Breakfast short recap

A huge turnout this morning in El Segundo. A team official said they were planning for around 500 people but got upwards of 200 more than they counted on. The panel featured GM Dean Lombardi, coach Terry Murray, assistant GM Ron Hextall and director of hockey operations Jeff Solomon, and Bob Miller served as emcee. The questions were wide-ranging, the topics familiar to anyone who reads this blog regularly. I told Lombardi a couple days ago that he would get a question about the Kings “moving to Kansas City.” Sure enough…

I have a lot of stuff to expand upon today and tomorrow, but a brief summary of some of the topics…

– Goalies/defense. Lombardi said there was no pre-determined plan about goalies going into training camp and that they would let the situation play out. On the topic of defensive toughness, Lombardi noted that the younger guys, specifically Teubert, will take care of that need, and noted that Jack Johnson has bulked up to 225 pounds this summer.

– On the topic of how to build/improve team morale, Lombardi talked about the importance of home-grown players, players who grow up feeling loyal to the organization. Murray expanded on that and shared his experiences with the Philadelphia Flyers, a team, he said, that struggled with camaraderie after it imported a lot of players and didn’t improve until the young players took ownership of the team. Murray also discussed the need for structure and a defense-based system. Hextall related his experiences as a Flyer and said he always felt loyalty to that team, and described how a player such as Dustin Brown will feel like a King for life.

– Murray was asked about the difficult schedule and said he wouldn’t worry about it. He made an interesting point, that the teams with the worst records always get the short end of the scheduling stick the next season. I’ve never seen that studied. It would be interesting to look at.

– Murray was asked about the importance of young players not always deferring to veterans. He agreed that there sometimes was a tendency for young players “not to break through,” which sometimes is accompanied by veterans not willing to let the kids step into leadership roles. He talked about the importance of having a strong leadership group and helping the young players grow as team leaders.

– Solomon was asked about Patrick O’Sullivan (surprise, surprise) and said “discussions are ongoing.” Solmon sought to explain the long negotiating period by explaining that, from the Kings’ perspective, O’Sullivan’s contract is just one of 20 that need to fit together. He discussed the importance of a multi-year contract and said talks have involved contracts ranging from two to five years. He also mentioned how an agent’s strategy is also to try to wait until the last minute. Lombardi brought up his threat to other GMs, that the Kings wouldn’t hesitate to start handing out offer sheets if teams tried to grab their restricted free agents. In his words, “Go ahead and make my day.”

– Lombardi was asked about the Visnovsky trade. He pulled his first favorite charts for all to see and explained why he thought the trade made sense. He said it “was not an indictment of the player” and explained that Visnovsky’s salary over the next two or three years could have been problematic to the Kings’ plans. He also went over the age-distribution chart and explained the Kings’ attempt to get younger on the blue line. Hextall added that while he likes Visnovsky, he’s not a big defenseman, and the trade helped reshape the defense a bit.

– A question was asked about front-ending contracts, and if they took motivation away from players. Both Lombardi and Hextall said it wasn’t a problem. Lombardi said players don’t care about something like that and explained why it’s important for the Kings to do sometimes, in order to keep financial stability down the road. Hextall added that the Kings wouldn’t sign a player such as Jarret Stoll if they thought he was only interested in money.

– Lombardi got asked about everyone’s favorite rumors. No, he wasn’t talking to Chicago about Kopitar. No, they aren’t moving to Kansas City. Is there any chance we can put these to rest now?

– Lombardi got asked a series of questions that required him to evaluate himself. Personally, I thought the answer was fascinating, and it will definitely be something I go deeper into in the next day or so. He talked at length about building the right way and how, for a while, he was at risk of getting away from his own strategy. He says he’s now on the right path and gave a number of reasons why he thinks the Kings are doing things the right way, most of which centered on the acquisition and development of draft picks.

– Hextall talked about the young defensemen and noted that they will have two strong tutors in Murray and Mark Hardy, both former NHL defensemen. Murray echoed those sentiments and noted that once these prospects are deemed ready to compete for a NHL job, it’s up to the coaches to develop them into NHL players.

– Lombardi was asked about signing “bridge” players, and if sticking them with such a designation made them feel less important. Lombardi said he didn’t think anyone on the team fit that category right now. He said he believes it’s important for veteran additions to understand their role and understand that they’re no longer the focus of the team. He said older players can be very valuable if they understand their roles.

– Murray was asked about his preferred style of play, and didn’t get into specifics but gave a broad overview. He stressed the importance of lowering the Kings’ goals-against average. He talked about solid defensive-zone coverage and the importance of getting players to “buy in” to the importance of checking. He said he wanted the Kings to be one of the NHL’s top five teams in terms of 5-on-5 scoring. He talked about the need to go hard to the net and score “garbage goals” with hard work and he talked about the importance of forechecking.

– Finally, Lombardi took the fans on a guided tour of the Kings’ draft history, a grim tour. He sought to illustrate that while previous regimes might have talked about building from within, nobody had truly tried to before. He went, decade by decade, through the draft history and pointed out all the players the Kings lost because they traded draft picks. His final message was a request for patience and he told fans, “Don’t jump off too early.”

I hope that’s a good overview. As I said, I have much more specific quotes from all of these guys that I’ll get to as soon as possible.

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  • Model 62

    Visnovsky’s contract will be a problem two to three years out says Lombardi.

    Then why sign the player to the deal a year prior? The contract that’s projected to be a problem in 2008 wasn’t projected to be a problem in 2007?

    Doesn’t wash.

  • Anonymous

    Anything about the cap floor issue?

  • Model 62

    His final message was a request for patience and he told fans, “Don’t jump off too early.”

    Heh. What happens if they do? There’ll be plenty of room if they decide to jump back on later.

  • CBGB

    Rich,

    Thanks a million – I actually got to enjoy a day with my son instead of sitting at a computer transcribing the daily events – thanks for being such a loyal friend to us all –

    Matt

  • wavesinair

    “Don’t jump off too early” meaning what? Kings fans stay loyal period. That doesn’t mean I’ll FINANCIALLY support a bad team. Sorry Dean. Talking doesn’t equal ticket sales, winning does. And if Murray and Hextall are so big on promoting loyalty, why aren’t they still with the Flyers? Doesn’t that send a mixed message? If ex-kings were selling that, I’d buy it as a player.

  • Quisp

    Model 62 –

    re “doesn’t wash”: of course it does. What changed between 2007 and 2008? The Kings finished tied for dead last and so were able to draft TWO defensemen they must plan on PAYING, one of whom — Doughty — is an offensive defenseman like Lubo. With Hickey and Doughty as speedy point-scoring dmen of the future, just how many such players can the Kings be expected to be able to afford? Answer: absolutely no more than two. So, if you believe those guys are going to pan out (which DL does; if you disagree, that’s fine, but you don’t draft those guys and assume they’re not going to make it), you have to get rid of Lubo. You have to. Before last season, when the Kings clearly expected not to be last, but maybe be twentieth or even higher, it was not in the cards to be able to land two blue-chip d prospects. Things change. Lubo played himself out of a job with the Kings. I like him, but I’m happier with what we have. Once the Kings finished last, it was just a matter of when Lubo was going to be dealt. Could easily have been next year at the deadline. Wasn’t.

    Lubo may rebound in EDM. I hope he does. But the only way he would ever be able to rebound (i.e. score at the level of two seasons ago), is if he is giving quality power play time and first unit minutes. With Doughty, and then Doughty and Hickey playing, who do you think is going to get those minutes? Not Lubo. So, if he stayed, he would not be getting those minutes anymore — maybe he would be all right this year, but each year it would get worse and worse for him — and he would basically be doomed to failure. On a different team he has a different opportunity.

    Anyway, he deserved his contract. He earned it. And he’s still getting it. I’m happy for him.

    Waves –

    re hextall and murray and loyalty:

    they have to go where the jobs are, don’t they? i don’t see it as a mixed message. I mean, I don’t think Scotty Bowman is being disloyal to the Red Wings, or the Habs, by taking a job with Chicago. It’s a matter of how you carry yourself, how you treat people, and of course, your track record.

  • cristobal

    Was this for season seat holders only? and the Press?

    Don’t jump off too early? Isn’t the 40 years some have been around long enough? ASS.

    I don’t want to hear Hextall talk about Visnovsky and his abilities. How or why this guy is assistan GM, I don’t know.

    Lombardi should give an account of his own draft history in San Jose, and how he resorted to trading away his young players for veterans like Marchment and Graves, just to name a couple.

    Are the Kings in danger of being financially unstable?

    I’d like to show Lumbo a chart of my own, it would track the miserable record since he came to town and his awful hiring of Crawford.

    Hmmm, poor draft record, huh? Now that you shipped out Lubo and Cammalleri, you only have Brown, Kopitar, Frolov, and Boyle to build around. Not to mention Belanger was part of what got you Johnson, buddy. Who’s he drafted for this team that’s made a difference yet? or even played more than 10 games?

    – On the topic of how to build/improve team morale, Lombardi talked about the importance of home-grown players, players who grow up feeling loyal to the organization. Murray expanded on that and shared his experiences with the Philadelphia Flyers, a team, he said, that struggled with camaraderie after it imported a lot of players and didn’t improve until the young players took ownership of the team. Murray also discussed the need for structure and a defense-based system. Hextall related his experiences as a Flyer and said he always felt loyalty to that team, and described how a player such as Dustin Brown will feel like a King for life.

    Didn’t hextall get traded to the Nordiques? And when did the Flyers build from their draft? in the 70′s? I though they owed a lot last season to trading pitkanen, bringing in briere and smyth, and before that to importing Lindros and Leclair? When is he talking about? Who are the young players that took ownership of the Flyers?

    In terms of ugly goals, after O’Sullivan, Brown, and Kopitar leave the ice, that’s all we’re likely to see.

  • WhoThePuck

    As always, Thank You.
    As an out of towner, I could never attend and to read a summary written by a pro is so nice. Not that Dancing Boy didn’t do a good job in years past; I’m just sayin…..

    Your work is greatly appreciated and I hope for the best for you and that the Daily News doesn’t do anything stupid.

  • Paul

    I don’t have a problem with the Kings stockpiling draft picks and using them to build a solid core. The difference between teams that win once and teams that win multiple years in a short time is a full pipeline of talent.

    But, one deal does bother me.

    Let’s examine a topic Lombardi apparently talked about quite a bit:
    “He says he’s now on the right path and gave a number of reasons why he thinks the Kings are doing things the right way, most of which centered on the acquisition and development of draft picks.”

    And:
    “He went, decade by decade, through the draft history and pointed out all the players the Kings lost because they traded draft picks.”

    Now let’s examine a 2-part deal that Lombardi has done since becoming the Kings GM:

    Among other pieces being traded, Lombardi traded Matthias Norstrom to Dallas and got a second round pick back. He then traded that second round pick and Mike Camalleri to Calgary for a first round pick. With that first round pick he took Colton Teubert.

    Now Teubert may very well be an excellent young defenseman. He’s certainly a player I’ll be watching and I hope he makes the Kings this year.

    But in essence Lombardi traded Norstrom, Camalleri, & a 2nd round pick for Teubert.

    All I’ll say to that is he better not trade Teubert in a year or 2, and Teubert will need to be a hall of famer to live up to that deal.

  • cristobal

    Paul, were you watching the nutshell? Weren’t you diverted by the hypnotic eyes of the magician? Lumbo put Avery, Sopel, A Miller, C Conroy, Norstrom, Visnovsky, Cammalleri, and Corvo into the cabinet, and Whaallaaa! You get some high first round picks that may or may not pan out? Do you know how he did it? He turned the team into shite on ice. Didn’t you ever hear the expression: Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then?

  • tantrum4

    First off, I know you don’t like this stuff Rich, but I’m sorry, Cristobal, you’re an ass. That’s all i will say about that.

    Second: Paul,

    You need to do a little more research on your facts my man. Lombardi traded Norstom, Pushkarev, a 3rd rounder and a 4th rounder for Modry, Fransson, a first rounder and a 3rd rounder. No second rounder for us involved at all.

    Also, Cammy was traded straight up for Calgary’s first rounder. Not Cammy and a second rounder.

    So Lombardi did not trade Norstrom, Cammy and a 3nd rounder for Teubert.

    What really happened was Cammy and our 17th and 28th overall picks, for the 14th overall pick which was Teubert. Norstrom is not involved in any way. Not too bad if Teubert turns out the way he’s supposed to if you ask me……

  • tantrum4

    Wait I screwed up. Our 28th overall pick was included in the Norstom deal from Dallas. But I still wouldn’t include Norstrom as part of a link to Teubert. Unless we traded Norstrom straight up for the 1st rounder, which we did not.

  • crownme

    Thanks Rich! I appreciate all you do for us kings fans…

  • cristobal

    “Wait I screwed up. Our 28th overall pick was included in the Norstom deal from Dallas. But I still wouldn’t include Norstrom as part of a link to Teubert. Unless we traded Norstrom straight up for the 1st rounder, which we did not.”

    Oh no, you were wrong? Funny how arrogant you are in your first post. Maybe you should do your research rather than namecalling and bossing others around. Too bad you can’t retrieve it once its gone.

    cheers Tantrum, you’re a class act.

  • Quisp

    Paul –

    re: “But in essence Lombardi traded Norstrom, Camalleri, & a 2nd round pick for Teubert.”

    I actually think this trade has more upside than you’re indicating.

    Nordstrom and Pushkarev were traded for a prospect (Fransson), Dallas’s 2nd round pick in ’07 (Oscar Moller), 3rd round pick in ’07 (Bryan Cameron), 1st round pick in ’08 and Modry. Modry was considered to be an afterthought at the time, but a year later…

    …DL traded Modry to PHI for a third round pick.

    Cammalleri was traded for Calgary’s 1st round pick in ’08. This pick and the Dallas 1st round pick was traded to move up to 13th overall.

    Which DL used to select Teubert.

    The 3rd round pick from Philly was used to select Geordie Wudrick.

    To boil it all down:

    The Kings started with Nordstrom, Cammalleri and Pushkarev. They traded those players and received in return:

    Teubert, Moller, Cameron, Fransson and Wudrick.

    Pushkarev was a disappointment who Dallas has done a decent job rehabilitating (everybody wins). Cammalleri was going to walk in a year, as we all know. Nordstrom was going to retire in a year, as we now know. We could easily have gotten nothing for these three players. Instead:

    1. Teubert, a blue-chip prospect.
    2. Moller, who, since he was drafted, is also now a blue-chip prospect and was just mentioned in Hockey News as one of ten stars of the future or some such language.
    3. Wudrick, who without a doubt will soon be Cristobal’s favorite player.
    4. Cameron, who is a few years off, but now sits in the depth chart ahead of every Kings prospect at the center position except Lewis and Boyle.
    5. Fransson, who appears to be off everyone’s radar, is apparently a long-shot ever to make it to North America, to say nothing of the NHL, but who knows.

    Moller, of course, is the crucial addition to your calculation regarding these deals. Now, for fun, read below for comments about how Moller may never play a game in the NHL and p.s. why did we give up Tukonen, despite the fact that Tukonen never will play an NHL game as he is currently practicing the tango in his parents’ living room in Finland.

  • tantrum4

    Cristobal you small, little man. At least I can accept my mistakes that I make and actually point them out instead of trying to cover them up my making more stupid posts…dont bother replying to me, because I will no longer aknowledge your insignificant posts.

  • Maverick

    I actually agree on alot of the issues Lombardi Highlighted. Of course, I haven’t been alive for 40 years so I don’t truly understand that pain but I have been a King’s fan since before I could walk and have yearned to watch my team raise that cup into the air.

    But I have to agree that this team has never rebuilt itself properly through the draft. We have always been a quick fix team from year to year and it can get us into the playoffs but we always flounder. I personally hope Lombardi retains the job till 2012 at the latest and see what kind of success our young studs can provide us.

    I agree with the Visnovsky trade, I am not wild about the return, but that all depends on what we get from Stoll. He was an excellent player and if he can return to that form (which I suspect he can playing next to Frolov and Purcell) then the trade looks good especially now that he is locked up for 4 years. When DL signed Visnovsky I think he believed we would be alot better than we were last year and he wasn’t going to have to completely reshape our defense like he had to do. We have a replacement for Vish already in the works in Hickey. Not to mention we are rebuilding our team in the like of the Penguins where we need to keep our salary structure as low as possible until we get our core all signed long-term.

    All in all, from the overview it sounds like they had a good talk and I am content until the season starts. Right now the lines look like:

    O’Sullivan – Kopitar – Brown
    Frolov – Stoll – Purcell
    Boyle – Handzus – Calder
    Ivanans/Richardson – Armstrong – Ellis

    Johnson – Greene
    Doughty – Preissing
    Gauthier – Harrold

    Ersberg – Labarbera

    I am pretty happy with that lineup, I think we will certainly do better than last year, likely not make the playoffs but have the potential to get ourselved out of the bottomfeeder category.

  • Paul

    First round. Second round. Whatever. We traded all that to get Teubert? All the rest of the players from the Norstrom deal are long gone, unless we still have the rights to Fransson. Whatever the exact deals were, all we have left is Teubert. Norstrom, Cammalleri, and Modry are all gone. Hope Teubert is worth it.

  • Quisp

    Cristobal –

    re: “I will also try and understand how I can make a mistake in forming an opinion.”

    You seem to be implying that opinions are sacrosanct because, you know, “everyone’s entitled to them.” A couple of quotes on this topic spring to mind: one, from Harlan Ellison, “no, you’re not entitled to your own opinion, only to your own informed opinion”; the other, from someone I forget, “you may be entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

    Of course, the way to “make a mistake” forming an opinion is to weave unrelated or at least uninflected events into a narrative that — while it is of course a reflection of your psychology, that is to say, your inner world, and while you are in the trivial sense “entitled to it” — is in fact, demonstrably false.

    You’re being entirely too easy on yourself to call this “thinking for [your]self.” I wouldn’t even really call it thinking. For yourself, I’ll give you that.

  • Pat McGroyn

    C’mon, folks. Let’s be civil, please, and just post our differing opinions about the management without envoking personal attacks on each other.

    Great job on the synopsis today, Rich. Words cannot express how much I appreciate your fine wotk here, sir!!!

  • wavesinair

    Just how many such players can the Kings be expected to be able to afford?

    Yeah, under the tight budget DL has to operate, your argument makes sense, but that is ONLY because its a tight budget!!! Dont give me this, salary cap three years down the road crap. Its a snow job on the AEG consumer puppet.

    Our team, right now, would be better with Lubo on it. No question. Period.

    They have to go where the jobs are, don’t they?

    Yeah, I forgot, loyalty ends when money begins. In other words, its all talk, just like I said.

    Tantrum, looks like you took the bait. Your apology doesnt negate the name calling. Simply dont name call, period. Try not reading posts of those who are clearly instigators. Nothing productive comes of it.

  • cristobal

    Adj. 1. uninflected – (of the voice) not inflected; “uninflected words”; “monotonic uninflected speech”
    inflected – (of the voice) altered in tone or pitch; “his southern Yorkshire voice was less inflected and singing than her northern one”
    2. uninflected – not inflected; “`boy’ and `swim’ are uninflected English words”
    linguistics – the scientific study of language
    inflected – showing alteration in form (especially by the addition of affixes); “`boys’ and `swam’ are inflected English words”; “German is an inflected language”
    3. uninflected – expressing a grammatical category by using two or more words rather than inflection
    analytic
    linguistics – the scientific study of language

  • Eric K

    Rich: thanks for the hard work.

    Quisp: thank you for being a voice of reason.

    Everyone: take it easy.

  • cristobal

    wavesinair – 5 minutes for you. You sounded like me instigating with that great tirade about the “snowjob” they’re selling. Was it you who proposed the pledge not to read my posts? I think a pledge to not attend games is a less good idea, but great all the same. You go, brother…

  • Anonymous

    i thought this morning was very informative and exciting. Made me sad to see what a nightmare the history of this franchise has been. I guess we’ve tried everything else to build a winning team..so i’m going all out to support this regime. i think some mistakes will be made, but overall I like the way it’s being built now. Looking forward to watching the young kids develop.

  • cristobal

    Rest all you want, quisp. Blake played for the Kings for many of those years and we all know where that gets you. I like Miller, love Blake. Blake’s a complete player, Miller is a defensive defenseman. There’s no comparison.

  • Duckhunter

    How about this one, “To often we enjoy the comfort of opinion, without the discomfort of thought. (JFK)

    One of my favorites.

  • Jayrew

    cristobal,

    dude, why are you in love with players such as belanger, A Miller etc? they got us nowhere. nowhere. 2nd round of the playoffs isn’t success pal.

    conroy? dude, he loafed it like Manny in Boston his last year in LA. It’s time for a new regime and a new system. Much like a college football program, it takes 3-4 years for your recruits (in this case draft picks) to perform/start. give the past a rest. In fact, we dont even have a past!

  • cristobal

    Duckhunter – I’d never heard that one. I like it. Do you know what context, or speech, its from?

    I think quisp could tell me: “all of us are in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

    I’d respond with:

    I AM A SICK MAN…. I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don’t consult a doctor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for medicine and doctors. Besides, I am extremely superstitious, sufficiently so to respect medicine, anyway (I am well-educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious). No, I refuse to consult a doctor from spite. That you probably will not understand. Well, I understand it, though. Of course, I can’t explain who it is precisely that I am mortifying in this case by my spite: I am perfectly well aware that I cannot “pay out” the doctors by not consulting them; I know better than anyone that by all this I am only injuring myself and no one else. But still, if I don’t consult a doctor it is from spite. My liver is bad, well — let it get worse!

    I have been going on like that for a long time — [thirty-eight] years.

    - Dostoevski “Notes from the Underground”

  • cristobal

    Jayrew – I enjoyed the playoffs. I miss it. Belanger and Miller were a big part of one of the most exciting Kings teams I’ve seen – just as Taylor, Sandstom, Granato, and some of the other guys were. I like those players. I really like Belanger. Miller, I liked, but he really fell off the charts in the end, too many injuries to stay at his best level. I don’t like 3 years of trashing the team. St. Louis did it in 3 months and there farther along than the Kings. I guess that’s debateable, but they were better in the standings. Plus, the players they trade at the deadline, want to go back – like Weight. Ktachuk won’t even leave.

  • Duckhunter

    No Cristobal, can’t really tell you in what context that quote is from. Got it from a “famous Quote” page on the net.

  • Model 62

    @Quisp

    IF the blue chip defensemen pan out and IF Visnovsky’s performance continues to slide and his contract is getting in the way of signing more valuable bits, then the player is moved (think Burke and Fedorov). There’s no guarantee both IFs come to pass.

    Lombardi only “has to” trade Visnovsky if his cash budget gets reduced. As it did. So he did.

  • jet

    quisp – I think it would be fair to include buffalo’s third rounder in 09 in the analysis for Teubert. No?

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