Forum answers II

Here’s the second set of answers…

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Question: Any feeling at all that Dean’s just not tipping his hand about his intended coaching target? Given the fact that several other teams are looking for coaches, and the fact that Dean is more than willing to display his poker face, might he just be trying to keep his search under the radar? Also, what are your thoughts on Paul Maurice and John Tortorella? Maurice seems to be the “communicator” type Dean would like, while Tortorella coached Sully and Brown at the Worlds.

Well, I’m sure he has some names in his head, but I’d be really surprised if there’s just one name, one primary target, right now. I think it will be a short list of prospective candidates and that he will work fairly quickly to get it done. I don’t think a team like Ottawa is looking at the same type of coaches the Kings are looking at. I can’t speak to Maurice, really, because I really don’t know that much about his personality. Tortorella seems like a guy who would be better suited to coach veterans, or at least a more experienced team, but we’ll see. The one thing Lombardi said for certain is that he wants a coach who is up for this challenge.

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Question: Can you find out when the prospects camp is. I am wondering if I will have to change my July travel dates.

The tentative date would be the second week of July. There has not been an official announcement, however.

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Question: Rich—after the last few weeks of hearing the King’s monetary woes, it brought to mind Crawford’s salary, which I am sure didn’t come cheap. Do you know Crawford’s salary?

Good question. No, I’m not certain. Player salaries are much, much easier to figure out. Mike Babcock just signed a three-year, $4.5-million extension. I don’t think Crawford was getting that much. Other than that, I’m not really sure.

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Question: You do a great job of reading betweeen the lines. Can you do that with either your interview with Dean or the Conference Call and give us your interpretation of it. Or at least your interpretation of the major points Dean made?

Well, he made a lot of points, so it’s sort of hard to sum it all up. As far as Crawford, I would say that Lombardi had some significant doubts at the end of this season, and when it became clear that the team would get even younger next season, he wanted a different coach in place, one who would be a better “teacher.” I find it interesting that ownership is pushing hard for the youth movement, and I wonder if they’re pushing even harder for it than Lombardi feels comfortable with. Lombardi gave every indication that he will go with a young, “inexperienced” coach, at least in terms of NHL head-coaching experience.

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Question: Can you shine some light on the EXACT situation that led to DL being fired in San Jose? I saw some posts earlier that suggested this philosophy of his was what ended his career up there, I’d like to know if that was true… and IF NOT .. then what was it?

That’s really hard for me to say. I wasn’t in San Jose and I wasn’t even covering hockey then. I’m not putting words in Dean Lombardi’s mouth, but his perspective would probably be that the “plan” was working but he just wasn’t given enough time to see it through. When you see all the young talent that has come through the San Jose system over the last few years, he might have a point there. That’s why he has made such a point of stressing, particularly this week, that ownership is commited to the build from within strategy. A lot of times in pro sports, ownership loves the “build from within” strategy…for the first year or two. Then, when they’re not winning fast enough, they get anxious. The flip side of the argument would be that Lombardi made some moves in San Jose that didn’t work out, and that because of those, progress wasn’t happening fast enough. Situations like that are never, ever simple to analyze.

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Question: Shouldn’t the Kings be hiring their coach before July 1st? I would think potential free agents would want to know who the coach will be and what type of system they will instill.

Yes, I agree strongly with that, and with the need to get a coach in place before the development camp, so the new coach can familiarize himself with the young talent in the organization. I believe — just my opinion — that it will get done, probably in that week after the draft. But we’ll see how the search and interview process goes.

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Question: How do you think getting younger will affect FA signings? Seems to me that if it was difficult to get top tier players there is no way there will be any coming over. Do you think this is was a smart decision? If DL’s expectation this past season was for something better than out of the playoffs by Dec, what do you think his expectations will be this coming season for a team that will be younger?

The Kings weren’t going to be players for any of the top-flight free agents anyway, so I don’t think this situation impacts it too much. The Kings, once again, will be looking for those “bridge” type players to sign one- or two-year contracts. The free agents who are looking for five or six years, or $30 or $35 million, they’re not going to fit with the Kings right now anyway. It’s going to be the guys who are looking for short-term deals and guys who Lombardi can convince to come play for a (in his view) young and up-and-coming team. Is it a smart decision? I think it’s the only decision. This past season was a disaster. It’s time to put the cards on the table and see what they’ve got with some of these young players. If not now, when? And that’s a good question about expectations. Let’s see how the team looks after the first week of July. But it’s hard to look at a roster that’s getting even younger and say you EXPECT them to contend for the playoffs, isn’t it?

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Question: What are the fans supposed to believe now? The Kings finished 29th, had the audacity to raise prices under the false impression of a rising payroll and now all of a sudden we are told that we are getting even younger which means an even lower payroll. Have the last 2 years been for naught? Are we back at square 1 with rebuiding? Does AEG really have a plan for the Kings other than just collecting the revenue from the 41 home dates? And why did DL hire MC in the 1st place knowing he was a screamer and not great with kids considering DL planned to bring in youth as he did in SJ?

I’m not sure what you’re supposed to believe now. That’s pretty much for every fan to decide for himself or herself. I don’t think the Kings are back at “square one” in terms of rebuilding. The building process has been taking place on the lower levels, in the stockpiling of prospects and draft picks. It just has yet to make an impact at the NHL level, which is the cause of the considerable (and understandable) frustration. It all depends on how deep you want to look and how deep your faith is. You can look at it one way and see that the NHL club is going backward. You can look at it another way and get excited about all the young talent. Which way is the right way to look at it? It totally depends on your level of confidence in this management team. There’s no clear-cut answer. Why did Lombardi hire Crawford to begin with? I’m really not sure. I tend to agree with your statement.

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Question: One more question, is it fair to credit MC primarily for the development of guys like Brown and O’Sullivan ?

That’s a tough question to answer. I’d probably give him much more credit for O’Sullivan than I would for Brown. In Brown’s case, I could see a slow development taking place over the last couple years. His improvement this past season didn’t surprise me as much, because it seemed as though he was starting to put it together. O’Sullivan is a much different story. He made a complete transformation. Who gets credit for that? Probably a combination. Credit O’Sullivan himself, for maturing. Credit Crawford and his staff, for pushing the right buttons and challenging O’Sullivan to improve himself. And don’t forget Mark Morris in Manchester. O’Sullivan was sort of a disaster when the Kings sent him down to the AHL during the 2006-07 season. When he returned, he looked like a different player.

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Question: Is anyone at your paper looking into this? I think it’s much deeper than Boots and fraud:

http://www.bayareanewsgroup.com/multimedia/mn/news/boots_aeg_delbaggio_061108.pdf

I have to be honest. It’s an interesting story, one worth following, but it’s not really in my scope right now. There’s too much else going on with the Kings and too many other things I have to keep my eye on. Launching a full-scale investigation of corporate giant AEG just isn’t going to happen right now, but everyone should definitely keep their eyes on the story.

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  • anthony

    With regards to the firing of DL by San Jose.

    DL’s perspective that his plan in SJ was working but he needed more time to see it through is BS.

    When he left SJ, they were an OK team. Maybe even a good team. But they were nowhere near being a Cup contender. And none DL’s prospects were good enough as a team to win it all. Not even close. All the time in the world would not have made a difference.

    The reason why San Jose suddenly became a contender was due to one player Joe Thornton. And that deal was done by Doug Wilson, not DL.
    Sure Wilson traded Stuart and Sturm, who were former DL’s picks, to get Thornton. But that was just a bad trade for Boston. Boston got robbed in that deal.
    I believe that same Boston GM is now working for DL. Go figure.

  • HeShootsNScores

    I’m not an expert, but isn’t DL responsible for drafting Cheechoo and Nabokov?

    From what I’ve read, SJ was a MESS when DL got there, and he helped turn them into what they are today. You can’t credit Doug Wilson for all that… Thorton isn’t the only reason they got to where they are.

    RICH:
    In all honesty, what does the firing of MC do to DL’s original ’3 year’ plan? With a new coach/system/going even younger… they can’t expect fans to believe they’ve arrived at their goal… right? Is this something that you think they’d even address? How do you sell the Los Angeles Kings now?

  • BigKing

    I believe that the Sharks went to the WCF without Joe Thornton while riding Lombardi’s guys to get there.

    With Joe Thornton they haven’t made it out of the second round.

  • Daniel

    To that guy who routinely bashes Mr. Lombardi –
    Here is the chain of events that happened the year Lombardi was fired:
    1. New ownership group, who were not fully organized or had a common vision. They asked Lomabrdi to “play hardball” in contract negotiations with Nabokov and others, leading to hold-outs.
    2. The high-salaried vets, like Selanne, were not performing or giving their all.
    3. In a desperate attempt to kick-start the club, he fired Sutter.
    4. Once that didn’t work, ownership asked Lombardi to shed payroll and get rid of as many of the high-priced vets as he could. Being that he couldn’t deal some (including Scott Thornton), ownership became irate that they wear on the line for such a high payroll and not inline for the playoffs.
    5. He was fired a month later.

    So, yeah, he did make some bad decisions, but so do Cup winning GM’s like Burke and Feaster. I am no apologist for DL but it sounds like he learned the lesson of dealing with ownership, in that he demands full control over hockey related decisions. As far as UFA’s, ehhh…

    One other note – why does everyone here think we are going to suck next year? More ice time for Kopi-Sully-Brown-Boyle-Purcell-Ersberg-etc is a good thing! Remember Think of all the dead wood that will disappear on July 1. Maybe not a playoff team but exciting. Everything will be alright.

  • EJ

    Anthony, you are completely clueless. Do you not realize how much you embarrass yourself every time you open your mouth?

    Look at the Shark’s record for the years that DL was the GM. Look at the names he acquired for that team during his tenure. Was he perfect? No, but how many GMs are? Holland? Lamoreillo? Bowman? If DL approaches that tier of success, I think any fan should be pleased. But not you. You only want to sit in your sandbox and whine.

  • tantrum4

    Hey anthony, I’m just curious…if you hate Lombardi, Crawford, Blake, Labarbara, Priessing, Vishnovski, Camallerri, Liewikie, Handzus, Armstrong, Cloutier, Calder, Bailey and the rest of everything that has to do with the Kings, why do you spend so much time reading about them and making posts all the time? If I didn’t like a team as much as you hate L.A, I would probably find something else to do with my time…just a thought..

  • Reaper

    Hey Rich have you heard anything about whether or not the Kings are interested in recent UFA and former Phoenix prospect Blake Wheeler?

  • EncinoMan

    Hey Rich,

    Great stuff. One of your answers to one of the questions caught my eye…..

    “I find it interesting that ownership is pushing hard for the youth movement, and I wonder if they’re pushing even harder for it than Lombardi feels comfortable with.”

    Which makes me ask……Does Dean truly make all the hockey decisions and is ownership truly “hands off”?

  • Daniel

    Looks like Hartsburg is going to the Sens. I have a feeling DeBoer will be a strong candidate for the Kings.
    Also, just thought I would pass this, some wisdom from Bucci we Kings fans should appreciate, along:
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/columns/story?columnist=buccigross_john&id=3435303

  • George Best

    Im all for rebuilding, but you cant finish last in the conference after as much time as you have had to get players. The foundation is not there to even move up next year so Im not sure what kind of realistic plan we are on. This is not an exciting team to watch. However, we cant keep switching GMs every three years so let DL do what he is going to do. If anyone else was really better, they wouldnt be available to be hired.

  • petey

    So let’s see here Anthony, you give Doug Wilson all the credit for making the deal for Thornton. Apparently, according to you, that is the only reason the Sharks are good.
    Did you ever stop to think without DL drafting Stuart and Sturm that trade NEVER would have happened? No, you didn’t cause you are so quick to jump on him for every move YOU think is a mistake. You don’t give DL credit for drafting those players to obtain Thornton, you give credit to Boston for making a bad deal.
    See, that was DL’s plan, just that Wilson carried it out. It’s what DL has been saying all along. Build up assets to move for impact players when the time is right. Has he not been saying that? Please, actually pay attention to what is or has been said by DL. Look at the big picture of what he is doing in L.A. as well as what has been done in San Jose while he was there and while he wasn’t. Then maybe, just maybe, you could actually post something with some thought put into it.

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