OK, here’s the start of the massive Dean Lombardi interview. I don’t know if I’ve ever done an interview with anyone that lasted this long, so hopefully you’ll find it worth the time. Some answers are (much) longer than others, but I’ll break it up into the 13 areas/questions that we covered. I’ll put the first part here, and then you can click to read the entire answer. The early part of the interview focuses on the trade deadline and things that might happen in the short term, then we get more specific.
Funny thing…while Lombardi was talking about trades, a GM called his office phone. My friends up north will be surprised and saddened to know that it wasn’t Ottawa. But Lombardi actually turned off his Blackberry while we talked, which was a classy and courteous move. Anyway, here’s the start of it. Pace yourselves.
Question: You’re still very much in the playoff race. As the trade deadline approaches, will you make decisions based strictly on long-term planning, or will you factor in where the team is in the standings?
LOMBARDI: “The problem with answering that is that there’s no set formula. It would depend on the price. Ideally, what’s a home run to you? When you get a guy who helps now and fits long term, right? So obviously if it fits long term, you’re probably willing to pay more of a price, in terms of futures, what most people would want. So that would be your ideal thing. You get a guy at the deadline who fits now and fits with you for the next two, three, four years and continues to grow with this team. So that’s your short- and long-term one. That’s your ideal. That’s the one you pay the most for.
`Now you move down the ladder and go to the other end of the spectrum and say, `It’s strictly a rental.’ There too, even if it’s strictly a rental, it depends upon the price. To just say it’s influenced by long term or short term, you can’t answer that without knowing the price. Obviously if it’s a rental player, I’m not going to pay anywhere near what I would for `Door No. 1′ there. So you can’t answer that question in a vacuum until you know the cost.
“I guess the one thing I can answer is, if you see Tkachuk, when he went to Atlanta, where it was a first-, a second-, a third-round pick… When Billy Guerin went to San Jose for a first and a top prospect. I don’t see us making those type of deals at this stage, where we’re throwing around Grade-A type things. I think those are fine when the point comes that you’re going for the Cup. To do those deals, for a rental, at this stage of our franchise, doesn’t make a lot of sense.
“If you took those deals…I made a list. Samsonov in 2006. Is that a big deal? Here’s one. Ryan Smyth, 2007, going to the Islanders for a first-round pick and two former first-round picks. And what did they do? They went out in the first round. Do what you’ve got to do but… And the player walks on you. That’s the type of thing I prefer to avoid. Now if they signed him, OK, I can probably live with it, because then he still fits in with the long-term plan, but that’s your danger. Bertuzzi to Detroit for Matthias, a former first-round pick, a conditional first and a third. Again, Detroit is going for a Cup. If we’re in that situation… Billy Guerin for Barriball, a first-round pick and Nieminen. Again, that’s San Jose going for the Cup. Adam Foote. OK, they signed him. They gave up a first, and another pick, but they got him signed. Brian Campbell, a first-round pick, Bernier and a former first-round pick. San Jose, going for the Cup, and then they lose him.
“If I’m in a situation where I have to lose a former first-rounder and a first-round pick, I don’t have the luxury of that just yet. Again, that’s going back to building your reserve list. Once it’s built, you’re solid in your junior players and you’ve got a good team, you can afford to do what San Jose did every year and trade like that, and you don’t miss a beat, because your reserve list is solid. But for us to do that, unless… Like that Ryan Smyth deal. To have a guy walk on you and give up three first-rounders, I don’t see it.
“Is that being influenced by long term, short term? You’d probably say I’m still looking long term. Unless you’re a favorite, I don’t see it. Unless you’re Detroit or San Jose, and it makes sense for them, but you’ve got to position yourself before you do things like that.”