Lombardi comments

OK, here we go. For those who enjoy soap operas, strap in…

We started with Blake’s statement that the Kings never made him an offer, and with my clarification that Blake’s agent, Pat Brisson, had called Lombardi on Tuesday morning with a one-year, $4-million contract request.

So here’s the time line, according to Lombardi, with quotes from Lombardi added where appropriate.

Sunday: Brisson calls Lombardi at night to talk about Blake. Lombardi said, “I talked to his agent for two hours. We talked about a lot of things. The whole point was, we didn’t talk contract but I was interested in making sure he understood the role and how important the role was. This is the year we actually start becoming a young team and I needed to know, what were Rob’s priorities as a hockey player?”

Tuesday: At 9:05 a.m., Brisson submits a contract request. Numbers aren’t confirmed, but trust me on this one, it was $4 million. Lombardi said, “I got a non-negotiable offer at 9 o’clock and was told we had to hurry. I texted (Brisson) back because it was very clear that there was no room to move on their end. I told him we had to look at a number of things to make this fit. We were looking at other players and certain deals. I said, `We’re not prepared to commit that type of money. We want to look at all our options but we want to bring him back.”’

Tuesday afternoon/evening: Lombardi and Brisson exchange e-mails. Lombardi said, “I forget the exact sequence. We exchanged two e-mails. One of them outlined the process we were going through. He said, `Fine, but we’re not changing our (offer) number.”’

Tuesday night: Blake and Lombardi spoke on the phone. Lombardi said, “Rob called me. He was honest. He said, `I don’t think I can wait.’ I knew San Jose had been talking to him. I said, `I can’t hurry this. I’m not sure yet what we can offer. We know what your number is. We’re looking at some other things and if I do some other things, it might take me out of (the range of Blake’s offer).’ I was thinking of making a conditional offer and then if things didn’t happen, we could maybe go up to his number, but it was clear it wasn’t negotiable. At that point, I was almost sure he was going to San Jose.”

Wednesday: Lombardi and Brisson exchanged e-mails. Lombardi said, “We had an exchange of e-mails. I was telling them I still had to go through the process. (Brisson) said, `I have no interest in waiting.’ I was trying to explain to him what we’re trying to do.”

Thursday: Blake signs with San Jose.

Now, this is Lombardi’s time line. If Brisson has a differing opinion, I’m not aware of it, because he hasn’t returned my calls for four days. So there you go. I’m going home.

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  • B

    Thanks Rob, you continue to become more of a POS with each year. Last season, you just COULDN’T leave LA because you loved the Kings so much. You didn’t even want to go to SJ who gave up Bernier and a 1st for Campbell. You wanted to stay and mentor the kids, right? You played out the last couple of meaningless months of the season instead of helping out the team. Now, suddenly, you were fine with leaving LA. What a freaking joke!

  • ryan oliver

    Well, its simple. Blake was telling the truth and so was DL. Blake had an offer for 5mil, and San Jose had to know ASAP. DL thought he could get Blake, but pissed around making his sweet time. I was objective before I read this, now I blame DL. Cant blame Blake.

  • TeamHasHoles

    Who cares who you blame? Anyway, Rich, that’s a great piece of journalism. Nice job!!!

  • Bob Bobson

    Sounds like Dean was trying to hold off Blake while seeing if there was something better out there. It seems like Dean was checking on a few things still but I guess Blake needed to know b/c SJ needed to know b/c they were in the hunt for Dan Boyle. I hope the SJ fans are happy with their replacement for Boyle.

    I am not sure what else Dean could be looking at that would make $4MM for one year tough to make. Is his budge the cap floor itself ? The only real guy available that would eat up a lot of money is Dan Boyle and I find it hard to believe the Kings are in the running for his services.

    Thanks for this posting. Hopefully tomorrow you will get a well-deserved break ! But if you get bored and feel like posting more stuff on this blog, I do not think anyone will mind.

  • EJ

    Not a problem. Let’s just move along, folks. You can hate Blake, Brisson, and/or Lombardi all you want. The whys and wherefores aren’t going to change a thing. Best to look forward, eh?

  • dominic lavoie

    rich,
    thanks-you must be tired. Just to give you an idea of how much you are appreciated let me say this: I am writing this from an iPhone in Santa Barbara. The power is out from the Gap Fire a few miles away. Your blog and access to info and decision makers is THAT compelling. Thanks for everything!

  • teach

    Thanks for keeping us all updated!

  • CBGB

    LOVE YOU RICH

    Thanks a million!!!!

  • I post my first and last name because I think I’m really important.

    Seems to all make sense, its a business negotiation, not a love affair. Im glad this team is moving into the future without Blake.

    thanks Rich.

  • Ru

    Ryan…u blame DL…Awesome..thats who shall get my praise! Blake is not gonna do anything in San Jose..he’s just gonna share stories with Roenick about when they played hockey in 1920

  • Tim

    Blake wanted a answer DL didn’t give one because he wasn’t sure he could afford Blake? BS……….I would like to see DL’s plans that would had made it hard to sign blake to 4 million a year.

  • anthony

    OK, with the Kings having so much room under the cap, I don’t understand Dl’s hangup.
    I mean, the difference was about $1 Million.
    Its not like that extra $1 Million was gonna hand-cuff the kings under the salary cap.

    It looks to me that DL wasn’t too interested in signing Blake.
    And I don’t blame him. Good for you Deano.
    Had he been so interested in keeping that swine, he would have signed him on Monday. Possibly Tuesady.
    Especially if he knew that San Jose was after him.

    What we have hear is a combination of a money hungry swine who showed no loyalty or integrity to his team, and a GM who is lately showing signs of being indecisive. Not being sure anymore.
    He showed that with Lubo. He signs him to a major contract then trades him because he thinks its too much money.
    Now he says he wants Blake to hang around and mentor the Kids – but only under his rules and his salary terms.

    DL needs to get his act together.
    But I’m very happy to see him give the swine a cold shoulder .
    And I’m ecstatic to see him not sign him for the money Blake was asking for.
    Good Job

    First Lord Flamingo gets traded.
    Then Lubo-crap is gone.
    Now Blake is history.
    This is turning out to be a pretty good summer.

  • Dorian

    You blame DL Ryan Oliver? Why because he wanted to make Blake understand what they’re trying to accomplish? All Blake wanted to hear was dollars and cents. It just shows he had absolutely no interest in what Lombardi’s long-term plans were. If the words “$4 million dollars” didn’t come out of DL’s mouth, then Blake’s attention was going bye-bye. Blake is a money-hungry SOB.

  • Brian S

    Four million for Blake is too much money. Blake wanted the 5 mil and who can blame him. Clearly DL (correctly in my opinion) did not want to spend that kind of money. A week before the draft when DL was drawing all his possible D parings on the white board, Blake was not inserted anywhere. It appeared even then that DL was looking past him.

  • Go Kings 2008

    Rich-

    Your work here is very much appreciated. For the die hard fans who try not to judge the players and the business involved – You’ve provided us with honest answers..
    My two cents is that DL is doing a great job. Rob is not the guy he was 10 years ago, and DL took it upon himself to take these kids under his wing. I imagine we as a franchise should stand by our leader.

    This may be a tough year, but in the end the enjoyment of watching hockey will be not just in winning, but in development of our players.. I would think its obvious that the fans have felt great satisfaction in watching Frolov and Brown become the players they are today. That alone motivates me to tune in.

    Rich, thanks for your hard work and know that for one die hard fan, your efforts are matched by your class as a journalist.

    F

  • JonG

    Huh?? What kind of process would prevent Lombardi from responding to Brisson’s offer? If he was waiting on Orpik, he received that answer yesterday.

    I may be grasping at straws here, but perhaps DL truly is working on a big deal that we know nothing about.

  • Freezang

    I’d like to know what DL has planned. For some reason he can’t pencil in Blake for 4 million for this year on a 1 year contract? Either he didnt want him OR if he did want him, he must be up to something where as he can’t give Blakey 4 million

  • Boo Birds

    San Jose can have him. Blake said he would only consider playing this season if it was for the Kings or Avs. Then he changes his tune….there in no room in LA for attitudes like that. Good luck in San Jose with JR…..our young kids are going to rip teams to shreads for many years to come.

    Kill Jack Kill!

  • Anonymous

    What a day..it’s hard to even think about what the hell is going on. Only the Kings.

  • Fletch

    Thanks Rich. It’s pretty ridiculous that it had to come to this, but if what Lombardi is saying is true, thank god someone like that is no longer with the team. So much for loyalty!

    Have a good 4th, Rich – knock a couple back and relax! :)

  • http://rolliepop dumbthony

    I don’t think anyone is to blame here. They were just doing what was right for themselves.
    Personally, I won’t miss Rob Blake, but it would have been nice to get him signed if for nothing else but to get rid of Anthony if he was a man of his word.
    I would actually be content to start the season with the roster we have to see how it plays out, but I also feel we do need one more expierenced D-Man to help.
    M.Schneider would be a good fit for one season, but what would the Quacks want in return?
    I can see the Kings being this years version of the Coyotes of last year. They were in the playoff chase all season with a roster full of kids and a few key veterans. True, the acquisition of Bryz in goal helped turn their year around, but I think we’ll get some solid goaltending from either Ersberg or Bernier, just a hunch.

  • Gordon Gekko

    Lie, cheat or steal.

    There is no ‘HEART’ in business. Especially in ‘professional sports.’

    GET OVER IT.

    We should all understand this.

    THIS is what we MUST accept by being Kings fans.

    WE, THE LOYAL FAITHFUL, HAVE MORE LOVE FOR THIS ORGANIZATION THAN WE EMOTIONALLY CAN ACCEPT.

    Keep it in check. Breathe

    Many historical Kings blunders have bothered me more than Blake to SJ.

    For those of us that remember clearly…

    Losing Dionne to the Rangers; Simmer to the Bruins, Gretzky to the Blues, Krushelnyski to the Leafs, Granato to Colorado, Smith to the Islanders, Nichols to the Rangers, Luc to the Penguins, the Rangers, the RedWings. Et al..

    No need to go on and on.. (I won’t mention HIS name again)

    Driver, get me to the tattoo parlor, STAT.. I NEED A KINGS TAT ON MY A$$.

    GO KINGS!

    Rich, You are without rival. If only, you could play hockey as well as you are a journalist.

  • Deader

    Really, who cares. Blake wanted the money (As he always has) and DL didnt want to overpay for an over the hill defensemen.

    Way to steal 5 mil from the Sharks Blakey, have fun and don’t come back.

  • Daniel

    I think we all agreed (on previous posts) anything over $3 million was too much for Blake. I agree with Lombardi on this one. Brisson/Blake were playing hardball and going against what Blake had stated earlier in the season (about certain commitments to the Kings.) It was all about money for him. This was a game on both sides. But I am OK with Blake leaving, from a hockey perspective. This team, as is, will be better than last year’s team.

    I just hope the process detailed by Rich doesn’t happen during negotiations with O’Sullivan, Johnson, Kopitar, et al.

  • Nick…….

    I think everything went out the window for DL and he didnt react in time. I dont see anything big or even “medium” happening.

  • mcpuck

    If Blake really wanted be with the Kings, he would not have his agent call 5 minutes into the free agency period asking for a non-negotiable request for 4 million. Dean had (and still has) a lot on the table at time Orpck and O’Sullivan, keeping cap space for Kopi, and Jack Johnson, getting Doughty and Teubert signed etc…

    Time to move on… Dustin Brown for captain.
    Give 4 to Doughty.

  • Bob Bobson

    Sorry for being dense but what exactly is anthony right about ? If he was “right” by saying Blake is a moneygrubber I cannot credit him for stating the obvious.

  • petey

    dumbthony, I’m hoping we see more of something like the Oilers last season with our Kings this season.
    Now, if Blake truly wanted to retire as a King, he would not of given a $4 mill. take it or leave it, we need to know now offer.

    Thanks a lot for the work on this Rich. Much appreciated.

  • Quisp

    However, let me state the obvious:

    Blake said he never got an offer from the Kings. But his agent’s offer was non-negotiable. Therefore, no counter-offer was possible. Only accepting Blake’s offer. That’s what non-negotiable means. Take it or leave it. Lombardi said he had to see if that was possible. Blake couldn’t wait to see. He left.

    That’s his right. However, it’s also clear that, in that context, “I never got an offer from the Kings” is a lie of omission. The truth would have been, “I never got an offer from the Kings because I told them I wouldn’t accept anything other than them agreeing to my terms.”

    p.s. that’s not negotiation. That’s an ultimatum. And Blake knew it, which is why he framed it as “I never got an offer.”

  • KingFan4ever

    After having a chance to calm down I am feeling good about the departure of Rob Fake. The Kings are better having (hopefully) gotten rid of a player who by and large, no longer fit the team. His play the last 2 seasons have been sub par at best.

    This is his last chance at winning before he retires and becomes a beach bum in Orange County. To the Faker I say ” good riddance but don’t expect a Luc Robitaille type tribute. That player was classy. You’re not.”

    In a way the Kings now have what they want. Lots of money to burn and all the youth in the world. Yes the Kings will not be world beaters this year… or the next few.

    The crucial move now is to sign the right coach. If DL botches that then he will be the next guy switching zip codes.

    So go youth, don’t look back and keep moving forward!

  • BO

    I think its pretty evident now that Blake was not on DL’s priority list, and who can blame him?? DL saw what most of us have seen for awhile, the guy is pretty much done and is NOT the type of leader we need for this team. I’m glad he’s gone, frees up another roster spot for one of the kids.

    Hey guys, don’t forget the last time Blake left the Kings….we turned into one of the most exciting teams the franchise had seen since the Gretzky days. LOVE IT

  • Captain Material

    Well, there you go. I think the first two posted comments here say mostly everything. The Kings really weren’t that interested in Blake as their top priority and were looking elsewhere before committing, Blake wanted market value and there was only so much time that value was being offered by SJ, and voila! Therein you find the makings of fans going nut-balls! :)

    Now, can we stop the talk of blame and loyalty?

    It is odd to me that $4M on a single year was something the Kings couldn’t commit to because they were looking at other options. Assuming we wanted actually wanted Blake back in a serious way that is. I understand a guy like Stuart would have been a more long term situation, but we’d have been looking at a similar number for him.

    How much is it going to cost us in terms of not only salary but also resources (picks or a prospect) to get a “bridge” guy in here to fill that spot? Suppose we shall see…

  • kluka68

    If DL didn’t want to pay 4M for Blake, i don’t think he will pay 5.75M for M.Schneider. I don’t see any deals with Ducks for Schneider.

  • Whatever

    Hi Rich,

    Not that it matters, was Blake seeking 2 years at 4 million, or just the one?
    I could see DL turning it down if it were 2 years.

  • Quattro

    No one was real fired up about having Blake back. However, after trading Lubo and striking out on Stuart and Orpik, Blake becomes, believe it or not, almost essential. Lombardi dithers, Blake gets a big offer from the Sharks and boom, the Kings are flat-out screwed. We may ice the worst defense in the history of the NHL next year.

  • Quisp

    From ESPN:

    “…but when the Kings didn’t contact Blake in the first few days of free agency, the Sharks quickly grabbed their rivals’ captain to mentor their young defensemen while easing the impact of Brian Campbell’s departure.”

    and

    “Blake didn’t know why Kings GM Dean Lombardi didn’t return his calls after free agency opened Tuesday, but Wilson made his first call to Blake, who said he wasn’t sure he would be up for yet another year of rebuilding in Los Angeles anyway.”

    I’m sorry, but it’s not a blame thing. It’s yet another one of his technically almost sort of partially true lies. The first one was “The Kings never made me an offer (because I told them my offer was non-negotiable).” The second one is, “DL didn’t return my calls after free agency opened (until he did and we talked later that day).”

    So when Blake says there was no offer and no call, what he means is, they were trying to make my offer/ultimatum work for them and there was a call right after there wasn’t.

  • Rick Caldwell

    So Blake gave the Kings yet another ultimatum, but this time management didn’t cave.

    Good for them. Suck it Rob.

  • Quisp

    “The worst defense in the history of the NHL.”

    Riiiight.

  • Quisp

    And how about: “…Blake, who said he wasn’t sure he would be up for yet another year of rebuilding in Los Angeles anyway.”

    Anyway, indeed…

  • Pat McGroyn

    Let’s turn the page and get ready for an exciting ride next season. Love him or hate him, we’re stuck with Dean-O, but we all love the Kings, so let’s rally around the Purple, Black & Silver now!

    Dustin Brown for Captain!!!!!!

  • JonG

    I don’t think there is any way we can paint this as a positive outcome. If Lombardi didn’t think Blake was potentially worth $4 million he would have told Brisson to pound sand right away. Instead he kept stringing Blake along as a potential ‘Plan B’, only to lose out entirely.

    I don’t have the Kings stats in front of me, but haven’t we now lost our two leading defensemen in terms of ice time? We desperately need someone – anyone – to eat up a lot of minutes. It’s one thing to play the kids, it’s another to ask them to play 20 minutes a night.

  • Quattro

    exciting ride? they might lose 60 games

  • Mark Case

    Hey Daily News. I understand the Newspaper business ain’t what it used to be, but you NEED to give Rich another raise. This guy deserves it!!

  • Quisp

    They might lose 60 games? Because Blake is not playing???? If they didn’t lose 60 games with last year’s editions of Blake and Visnovsky, they’re sure as **** not going to be worse off with them playing for other teams.

    As for Cs and As: Brown, Kopitar, Frolov, Johnson. For captain, I pick Kopitar, the coach’s son, but Brownie is a good choice also.

    The future is now.

  • Maverick

    Can’t blame anyone on this because DL had to double check some numbers and Blake had a good expiring offer… Do you expect DL to blindly sign a has-been defenseman in an instant without knowing how exactly it would impact the other signings and overall financial plan he is trying to achieve?

  • ryan oliver

    Everybody, you may be glad that Blake is gone, but he was the best option left. Who is left?

  • Losesomemore

    Thanks for all the hard work Rich. Dean lowballed his greedy butt. No way is Rob Blake worth $4 million especially after the last two years of serious overpayment by the Kings to him.

    He robbed (pun intended) us with his large salary and stabbed us in the back when he wouldn’t let Dean move him for a high draft pick in this years deep one.

    Major thanks to Dean Lombardi for getting rid of this guy at last.

    Sorry Rob but other players have given hometown discounts. You, on the other hand, took us for everything you could.

    Adios, finally.

  • JB

    Rich- Enlighten us. What the heck could DL have been waiting on that an extra $1 mil makes that much difference? And what’s w/ the “explain Rob what the role is”? Isn’t it pretty self evident that Blake would provide some stability on the back end and occasional mentoring or does DL have some unique expectations?

    Did DL think Blake didn’t performed that role fully this last year and needed to be reminded? And what’s with this line from DL, “This is the year we actually start becoming a young team and I needed to know, what were Rob’s priorities as a hockey player?”

    Aren’t all player’s priorities to win? It couldn’t be worse than this last season so is he saying he needed Rob to exude more leadership/coaching type behavior?

    DL is very cryptic. If he wasn’t 100% sure that Blake was willing to provide those leadership skills then why not just say it?

  • Ross

    This posting was truly one of the most amazing pieces of sports journalism I have ever read. It is probably the most in depth look into the actual process of signing (or not signing in this case) a player that has ever been published. Rich Hammond should get national exposure for the work he does on this blog.

    Dean Lombardi should also be commended for being willing to divulge this information when a lot of sports professionals probably would be never be so open about these kinds of issues.

    Sad to see Blake leave for a second time, but that is the business of hockey. Who can really blame a guy for going after as much money as they could. It would seem almost un-American not to.

  • John Strachan

    I am not sure if anyone remembers, but the first time around in 2000-2001, when Blake left Taylor hanging and basically wrote his own ticket out of town, he also claimed that he never got an offer. I am pretty sure that when he left Colorado, he also claimed that he never got an offer, although in that case, I am pretty sure that he didn’t because the Avs weren’t going to re-sign damaged goods. The only reason that he came back to LA was to get his hip operation and rehab in his Manhattan Beach home. As soon as he got that he was off again looking for the biggest payday that he could find. Personally, I am not sure that Blake knows what an offer or negotiation is.

    One other thing, in Colorado, after winning the 2001 Stanley Cup, everyone expected Sakic to cash in and take a huge raise in salary. Instead, he and Roy came back and took very small increases to keep the team together. Meanwhile Blake pushed his contract up to the max that the Avs could afford.

    Looking at past negotiations, it appears to me that Blake’s idea of negotiation is to put a number out there, and if the team doesn’t bite, simply claim that they aren’t negotiating.

  • Paincorp

    Bravo Rich……Bravo.

    Where were you during the Sam McMaster years???

    Nice in-depth piece of work.

    I’m all for letting the youth f-up this year. Who knows, you might find their f-ing up better than what we’ve had…..

    Just a side note, phonetically, Dustin Brown is destined to be captain as the letter between D & B….is C. (LOL)

  • Anonymous

    I never liked Blake not even in the old days. Sure I loved his hits but he can’t do that anymore so that’s gone. If you wanna know why the Kings PP has sucked for so Long it is Rob Blake The guy couldn’t hit the net if it was a soccer net. And his shot is so hard that the puck just goes around the boards and clears the zone all the way back into the Kings Defensive end. Goodbye Blake. this move does make me miss Lubo more I am just interested to see what if anything we do to replace his experiance. Dean should really be our Head of scouting not or GM good at drafting but bad a signing.

  • Good2BKings

    Don’t you guys get it? Lombardi is building a team. He only has a certain number of defensemen he can realisically bring to camp. Blake wasn’t in his plans. A million bucks here or there wasn’t going to change that fact. Blake was only going to be a last option. He’s gone now, so we move on. I can’t believe some of you think we’ll be worse on the blue line. Check the stats. We just got rid of our two highest paid, biggest busts. If Lombardi doesn’t add another player, the 2008-2009 Kings will still win more games than last year. The team will not take a step back just because they don’t have Cammy, Lubo, or Blake.

  • Quisp

    Good3bkings:

    I second that.

  • Falconinformes

    Why the hell would you pay Blake 5 mill anyways or 4mil? Just because he was on the Love Guru for 6 seconds. Come on! I still don’t understand why DL let Matty go for this slow, injury prone sack of you know what.

  • Chuck

    Rich-

    Thanks for giving us the other point-of-view. DL was posturing, while waiting for another deal, with another player. Bottom line is that SJ was willing to way over pay for Blake, he’s worth $3 million. I wouldn’t have liked to have seen him even get the $4 million DL was “offering”. It’s a WIN/WIN situation. A)Blake took his last big contract, so he could cash in one last time. B) Kings don’t have to overpay. $5 million is just out-of-bounds.

    As far as Brisson’s concerned, I don’t care about his opinion. He’s and agent, and agent’s are the EVIL of profession sports. His opinion means nothing…

  • metalmaster

    Deano got rid of him because of his own incompetence
    not because he wanted to. If he actually wanted to
    get rid of him he would have told him he did not fit
    into L.A. plans weeks ago. Blake left because his ego
    was hurt because Deano was not kissing his butt to come
    back.In the end it does not really matter other than
    the fact Deano may have pissed off an agent who works
    for Kopitar and Jack Johnson. Would love to be in a
    room when those negotiations take place.

  • Dave

    Rich

    You are a godsend to so many Kings fans that have had to endure too many long summers between seasons.

    I like the rebuilding plan that DL has put in place. I’m just afraid this is all he is good at. You know the saying, one step forward and two steps back, seems to be a common thread with his handling of Kings free agents. I think it would be best if the Kings divide the responsibilities of GM, between DL who should remain behind the scenes managing the rebuilding process, and Luc who can patch some holes with our free agent needs. Luc has more personality and tact in his little pinky than DL will every have.

    Managing requires people skills. I’m sure DL is very personable, and yes this is a business and the players are paid very well. But the lack of respect recently shown to the majority of the former Kings players is an insult to the team, the entire organization and especially to me, a long time Kings fan who appreciated every minute of every period these guys gave us during their time with our team.

  • DellaNooch

    Interesting, Blake asks for 4 million from the Kings, supposedly gets no offer, so San Jose trumps the Kings “no offer” at 4 million and gives him 5 million?

    Can someone tell me how that makes sense?

    It’s pretty clear that Blake and his agent were all about the money this summer, they laid low, said they wanted to stay in LA, come July 1st they used the pressures of free agency to ask for WAY TOO MUCH, the Kings didn’t bite so he sucked the man that gets all of DL’s credit into signing him for twice as much as he’s worth.

    I live in the Bay Area and boo Roenick when I go to a sharks game, now I’m going to boo blake too…

    I gave DL an A for the draft, but he gets an F on free agency, let’s hope the kids step up next year and make us forget about the first week of July 2008

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