Lombardi, on toughness

After reading scouting reports and talking to Lombardi about the draft picks, one word — or some variation of it — kept coming up: toughness. The Kings seemed to be making a point of drafting guys who had a distinct edge to their games. I asked Lombardi if that was a coincidence or whether it was a philosophy…

Lombardi said: “Well, I think that’s one of those things when you’re in personnel. When you look at the assets of a NHL player, we all have what we prefer. All things being equal, and I’ve told you before, my favorite players have been Mike Ricci and Brian Marchment. They stand for team and for competitiveness, by nature. That being said, you have to be careful, because other elements are still important. A guy has to be well rounded. But every general manager has a philosophy. You can talk about a Teubert or whatever, and go right on down the line. It’s probably safe to say we tend toward that direction.

“But you can’t overlook the other things and just start drafting tough guys who can’t play. So it’s a balancing act. That’s why when I talk about building a staff and getting on the same page, in terms of philosophy, that’s one of those things that I’m talking about. These are the kind of guys we like. All things being equal, we trend that way. That’s not to say it’s right or wrong, but yeah, I can’t deny it. When I say those guys (Ricci and Marchment) are my two favorite players, it’s pretty clear what they do.”

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  • Anonymous

    Help me I’m confused…What toughness has he brought to the Kings???? Handzus? Preissing?? Nagy? Willsie??
    This years draft is fine but we need veteran toughness NOW!!!!!!!!

  • Gabby

    Drafting/acquiring tough guys who can’t play was the Barry Melrose/Sam McMaster philosophy of hockey that completely destroyed our team after the ’93 Cup run. Glad the Mullet is not going to be our head coach again.

  • Goon Squad

    It’s definitely a subtle layer, but I’m glad to see an evolution in Lombardi’s approach. He is maintaining a preference for tough, character driven players, but he clearly understands now that it takes a lot of different types of players to build a successful team.

    I was living in the Bay Area when Lombardi built the Sharks into a contender and I was there when it suddenly stopped working. At that time he was trying to blend young talent with veteran toughness. There came a point when the kids were ready to take over, but the vets were not ready to let go. What I like about the Kings is they’re putting the responsibility for skill, toughness, and leadership on the young guys right now. We’re not going to have a collapse when Nolan, Damphousse, Ricci, etc. are shipped out. This team is growing together. It looks like the vets on this team are going to be in a support role from here on, and I think long term that’s a much better way.

  • Anonymous

    Gabby please refresh my memory ant tell me what tough guys Melrose brought in besides McSorly. And on that note he came directly with Gretzky.

    As for the draft, I wouldn’t know who they drafted.

    Bringing in all of Gretzky old friends from Edmonton and not having a farm system is what destroyed the Kings. Another note, after Grezsky retired, he said the Kings team, when he got here was one of the worst he’d ever seen. So the Kings weren’t much to begin with, and to say Melrose help to destroy it, is a little bit inaccurate.

  • JDM

    Well said there Goon Squad. I hope he is very careful which veterans he picks up to fill that role. Maybe that’s why he’s so focused on free agency, to get someone like that as hopefully he’s realized no one gains anything from Armstrong being on the team. He’s the wrong type of veteran.

    Looking at that free agent list again, Langkow? He’s a tough player, a veteran but not an old fogey(sp?). Could probably be signed for 3 or 4 mill… not sure what he’s asking for, but he made $2.4 last season. Or if he want to get a grizzled dude, Carney is a UFA also. He’s a shut-down guy but also a character player.

    Another player is Adam Hall, who I don’t know if Pittsburg has resigned yet, but he’s 26, comes cheap and I was really impressed with his gritty, persistent play throughout the playoffs.

    On a separate note, anyone read the times today?

    Great Cloutier quote:

    “I was terrible most nights and shouldn’t have been playing.”

    He finally figured it out. 2 years too late.

    The article also mentioned that Stuart was a good fit and that DL still might make a run at him, which I’d be totally fine with.

  • “Maybe that’s why he’s so focused on free agency, to get someone like that as hopefully he’s realized no one gains anything from Armstrong being on the team. He’s the wrong type of veteran.”

    ha, ask Kopi, Sully, Brown or any of the other kids who are the feature of the franchise what they think of Army.

    He may not be the most skilled player and when he is used in the roll he is best suited for (i love the guy but me, him and everyone else know he is a 3rd line grinder) hopefully everyone will finally see he is the RIGHT type of veteran this team needs and how great of a leader/roll model he is for the young guns. Like it or not he IS the captain of the team w/o wearing the “C”.

  • Jet


    Professional athletes have been breed from a young age to be winners. No one likes to play for a team that is going to win 30 games. It is extremely difficult mentally to perform throughout the season. Heck, I have a hard time playing hard in a pick up game when I can see the other team is going to pound us. So, until you have a chance at winning you will only attract FAs from the left over bin and you will likely overpay for them also.
    With the current FA system, the only way to go is to build a team through the draft. Read Gainey’s quote from today, “we have had good drafts for 6 or 7 years..”. DL is trying to attempting to expedite the process, bringing in three 20 yr. olds and a 23 yr old. But you can only go up so far, so fast. Be patient, today’s FAs are not part of the long term plan.

  • John

    “Anonymous said:
    Help me I’m confused…What toughness has he brought to the Kings???? Handzus?”

    Yeah, Michal’s a puss…shows YOUR hocky I.Q. Anonymous!

  • JDM

    I see your point. I also agree that he is an effective grinder… much of my spite for Army came from seeing him on the 2nd line and the PP unit which wasn’t really his fault. In actuality I am ok with him playing on the 3rd or 4th line.

    All I meant by wrong type of veteran is he is not a proven winner. When I say RIGHT type of veteran I simply mean someone who has been on numerous playoff runs and knows first-hand what it takes to win a cup. Armstrong on the other hand has not played a single NHL playoff game. He knows how to compete, he has no clue how to win.

    I know Army is good for the young guys, but ultimately he is a character player, which while we do need, he simply does not totally fill the void of veteran leadership. He’s a great guy with a great attitude, and has flashes of really skilled hockey, but he simply isn’t enough for the team. Also, I’d prefer to see Boyle centering the 3rd line for the majority of the season instead of Army. Put Army on the 4th line. Keep him on the bench for the young guys, but only on the ice for 8-10 minutes a game.

    To give him another small vote of confidence, he managed a +4 on our defensively miserable team last season. In the end, I want to see his roster spot open for a younger guy to take if they are ready. Let’s see if Lewis can step in and play that 3rd or 4th line center along with Boyle. Maybe Meckler is ready, or perhaps Westgarth is the right guy, since this is a thread about toughness, and I have to imagine at 6’4″ 245lb he’s got some toughness. Imagine him and Ivanans playing the 4th line. Though to be fair I don’t know about Westgarth’s game enough to know if he really uses his size effectively.

    Point is, I’m all for trial by fire for the young guys. Armstrong should be alternating with those guys, sitting out some games, so he can still be of use where he is best; in the locker room.

  • andre norway

    first you are saying that army doesnt belong on the team, that he is not a leader, not tough enough, not good enough, that you disliked him because he played on the 2 line and on the pp. then when someone corrects you ,you change the way you talk about army and excuse yourself saying that u didnt mean it that way. Mike Ricci won a stanly cup with avs, marchment im not sure he have won a cup but they both provides leadership and grittiness day inn day out – as a coach you know what u get from that types of players. And the same thing is that u get from army- a player who does what u want him to do and what u tell him to do. I have never heard that army has complained about his minutes or what line he is put on. He works hard every night and every shift and hardly has a bad game if u take the game apart and analyse what he does. I can agree that he is best playing 10 min a game and on the 3 line. I live in Norway and I dont get to see every kings game but I come over 2-3 times a year to se the kings play.So I know what Im talking about. You are also talking about all the young guys you want to play instead of army. U cant have a team of just young guys, you have to have players with experience if not the team will be no good. I know you have to play to get experience but a lot of the young players we have on our rooster will never play for the kings or will just play a couple of games and then are gone. Petiot is gone, Tukonen is gone, they have got their chances but fallen through. I know this is a long tread and a little off the subject but Im fed up of people bashing a character player like army.

  • Tim

    Rich any word on signing Patrick O’sullivan before July 1st and are you worried about a team like Edmonton offering a huge deal?

  • ChrisH

    Good FA signing would be Jim Vandermeer from Calgary. Tough stay and home d-man and he’s under 30.

    Hey Rich, any talk about Lubo with DL? Might he trade him before July 1?

  • Chewy Rocky Horror

    Just say no to Langkow! 3-4 mil for 32 yr old 2a/2b center? Haven’t we learned from the Cloutier, Handzus, Calder & Nagy signings?

    The need a 1a/1b center to take the pressure off of Kopitar. There is no one in the ufa market that even comes close.

    DL had his chance to acquire one with all the picks & prospects he currently has. He did not.

    Just saying, don’t bitch & moan if he does sign Langkow to a ridiculous contract with a NMC and he doesn’t live up to his contract.

    As of right now, the kings only have 4 top 6 forwards. Boyle & Purcell & Moulson are wild cards. Let’s see how they do in replacing Cammy’s production. Hopefully they do otherwise we’re in for another long season where Kopi, Frolo & Brown have to carry the load.

  • Anonymous

    DL’s formula for rebuilding this team with talented players that have the ability to play multiple roles is beginning to show through. I for one am willing to wait patiently for several seasons for this team to grow and gain experience so they can become contenders one day. Signing several free agents year in and year out has not and probably will not work in making this team a contender. And Rich thanks for a great job in keeping us fans informed, your blog is the best.


  • -J

    Chris H- the kings were 13th in goals per game (2.76)last year and Cammi’s goal production was pretty non-existant after the end of the year- the problem was not Kopi, Frolov, Brown, and O’sullivan having to carry the offense- the problem was the 3.21 goals against per game (28th in the league).

    Concur with your take on Langkow, but which 1A/1B center are you referring to that DL had a chance at?

  • -J

    Oops, meant to direct that at Chewy Rocky Horror, Not Chris H- didn’t see the post partition.

  • JDM


    I was admitting that there was truth to what ian said. For whatever reason, I like to come down hard on Army, which I can admit is a bit unjustified. Really it comes from the fact that I get really emotional watching Kings, and it killed him this last season watching him get knocked off the puck constantly and not give Frolov the centerman he deserves.

    I go back and forth on Army. I think he’s terrible, then I see his value, then I think he’s replacable, then I love his attitude. The guy does work hard, and your right, he never complains. I didn’t change my tune about him, but I did say something that was perhaps a little harsh, that he’s not worth anything on the team. So I clarified. Like I said though, most of my hostility towards him comes from seeing him on the power play, where he doesn’t belong. But again, not his fault. However, I can’t agree that someone who has never played an nhl playoff game provides the same type of leadership as someone who has. Army provides leadership of course, but he simply can not have the insight into winning as someone who has been there and back.

    As far the Kings needing another center, I don’t agree with Chewy about Langkow being like Handsuz. He’s a reliable point producer, not injury prone (he’s missed 6 games total in the last six seasons) and while he is a 2a/2b center as you say, that is EXACTLY what the Kings need. The Red Wings don’t have 2 1a/1b centers, in fact very few teams have that. Ottawa and Pittsburg being the big ones. Kopi can handle himself fine on the first line, what the team needs is someone to center the other power play unit and the give Frolov a fighting chance at consistency by having a reliable linemate… a la Daymond Langkow OR a center like him. I think the only way the Kings can get a 1a/1b center is to develop him, and we don’t have anyone in the system who projects to be a 1a/1b center. Even Boyle who we are all so hot on, projects as a 3rd line center, though I really do think one day he can center a 2nd line. If the Kings don’t have any picks/prospects, and there are no UFA’s available, then how would that hole be filled? You say hopefully they do otherwise, so how/with who would you fill the hole? Would you trade lubo? I don’t really see how we pick up a 1a/1b center without trading one of Kopi/Frolov/Brown/Sully, which would be bad, something I thing we have all agreed on.

    Sorry for another long post everybody.

  • Anonymous

    “DL had his chance to acquire one with all the picks & prospects he currently has. He did not.”

    Really…? Who? I’m sure teams were just lining up to trade top second line centers to us.

  • Anonymous

    “DL had his chance to acquire one with all the picks & prospects he currently has. He did not.”

    Really…? Who? I’m sure teams were just lining up to trade top second line centers to us.

  • JDM

    BTW, I think it’s awesome that you come from norway at all to see your team play. It’s a shame we don’t have a better team since there is such an amazing fan base. Can you imagine the elation when we DO win a cup, it’ll be one of the greatest moments in sports history!

  • SuperSonic420

    I agree that Langkow would be a great fit at the 2nd center spot, truth is Calgary will resign him. So you either have to give the spot to Boyle, who most likely is not quite ready for that kind of responsibility just yet. You could go back to Handzus and hope and pray, and pray some more he can at least get back to being a shut down center and hope some more that his offensive game comes back. Try and sign a high priced FA who may or may not work out. All the while Army is your back up, plan C or whatever. He’s under contract and he’s useful so why not keep him around a lil while, because he wouldnt have much trade value, and it would be stupid to buy him out.

    I do hope Handzus is completly healthy and can regain his form as a complete two way forward we thought we were getting last year. I guess we’ll see.

  • SuperSonic420

    About who exactly Dean has brought in to be tough on the Kings, I ask what about Ivanas, or Jack Johnson? Those guys arent tough enough for you? Some of you guys dont like Blake, but you cant say hes not a tough player. Matt Ellis played a rugged game after coming over from Motown, did he not? Also, I dont think Dean was thinking about Nagy’s toughness when he signed him last year, just my opinion.

  • BBanzai

    It doesnt matter who we got scoring goals, and our D this next season will still be in a state of development whether or not Doughty is in the lineup or in Manchester. But the biggest need overall for this team immediately is Top solid goaltender, PERIOD! If we are going to make the playoffs this year we need a stand-on-your-head-to-make-a-save goalie. This will be a very telling season and if we near getting J.Tavares in the rankings, it might just be Deano’s last season. Firing Crawford might have been needed but it was also a preemptive salvo to deflect any blame for next season performance by the team, but i think if heads are going to roll it will be Deans’.

  • Duckhunter

    BBanzai, unfortunately we are going to be down towards the bottom next year, because all these young kids (Def) are going to take a few years to develop including JJ.

    You have to give DL a little credit (me a lot) for helping build a nice framework of talent in the lower levels, that we have never had before.
    You also have to remember when DL got here, some departments still used typewriters for crying out loud. DL had to revamped the whole structure of the Kings organization. And has done it in a short amount of time. What else can you ask of him? Is he going to make all the right moves or get us to the cup?, I don’t know, but if you ask me he’s off to a great start.

    Go Deano, Go Kings

  • Duckhunter

    andre norway, how the heck did you become a Kings fan living on the other side of the globe? Thats pretty cool, especially flying over here a couple times a year. Do you have family down here you stay with, or do you do the 5 star hotel thing. You just motivated me, If you can attend a couple games, than I should be able to make a few more games than I do.