Lombardi, on the goalies

Believe it or not, the topic of goaltending came up! Here, Lombardi discusses the need for patience with the young goalies and cautions the questioner not to just focus on Jonathan Bernier. The question was, in part, whether Bernier would be ready for the NHL this season. Lombardi discusses Bernier and Jon Quick and talks about his experiences bringing along young goalies in San Jose.

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LOMBARDI: First part, as far as Jon, don’t forget another guy: Quick. I’ve always said this and I’ll say it again. When we were in San Jose, we had three top goaltender prospects in Nabokov, Kiprusoff and Toscala. As prospects, I think we have three of those guys now, who are in that similar age group: Bernier, Quick and Zatkoff. When you’re dealing with young goaltenders, to start making predictions and start putting them in your lineup, you’re only setting them up for failure. As a very smart goaltender person told me in San Jose when we used to sit around and do that… `Well, is Nabokov better than Kiprusoff?’ He said, `Knock it off. Our job is to make them better every day and let them go through the process and let the cream rise to the top.’ You just let them play. The job is to make them better every day.

The thing about goaltending is, it’s the hardest position to play and it’s also the hardest to predict, because so much of that position is mental. There’s nowhere to hide when you’re a goaltender. It’s very similar to pitching. You can have all the athletic ability in the world, but if you’re not strong mentally, you’re going to fail. You can hide as a forward. You can even hide as a defenseman. But you can’t hide from being mentally tough as a goaltender. When you look at goaltenders like Quick and Bernier and these kids, you’re looking to see critical moments and where they’re growing as men. When Jon had to go back to juniors, I drove six hours from Montreal to Maine, to see him in Lewiston. He was the flavor of the month here. But here’s a test for you, Jon. Now go back there and lead that junior team, because you’re not ready right now but you can learn to build that mental toughness. He struggled in the first month. Eventually he figured it out again and he will grow from that experience.

Jon Quick this year in the minors. There’s a critical time when you’re building, and last year was the first year we were really young in the minors. That team found a way to make the playoffs. Jon was a big part of carrying it down the stretch. He had a few bumps in the road but God bless him. When it came down to crunch time, he got it figured out and got that team to the playoffs. Those are the things you look for. To stand around and try to make predictions, I really think you’re just setting the kid up for failure. You’ve just got to let it play out. If he comes in and he’s ready, great, but he has to be ready the right way. It’s not to be the best of the lot. It’s to be ready and be ready to be a bonafide number one.

Like I said, if you hit on one of the three, sing `hallelujah.’ In San Jose, we hit on all three. That’s unheard of. I’d like to say we were really smart, but we were very lucky. I’ll take one of those three, and that’s the way we approached it in San Jose. Let’s work with each one of them and then let the best one rise to the top.

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  • Dr. Naysay

    Nothing about Danny Taylor?

  • cristobal

    Finally something honest. I like that he includes Quick in there. He was the man, apparently, in Manchester last year, and he deserves as much consideration as any Kings goalie right now. I wish he’d given Ersberg some words of encouragement. He may have, so I won’t bash him for it, but Ersberg saved the Kings from finishing below 60 points, in my opinion.

    How involved in the player personnel moves is this guy? I mean, does he tell the coach who’s gonna play or get called up? Or, does he provide the raw materials and let the coach mold them? How did he play it in San Jose?

    You can’t necessarily hide as a forward or a defenseman, though, I must disagree. A great defensive team on the other hand, can cover for a mediocre goaltender like Cloutier or Conklin. I’d like to hear what the heck went on with Garon? He looked like flubber after 1 season here. Its not that the Kings have never had decent goaltenders, they’ve never made any look good. Ask Glen Healy.

  • Dr. Naysay

    It’s great that he mentioned Jon Quick but distressing that there continues to be no mention of Danny Taylor. Taylor is the same age as Quick and put up almost identical numbers in Manchester last season despite riding the bench for over half the year.

    I’m certainly not a goaltending guru and the only time I have seen Taylor play was his one game in Los Angeles this past season… but I find the fact that Lombardi NEVER even mentions his name to be puzzling.

  • CBGB

    Naysay,

    Don’t you read CBGB’s interviews with Hextall and DL when they said at the LAST meeting that Taylor didn’t fit in, that he had a “nice run” but he wasn’t part of their plans? That they were “looking for a place for him to play” but found no takers. THAT Danny Taylor? Taylor making the Kings in Kansas City maybe :)

  • cristobal

    CBGB – I thought you were talking about Dave Taylor! I bet they’re glad he’s gone…

  • Dr. Naysay

    Dear CBGB…

    Just because Hextall and Lombardi had an opinion about a player and how he fit in their plans LAST season doesn’t mean it should reflect how they feel about said player today.

    See : Lubomir Visnovsky, he of the 5 year contract with the No Trade Clause….. that got traded.

  • JonG

    For once I’m in 100% agreement with Lombardi. We’ve stockpiled several promising goalies, but it’s far too early to start handicapping between the three.

    I still don’t know why Ersberg gets left out of the discussion so often. Kings management has been uniformly reluctant to give him anything more than token praise.

  • Shutout

    Lombardi has no other options than to figure this out on the fly with one of three young goalies. The problem is, I am of the opinion that the goaltending situation should have been figured out by now. Why are we in this precidament now? For years the Kings have had terrible goaltending and did not seem to care about developing a hot young goalie. They just signed Cechmanek (sp?), Potvin, Burke, etc. and hoped one of them would be decent enough to keep the fans happy. Bad decisions in the past have once again haunted this team and my fear is it might continue. We are now forced to watch sub-par goaltending until one of the kids develops. I’ve said it before, it will take a few years until this happens. The Kings fans deserve better and we should have been given Nabokov instead of Cloutier.

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