Lombardi, on defensive size

Another popular topic of discussion has been the presumed need for the Kings to get bigger and tougher on defense. In this answer, Lombardi discusses the need to improve in that area and talks about how the Kings are starting to accomplish it. He also his describes his model for defensive success, the one put together by the Dallas Stars, and talks about how the Kings’ version is starting to take form.

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LOMBARDI: My favorite topic, building the back end. No question, it’s an issue. The only way I can respond to that is, we’re aware of it and our ultimate goal on the back end is, when that group is together, that is has that element. I think a lot of times, when teams have success, they can run out and follow that model. The thing about Detroit now, they were one of the smallest defenses in the league and it was clearly an emphasis on puck movement. If you get the puck out, I guess you don’t have to worry about going and getting it back. I’m not a big fan of that, totally. I think that’s a unique model. I think we can still go with the blend, even in the post-cap era.

My ultimate model is that Dallas model. I think I talked about that before. With what Gainey was doing there, he had puck-movers, Zubov and Sydor and Chambers, the stiffness on the other side with Hatcher, Matvichuk and Ludwig. That defense has everything. How do you want to play? Do you want to play smashmouth? I can play that. You want to play skill? I’ve got guys over here who can do that. This is all part of drafting. Most of the time, these guys are not available. Maybe one guy, like Chara, comes up, but to think that these top defensemen get to the market in their prime? Not going to happen. Any team that has these type of defensemen, they’re going to lock them up. Now, Greene addresses part of that. Greene was an important acquisition for us, because he’s young enough to grow with this group, he’s a right shot, he’s a great teammate, he plays his bag off and he’s a guy who’s going to get better because he plays so hard. That’s one guy that’s going to address your size.

One of the things that was critical in this year’s draft was to get that defenseman in the system that has the potential — only the potential — to address the other thing you’re talking about. When we took Teubert, the whole idea is, that’s your Jason Smith-type player. His junior coach told me last week that he’s never seen a kid with this type of leadership, in 20 years of junior hockey. We’ve got to make him a better play, because he’s not ready, but it’s addressing what you’re talking about. So you look at Johnson. Johnson’s not big but he’s not soft. He’s up to 225 pounds right now. Drew Doughty is not small and he’s not soft. So I hear you. Watch the Dallas model, in terms of what we’re looking for. It’s very hard to find a Hatcher or a Zubov, but it’s in the back of my mind. I don’t envision us, when this is all put together, going with the small puck-movers. That still makes me nervous. I still think you want to go into some of these buildings and be physical, as well as keep the puck.

But it’s an issue right now, no question about it. Our charts show that we were, I think, 20th in the league in average size in our top six. That’s not where we eventually want to be, but I think we’ve addressed it underneath. It’s an issue now, but it won’t be down the road.

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  • wavesinair

    Did he really say, “he plays his bag off?” I have never heard that before and I can only guess he means the other side of “playing his butt off.”

  • cristobal

    Hey Dean, you just traded a very Zubov like guy, his name was Lubomir Visnovsky. Also, Dean, if you hadn’t signed the piss-poor overpriced free-agents you have, you could have signed Chara, you could have gone after Bouwmeester, Brian Campbell was just a free-agent, did you enquire about Sheldon Souray? He wants to play here. So many defenseman have changed teams since you came to LA I find it difficult to believe you’re serious. Remember Brent Sopel? He’s big and can move the puck. Remember Joe Corvo, not bad at going forward with the puck either. I love Teubert and think he may be the guy to come stepping right in, but where is Hickey? You drafted him 2 years ago 4th overall. Oh yeah, that other Dallas defenseman, Boucher, wasn’t retained here in LA because he was too expensive. You also traded Norstrom to them and he’s one of the toughest mofo’s there is. How do your charts show you’re 20th in size when we don’t even have a full defensive roster right now? Who’s the top 6 here? We’re all waiting to know. Is Teubert one…?

  • Quisp

    Zubov — 767 points, plus/minus +152
    Lubo — 279 points, plus/minus +11

    Yeah, they’re practically the same guy. Lubo would have to play another 560 games and score nearly a point a game for the rest of his life, to get to where Zubov is now.

  • cristobal

    My guess is that if he’d been on decent teams, you know like the two teams Zubov has won Cups with, their numbers would be a lot closer. Zubov (.72 point per game) and Visnovsky (.55 points per game) are certainly not the same guy, but they haven’t been in the same situation either, now have they? Keep the spin, Quisp! You’re gettin good.
    Tell me, what does Hickey have to do to be the next Zubov? Oh yeah, over 1,000 games and 767 points…GOOD LUCK!

  • Mr. Fabulous

    Cristobal discredits himself when he states “you (Dean Lombardi) could have signed Chara”. DL was not in charge at that time.

  • CBGB

    So instead of taking Alzner, you took Hickey.

    Yeah, I get ya Dean – you make PERFECT sense now.

  • cristobal

    Mr. Fabulous – if that’s your real name. Chara signed as a free-agent with boston July 1, 2006. Lombardi was hired by the Kings in June 2006. At least I’m pretty sure that’s how it went. I discredit myself by other means, but I don’t think its on this one. I could be wrong, though.

  • cristobal

    CBGB – are you telling me there are other good prospects out there for other teams? Shocking!

  • yesitscal

    I thought it was pretty well-known that the Kings offered more money to Chara than boston did, but that he wanted to play on the east coast. Maybe with Lauri Tukonen playing on a good team he’ll win the Calder Trophy…

  • Anonymous

    rich, thanks for working on sunday for us.

  • Mr. Fabulous

    Cristobal:
    I stand corrected.

    And of course this is my real name.

  • Jayrew

    I’m done commenting. You can thank Cristobal. how do you guys put up w/this madness!!!!!

  • mrk

    with a smile

  • Baumgartner22

    it is ridiculous to speculate on who DL could have signed as free agents because you’re assuming that said Free Agent wanted to come to Los Angeles. for some players, it isn’t just about money. winning, family and geography all play a part.

  • OCPiker

    Baumgartner22 said: “it is ridiculous to speculate on who DL could have signed as free agents because you’re assuming that said Free Agent wanted to come to Los Angeles. for some players, it isn’t just about money. winning, family and geography all play a part.”

    I think that’s the problem with some of the people on this thread, they don’t look at this from a more thorough perspective. You hit it right on, Baumgartner22, in that it isn’t just about the money for every single player. Yes, the Kings did take a run at Chara, but he preferred to play elsewhere. It was because of this, among other things, that Lombardi decided to do a complete overhaul of the team. When it was apparent that the “win-now” strategy probably wasn’t feasible given the teams current structure at the time, he decided to implode the organization as a whole and start from scratch. Anyways, that is something some here have to realize. This isn’t a video game where you can max out a free agent and he’ll sign onto your team because of that. It’s the “x” factors and other intangibles that will influence a players decision. Just because the Kings want a player, doesn’t necessarily mean they want to play here. Look at lifers like Brodeur in New Jersey or Lecavlier in Tampa. Those guys probably were tempted to sign onto other teams for more money but decided to stay and play for less. Again, some of you have to realize that there is more to it than just the money.

  • 28 KINGS

    Zubov>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Lubo and without the softness and tendency to turn the puck over.

    Chara… can we just bury this dead horse. HE WANTED TO STAY ON THE EAST COAST! (is that loud enough for you)No matter how much money we threw at him, he wasn’t coming.

    Souray, ya ok. The guy flat out sucks and fell into the category of “I like the weather in LA”type of guy.

    I remember Corvo, and I hope i never have to see him here again. You don’t get the name TURNOVER CORVO cause you like to bake.

    How do you know DL didn’t go after Bouwmeester? Could the price for him have been astonomical? Probably,absolutely,without a doubt.

    Campbell, no way, not for what Chicago had to pay for a 29-year-old veteran, who signed an eight-year, $56.8 million contract. 8 frickin’ years. If DL had done that you would have been all over him for years.

    Boucher is the one I wish we never let go.Lieweekly tried to play cheap on the years and Boucher signed with Dallas because they were offering more years at the same price. Even Taylor and Lieweekly said that was a huge mistake not re-signing him.

  • yesitscal

    They didn’t call him “uh’Oh Corvo” in Ottawa for no reason.

  • Paul

    @Cristobal
    Lubo is half the size, half the skill, half the production, and half the talent of Zubov. I guess that means Lombardi traded half a Zubov?

    This is sort of related…

    Hearing this morning on XM 204 that the Kings are in talks with the Quackers about trading for Matthieu Schnieder. I know his bloated contract will help get the Kings to the salary floor, but really? Isn’t there anyone younger and more skilled available?

  • psycho

    lets just say over the past 6 months it has become painfully obvious (VERY painful)which of the posters know “hockey” and those that sit in their corporate owned seats / suites, learn the game from listening to Foxy on TV or think that just because they ruin the ice playing in a pick-up they know how to run a team. Sure its frustrating but those of us who have been around the sport longer, have experience with hockey in other states / countries, have played the game at high levels, have coached the game have a responsibility to share our thoughts and experiences and hopefully educate the “L.A.” fans not just about the Kings but about hockey in general. So guys, take a deep breath … laugh a little if you have to but take a moment and respond with some dignity and understanding that hockey is still fairly new in LA and it will take some time before our fan base is up to par with the rest of the league. I’m thankful that we have some dedicated fans and passionate as well. That is a foundation we can build on. Ultimately, we all want the same thing.

  • Paul

    Uhhhh, psycho: The Kings have been in LA for 41 years. I couldn’t call that “new”. Kings fans know more about hockey then fans of many teams. Just cause we’re in SoCal doesn’t mean we don’t follow the sport. Stop being condescending and contribute something useful.

  • Mike

    am i the only one sick of seeing cristobal bring up norstrom? he’s not in the league anymore. completely irrelevant.

  • yesitscal

    Paul, I think the reason the Kings would be interested in Schneider is more for mentoring purposes than any hope that he’ll contribute enough to get the team into the playoffs. At this point in their development, one player isn’t going to make the difference between getting in or not. The Kings are really going to be young on the blue line, so a vet like Schneider could help not only with getitng the kids accustomed to playing, but to life off the ice as well. For some of these guys who come from small towns, coming to and living in Los Angeles is going to be a major culture shock.

    I think that a lot of people on here are guilty of being free with other people’s money. We don’t have to abide by an AEG budget, so it’s easy to say that we should give O’Sullivan this much or that player this much. In the end, though, every organization has a budget, except for government, that they have to abide by.

  • Duckhunter

    yesitscal- I’m a Schneider fan, and was upset when he left, but I don’t know if this would be a good move. As you say his contributions on the ice would be minimal and his job would probably be, again as you say, a mentor. Man, I can’t see paying a guy 5-6 million a to be a mentor for a year. How much tutoring can you do in that amount of time. I’m a huge advocate of veterans and experience, but this seems a little steep.

    Another thing, is Schneider really interested in being a mentor on a team that’s a few years away, at the end of his career.

  • yesitscal

    Duckhunter, I understand what you’re saying, but from what a lot of people write on here it seems as if the Kings are going to have trouble getting to the salary floor, and acquiring Schneider should take care of that. Whether he’d be interested in playing with the Kings again is a different story. I believe the Ducks can still contend this season, so he’d obviously be taking a step down if he were traded here. Then again, does he have a no-trade in his contract? I think he liked it here the first time, and he probably knows that he doesn’t have many years left so maybe he would accept a different role this time around? Apart from Preissing, the Kings are woefully inexperienced on the blue line, so I do think Schneider’s contributions would be worth it.

  • Duckhunter

    I don’t think they’ll have a problem reaching the the floor after signing the guys we have. Obviously O’Sul is a big part of that, so we need him signed. Let me get your thoughts on this, say the floor wasn’t an issue, would you still consider signing him? We could probably sign 2 descent d-men with experience for that price couldn’t we?