End of the season interviews can be tough under the best of circumstances, but since Dean Lombardi doesn’t do sound bites and since he was awake until 5:30 a.m. after the Kings were eliminated Saturday from the conference finals, he was a little more long-winded than usual when he spoke via conference call Sunday.
Among the highlights, Lombardi said he wants to keep the team intact for 2013-14. He said re-signing defenseman Robyn Regehr did not mean he wouldn’t try to re-sign defenseman Rob Scuderi. He acknowledged the Kings’ salary-cap limitations, but also said he would like to re-sign left wing Dustin Penner. Although he didn’t mention him by name, he said he wouldn’t allow rivals to sign someone like defenseman Slava Voynov to an offer sheet without matching it. “You’re not going to let good young players go for nothing,” he said.
Lombardi acknowledged the difficulty of the salary-cap issue, saying, “We’ve got a challenge here, but I’m confident we can meet it. … I’m going to try to bring the pieces back like I did last year. It’s going to be a little more difficult.”
Lombardi also said: “You can’t condone losing. You have to condone their sense of honor. They didn’t quit. They deserve to be commended. They deserve to be commended for the fact that right now they’re not satisfied. You never want to be in a mode where you’re out in the first round and it’s, like, ‘Good season.’”
Lombardi began by saying of his emotional state: “I walked in the room and it was dead silence. You’re staring at nothing. There’s almost no emotion. You’re almost frozen. It’s like there’s so much going through your head, there’s nothing. … There’s disappointment and anger. Two years ago, when we got beat by San Jose, the guys went home ticked off. At that time, I felt like we were progressing. Now that we’re at the conference finals levels, they’re ticked off at a missed opportunity. It’s progress. It’s a tribute to them.”