Lombardi: Which goalie is mentally tough?

Question: Jonathan Quick is here and doing well. If you would have asked for predictions, as to which young goalie would be here having success, they probably would have said Bernier…

LOMBARDI: “Not here. You didn’t hear that from me. I told you, Quick is underestimated. You didn’t hear that from the hockey people. The point was, let it play out. People forget, too, that Quick is a little older, because he did two years of college. It’s real hard (to make the jump from junior). Mason has done it, but that’s an aberration, in the way young goaltenders come along.

“Nabokov, Kiprusoff and Toskala. I’ve said it before. Warren Strelow (former Sharks goalie coach) had those goalies. (He said,) `Don’t evaluate them. Make them better every day.’ Don’t go around saying, `Bernier is going to be our No. 1,’ because we don’t know. I remember (Strelow) standing up…he had all that experience and we were sitting around in our goaltending meeting talking. He said, `It doesn’t matter. Don’t be making predictions. We don’t know. We don’t know how mentally tough they are. It’s our job to make them better every day.’ And we hit on all three of those guys.

“So, people ask me about Bernier or Quick. I don’t know. It might be Zatkoff. Now, does it surprise me that Quick is ahead? No. He has done two years of college and a year and a half of minors. I would have preferred two, but he’s more mature physically and he’s a hell of an athlete. I’ve always said that he’s our best athlete. Jon (Bernier) was our best technical goalie but very few people downstairs are as good athletically as Jon (Quick). And like I said, he has done the time in the minors that Bernier hasn’t done yet. So is it totally surprising that he’s here? No.”

Question: Do you have to talk to Bernier quite a bit?

LOMBARDI: “Yeah. He’s going through a little bit of the Kiprusoff thing now. He’s struggling with, `Oh, last year I was going to Hollywood parties.’ `What happened?’ `Am I a failure?”’

Question: You have to talk him off the ledge a little bit?

LOMBARDI: “It’s all part of it. It’s mental toughness. If you’re not going to be mentally tough enough to get through this now, how are you going to be when it’s a playoff game? What about when it’s Game 7 of the playoffs? This is the part about development, about the minor leagues, that people want to skip over. They want to make stars out of these young players before they’ve done a damn thing in the league. This is all a part of mental toughness.

“Nabokov almost went home. Kiprusoff, same thing. Talk about being on a ledge. Nabokov, in his second year in the minors, almost was ready to go home. He wasn’t playing well and things weren’t going his way. Shields and Vernon were up (with the Sharks) and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. He was a week away from going back to Russia. We didn’t allow it. `Hang in there. Too bad.’ It’s just like when Dad doesn’t give you the keys to the car and he makes you study. Then you come back 10 years later and say it’s the best thing that ever happened.

“These guys do the same thing, and Jon (Bernier) is going through that now. You can tell him, and he doesn’t believe it, just like any other young player. He’s just going to have to figure it out. But he’s got loads of ability. The other thing with Jon is, a lot of times with these kids, it’s a smooth ride. Top player in junior hockey, first-round pick, really smooth. Then he plays those games in Europe (last season) and it’s, `Oh, this is great. I can play in the show.’ There’s a big difference between playing in the show and winning in the show.”

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  • Quisp

    Perfect timing, Rich, with this post, because I just saw that the Monarchs are on a winning streak behind — drum-roll — Dan Taylor, who has, to quote the Monarchs blog, leapt past (maybe it was leapt over) Jon Bernier. Taylor is 5-1 or 6-1 or something and Bernier has been losing games hand-over-fist.

    I am always/usually the first one to say the AHL stats for goalies only go so far, etc., and have not been to this point especially worried about Jon Bernier, but WTF, man.

    I loved DL’s thing about not giving the kid the keys to the car, and how Nabokov was about to go home. Also the hollywood parties thing… priceless.

    I don’t know about Bernier, but he talked me off the ledge.

    Inside the Kings, the blog that SAVES LIVES!

  • Anonymous

    Man I like the way this guy runs this club. Common sense.

  • Ersberg

    I hear you guys and hear Lombardi, but I can’t wait to see JB once he’s passed the “week before he goes home” phase, for lack of a better term. That’s if he gets passed it.

  • variable

    dean articulates a great ability to understand goaltenders and realizes what it takes to make up the mental strength of a top-level tender in the nhl…

    couldn’t agree with d.l. more on this…sounds like he has the same type of situation here as in san jose…and look how good those three turned out…

    i trust d.l. and his coaches with this part of the team w/out question….

  • Quisp

    However, now that I think about it, what does that do to Ersberg, pending UFA, etc., as the trade deadline approches… Does that mean we’re going to get an extension signed in the next few days?

  • Ersberg

    Here’s another question, Quisp..

    Do we/does he want Ersberg?

  • Quisp

    Ersberg re Ersberg:

    As you can see from our overlapping comments, I have the same question. I think the economics are the same as they were: namely, that Earsberg is a UFA, that he would probably be smart to want a contract that shows he’s a bigger part of the plan than just a band-aid until someone better is “ready,” that maybe (maybe — but I don’t know) DL won’t want to give EE such a contract, and so he won’t offer one, so EE won’t sign an extension, so he’ll go UFA, so DL will trade him first. Or…DL will sign him to an extension, in which case…

    I don’t know. I think I’m still leaning toward EE getting dealt. Maybe DL signs a UFA goalie over the summer to back-up Quick.



    (no, just kidding, sorry, it was a joke that had to be made…)

  • Marc Nathan

    This is the part about development, about the minor leagues, that peopleREAD: KINGS FANS want to skip over. They want to make stars out of these young players before they’ve done a damn thing in the league. This is all a part of mental toughness.

    Smartest quote out of Lombo’s mouth in the 2+ years I’ve been fed his kool-aid!

  • Ersberg

    Quisp-As much as I had hoped Ersberg would become our starter, I’m thinking the same thing in that we should test the market for an alternate.

    The million dollar question: Who?

  • Cynic

    Anyone here have Bernier’s E-mail address? They should send him the link to this so he can read his future GM’s comments about comparing his development to 3 of the best goaltenders in the game right now. If this little tidbit doesn’t talk him off the ledge, nothing will.

    What an awesome open conversation with Deano. I just don’t see fans of any other teams in the league getting this kind of honesty and openness from their front office, I’m enjoying every bit of it.

    By the way, I think TeamHasHoles said something about his speaking, I think it’s a gift that he DOESN’T speak like Clinton and Obama. I wouldn’t be able to trust him at ALL, ticket prices would have a 50% tax to pay for the homeless living outside Staples, and we’d be $790 billion over the cap and get NOTHING! (LOL)

  • Quisp

    Ersberg –

    I know not. There is a long list of goalie UFAs this summer, big and small. I suppose it will come down to variables we aren’t even aware of.

  • Moondoggie

    Another gem Rich, explaining the goalie mental toughness required to play in this league and the status of Bernier. Again, it speaks volumes for the Kings program and their status.

    I don’t know about the Ersberg being traded part. The Kings, outside of Ersberg don’t have an established back-up in case Quick goes down. We don’t know about Jones, Zatkoff is at least a year away and obviously we’re all hoping Bernier gets over his issues and starts winning games. Daniel Taylor may be the answer, like DL said, we just don’t know. Funny thing, maybe, just maybe Manchester is a better team with Taylor playing in front of them; it looks like the team is more confident with Taylor in goal and their record over the last 7 games proves it. I’m confident in the end that Zatkoff will be there but again, you just don’t know until you expose these guys to playing in the NHL. The AHL is still just the minor leagues, just look at the different player Lababs was in both leagues and you have your answer.

    It’s just a hunch and a tough call but I’d think DL has to sign Ersberg to at least a two, possibly 3 year contract, at least that’s what I’d do. Naturally it depends if Ersberg would accept such a deal or test the market and my guess is that if he doesn’t feel like a long term part of the team, he’ll go somewhere else. There are plenty of teams out there, void of any goaltending who would be willing to sign EE to a three year contract and take a chance on him. He’s certainly proved that he has what it takes to play in this league. Durability may be another issue the Kings are looking at with Ersberg.

    Signing Ersberg would buy DL some more time and who knows, maybe Ersberg ends up being the No. 1. He was certainly playing well enough to be No. 1 before getting hurt. However, if he hadn’t gotten hurt, Quick probably wouldn’t have gotten the call and Lababs would still be a King. Funny the way things work out sometimes….

  • Moondoggie

    One other thing….I don’t know about you guys but I became a little intrigued with Warren Strelow when reading DL’s comments. Evidently DL thought the world of this guy, I’d never heard of him. What a terrific goaltending coach he must have been…..


  • Anonymous

    Ersberg will not sign again with AEG.

    Hopefully, AEG will move Ersberg somewhere for a pick, bring up Taylor as backup for Quick, and let Bernier/Zatkoff attempt to develop in Manchester/Ontario.

  • Ersberg


    Do you think they should go for a UFA or one of the kids?