Lombardi: Is Frolov a `core’ player?

Question: You talk about the team’s “core” a lot, and many people have picked up on the fact that you usually don’t mention Frolov as part of that core. Is that on purpose? Are you anticipating contract difficulties there?

LOMBARDI: “It depends on what you define as your core. Here’s the thing, and I’ve said this to Fro so I can say it publicly. I think we all see that he’s got a lot of ability. I go back to the fact that if he had grown up in the Detroit environment, where winning was expected, and hadn’t gone six years of his career without a playoff game, would he be further along in terms of being that core player who understands the importance of winning and being a teammate?

“This is one thing I’ve always said, in defense of these kids, like him and Brown. They’ve got to figure it out on their own, versus `pass the torch,’ so to speak. That’s what Detroit is able to do. If Datsyuk had grown up (playing) in Florida, is he the same player? There’s a reason he was not a top pick, and part of it was (willingness to) come to play every night and win. But he goes to Detroit and he is broken in right. If he’s in Florida, who knows?

“So what I’m looking for from Fro, and we’re starting to see it, is that he cares. Not just cares about playing in the league, but winning in the league. This goes back to your other question, about when do points become important. This is a process, and we had to start from scratch here. That’s up to Fro. Does he have the ability? Yeah. But you’re going to have to show that winning is important, not just playing in the league.

“But in his defense, we haven’t exactly put him in an environment, as he was growing up, that he could have learned that by osmosis. He’s never played a playoff game. In the last month or so, I’m starting to see that. You know what? Maybe it’s more than playing in the league that he cares about. That’s a core player. You can’t have a guy in your core who doesn’t understand that. It will break down. So that core is still evolving.

“I tell these kids, the difference between (Alex) Rodriguez and (Derek) Jeter is a huge friggin’ difference. They better understand that I want Jeter, not Rodriguez. That’s a process, and we have to do it from scratch here. I don’t have Yzerman to hand it off to them. We’ll do it, and (Terry Murray) is really underestimated here because he is quiet. You don’t know how much time he spends just talking to them. Murph has been there. He knows what it takes to win. He’s been around and had a lot of experience at turning things around. He’s kind of quiet, but he spends a lot of time with these guys and that’s his message.

“When you’re dealing with young players or Frolov, who isn’t a young player per se, you can’t just tell them things once a month. Sometimes it’s every other day. But I like what I’m starting to see in Fro. When you send him out there with a one-goal lead, he has to understand that getting the puck out of there, and paying the price, is every bit as important as scoring a goal. That’s your goal, to kill a critical penalty or go down and block a shot, like Handzus does. These are signs of a guy who is a core player, not just your numbers.”

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  • Anonymous

    Fro certainly was hustling last night. We haven’t yet seen him take a stretch of the season off either. I hope he keeps it up and becomes a part of the core.

  • Anonymous

    Damn Right, he’s a core player. If Alex isn’t resigned you can kiss my 20+ years of support goodbye.

  • Anonymous

    Fro has been much improved the last 10 games.
    I like what they are bringing out of him. I am VERY impressed.

  • kingsrule

    So whats his answer, yes? no? it better be yess…

  • Bob Bobson

    Basically, Fro is not currently a “core” player until he has shown he cares and can perform consistently. I do see an improvement in his work ethic and his ability to show up every night.

    My only problem is there are nights when other guys like Sully or Kopi don’t seem to show up. Maybe they are younger so Dean gives them a pass ? Or maybe they have built up more credibility than Fro has in the past few years ?

  • Irish Pat

    Rich,

    You are freakin’ awesome and that is an understatement. Thank you for everything you do.

    And for Lombardi to turn his phone off during this interview… that shows a lot of class and would seem to indicate how much he values what it is you’re doing for fans of this hockey club. I’m sure every fan of any NHL team would love to have the communication and insight that we get. We are truly spoiled.

  • kinganze

    I really hope that Fro shows Lombardi that he cares during this stretch run, and hopefully into the playoffs, because if he plays like he has the last few weeks with his dominant play down low, and muscleing his way to the net…he will be a force in the playoffs if we can sneak in. Then hopefully Lombardi will deem him fit to be mentioned in the core group and resigned to a decnt salary.

  • Brian

    Man, I actually agree with DL 100% on this. I’ve always said Fro lacks intensity and desire. Ya he has skill – so do a million other guys in the league and not in the league. Remember a guy named Pavel Rosa? He had skill…what happened to him?

    I say time and time again how Fro gets beat to ALL the loose pucks etc… This guy has the potential to be a 50 goal scorer and I think everyone else would agree. He just doesn’t take himself there. He doesn’t have the desire to do what it takes to win. It seems like he’s just wanted to make a play and hopefully it will light the lamp. But that’s exactly what hurts a team and a player. That’s why I’ve always kind of just stood back and watched Fro instead of raving about him because I just don’t see it.

    Now, like DL is saying, Fro has started to emerge as someone who cares it seems like. So hopefully Fro can read into this and keep progressing so we don’t have to trade him for a 6th rounder…

  • TeamHasHoles

    Let me preface my comment here, by saying that I truly appreciate Dean’s complete willingness to talk so openly about these things and giving Rich (and by extension “us”) his time to explain things.

    Sometimes Dean meanders to get to his point and is a bit longer-winded than he probably has to be… You can see he’s trying to illustrate something, but was not given the oratory gifts of say a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama…

    However, this might be the best, most concise yet illustrative answer to any question I’ve ever heard or read that he’s been asked.

    Fair question…. almost perfectly given answer (still a little long-winded, he’ll have to work on that in the Minors). ;)

  • Pete

    I consider Frolov to be just as much a “core player” as someone like Anze Kopitar AT THE MOMENT. If you watch the 2 players ignoring potential and age, you will see that Frolov does more for the team than Anze.

    Just my opinion

  • Palfan

    Lombardi knows Frolov better than me but most nights I see a guy who takes all kinds of abuse to hang on to the puck often against 2 or 3 defenders. I don’t understand how he can say that he is not willing to “pay the price” or doesn’t care. Most nights Frolov is the best King on the ice and if Lombardi thinks he is so expendable, I wonder just who in the Kings system he expects to replace him. I think that is one hole that would be tough to fill.

  • mrbrett7

    I’ve never thought TOO much of Frolov. Lot’s of talent, no real desire to win.

    Ever since he got benched against Pheonix, it’s like he has morphed into a new hockey player. It’s great to see, and I am one who hopes he sticks around.

  • variable

    rich…great job and thanks for asking the questions for us…

    well…not exactly a ringing endorsement…

    it seems that frolov’s future still is ambiguous w/the kings…it sounds like d.l. likes him, but isn’t quite sure what he’s going to do with him…
    very interesting insight as to what d.l. looks for inside a player…questioning fro’s level of desire to win seems like d.l. might have other plans for him…i hope not…he’s still 26, (27 in the summer), and maybe this is the season that he matures in his desire to be that ‘core’ player d.l. speaks of…heck, he is doing a lot of the little things as well as the big ones…also, one can make a very good argument that t.m. misused fro in the beginning part of the season…look at what he’s meant to kopi ans sully’s production? fro is a keeper…5 straight 20+ goal seasons and his ability to make other players better around him should be enough to solidify his status on the team…
    judging by d.l.’s remarks, fro’s future is still uncertain…and that’s too bad…

  • Ersberg

    Don’t trade Fro..

    He’s starting to show the killer instinct and mature play needed to be a top shelf player.

    This guy needs to retire a King.

  • dirtmover

    I can’t believe were talking about FRO not being a core player – what else does the guy have to prove – ya he blows on breakaways so what- he guards the puck like it’s the last one at the rink – his D is solid for a forward and the last time I looked dude led the team in goals- were nitpicking the guy to death – of the problems with the squad HE is the last on the list to worry about – could he be better sure so could the rest of the league I can find things to gripe about every guy who skates – lets focus on immediate problems like making sure everyone on the bench knows home games start @ 7:40 – These starts are killing us 3-0 @the 8 min mark are you kidding me- Keep the faith

  • http://Ethman Ethman

    guys who are begging for Fro to stay might be missing the point.

    i agree Frolov has really picked up his game as of late. yes he does take punishment to hold the puck (something he does very well) but he’s also using his body more to hit other guys. hell never deliver earth-shattering hits but he does seem to be buying into TM system which is good.

    what’s most important though is DL’s point, can he make himself a core, Derek Jeter type player? if not than none of us should want him on the team. it’s all about building the culture of a winning organization. talent alone isn’t enough. there’s a reason teams like the rangers have been floundering around for so many years not really getting anywhere.

  • kingjin

    I don’t know if Fro is not a core who might is.
    He has been most consistent player and best player in this team.
    He has been asked to play three different lines and done damm good job at it. There is none in this team and in the farm who can replace his unique ability at this point. He can creat so much room and time for his line mates and it’s no wonder Kopi starting to produce since he joined with Fro. Playoff? He never has been in that position and now you can see his face, especially at the end of Calgary, he wants to win and he wants his first playoff.

  • mrbrett7

    You guys need to stop paying attention to the statistics and start paying attention to what happens during the games.

    How often does he sacrifice his body just to clear the puck out of the zone?

    How often is he diving to block a slop shot?

    How often is he creating screens or creating space for his linemates to skate with the puck?

    How often is he jumping into scrums to protect his teammates?

    THESE are the types of things Lombardi is talking about. That’s why Cammy isn’t here anymore. Money has nothing to do with it. Playoffs are a war, and if your not willing to do these things, you will never win.

    Now…is Frolov doing these thing? I think he is, finally, for the first time in his career, he is. The hard part is figuring out a way to do these things, AND still produce at a top 6 level. That is what your “core” players (on offense) do. I believe he is actually starting to figure it out.

    Personally, I think a great example is a player like Sergei Nemchinov. He didn’t do these things until well into his 30′s, playing for Mike Kennan and the NYR in the early 90′s. With some players, it takes them longer than others.

    Brown is beginning to show these attributes. Over the last 10-15 games, Kopitar have grown a hairy pair and is starting to do so. O’Sullivan, well, I just don’t know if he ever will, but he is so gifted, you need to keep riding him to see if he will. Johnson, Doughty already are beginning to show these. Simmonds has since day one (which is why he made the team). Moller has flashes of these attributes (although I fear they made a mistake with him, and he should have gone back to Juniors…just my opinion).

    Starting to see a trend here? It’s just NOW starting…to build this mentality takes a LONG time. We are just now starting to see the beginning.

  • Jeri Kurhl

    Frolov has been the best Kings forward since the lockout. If you don’t agree, please enlighten me.

  • tantrum4

    Wow, quite the turnaround in opinions of Frolov from last summer. I remember coming to this site and it was trade Frolov + Hanzus + Hickey for player X, or trade Frolov + Johnson + Quick for player X. Now he’s played a month of great hockey and people are threatening to not renew thier season tickets if he’s traded? ha,ha gotta love sports fans…..

    And for those that think Lombardi is somehow saying that Frolov isn’t part of the core or doesn’t think he can be, please re-read the above interview

  • variable

    mrbrett7…

    you bring up the nemchinov example (impressed, btw) and he is one of many excellent examples…i imagine he being a russian player had a lot to do w/it….
    frolov is my favorite player on the team and has been for several years…but i understand some of the criticism he’s received…
    i think there was a certain fear by his critics that frolov leaned more to the side of an alexei yashin-type persona than a segei federov….fro has the complete package…and maybe FRO is starting to realize this…maybe we are watching the epiphany in his career…before this season, we would see stretches of play where fro was showing us what he could bring to the table…now, we are seeing the consistent game that has been asked of him…and, to the delight to management, teammates and fans, fro is heading in the right direction…i cannot remember a time in his career that he has been so physical…it’s refreshing to see that type of emotion in a player of frolov’s skill level…

    all too much in the past, kings gm’s have jettisoned young, burgeoning talent because of a lack of discipline and patience…the list is lengthy…frolov is on the precipice…he’s very close to seeing the light…it would be a shame for d.l. to send him off and prosper for any other team…i don’t think that will happen…at least not this season…i would think frolov is safe for now and dean would probably much rather deal with it in the off season since fro does have another year left…this will also benefit fro if he continues to play at this current level…
    what would not benefit frolov if he and his agent ask for more than $5.5/$6mil a year (avg.)…i don’t think dean would go higher than $6mil a year…and that really is my greatest fear….i imagine frolov loves playing in los angeles and probably would make some considerations towards his family and kids to try to make something work out…but, at this point, he is coveted by many teams…especially in canada as we know…i think this will become a bigger issue in the off season and as we get closer to the draft…

  • mrbrett7

    I brought up Nemchinov because Frolov REALLY reminds me of him.

    Nemchinov, until he “got it” was an enigma. Some games, he was unreal. Others, it was like he was a ghost…and that has been Frolov’s M.O. since he came into the NHL. Their styles are a bit different, but their personalities are similar.

    I don’t know what Kennan did or said to him to get Nemchinov to buy into what he was doing, but it worked. But, in my opinion, it wasn’t what was said, it was more what was going on. He matured, got used to living in this country, many things. If you remember, especially back then, many Russians had a hard time with the transition into the NHL.

    But overall, what I think it was, was competing for something. Keenan showed Nemchinov what it took to care and what it took to compete on a nightly basis, because there was a reason to.

    I see the same thing happening in Frolov. There are little things I’m noticing…last night, late in the game, he held onto the puck in the corner for about 20 seconds or so, worked it out to the point, and he tried to make a nice, soft pass to the pointman for a one-timer, and he really flubbed the pass. In the past, his reaction would be to hustle back on defense, and try to get the puck back. That’s all well and good. But last night, his immediate reaction was to look up to the sky in a way to say to himself, “What the hell was that Alex!” Now THAT is what I want to see, and of course, after that, he skated his ass off to get the puck back. You see it in his reactions after scoring a goal…showing real emotion.

    That is what it takes.

  • CBGB

    Translation:

    1st chance I get to trade him for a player who cares, I will

  • FroFan

    I have never understood fans for/against Frolov. I cannot think of any other player in the NHL that has so many people loving him and same amount hating him. Example: Everyone loves Zetterberg–Everyone hates Avery. With these players it is either love or hate not both. But with Frolov, people either really love him or hate him!! I think it comes down to him being so quiet. He doesn’t get all excited when he scores and doesn’t show hardly any emotion. There just seems like there’s very little excitement there and he is never in or speaking with the media. But the guy shows up and WORKS!!! He is an awesome hockey player with excellent skills. He is a great scorer and great puck/stick handler and puck protecter. I just can’t seem to put it into words or understand what is so wrong with this guy.

    Rich, Us Kings fans can’t thank you enough for your dedication and hard work . We are truly spoiled to have you and we can’t get enough of your writings. Thanks again for ANOTHER job well done.

  • EternalOptimist

    Based upon his answer, I think it’s pretty clear that the answer is no… at least not right now. I agree that he is playing well right now, but we have seen glimpses of this in the past. Actually I remember a stretch last season(before his groin injury), where I thought he was playing the best hockey I have ever seen from him. But then he went through long stretches where you hardly noticed him on the ice. What is comes down to is consistency and this will determining whether he is a core player or not. The thing is that the time frame(maybe as short as this season) in which Fro prove this to DL may be running out. This team is on the cusp of being a playoff contender and I would expect DL to be looking for a forward that would be a significant upgrade for the top 2 lines. Fro is probably the player(not part of the “core”) that would be able to bring in that type of a player.

    And my first choice would be the guy that put on a show against us last night. Can you imagine how good this team would be Kovalchuk in the lineup? He is as close to an Oveckin type player as you can get, and I would include Fro in a hearbeat if we could land him. Besides being one of the best pure scorers in the league(I rate him only behind Oveckin), he has really improved his overall game over the last few seasons. Plus he’s only 25 and only going to get better. If there is a chance that Atlanta would be stupid enough to trade him, I think DL should go for it. My proposal would be Fro + 1st pick + prospect + future compensation(depending upon whether he re-signs or not). This is a risky trade since Kovalchuk is set to become a free agent after next season but with him in the lineup, I believe we will make the playoffs next year and put the team on the cusp of being a cup contender. That and living in LA I think will give us as good of a shot as another team of signing him. Also Fro’s contract expires after next season as well and there is no guarantee we can resign him. I think it’s worth a shot unless Atlanta is asking for Kopitar/Doughty in return.

  • JDM

    “Paying the price” and all these comments have little to do with anything physical, whether it be taking a hit or dishing one out.

    Read further into the statements guys and gals, many words have more meanings than the dictionary gives them.

    All DL is talking about here is the intangible “extra gear” star athletes all have. Its not even about consistency, though it is important. Its about being able to step your own game up at the hardest times, when players with less heart (who we all for years thought Frolov was), peter out and quit because its too hard, or not worth it to win, or their too scared, whatever their reason/excuse for not “digging in” as Murray puts it.

    Frolov has never done it before, but many of you have it right that he is showing it now. It shows up in little things like celebrating after a goal, throwing a good check, or sacrificing your body, but really what is at the essence of DL’s concern with Frolov is whether he plays his best when it matters. Lately Frolov has been doing it. And thank god, because when he does, watch out, Frolov is just about as good as they come. The last shift against Edmonton is the best example of this for Frolov. He did all the little things, but most importantly, he was DESPARATE to help tie the game. Its really a hard thing to quantify and I think DL did a really good job of explaining it here.

  • Since 1971

    I think we are starting to see the real Frolov including his limitations. He is not a sniper and his shot is good, not great. But he is incredibly strong and as others have said, does a great job of protecting the puck and waiting for others to get open — if they properly move without the puck. But he seems to be playing with the intensity that was not there before. There are some players who play on the periphery — perhaps some would think of Camy — and there are others who take a lot of grief. Frolov’s willingness, as a scorer, to take punishment goes along way towards making him a core player.

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