Finally, here’s what Lombardi had to say about the controversy surrounding the Lubomir Visnovsky trade, particularly the allegations that Lombardi “never called” Visnovsky after the trade and essentially went back on his word to trade Visnovsky to a pre-approved team. Lombardi discusses both of these topics in detail.
Thanks again to everyone for the support today. We’ll get back at it tomorrow, in what should be a very interesting day.
Here’s the final quotes…
“Number one, when the deal was done Sunday night, the first guy who was called was his agent, who was kept apprised, over the weekend, about what was going on. I guess the sequence of how it went was this… We had met at the draft. I had asked what (Visnovsky’s) priorities were and I made it clear that we would try to send him to a team that he wants to go to, assuming all things are equal. That obviously didn’t come to fruition. I think, as we saw today, the teams that could take on money, one of the reasons they were (active in terms of Visnovsky) is that they were looking at Redden and Rozsival. So why make a deal with L.A., when I could get these guys for free and not have to give up the equivalent of Stoll and Greene?
“So yes, we did have his priorities in mind, but that was the thing I told him. I said, `All things being equal, we’ll try to get you to where you want to go,’ but it wasn’t even close, to where we had to make that call. I was a little surprised. But now I see what they’re doing in free agency. The teams that he was interested in — Dallas, Tampa, the Rangers — there was nothing there, in terms of their interest. Quite frankly, all our intesest was north of the border. Then when the trade goes down, I called the agent right away and explained it to him. I knew it was (pre-dawn) in Slovakia, so right away I told the agent. Then when I came in yesterday morning, I called (Visnovsky). It was the first call I made. Finally, I left a message and said, `Call me back.’
“I knew it was going to be really emotional for him. The agent had actually called me at home after the trade and said, `He’s really emotional.’ So I said, `Let it sink in. I’ll call him first thing in the morning.’ So I called him first thing in the morning and didn’t get a hold of him. So finally I left a message and just told him, `This had nothing to do with you as a hockey player or a person.’ I tried to do the best I could on his (answering) machine there. The first two calls, I didn’t get him and I didn’t get a message. Then finally I thought, well, I have to leave something. It was the first call I made. Lubo’s number was on my desk when I came in, and I made three calls. This kind of thing isn’t fun, because he’s a damn good player and he’s a really good person.”