Lombardi, on “bridge” players

Lombardi was asked a question about his labeling of certain players as “bridge” players and, essentially, whether he risked marginalizing those players by indicating that they weren’t really a part of the team’s future. Lombardi spent the first part of his answer trying to identify whether any of the current Kings fit that description, then tried to clarify what he means when he talks about “bridge” players…


LOMBARDI: I’m not sure we have any of that right now, to be honest with you. Stollie is still only 26. Greene is still young. Denis Gauthier is trying to resurrect his career. He’s got one year left on his deal and he’s still young enough to become a part of this. Jason (LaBarbera)… It’s a great question, but this probably goes back to one of the things we were talking about last month. That doesn’t mean that those veterans cannot continue to be a part of it. If you have a guy, like say even a Bryan Marchment in San Jose, when he was probably getting to the end, as long as those guys are able to recognize that they might not be able to get much money, they can still be a huge asset.

The biggest thing to answering your question is that they have to accept a lesser role. I think this is what Murph is talking about. If you have that veteran who maybe accepts a lesser role, supports the new leadership but doesn’t provide the ceiling, you can still certainly be part of this. To answer your question, when it’s dominated… That’s what happens when you have to bring in those six guys like last year…it took over the identity of the room. Maybe I was a little strong on that. Maybe the better thing is, if that type of player dominates your room, you’ve got a problem. That doesn’t mean you can’t have those type of players. They can fit in.

The player that’s a good example of that is probably Trevor Linden. When Trevor Linden was a top player and everything else, he goes back to Vancouver and still had a leadership role but he had no problem going back down to the third or fourth line, in support of the Sedins. He would probably be considered a filler or a bridge when he came back to Vancouver, but he became a valuable guy because he accepted that role and pushed those guys along, then he handed off to them. He’s not sitting there on power-play time and worried about his contract and everything else. It’s a fair question, and the answer is that I think I was talking more about is, if your room is dominated by it, you’ve probably got an issue.

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  • Dr. Naysay

    Great. Another mention of Marchment. The dirtiest player I can think of. Meanwhile he absolutely dodges a perfectly valid criticism.

    Between his hard on for players like Marchment and Pronger and his ability to talk and talk while saying relatively nothing my “faith” in Lombardi is slipping faster and faster.

  • JonG

    Interesting response. It sounds like it wasn’t just necessarily one or two guys that were causing problems, but rather the wholesale addition of veterans took over the room and stunted the growth of the youngsters.

    That certainly squares with all of the talk toward the end of the season about how management wanted the young guys to lead the team. Obviously they weren’t seeing it happen. This year should be different.

    Rich, were you able to keep a straight face when Dean said Gauthier is not a bridge player?

  • cristobal


    Doesn’t he remember trading away Zyuzin (his 2nd overall pick in ’96) for marchmant? Does he do these interviews with a sock puppet answering for him?

    What would he call Handzus? A centerpiece of the franchise? And Preissing?

    What’s with the damn “Stolly” and “Solly” and “Hexy?” Who can take this guy seriously when he’s trying to be buddy-buddy with everyone and rambling on incoherently for days? Be a leader, not a buddy. The team is in the toilet. Put your f-cking foot in there and make the boys clean it up.

  • DIEHARD the King fan

    I guess if its too much for your kids to watch and learn as your veterans lead, then you just let the kids fumble around by themselves until someone accidentally leads, and maybe they get right. OR NOT.

    Veterans lead and kids follow. They learn by example.
    I was there and Lombardi was a bit flustered and then began just talking to get away from what in essence was a major criticism of his comments in that regard which basically mirror his approach.

  • Carla Muller

    I was pretty surprised by his response as well and I was the one who asked the question. He did ultimately allude to the fact that the bridge/filler players who are no longer with the team DID take over the room and not in a good way.

    Lombardi said those left are on board to accepting their supporting role and helping the kids develop and take ownership of the team. Handzus and Gauthier were mentioned by name. By implication, he said Preissing was too by saying any player with a deal longer than 2 years meant they were a part of the team’s future projections.

  • Dr. Naysay

    So… Lombardi comes in… blames the team stinking on the locker room and gets rid of all the bad locker rooms guys.

    THEN he brings in “good” locker room guys. The team stinks for two years in a row and it’s because of “bad” locker room guys again?

    What on earth has Lombardi done that has worked out to make anybody think he knows what the hell he’s talking about???

  • Darren O

    Anyone else think this is pointing to Blake as well?

  • paul

    dean look in the mirror please

  • jediknight329

    you know, i have been a season ticket holder since 1991-1992. i have seen some great seasons and some really horrible seasons. unfortunately more of the latter. the one thing that has always been true, is that the team has always been built piece-meal. they may have had a strong season (93) then came back the next year and really sucked (94). this has happened time after time. no one ever looked ahead and built a strategy to compete for years and years.

    now, i am a big supporter of dave taylor. he was (is) a king through and through. but, if you look at his overall success – one 2nd round appearance and a couple 1st round eliminations. not that great. for the most part, his drafts were mediocre. they got better towards the end of his stint. he made some good trades and signed some good ufa’s. but, he also made some bad trades and signed some lousy ufa’s.

    what i am trying to say is that no gm is perfect. no gm is going to get it right 100% of the time. a gm, based on his position in the organization, has every right to do the things that he feels will benefit the overall team now and in the future – not necessarily an individual player or players. gm’s have the right to make mistakes and every right to try and correct them. it seems that some of you only focus on the mistakes. when a team fires its coach and gm, it usually means the team is pretty bad. we were. lombardi had to come in and completely rebuild the back of the house. you can’t build the house until you have the foundation (sorry, its old but true). i think lombardi has had 2 incredible drafts. we also have a huge gambit of burgening nhl stars on our roster. cammy was good, but selfish. we got tuebert for him. he is going to be a scary defensmen in 2 years. we will all forget about cammy – especially after tuebert lays him out in 2 seasons. i loved vis, but we got our needed 2nd line centerman and an nhl ready d-man. please stop focusing on the player and focus on the team. i am an LA KINGS fan. i am not just an l.a. visnovky fan.

    i am rooting for lombardi. i want him to succeed. he has done the dirty work that NO ONE else was willing to do or could do. give the man a chance. rome was not built in a day (sorry again). but it is also true. the military breaks people down and then rebuilds them back up again to make them stronger. this is proven successful. this is what lombardi is doing. give the man a chance. i know it is painful. i know it is taking a longtime. i promise you we will be rewarded. remember we are all LA KINGS fans. so say one so say we all.

    go kings…

  • Quisp

    Darren O, re Blake:

    Initially, I thought no. But otherwise, we’re talking Stuart (who he wanted to bring back and who it’s pretty clear he likes) and Nagy. I find it hard to believe this is all veiled talk about Nagy. So it’s, if not quite unavoidable, it’s at least the most obvious inference to make, that it’s Blake. (forgive the rhyme)

    Which, as I said in so many words before, would explain a lot.

  • Naturallawyer

    Quisp and Darren: it probably includes Blake, but Thornton, Vis, Nagy, Cammi, Stuart, Klemm, and Modry also left. I can identify some of those names that almost certainly were not problems (at least in my own, non-lockerroom perception). I personally would tend to look at the former captains and alternates for potential issues with refusing to relinquish leadership roles to the (more talented) youngsters.

  • Duckhunter

    jediknight…. Here, here. I just cheered you and took a big drink of my oil can. (Fosters)

  • Big Worm

    Well said Jediknight. The amount of venom consistently directed at Dean Lombardi and AEG by the same people is staggering to me. I hope you folks have half as much passion and are willing to direct as much attention to this upcoming election as you do for something so ridiculous in comparison. If you hate the man (& ownership) that much and the direction he is taking this team, do yourselves a favor…jump ship. Nothing gets management fired faster then a losing franchise AND poor ticket sales/television ratings. If they end up winning in a couple of years while you were away, you can always jump back on the bandwagon.

    Rich, thank you for the continuous coverage. For once in my life I actually feel like a spoiled hockey fan in Southern California (despite all of the negativity).

  • Goon Squad

    I don’t mean to repeat myself, but it simply is Blake.

    “…as long as those guys are able to recognize that they might not be able to get much money, they can still be a huge asset.” This is why Blake is gone.

    “If you have that veteran who maybe accepts a lesser role, supports the new leadership but doesn’t provide the ceiling, you can still certainly be part of this.” How much more can he spell it out? Blake wanted PP time, the captaincy, and all star money (i.e. the “ceiling”)

    “…sitting there on power-play time and worried about his contract and everything else.” Anyone still think he’s talking about Scott Thornton?

    DL has always been very diplomatic in discussing Rob Blake. I believe that he has always viewed Rob as a fan favorite, and never quite understood or bought into the whole animosity between Rob and the fans. Blake coming back 2 years ago was a PR move as much as anything. It was extremely misguided. I think maybe Dean gets it now – Blake is for Blake and the discerning fan has always known it.

  • BallPointHammer

    Sounds like DL doesn’t want to burn his “bridges” either. In 5 years he might trade a 4th round pick for Lubo at the deadline to add a pp quarterback for a serious Stanley Cup run.

  • Chewy Rocky Horror

    AEG deserves a lot of the blame. Especially in the DT years. They were too concerned about the bottom line and it cost them more by getting lesser players who could not get the job done, ie Corvo, McSuckpine, Heinze, Stumpel (again), Cechmanic, Ragamuffin. It would have cost less, in the long run, if they would have kept both Robitaille & Boucher.

    You can only get so far with building Toyota Center, having minor franchises in Manchester, Reading, Europe, expanding the scouting staff and so forth. We heard all these things leading up to the lockout. We bought into it thinking there was a light at the end of the tunnel. At least I did. I lost my faith at the ’03 draft.

    Post lockout, the kings are worse. I, too, want DL to succeed. But, he has to let some of those pick go. Not all of them are going to make the team.

  • okto

    i posted this on another article:

    ultimately, we dont know if blake was a chemistry problem. its like being an archeologist. we only have a partial story of what really happened, either through the press or blake or the team. but we really dont know.

    whenever blake was in the public, at least last year, he said all the right things about mentoring and teaching. but then you consider how strongly lombardi feels about defense. and its clear he has no love affair with blake.

    and then, a significant portion of these articles is about veterans allowing the young guys to assume leadership, to take ownership of the team.

    answer this, what veteran, who is now gone, strikes you as the type to impose their personality over the team, overshadowing the younger guys, imposing a glass ceiling?

    i say “gone” because it seems like with all the harping on chemistry and growing and building a team, there is no way that managment would allow that player to remain.

    i dont know, maybe it was pavel rosa.

  • Draft

    Why do people want to anoint DL’s drafts? Until they are here in the NHL proving it on the ice they are only prospects. God forbid we are at the 2011 breakfast with the bosses looking at the next GM’s way cool color charts of more failed draft classes.

  • tantrum4

    I’m with Jediknight. I’ve been a Kings fan since the Purple and Gold and have supported the team through thick and thin. Since I’ve been a kid all my friends have had favorite teams like Detroit, Edmonton, Colorado, New Jersey etc, and I have always stuck up for LA and had many verbal battles with my buddies about how crappy they have been. I thought once the internet came out and blogs etc, I would be able to come online and find other true Kings fans and talk about the season, what we like about the team, and have fun, intelligent conversations about the Kings that I’ve never been able to have to any one of my friends. But it has been the exact opposite. Between the posters on this site, hockeybuzz and especially letsgokings.com, I feel like I still have to defend my team everytime I log on, and this is with supposed Kings fans??? I have never heard so much bashing and complaining in all my life. Not one of you people that post on these sights could ever come CLOSE to running a hockey team and making it a contender. I’m sure most of you have jobs right? Do you think someone else with absolutely NO experience could ever come in to your work and do your job to perfection? I really doubt it, and I’m guesssing that most people’s jobs aren’t as complicated as running an NHL franchise. It’s really becoming harder and harder to visit these sights and read these posts because 95% of what is written is whining and complaining, and who wants to read that?

    If you hate the team and Lombardi so much why are you on these sights every single day writing about them? Shouldn’t you be doing something else if the Kings are the worst thing in your life? I can’t imagine you complain about anything else in your life more than you complain about the Kings.

    I hope the true fans that support and are really excited about this team’s future, and can actually see what Lombardi is building, will continue to post and have some fun. I know the complainers will still complain because that’s what they do, but I think people can agree with me it’s getting really tired and boring for the rest of us. Maybe one of you can start a Kings bashing blog then all of you can go there and whine to each other. It would really make reading about the Kings much more enjoyable if you weren’t around.

    Now, let the bashing of me begin……

  • vicarious

    At the end of the day, we’re all bridge players–fans, players everybody. Calling it what it is may be painful to hear–if you are the brunt of it– but not something a wise person should find offensive and not words in the end the management can avoid. See, the Brett Favre soap opera.

    For a player like say Guliano to hear he is not in the Kings long term plans is just telling it like it is. If he is good enough to play in the NHL for an extended period, he had (and will have) the chance to prove the naysayers wrong by his actions, namely his play on the ice. I thought Guliano played hard and he’s a good player–just not NHL caliber. Seems to me just making it to the AHL requires a level of talent most people lack. What’s wrong with pointing that out?

  • JDM

    I’m glad to read this, since I suspected all last season that there were major chemistry problems. To hear those specifically addressed is encouraging, regardless of whether it was Blake or Nagy or whoever (I suspect Blake too). I have theorized a few times here and elsewhere that Blake, being such a superstar figure, especially to young players, as much they may love him and look up to him, in some way stifles them due to his allstar status and reverance.

    tantrum, I agree the unceasing pessimism is frustrating, but on this sight of all others I frequent, I find by far the most positive fans here. Guys like Quisp, Duckhunter, jediknight, myself and others are constantly defending the Kings. I am thrilled about the way Lombardi is building. I love that he can openly admit mistakes in any capacity. Being able to recognize past mistakes and adapt is one of the most important things in good business and simply being a good, reasonabe human being. People always complain that it seems like DL is changing his plan, and somehow this is negative. If anything, last off-season was the deviation from his plan and now he is back on track. Thank god he is able to adapt after the last two seasons. I can’t believe that the same people who bash him for the Handsuz, Nagy, Calder and Preissing signings are the people who bash him for not going after a bunch of free agents this offseason. It’s a bit of a conundrum and ultimately leads me to believe some people will never be pleased. We’ll win the cup on a road game and somehow that will taint the whole thing, or something.

    Another thing – people always say “DL talks alot but says very little.”

    Its almost as if people think these responses they read were WRITTEN by DL. On the contrary, all of this is tirelessly and wonderfully transcribed by Rich from DL talking OFF THE CUFF. Can any of you explain highly complicated issues and try to appease a wide variety of temperamental fans and critics succinctly on the spot when asked a random question?

    We quickly forget that we are reading stream of consciousness by a man who has more things on his plate and more responsibility in his lap than most of us combined (I don’t know what you all do, but something tells me if you were in charge of several staff and multi-millions of dollars you wouldn’t have time to rant and rave on a blog every day). I personally enjoy reading all of DL’s ramblings. If any of us were to transcribe a basic, sane phone conversation we would probably all look like morons. In unprepared speech we all tend to use more words than are necessary. It is also very common to jump around when asked multi-faceted questions.

    If what we read here were carefully written and thought out by Lombardi, and his still used all those extra words then I would say he has A.D.D. But reading the words I imagine him speaking them, and to me it comes off as someone who is trying his best to be candid, meaningful and cautious. He knows nuts like us will scrutinize every word. He knows reporters will pull small bits and pieces for their story and often ignore context. What I read is someone who starts a sentence then stops himself and tries to find the best words possible. He doesn’t always succeed, but I’d much rather have a GM who is willing to ramble a little if it means coming up with the right words instead of simply dumping out the first that comes to mind. I’ve done that several times in the wrong situations and it almost always backfires. Much better to add in some superfluous words while you formulate better sentences in your head.

    Call me an apologist, call me a DL lover or whatever. It seems like most people go into reading these comments with specific things they want to hear instead of going in without expectations and simply judging what is there.

    Some said he didn’t answer the question directly about calling players “bridge players.”

    Well, he compared them to Trevor Linden, one of the most widely respected veterans to ever play the game. How can comparing someone to a player of Linden’s caliber be insulting? He answered the question in his own way. He also specifically defined the term. He basically said “Who cares what I term them, its all about what the player is willing to do.” Something tells me that a old veteran who is willing to play 3rd and 4th line minutes and accepts a mentor role is the kind of player who plays because he loves the game, and so long as he is treated with respect by the coaching staff and is respected on the team, the term the GM uses to describe what basically amounts to like a third of all players on all teams, is going to get so insulted he is going to whimper and cry. I think hockey players, of all sports, are quite familiar with the idea behind the expression “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

    It’s corny but stop and think about it. Does someone who is concerned about having his skull concussed or eye socket blistered open or teeth knocked out or knee cap shattered, face bloodied, fingers, arms, shoulders, ankles, tendons, ribs, spleens bursted, ripped, torn and broken really such a softee as to take a term as generic, non-threatening and TRUE as “bridge player” so personally it decides whether or not they want to play hockey?

    Really what I gather from this answer is that we need bridge players, every team always does to some degree except for maybe the Red Wings (and even they are known to bring in a guy for a season or two to hold over a spot for a youngster). Players that fit the bill as bridge players, know what their role is and are not going to get their panties in a twist over being classified as what they know and accept they are. He’s saying that if being called a bridge player so offends a player, then that player is not right for that role. And if a player wants a role different than the role he is needed for on a team, why keep him around?

    Sometimes I just feel like saying “Duh!”

  • Tantrum4 and Jediknight, Kudos to you both. I have been a diehard fan since 1970 and reading your post’s has given me some hope that there are actually some fans who get it. Through thick and thin we stick with and defend OUR team and don’t threaten to jump on the Quacks bandwagon. When our reward comes, it’ll be that much sweeter!!

    P.S. I was going to change my sign in name, but I’ll defer until I actually start reading some intelligent post’s from you know who.

  • wavesinair

    jediknight329 said: I promise you we will be rewarded.

    Since youre so sure, what do you promise exactly? How about this? I will buy a season ticket for the next three seasons. If we dont make it past the second round of the playoffs in any of those seasons, you will pay me back every dime. Deal?

    How are you a King fan and not a player fan? Im a fan of a lot of ex-kings players because I love the way they play the game. Im not a fan of some of the current Kings players AND the Kings have, and always will be, my team. Cammy was NOT selfish the way I view it. AEG was cheap. Cammy experienced what OSullivan is experiencing now. Its a B.S. sales pitch about the need to keep costs down for the team. Its a scam and our team has sucked under AEG because of it. DL is doing what he can.

    Big Worm said: If you hate the man (& ownership) that much and the direction he is taking this team, do yourselves a favor…jump ship.

    This is the classic mentality of, If you dont like this country, then leave.

    Am I not a Kings fan because I criticize? (I also, by the way, praise.) Criticism does not equal negativity. I do my best to be constructive. The problem is ownership. I agree that no GM is perfect and I love the IDEA of what DL is doing. Unfortunately, he looks like an idiot because some of the stuff he said early on in his reign was not possible to fulfill and now its coming back to bite him. Therefore, he sometimes sounds like a politician dodging and weaving.

    DL said: …as long as those guys are able to recognize that they might not be able to get much money, they can still be a huge asset Goon Squad said: This is why Blake is gone.

    I should go back and read what Rich posted, but wasnt Blake willing to accept less than he got from San Jose to be a King? I know there was some dispute as to what happened, but wasnt this pretty well established? DL was just babbling. Theres no secret person he was talking about. Its called spin and youve been spun.

    tantrum4 said: I hope the true fans that support and are really excited about this team’s future, and can actually see what Lombardi is building, will continue to post and have some fun.

    Any true fan would defend their team from invaders like AEG. Any true fan will speak up when they believe a wrong is being perpetrated on a beloved franchise. Any true fan would defend the right of other fans to speak their minds and not just say what one person (or mindset) deems is the truth. Guys like you are the opposite of the instigators on this site. You see it one way and anyone else who differs is wrong or not a fan. You, the instigators, the occasional posters, the thoughtful posters, the regulars, etc. are all fans of the Kings and we all want them to win. We all come from different walks of life, different ages, maturity levels, incomes, experiences, etc. and we all have something to contribute to being a true fan.

    Chewy Rocky Horror said: AEG deserves a lot of the blame. Especially in the DT years. I, too, want DL to succeed.

    Hear! Hear! Chewy you are a true fan. Wait, no youre not, you blame AEG!

  • Brian

    I am excited about the upcoming Kings season. So much so that I bought season tickets. No I’m not rich, I bought the “Diehard” seats for $473.00 each. I went to the breakfast & my son & I had a good time. Good food, interesting talk & we were thankful to hear Lombardi & the others talk. We went away with a positive attitude. Only to read here all the negative things about what he said. I am proud to be a Kings fan. I think this year will be one of the most interesting & exciting in a long time. I thank the GM & the others for taking their time out to talk to us. I am behind them 100%.

  • Anonymous

    Wavesinair, I respectfully disagree with your analogy of deciding not to follow the Kings because of management as being equal to leaving the country because you don’t like the leadership. Deciding not to be fan because you don’t like management seems quite logical to me. In sports you have choices that don’t equate to moving your family to another country. What I don’t understand is why anyone would continue to follow a team that clearly hates the ownership, management and the decisions that they’re making. If it were me, I would refuse to support said team.

    I am in complete agreement with you that criticism is healthy and should absolutely be part of the conversation. The only thing I take issue with is the constant badgering of the few folks that choose to tear apart practically everything that comes out of management’s collective mouths. Posting your hatred over and over on a blog is not only not constructive, it’s simply annoying. At the end of the day, I can always choose to not read the comments…

  • Big Worm

    I thought i was signed in when i posted that comment to Wavesinair…i didn’t intend for it to come up as anonymous.

  • jediknight329


    no deal. first off, i am not a gambling man. second, none of us have any control over what happens on the ice. only the players do. if you ask them, i bet they say to have patience as well. finally, at least your getting us to the 2nd round of the playoffs three years in a row. with the way the last 6 seasons have gone, that sounds ok to me. and for the record, i am a players fan. in my earlier days, tomas sandstrom was my favorite player. i hated when they traded him. then my favorite player was blake. even with all the crap with him (on both sides), i still love him as a player. his best, better and good days are definitely behind him, but i still think about the impact he had on the team and the league. i hated when he left. i still have and wear his “C” sweater. i am also a big schneider guy. i hated when they traded him. now he plays behind the orange curtain of the oc. i have is sweater as well. i would love to see him come back. but, as all things do, personnel changes as well and you can’t dwell on any one player. if you do, you will just be miserable. its a team sport.

    on another note, you should buy season seats not as part of a bet, but because you want to root on your team and get to watch the best hockey players in the world. there is nothing like this sport in person. it is not easy getting to staples from the west side or the valley 40 times a year, but it is worth it, even when they play like (you know what). get to know the folks around you. it becomes a little party every game. you look forward to coming to watch the game and talk about the high’s and low’s with your group. i sit in the 300’s. our little group has blossomed into about 15 people. after 12 years of sitting with the same group at the forum and now staples its like a get together. we even go on annual road trips – san jose, canadian swings, etc. i deal with the criminal element at work. maybe i try to look for the good when i’m off so i can get in a happier frame of mind and enjoy this sport. its an escape for us fans. its not life or death. i hope they win, but know it does not alway happen. there are too many other way more important things in life to be critical of. that’s my perspective. but, if anger and constant criticism helps you sleep at night, then more power to you.

  • nykingfan

    well said Jediknight and tantrum4

    A lot of the people on this blog are extrememly frustrated and want immediate results. It’s not going to happen that way. It seems they don’t have the stomach for a complete overhaul. I guess I can understand it from their point of view, but it’s the only way that this organization will succeed.
    I always preach patience and can see the bright light at the end of the tunnel…sorry naysayers, its not a speeding train heading our way….but until we see the results on the ice, the naysayers will always have a right to complain. It is frustrating to read, but what can you do? it’s ok…it gives us a forum to debate which is the best way to bulld the team. The end result is what will matter.

    ok enough of that crap LOL

    Question for Chewy Rocky Horror…which draft picks do you suggest he give up on? The team is being built thru the draft…trading away those assets at this time would be completely irresponsible. All of these draft picks are being given the opportunity to show that they can help in turning around this organization. Once we know which of them will be those players, then you can start thinking about trading some of the others….certainly not before.

  • Duckhunter

    JDM…. Here, here. I just cheered you also, and took a big drink of my oil can. (Fosters)

    Brian….Congrats on getting tickets for you and your son. You will have a great time. Sat in those seats many years with my daughter, with many fond memories. Cheers to you too, just took another drink of my oil can.

    Here, here and cheers to everyone who is a Kings fan, no matter how you define it. Just finished my oil can. You all need to stop writing such good post, I’m
    getting a little “tipsy” with all these cheers.

  • Excellent job.