GM breakfast, part 2

First of all, a Happy Father’s Day to everyone out there.

Here’s the second part of the GM breakfast recap from yesterday. The third and final part will be coming soon…

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– Next question was about Lombardi’s previously stated interest in “Moneyball” and sabermetrics, and whether he used it in his hockey analysis. Lombardi talked about the difficulty in using sabermetrics in hockey, because players mature at different rates, and said that statistical analysis like that is only “five to 10 percent” of the process. He spoke at length about the value of character when evaluating young players, in terms of their desire to win and meeting their parents, etc. Lombardi also noted that Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, he of “Moneyball” fame, typically drafts college players, rather than 18-year-olds, a luxury not afforded to NHL general managers. Lombardi said that while baseball is statistically driven, in hockey you can’t win without heart.

– Next question started with praise for Lombardi’s leadership and insinuated that he might want to look at a player “down in Florida.” Hextall took that to mean Jay Bouwmeester, even though the question seemed to reference Vinny Lecavalier. Hextall called the Kings’ potential on defense “enormous” and once again stated the need for a scoring left winger. Hextall added that “we expect a productive year from Justin Williams and we expect Kopi will be better … but that’s where we would like to add a player.” Lombardi thanked the fan for his praise and deflected it to his staff, saying, “You’re only as good as the people who work for you.”

– Next question was regarding when the Kings would retire Butch Goring’s number. Lombardi fielded the question and said, “If I see his number up there, I’m going to think about the Cups he didn’t win here.” Lombardi had hefty praise for Goring, both as a member of the Kings and the Islanders, but finished with, “I’m more worried about getting one of our kids’ jerseys up there one day, the right way.”

– Next question asked about the breakdown of scouts in the organization, and where they were situated. Lombardi spoke and mentioned Mike Futa and Mark Yannetti, and his desire to have someone (in this case Futa) with significant experience dealing with the Ontario Hockey League. Lombardi said he had one main amateur person in three different regions — one in the WHL, one in the “middle,” presumably other junior leagues, and one in Europe — and then a team of scouts that funnel information up. Hextall spoke next and said that the three top pro scouts each take 10 NHL teams and 10 AHL teams at the start of the season, then have their duties start to cross over in mid-December. Hextall referenced players such as Teddy Purcell and Davis Drewiske as examples of players the Kings grabbed because of strong scouting.

– At this point, before the next question, Jim Fox told the crowd that all Kings games would be broadcast in high definition next season. The announcement got a strong ovation. It should also be said that Jim did a great job moderating the event, with some good humor mixed in, and that Bob Miller got a nice standing ovation from the crowd as Jim announced that Bob will be entering his 50th year of broadcasting.

– Next question was about whether Lombardi was leaning toward keeping the No. 5 pick or trading it. Lombardi said it was “too early to tell” and that “the decision will go right down to the wire.” Lombardi said, “I do believe we will get an offer that will tempt us,” and said that he knows the Kings are making progress because, for the first time in his tenure, he’s even considering trading his top pick. That said, Lombardi said it is “still the best chance that we’re going to keep it.” Lombardi said, “It’s a good problem to have. The last three years, it would have been ridiculous to think about (trading) it.”

– Next question was about Andrei Loktionov’s play in the Memorial Cup. Lombardi used the opportunity to praise his staff, and said that Loktionov should have been a second-round pick (the Kings got him in the fifth round) except for the uncertainty involving Russian players last summer. Lombardi said, “Most teams thought those kids (Loktionov and Voynov) were going back to Russia, but our guys did a great job of getting committments from there before the draft.” Lombardi talked about some “antics” and poor behavior Loktionov showed during the regular season, then explained how Loktionov “slowly stuck with it” and became more of a team player. Lombardi described a game against the Calgary Hitmen in which Loktionov took a cheap-shot hit and went down hard, but got up and skated to the bench. “That’s my boy,” Lombardi said, and then noted that Loktionov would be “turned over to Uncle Hex” to play for the Manchester Monarchs next season (most likely).

– Next question was about the Kings’ identity, amid frequent logo/jersey changes, and made reference to the third-jersey logo looking like UPS (another great line, and true). Lombardi joked he was happy to pass off the question because he is color-blind. McGowan took it and said the Kings’ identity is with the crown, and that they went to the third jersey to highlight the old black and silver colors and pay tribute to L.A. McGowan said that no logo changes will be made.

– Next question was about bringing in a “character free agent” in the mold of Derek Armstrong. Lombardi took the question and had great praise for Armstrong and Denis Gauthier, calling them “fantastic” teammates. Lombardi noted that Armstrong never complained last season, even when he was out of the lineup, and disclosed that he had attempted to trade Armstrong before the deadline in order to give him a chance with a playoff team. Lombardi said Armstrong and Gauthier “showed no signs of selfishness.” In terms of bringing back Armstrong — an unrestricted free agent — Lombardi expressed interest but said “the reality is that I have to keep spots open.” Lombardi said he had to see if a young player was ready to take that spot and noted that he could only have 50 contracts at a time. Lombardi compared Armstrong to character veterans such as Marty McSorley and Bernie Nicholls, whom he brought to San Jose for veteran leadership.

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  • anthonyy

    Without sounding provocative to my fellow kings fans and to the host of this site, I must say that I’m a worried Kings fan.
    All I got from this breakfast was this:
    -Kopitar needs to get better
    -other players need to get grittier
    -we must score more goals
    -We’re not going after Heatley because of his attitude
    -We’re not going to sign any big time players because the salary cap is gonna be reduced
    -we’re not trading for any big time player for reasons that were not articulated intelligently.
    -we’re keeping our 5th pick

    Maybe next season the team will end up 24th instead of 25th.
    This is as subtle as I can Be.

  • Rob

    Anthonyy:
    -Kopitar does need to get better
    -Others do need to get grittier
    -We do need to score more goals
    -You have no clue about Heatley. All this talk about Heatley could just be to lower his trade value. If you truly are a lawyer you should know all about lying to serve your own purpose.
    -I hope we dont overpay or overtrade for any bigtime player at the cost of diminishing our depth this year. we arent ready for that.
    -We should most definitely keep our 5th unless a move to hard to pass up arises. With any luck we wont draft this low in the future. Take advantage of it now.

    Maybe next season we make the playoffs enticing an UFA or 2 to sign here.
    THATS AS SUBTLE AS I CAN BE

  • Paul from Oxnard

    I have the same view as you do Anthony about next year’s Kings. I have a real suspicion that the team will look pretty much like it did this past year. Where I differ from you is that I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. We’re a young, growing team that will get better year after year. Bringing in a malcontent like Heatly or a big name, high priced free agent just to shut up guys like you isn’t the way this team needs to go.

    If an intelligent solution to the Kings issues can be found for next season, Lombardi will do it. If not I think he’ll be happy to stand pat with the team he has.

  • wavesinair

    Some of my observations from the breakfast

    *Lombardi struck me as largely defensive in his answers and I didnt like that he pointed his index finger at the crowd as if he was admonishing us. Very annoying.

    *As much as Ive supported him, Ive grown tired of Lombardis persistent hedging on exactly WHEN this team will win. As far as Im concerned, this is a make or break season for management. Playoffs or fired.

    *You can build the perfect organization from the ground up but at some point, you MUST win. Id love to hear Lombardi put his job on the line with a clear expectation. THAT would show commitment to the plan and the team.

    *I thought it was revealing that Lombardi called an 8th place team terrible and thats not the kind of team we want to be without pointing out our complete absence of a playoff appearance for years and years. It really struck me as out of touch.

    *I thought it was sad and a bit ironic that one guy wanted the Kings to encourage fans to sit back in their seats and not stand up so that the guys view of the ice wouldnt be obstructedand they agreed! Isnt this the kind of culture were trying to get away from?!?! Of course, towards the end of the breakfast, people were heading for the exit to beat the traffic out of the parking lot! Classic LA fansand these are the die-harders!

    *On that note, I encourage all of us to sit on the edge of our seats and stand up frequently, yelling and screaming feverishly! Go Kings Go!

    *Why do they hold the breakfast in one of the worst acoustically sounding areas possible? The echo and reverberation off the sport court, metal ceiling and brick walls makes it very difficult to understand what anyone is saying.

    *Also, why do parents of small children insist on bringing them and then making 200 people listen to their kid making noise for 2 hours? As if hearing wasnt difficult enough!

    *Why was there food, including watermelon and hoagies (strange combination) but there were no napkins?

    *All-in-all, for this management team to be years into rebuilding a special new club that prides itself on being a King, the event was far from classy or well put together or informative. As much as I LOVE the ice girls, was it really necessary to have them in skimpy outfits at 10 in the morning? So let me get this straight I could barely hear what anyone was saying, at the same time hot chicks were bouncing around in front of me I might as well have been at a strip club!

  • Jayrew

    “Lombardi described a game against the Calgary Hitmen in which Loktionov took a cheap-shot hit and went down hard, but got up and skated to the bench.”

    Somebody tell me when this happened because Calgary wasn’t in the mem. cup and they never played an Ontario league team. Lombardi’s clearly got his facts straight! hahahaha. this is all boring lets get to the gritty draft day stuff, what a week!

  • dirtmover

    the sound was horrible in there- I did not care for the 8th place team comment either- In the NHL more so than in other leagues ranking is overrated – the ducks were an 8 seed and had a nice run- over the past few yr many 8s have gone on to upsets – lets make the playoffs and roll the dice- I’ll say it again the west is going to be a monster next yr with 12 legit playoff contenders – I like our squad for the most part- D wise we’ll be fine-but 5×5 has got to be substantially better and home record must improve- all games in HD is solid does that mean Canadian games are going to be covered also?

  • Sybil227

    While talking about Loktionov’s ‘Antics’ Lombardi mentioned something about giving one of his teammates the ‘beavertail’. Does anyone know what this means exactly?

  • Matt George

    wavesinair:

    I agree with you on all counts … EXCEPT the sitting forward in the seats thing

    it’s about as disrespectful as you can get to the people behind you

    seriously

  • Rob

    Regarding the Florida player, I do recall the person asking the question mentioned a puck-moving defenseman as part of the question, which is why Hextall discussed the depth and potential of the defensemen. It was definitely about Bouwmeester, not Vinny.

    And Loktionov was not run at by the Calgary Hitmen. They did not play each other this year. It wasn’t in the Memorial Cup tournament either. I can’t remember exactly, but it was either late in the regular season or early in the OHL playoffs. But DL clearly seems excited about the potential of Loktionov and Voynov.

  • lv4la

    As a STH who occasionally has to deal with someone in front of me sitting forward on the edge of their seat I am GLAD that someone suggested adding that request to fans. I do not pay to see the back of someones head and do not appreciate someone suggesting people to do it intentionally.

    wavesinair…you must not attend the games to feel this way or you are the guy who occasionally sits in front of me who obviously has a major hemorroid problem and will not sit back.

    The guys who have seats in front of me sell most of them. When we ask, most of the people in front of us sit back. Many do not realize that they block our view when they sit forward so I think informing those attending will help improve this problem. And by making it part of the “code of conduct” I will now be able to call an usher to assist me with these rude people. And sitting forward affects a lot of people. If someone in front of me does not sit back, I have to sit up to see over their head. That causes the person behind me to have to sit up which causes the person behind them to sit up and so on. It becomes a domino affect all because one person refuses to be considerate of others. So please, ignore wavesinair and if you attend a game, PLEASE sit back so everyone can enjoy the game. Nobody is paying to look at the back of anybody’s head.

    As for the sound yesterday…I suggest sitting more in the front as there was no problem hearing any of the speakers there. As a matter of fact, we were able to hear some of their comments that were not made at the mike. There were quite a few empty seats in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th row on the side I was sitting on so next time, check it out and you may not have the problem of hearing them.

    As for small children…they do not belong PERIOD!!! If you can’t get a sitter, don’t make the rest of us suffer. If you insist on bringing them, shut them up. We did not have that problem sitting in the front either so again I recommend moving to the front.

  • Darrell

    Beavertailing is slapping your stick on the ice (to demand the puck) – “I’m open! I’m open!”

  • markisonfire

    Last season I went to a game where the Kings played the Philadelphia Flyers in early January. It was a 1-1 tie and the game went to overtime. OVERTIME. In a pretty hard fought game. With about two minutes left in overtime, I stood up because the game was exciting. I proceeded to get yelled and b*tched at for standing up. In an overtime game against the Flyers. And I’m pretty sure all the Flyers fans were laughing at the Kings fans, because they were much louder than we were. LA doesn’t have winning fans.

    I feel like, yes, the players need to deliver, but the fans need to support the players. Yell, be loud, try to excite the players. Most of the people don’t even participate in the chants and stuff.

  • Buster

    If Army doesn’t come back, will the Kings bronze the ping pong table?

  • Harry

    Hey Anthony dude,
    go read Hockey101 before you bring your negative, unnecessary feed backs.