Lombardi: Boyle, and missed opportunities

Question: Coming into training camp, there were a handful of guys who you pretty much said had earned a spot on the team…

LOMBARDI: “That they had a job to lose. That was the point. They had paid their dues enough, and it was, `We’ve got a box open for you. You’re not boxed in by the fact that there’s a veteran there, and that you can play your (butt) off and not get a job.’ Generally, that happens a lot with young players. I thought those three guys had paid their dues and did a good job in the minors and did what they were asked in the summer. `There’s the box. Grab it, but we’re not giving it to you. You’ve got to grab it. Moulson did early.”

Question: Are we talking about three guys or four? Boyle, Purcell and Moulson, and I thought Harrold was on that list too…

LOMBARDI: “OK, we had Harrold in there too. Moulson was the guy who looked really good at the beginning. Harry was the guy I knew — well, I shouldn’t say I knew — but Harry’s competitiveness is off the charts. Harry, like, forces you to find a spot for him. When I talked about three guys, I was thinking of the forwards, because Harry didn’t really surprise me. Harry always gave you the sense that once it was there for the taking, he would take it. That’s just the way he plays. So then, of the four, he’s the only one who really grabbed it, in my mind.”

Question: What does that say for the other three?

LOMBARDI: “Well, they got beat out by two 19-year-olds, frankly. Moller and Simmonds. What was told to them, when they were up here, is, `You’re not hard enough.’ In the battle areas, they weren’t good enough. One of the things that happens — and this is the hard part — is they can still get their points in the minors.

“Purcell can still get his points. He’s in that gray area where he doesn’t have to do the `dirt’ work in order to get his point in the minors. But unless he’s going to do the dirt work, he’s not going to get his points up here. So you’ve got that rub. You’re trying to stay on him in the minors and say, `You’re getting two points a night, but you should be getting four.’ But he’s that talented, so it’s hard.

“The other night he had four points. Now, we’re calling down there and saying, OK, we know the guy can put up numbers. We saw what he did last year as a rookie, and it was pretty impressive, numbers-wise. But where did he score his goals? Did he go into the blue (goal crease)? Is his head down in the scrums? Where’s our progress there? Because it’s not good enough up here. Now, the second time he came back, I thought he was better. He is starting to figure it out, but it’s a process. Like I said, when he gets his points in the minors, it’s kind of hard to tell the kid, `It’s not good enough.’ (They think,) `What do you mean? I got my two points.’

“So he’s kind of caught in the middle there. In his case, he’s a little unique compared to the other ones, because he has so much talent. His issue, in terms of getting back here, is really pronounced in that regard, and he is kind of unique because he’s got a high skill level.

“Moulson just fell off. He did OK and then he lost the spot. Then it’s, `OK, you have to be ready if somebody goes down.’ I don’t have any problem calling him up, but right now we’ve got 13 (forwards). That’s kind of what happens. You’ve got a job to lose. If you don’t get it, and someone else grabs it, you’re going to have to wait your turn again.

“That’s what they’ve been told, and they don’t disagree. Moulson will tell you, `I screwed up.’ You’re damn right. So next time, he’s going to appreciate that opportunity and not take a shift off. You can’t afford to. And this is what you’re trying to create in your organization, that competitiveness from within. I have a problem with handing jobs to kids. Doughty was not handed a job. He went through every rookie camp and rookie game, like Kopitar did in his year. He wasn’t handed anything.

“Whether you’re Doughty or Moulson, you’re not going to be handed anything, either way. They only thing they were handed, because they paid their dues, was the box that was left open. We didn’t go out and get a Nagy or a Scott Thornton or those veteran bridge guys and basically say, `That job is taken.’ But if you don’t grab it, too bad. Be ready the next time.

“Same thing with Brian. Then, if the team is having success, we’re not just going to bring you up here because we want to give you the box. Army (Derek Armstrong) comes back and grabs that job, then it’s, `Well, Brian, that fourth-line center job is now closed. Be ready when it opens up again.’ That’s part of, going back to Bernier a little bit, that’s part of the mental toughness. Are you going to go down there and pout, or look yourself in the mirror and ask why you didn’t hold the job?

“Get it fixed, and the next time you come back here, maybe play with a little more urgency, and understand that we expect to win here now, versus when you came up last year and the games didn’t mean (anything). The other team didn’t respect you and you were playing with the house’s money. That’s not an NHL player. So understand that when you come up here and do that job, we’re not just looking to evaluate you; you better help us win.

“That’s again, when you go back to talking about judging based on wins and losses, we couldn’t before. We didn’t have the players and the right kind of mix. So yeah, of those guys, Harry is the only one.”

Question: Do you still think Boyle can turn this around?

LOMBARDI: “While he’s in this system, it’s our job to believe that, and to do everything we can. That’s what we’re doing. What Warren Strelow said about the goaltenders is no different here. Our job is to make him better every day. For me, or for a minor-league coach or Nelson Emerson, to say, `We’re never going to get this done,’ they’ve already given up. That’s not a teacher.

“As long as he’s down there, it’s our job to make him better. Whether it’s a pat on the back or extra work, a kick on the butt or sitting him out, you never lose sight of the fact that you’re trying to make him better and get him to the show. Now, if a deal is there and we say, `We can get this for that,’ then your question is relevant. `Do you think he will ever get there?’ Then it’s, `Yes,’ or `Well, maybe not,’ and that’s how you put the value on the deal.

“But for me to answer that question, it doesn’t make any sense, because that’s not development. Once a teacher gives up on a pupil, and that pupil knows it, you’ve got no chance.”

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  • Quisp

    “While he’s in this system, it’s our job to believe that[...]Now, if a deal is there and we say, `We can get this for that,’ then your question is relevant. `Do you think he will ever get there?’ Then it’s, `Yes,’ or `Well, maybe not,’ and that’s how you put the value on the deal.”

    Writing, meet wall.

  • Mike

    Great Stuff, Rich!!

    What Deano is saying makes so much sense that these guys need to compete ever single shift no matter what! Nothing is a given.

    You’re going to get a lot of people, especially Anthony, that will say, “these guys never got a chance. They had to play 3rd, 4th line minutes with Ivanans\Zeiler, etc..” Boo Hoo!!..you get up to the big club, you should play hard no matter where and who you’re skating with. That shouldn’t matter. They need to understand that sometimes you need to sacrafice your scoring chance to help set up someone elses chance. That means digging/fighting for the pucks along the boards, setting screens in front, or just out skating the other team to loose pucks.

    As soon as these guys figure that out, then they’ll be playing full time in the NHL, with the Kings or some other club.

    Keep the good info coming in!

  • Chris Bond

    Nah Nah Nah Nah hey hey hey good bye……..Boyle.

  • CBGB

    Translation: Boyle will be the first to be traded. Meanwhile…

  • variable

    yeah…boyle might be done here…i think d.l. can only convey so much and what he decided to tell was quite revealing…he was very quick to hypothesize on a potential offering and what it would take for boyle’s departure…

    boyle might be a late bloomer, but he might fetch more in return than anything he will be able to produce…

    purcell really is the jewel of the aforementioned four players…he’s the kid you have to find a way to develop…i think purcell will have his chance to shine next pre-camp…i really hope he can make that big leap w/out any more major growing pains…it goes to show you how special kids like doughty, simmonds and moeller are…sure, they have varying degrees of potential…however, they all share the common desire to show up and play every game hard…ironically, i thought simmonds had his worst game of the season vs. the thrashers…but it wasn’t because of a lack of effort…the future still looks very bright because the present is going very well…

  • Anonymous

    Boyle got beat out by Army…omg. See ya later Boyle. Nice comments about Peter Harrold.

  • Johnny Kick a Hole In The Sky

    They traded Lauri Tukonen so why not Brian Boyle? Brian Boyle should’ve been the first to go. Watching some games of the ‘Narchs, he just doesn’t have it.

    Ted Purcell is talented but amateurish. That’s okay? Right? Well, he’s not a teenager anymore, so no. He’ll be 24 next season. The window is closing fast, if you ask me.

  • sense13

    While he’s in this system, it’s our job to believe that[...]Now, if a deal is there and we say, `We can get this for that,’ then your question is relevant. `Do you think he will ever get there?’ Then it’s, `Yes,’ or `Well, maybe not,’ and that’s how you put the value on the deal.”

    “Writing, meet wall”.

    Yeah, that’s how I read it as well. I hate to see Boyle go but his trade does seem imminent.

    So, as tradeable commodities are concerned, Frolov is a maybe and Boyle’s a probably?

  • TB

    Rich your work today has been phenominal. I am addicted to this blog like grade A crack-ola.

    Quisp – I think its safe to say the quote you are referring to is a FOR SALE sign on Boyle’s head. I wouldnt mind it either. The guy is good, but I don’t think he’ll fit with the system TM wants. Ship him out before his blue chip value diminishes.

    How’s this: (Boyle + 2nd rounder) = Antropov

  • Mark

    Man I am close to drinking the kool-aid all over again. I don’t know what it is about Lombardi but when he speaks it gets me excited for the future.

  • number 6

    Hi guys. I thought some of you may find this interesting. At the time of the 2003 ? draft when Boyle was taken, I was living overseas. So I devoured as much info as I could on the internet. I remember very distinctly reading a blog the day of the draft … almost certain it was by EJ Hradek on nhl.com. He gave a breakdown on all of the players drafted in the first round. He wasn’t at the time convinced of the Kings choice of Brownie so high. Maybe he’s changed his mind on that one. But regarding Brian Boyle, the one thing that stood out was that several other teams commented that they didn’t like the way he had interviewed.

    Hmmmm. I really try to never give up on anyone (not speaking only of hockey players), but as most of these guys know their business well, I can’t say it’s astonishing that the Kings are having such a problem getting what they want out of him. They obviously saw something in the interviews. Also, the comment was made in The Hockey News at the time, it’s one thing to drag three defenders on your back at the High School level (where he was drafted from) and another thing to translate that to the NHL. There was a number of years running where the KIngs drafted players almost exclusively for size (anyone remember Matt Zultek…. picked with the pick they got from St. L for Gretzky). Also David Steckel (now with Washington). None of those players panned out. I’m glad to see that the current drafting seems to be improved from those days!

  • variable

    there is no way we should be interested in nik antropov…period…

  • Boyle a Shark???

    http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/players/3363

    THIS MUST BE A TYPO! (OR, PERHAPS A OMINOUS HARBINGER)

    btw.. TB – Antopov for Boyle + 2nd sounds good to me.

  • 28 KINGS

    The window is definitely closing on Boyle. He really needs to show he wants to play, and do whatever it takes to stay in this org. If not, he’ll be moved as part of a deal.

  • Anonymous

    Purcell does get the pretty goals, makes really nice passes and handles the puck great. But don’t think for a second that Teddy will go into any corner and god forbid check someone or do any of that dirty digging for the puck. Unfortunately Purcell isn’t a physical player.

  • 28 KINGS

    The only knock I ever had on drafting Boyle was that he was considered “a project” to use Dave Taylor’s words. I never really believe you should take a project type player in the 1st round, even if you have 3 1st rnd picks. I still hope he makes.

  • Anonymous

    Talk about ‘learning a lesson & punishment for poor play’: ‘Well, Brian, that fourth-line center job is now closed. Be ready when it opens up again.’ (IT MUST SUCK for a pro hockey player to be characterized ONLY as a 4th line center-man, not to mention a failed defensive project)

    Currently, Brian Boyle is a fourth-line center, in Manchester, playing with Richard Clune and Kevin Westgarth. The Kings and Kings fans can only hope that Boyle acquires the physical toughness exemplified by his line mates before he is traded. One thing is for sure,,, this guys’ shrink, must be busy.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with variable. No Antropov. He’s a slouch.

    The Kings’ “slouch” days are over. We need a battler.

    Here’s a name for you:

    Nathan Horton

    Think about that guy for a sec, and what he’d be like as a King.

    And please leave the Fro trades alone, unless he’s leaving in a package for Heatley/Kovalchuk.

  • Roger

    For Frolov his best days are ahead of him. This is the age where most professional athletes excel and become very productive. It would be a big mistake for DL to trade him. DL should know better. As for Boyle, its a shame that he was not able to utilize his size to his advantage and grab one of those boxes. He definitely has the tools to be a force in this league. But I guess he has not acquired the smarts to play in the NHL.
    I guess still I am hopeful that DL might be lighting a fire under him to somehow get Boyle to find his game.

    Roger

  • Al

    Quisper, wouldn’t you have loved to play for a guy like DL??? I sure as hell would have. I sit here and read what Lombardi is saying and all I can say is YEEEEEEEEssssss, Deano you ARE the MAN.

  • Anonymous

    Dude, I really hope we did not just trade him to the Sharks. Bad enough if we trade him and he does well, but I do not want to be reminded of it 8 times a season.

  • Anonymous

    wow….i just don’t get all of the Boyle hatred/lack of belief.

    I coached for many years & it never pans out to force a player to play a style of hockey he is not accustomed to playing. Why are they forcing a finesse player to be a brute? Did they force Moller to be a brute? No, they had Moller play 4 shifts on the 4th line & Murry immediately started his line shuffles with the 3rd line. Mgmt saw this wasn’t working & immediately sent him to manch to get in games where he can be a finesse player.

    So why can’t they give Boyle the same respect? Because they want to play Dr. Frankenstein & create a monster out of finesse player. This is why Boyle is currently on the 4th line in manch. They want Boyle to be somthing he is not!

    David steckel is a top 6 forward right now because his team lets him play his style.

    If any team gives Boyle a chance at being a top 6 forward as opposed to being a 4th line banger, he will flourish & bite our team in the a$$!

  • sense13

    wow….i just don’t get all of the Boyle hatred/lack of belief.

    Hey, finally someone on this board gets it!!!

    Honestly, I don’t think a lot of the kings fan get Boyle. People think because he’s 6’7 he HAS to play goon-like game to be effective. Heck, Handzus is 6’5 and is probably one of our softest player but he’s constantly out on the ice doing what he does best which is to shutdown the opposing top lines. Now, let’s see how Handzus fairs if he had to move to the 4th line and HAD to play a more physical game. I don’t know about you guys but as slow as Handzus is and how soft of a player he is, I doubt he would be nearly as effective.

    Let’s try and put things into perspective, Boyle in his very first full season with the monarchs had more goals than Brown did. This from a 6’7 forward. Also keep in mind that Boyle did this in less games and also playing some 15 games learning to play defense.

    Boyle’s current situation sort of remind me of Joe Thornton when he was with the bruins. Although, Thornton was already an established player in boston, the bruins did try and change his game. They wanted Joe to play more physical and fight and score. Well, being unable to play his game, Joe was eventually traded to the sharks where he’s playing his game which is to set up his linemates. Hey, he’s just a big dude with very soft hands, yeah, very much like Boyle.

    I’m not saying Boyle will be the next Thornton but players with Boyle’s size and touch don’t come around very often. And it would be very irresponsible of the kings to not at least give him a full season for him to play his game.

  • EAT THE RICH

    If we don’t make the playoffs and Boyle was put in this position of failure and then traded after we gave so much time to non-starters like we have this year, it’s no wonder the Kings are still treading water at best.
    When will Lombardi and Murray realize they need to let some people be themselves?

    Boyle WAS a project coming out of the draft, but he adapted wherever he went.

    The only thing he hasn’t adapted to is the, frankly, idiotic way in which he has been managed by DL and TM.

    Best hits of the year came from this man who everyone is calling trash.

    Sorry, but I just can’t praise Lombardi for his obvious tunnel vision…

    I really think he talks Soooo much in order to quash any questioning of his tactics. All I can say is he better freaking win a trophy.

  • Marc Nathan

    Hey Anonymous, I’m a big fan of David Steckel, but to call him a “top 6″ forward is laughable. He’s a 4th line guy, who plays a lot on the PK and takes faceoffs late in games, but he’s also been a healthy scratch in a handful of games this season. On a team that has Ovie, Semin, Kozlov, Fleischmann, Backstrom, Laich, Nylander, Fedorov, Fehr and Gordon… you’re clearly in the wrong on that one.

  • Baumgartner22

    i think some of you are missing the point on boyle. speedy players are supposed to use their speed. players with a hard shot are supposed to shoot a lot. this is how they help their teams win games. boyle is blessed with soft hands AND a 6’7″ frame and should be using it to muscle opponents off the puck but he’s not doing that on a consistent basis.

    it’s not an issue of “he’s a finesse player, let him play his game.” asking him to not use his size is ridiculous. that’s like telling sheldon souray, “hey, you’re only here to play defense. you don’t need to shoot the puck. we got gilbert and visnovsky on the blue line to do that.”

    all DL wants from boyle is for him to use both his skill AND size to improve his game.

  • sense13

    Baumgartner 22,

    And just where do you draw the line as far as big guys playing physical? Are we talking 6’0 and taller or perhaps 6’3 or taller?

    And why isn’t Kopitar, Handzus and Frolov playing a physical game? They are 3 of our biggest players but yet, they don’t play a physical game.

    In NBA, they have plenty of big men that shoot the 3 pointers and thus the coach implements that into the game strategy. Just because they’re big doesn’t mean that they always have to play down low or can’t shoot 3 pointers does it?

    Let me just remention Joe Thornton and let me also add Dustin Penner. Both very big boys with less than a physical game

  • Anonymous

    “The only thing he hasn’t adapted to is the, frankly, idiotic way in which he has been managed by DL and TM. ”

    I disagree. He just doesn’t battle for the puck enough and constantly get’s knocked off the puck by smaller guys. This should not happen for a guy his size, on any level, and Brian should know this better than anyone.This should be HIS number 1 asset to his game. I’m not talking about destroying guys, just playing big. Remember how Jason Allison would get the puck and guys would swarm him, and the guys would just bounce off him as he skated away? That’s how he should use his size. When Brian learns to hustle and battle every shift, then he’ll find a regular spot on the team, and that’s the message DL and TM are trying to get across.

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