there in the next layer. He’s a quality person and I can’t say enough about him as a player. As far as his production, you probably touched on it. I think his production will rebound. This can happen when your team is struggling and guys get off their games. I think that was the case a little with Lubo. The one thing that Lubo has is a bomb from the point. I think you see more guys in shooting lanes, so there might be a little of that there. But now (Edmonton) has two guys out there, and if anybody wants to get in the shooting lanes they’re still going to need some protection.”

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