Here’s the second set of answers…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Question: Is anyone at your paper looking into this? I think it’s much deeper than Boots and fraud:
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.