Here’s the third part of the recap from yesterday’s GM breakfast…
– Next question was a request, that the Kings instruct fans at Staples Center not to lean forward in their seats and block the view of people behind them. McGowan took this and noted that some teams, such as San Jose, hand out “code of conduct” cards to fans entering the arena. McGowan noted that he often gets feedback about fans who leave their seats during play, and that he would be open to some type of pregame fan instruction.
– Next question referenced Brian Boyle, and asked whether mental toughness could be taught. Lombardi took the question and said “you could have a huge philosophical discussion about teaching `compete.”’ Lombardi said that prospects coming up today don’t have the same natural competitiveness compared to players of previous generations and said “it’s not as natural to kids coming up today.” Lombardi said, “It’s not about giving a Knute Rockne speech. Unless it’s ingrained in you, it’s tough to teach.” Lombardi talked about the need to build team toughness, and said that once an organization become known for its competitive players, it becomes an ingrained thing and part of the “hand-down” from veteran players to young players. Lombardi said, “We’re very cognizant of that. We’re not quite there. We’re making strides but it’s not good enough.”
– Next question came with a request for Kings players to be shown tape of this year’s Stanley Cup Finals, and asked if the ability to make quick on-ice decisions can be taught or whether it’s a natural skill. Lombardi took the question and also reference the Chicago-Calgary series as being his favorite of the playoffs. Lombardi said, “Everything can improve if you work at it, but hockey sense is the toughest thing to teach.” Lombardi talked about the “instinct of knowing where to go” and referenced Wayne Gretzky’s ability to have the game slow down for him while on the ice. Lombardi said he “sees a little of that in Doughty already” and once again said it’s the hardest thing to teach.
– Next question was about “things I read online” about the Kings acquiring a veteran goalie. Hextall took the question and, quite directly said, “We’re not looking for an experienced goalie.” Hextall spoke at length about Quick, Bernier, Ersberg and Zatkoff and how the Kings feel they’re stable with those young goalie. Hextall told a couple quick stories about Ersberg, including how he he played well in San Jose one night after the team had landed at 2:30 a.m. Hextall said “we really like the combination we have” and said “there’s no doubt Bernier is going to come in and push” for a roster spot.” Hextall said the Kings feel comfortable with their goaltending and their defense.
– At this point, Lombardi stepped up and joked, “What would this be without at least one chart?” He started off talking about “staying power” and noted that while the Kings had a great run in 1992, and the makings of another strong run in the Allison-Deadmarsh era, neither team had any staying power because there was little player depth in the organization. Lombardi turned it over to Solomon, who showed a chart of how much money each team had committed for the 2009-10 season. Solomon used the chart to make the point that the Kings are in good shape while other teams are going to have to make tough decisions simply to get under the cap. Solomon took it a step further and showed a chart for 2010-11, when he estimated that the cap might fall to $48-50 million. Again, the point Solomon attempted to make was that while some teams are going to have to scramble, the Kings will be in good financial shape in order to re-sign its own players and go after free agents.
Lombardi took over and joked that he wanted fans “to think about this on July 2nd and 3rd,” referencing what would happen if the Kings didn’t sign a big free agent on July 1. Lombardi referenced the Lakers’ acquisition of Pau Gasol last season, a move made when the Memphis Grizzlies needed to dump salary and essentially gave away Gasol for nothing. Lombardi hinted that the Kings would be in a position to benefit from such a situation and “take advantage of those who don’t manage (the cap) properly.”
– Next question was about the traits that the Kings look for in a player. Hextall took the question and referenced the Red Wings, with character players such as Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and said that teams that have talented players without character “aren’t going anywhere.” Hextall noted that, in addition to character, he looks for players who fit certain roles. He noted that if, for instance, he was looking for a winger to play with Jarret Stoll, he would look for a certain type of player to complement Stoll’s skills. Hextall said, “If a guy is a playmaker, we might look for someone who scores goals.” Hextall said that the Kings are looking for a “blend left winger,” one who can score and make plays, and noted that “the perfect fit is hard to find.”
– At this point, the questions ended. McGowan thanked the fans for coming out, as did Lombardi, and Lombardi added that he enjoyed the town-hall events, and once again jokingly urged for fans to “keep your e-mails civil on July 3rd and 4th.”