Lombardi: Long term, or rent-a-player?

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.”

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  • Dominic Lavoie

    Thanks Rich! I don’t think I am going to get much done today!

  • Jesse

    Doing things the right way for a change sucks right now. I hate having to be patient. Can’t we just flush our franchise down the pooper for a last ditch playoff run like we always do?

  • Kevin Y

    Very courteous of DL to turn off his Blackberry during the interview… by the way, Rich, can you tell us which team’s GM called? I’m sure inquiring minds want to know.

  • Bob Bobson

    Pretty much what most would imagine. Not going to sell the farm for a rental at this stage. But it is surprising to hear him say he might be willing to give up as much as SJ for a rental like Campbell. Sounds like he still wants to build up the prospect list…

  • brianguy

    13 parts… wow awesome. looking forward to reading all of this

  • brianguy

    “Doing things the right way for a change sucks right now. I hate having to be patient.”

    I realize some of this was sarcasm but I’m actually enjoying it!! knowing we haven’t thrown away our future (and really, still building by doing things like hoarding draft picks if you look at it) while winning more games than not and still in the playoff hunt. this is good…

    if we make it to the postseason great, if we don’t, this will have been a great experience and building year.

  • Kevin Y

    “if we make it to the postseason great, if we don’t, this will have been a great experience and building year.”

    Right. Even if we don’t make the playoffs this year, being in the chase this season will be very beneficial to the guys in 2009-10. I just hope that DL can get at least one proven free agent. Hossa, perhaps?

  • Brian M

    I think we’re heading in the right direction. If we can make a trade for the long haul great, but let’s stay away from rental players. Too many of the them walk after the season. It would be a waste of draft picks, prospects or both. Again, if it’s a deal for the long term great if it’s there to be had. I’m encouraged with how the team is progressing and that hasn’t happened in a while.

  • Orphios

    It does seem rather obvious how we proceed from here. Obviously, DL will likely define three levels of players: Core players that can’t be dealt (Doughty), Core Players that can be dealt (for the right deal – Hickey, Frolov (though I wouldnt move him personally), and kids that can be dealt if it makes sense (Purcell, Lewis (who i wouldnt deal), Moulson).

    He then attempts to deal the vets on this team: Caldor, Preissing, Guathier, etc) and takes what picks or players that he values and are offered.

    He only trades for an impact player which costs picks/high end players if the player is perfect in skill, offensive need, age (20-25), and is or will sign a LTC here (I assume 4+ years).

    We are moving in the right direction and clearly with what his vision has been from the beginning. This year maybe playoffs, next year another run to the P-Offs (remember goaltending will still be young next year), and likely the year after we start our run of being a serious threat.

  • Ersberg

    I’m going out on a limb and saying he’ll only move the vets/UFA’s by deadline. He’s not going to risk anything this season. I wouldn’t either.

  • Mel

    Thank you Rich. Your hard work does not go unnoticed on LetsGoKings. Keep up the great work šŸ™‚

  • Moondoggie

    Ersberg…I’d tend to agree. We have so many kids in the pipeline waiting for a chance to play and more on the way. The Kings are going to have to give serious consideration to Hickey, Teubert, Drewiske and possibly Martinez & Lokitonov next year. They’ve got to get Oscar back in the line-up. You’ve got this glut of goalies waiting for their chance, Jones, Taylor, Bernier, Zatkoff also waiting. The best way to get some of these assets playing is to move the vets which I’m sorry to say are probably on the endangered list.

    It would be too bad to see someone like Handzus, Calder or O’Donnell who have played well this season get moved. Keeping in mind that these were fill players until the Kings youth was in place, don’t be real surprised to see some of them gone at the deadline to make room for the kids coming up.

  • mrbrett7

    The only vet that I feel is untouchable is Handzus.

  • Bob Bobson

    As far as this year is concerned, unless we get at least a 3rd for him O’Donnell is untouchable as well.

  • Carter

    Thanks for the great work as always, but….

    Couldn’t you just post the tape recording?

  • Johnny Kick a Hole In The Sky

    I’m not sure so maybe someone can tell me..

    Has Lombardi ever made a “big” trade. I’m talking about a Joe Thornton type deal.

    Does he have the balls to do it?

    Lombardi seems too analytical. Sometimes you just have throw it all out the window and get that big name player.

    I know I did. In NHL ’09.

    I’m not saying who I acquired. It took me a a few hours contemplating, I was hesitant, but in the end I thought about winning. Just win baby.

    So I pulled the trigger.

    Do it Deano!

  • m

    Before I begin reading this entire interview, I just wanted to say THANKS, RICH!

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