OK, this should be the end of the interview. I hope everyone found it interesting and informative. Obviously, I couldn’t ask every question, and I know there are a lot of specific questions that people want answered, but hopefully from the long answers, you’ll see why I asked the type of questions I did. A lot of the draft/prospect related questions can be asked at the end of the season, and the period leading up to the draft and free agency. For now, I’m going to rest my hands.
Question: In your opinion, which Kings player has had the most surprising season?
LOMBARDI: “I think you’d have to say that any time an 18-year-old comes in plays that type of minutes with that much poise… As much as I like this kid (Doughty), I don’t know if I’ve seen this before, at this age.”
Question: On one of your teams, or ever?
LOMBARDI: “On any team. Ray Bourque, I saw him break in. I’m not saying he’s Ray Bourque, but he’s not out of place. The funny thing is, I thought his worst game was against the Islanders, the one we just played. That was his worst game, by far. And it was kind of weird, because he has raised the bar so high with his play. Now, when he has a game that might be considered an average game for a 19-year-old, it sticks out like, `That was awful.’ But if he had thrown you that back in October, when he was just breaking in, you would say, `Well, that’s a 19-year-old.’
“But when you see that, after what he has done consistently… That rush he made the other night against Edmonton, in the 4-on-4. He went around and changed speed and he tried to jam it in on his forehand. Do you know how hard that is? And he’s trying to win the game. That’s what I love about this kid. He’s recognizing, already the moments where it’s like, `OK, I’ve got to take a little risk here.’ His timing, not only in terms of how he keeps things simple, but subtlely, it’s high-level. That’s what the great ones do. They’re not bringing you out of your seat, the top defensemen. What does Lidstrom do that brings you out of your seat? He just makes the right play at the right time. You’ve got to really know the game in order to appreciate him.
“But what (Doughty) does too, is, he recognizes when he has to jack it up, with a little more risk. `I’ve got to make something happen,’ like he did in that overtime. It was like, `I’m going to do something here. It’s time.’ I guess that’s the biggest surprise, because there’s not a lot of history on it. Phaneuf went back to junior. Pronger struggled his first year. Niedermayer went back to junior. I’m running all these guys through my head.
“What I love so far is, he’s living with Greene, and I’m watching it closely. It goes back to his parents. We did all our interviews, and I spent a lot of time on the road there with the family. This kid’s head, I think, is a direct reflection of the family. They’re solid. The father was a former athlete and the mom is proud, but they understand the line. They live for their kid, not through their kid. There’s a huge difference. When we made the decision that he was our guy, it wasn’t only about the player. We were in that house and we met the family on numerous occasions. You just got the feeling that this kid would be able to keep his head on straight, and he’s doing that. That’s becoming an aberration now. You look at some of these parents now, and it’s off the charts.
“Mike Richards’ parents are great. A guy once told me, `Go to one of those Hockey Canada things, where they gather the parents, and look at the way they interact.’ That’s how you know how the kids have been brought up. A pretty smart guy told me that about five years ago. We’re seeing this metamorphosis, where the parents are so involved. I remember doing it around the Canadian team, and Mike Richards’ parents just stood out. So the theory held. I wanted to test the theory. There was a whole group of parents, and you could hear the ones who were just talking about themselves or their kid, and then there was Mike Richards’ parents. You could pick them out. It was unbelievable. So with Drew, I think he will stay on this course, if the reflection of his parents is accurate.”