And now, back to your regularly scheduled open forum answers…
Question: Rich, sometime back I remember hearing a report that Lombardi had a handshake deal with someone to sign here, but Lombardi said he couldn’t discuss it due to tampering rules. Do you have any indication of who that was?
Answer: I can honestly say I never heard anything about that.
Question: With the recent moves of Cammi and Lubo does it send negative vibes through the locker room? Especially that of the young guys as they may feel that words are really cheap with this club. Also what is Dean’s definition of “CORE” and who does he have listed in it for the next five/six years?
Answer: I’m not sure why the trades would have a negative impact. Losing is the only thing that really has a negative impact, so the Kings certainly run the risk of that, but again, I don’t think players are as sensitive about things as fans sometimes like to project onto them. Lombardi’s definition of “core” guys probably include the ones he wouldn’t consider trading, in which case you’re certainly talking about Kopitar, Brown, Bernier, Johnson, Hickey and Doughty and now would probably expand to include O’Sullivan.
Question: 1) Do you know if Dean reads your blog to see how fans feel ? Not that he would listen necessarily but just to get an idea about what people are thinking about the team. 2) As a follow-up if Dean does read this blog, do you think Anthony is just Dean playing devil’s advocate with bad ideas so his real-life ideas play out ? Just kidding Anthony, I much prefer having a fan that cares (even if we do not agree) than not having a fan at all. 3) Now that we have traded away two assistant captains who do you think the new assistant captains will be ? If they cannot resign Blake who is their new captain ? 4) Do you know if they cannot resign Blake any idea what their backup plans are for another filler or bridge ? 5) Any idea on what made Brooks Orpik skip on the Kings ? Was it b/c his first choice was to re-sign or did Dean balk at the term and cost of the contract ? I am glad they did not sign him for that much and I would rather use the money elsewhere. 6) It seems the cap is growing very quickly as are player salaries again. Do you think the cap can continue moving up at the same high rate ? I think once the Canadian dollar stabilizes the cap should grow at a slower rate.
Answer: 1) Well, I know that the Kings’ communications staff prints out certain things for him, but I’m not certain if comments are included in that. I don’t believe so. 2) If Dean slips up and admits that he’s really Anthony, I’ll give that scoop to you… 3) I haven’t given this a ton of thought yet, but I almost like the idea of the Kings not naming a captain, or rotating it. Guys such as Brown, Johnson and Kopitar, to name three, have potential there, but none of them have yet been in that situation where they MUST be locker-room voices. As far as the long term, I would lean toward Brown, but we’ll see. 4) Not sign Blake? What gives you that idea? Just kidding. I’d say a trade is most likely at this point. 5) I’m not certain about this, but I believe Orpik primarily wanted to be back in Pittsburgh. I didn’t get the impression that the money bothered the Kings. 6) No way can it continue to rise like this. I’m very interested to see where it is next summer. That should tell us a lot.
Question: Firstly, is Simmonds going to be able to play for the Monarchs next year, or is he going to have to play a final year of junior. 2- Do the Kings plan on signing Kidd, or are they going to sign him to an AHL contract like Meckler last year? 3- With the trade of Hersley and some holes to fill on D, is it likely the Kings will sign Niclas Andersen to play in Manchester/Reading/Ontario? 4- With the glut of bottom six centers in Manchester, who do you think gets moved to the wing? (Azevedo, Gauthier, Murray, Lewis, Meckler, or Holloway) 5- Is Tukonen coming back, or do you expect to see him moved or return to Finland?
Answer: 1) If I understand things correctly, Simmonds could go either way next season, AHL or juniors. He will be one of the guys who gets a long look at the prospects camp next week. 2) I think an AHL contract is much more likely at this point. 3) No, I haven’t heard anything about Andersen for quite a while. 4) As far as I know, all of those guys, with the possible exception of Azevedo, has the ability to play wing. I’m not certain as to what their relative comfort levels are. 5) Until I hear about Tukonen signing someplace, I’ll assume he’s coming back. His chances of making the Kings don’t seem to be improving though.
Question: Do you think the reason why Kings will be around the salary cap floor this year is to cut expenses and perhaps turning a profit? We know they were losing quite a lot of money last year. It would explain why they wouldn’t want to pay Visnovsky’s front heavy contract.
Answer: They’ve been pretty consistent in saying that they’re doing this to make sure they have room to sign guys such as Johnson and Kopitar to long-term extensions. Remember that after next season, there will only be six NHL players under contract to the Kings. There’s a lot of money to be spent in the next couple years. Then again, it’s always healthy to question AEG’s motives.
Question: 1) Can you confirm that AEG has given Lombardi an operating budget will below the salary cap? 2) Lombardi talks a lot about locking up the core young players, yet only Brown is signed long term (because he wanted security for his wife and newborn). Do you think that the players are the one hesitant to sign long term deals with the Kings because of the cost cutting? 3) Have you spoken with any of the players since the Visnovsky trade? Do they view it as a positive move?
Answer: 1) Yes, he has mentioned this several times. And it’s actually a “cash” budget, the difference being that a player’s salary-cap number and his actual salary are often different. 2) No, I think young players are hesitant to sign because of the amount of money young players are making league-wide now. If you worked in an office, and each of your co-workers kept getting bigger and bigger raises, wouldn’t you want to wait as long as possible, to see how much you get? 3) I have not. But unless a player is really dumb, he will never comment on a personnel matter like that.
Question: First – if Blake is trying to drive up his price do you believe DL will just walk away and not sign Blake? Second – for the d-man to sign, don’t you think it’s all about the assets and DL should sign the one guy he thinks he can get the most for at the trade deadline? Same applies to Khabibulin – why not take him and a second rounder and then move him at the deadline for another second rounder? Third – who will have a worse +/- in Edmonton this year – Lubo or Souray?
Answer: 1) Yes. How’s that for a bold answer? Just kidding. 2) At this point of the game, in terms of defensemen, it’s probably going to be a trade. Not to knock the remaining free agents, but there isn’t a ton of value out there right now. I’m not sure there’s anything out there that would fetch much at the deadline. As for Khabibulin, for the most part the Kings didn’t see him as an upgrade to what they have, and they’re looking at one of the kids potentially being a backup. 3) That could get ugly.
Question: Rich, since you included him on your roster in a previous post, am I the ONLY one who thinks that Denis Gauthier is Manchester-bound? Also, any word on where Kevin Dallman is going to land?
Answer: 1) No, I don’t think you’re off-base on that at all. I wouldn’t be surprised either way, and it will depend a lot on who the Kings are able to land on the blue line between now and September. 2) I haven’t heard anything about Dallman, but I presume he will end up signing a minor-league deal somewhere, if not overseas. And I agree, he’s another guy who wouldn’t be bad to have in Manchester for the Kings.
Question: How much does NOT having a coach in place influence free agents to not sign with the Kings (or any other team for that matter)? Yes, contract decisions are money-driven, but if a player knows he can play for a Cup contender being coached by a successful head coach who knows what he’s doing – how can we blame him to sign elsewhere? Perhaps the timing of Crawford’s firing was done by design to keep the payroll low?
Answer: You’re reading way too much into it with the last part, but I actually think Lombardi underestimates, a bit, the players’ desire to know who their coach will be. I don’t think the timing of that firing was very good, but at this point there’s not much they can do about it. Lombardi can’t rush a hire. This hire is way too important. But making the choice in May or April would have made things a lot easier on them.
Question: Is there any word on the coaching front? What would be a potential deadline for the hiring? Any front runners?
Answer: They’re just starting to organize a list of guys that will be serious candidates. Interviews should continue shortly, in the next week or two. There’s no deadline because there doesn’t need to be, really. Training camp will open in mid-September so that’s pretty much the only deadline.