Kings GM Dean Lombardi talks about placing Mike Richards on waivers

Here’s part of a question-and-answer session between Kings beat writers and general manager Dean Lombardi on Monday afternoon …

Question: How did it get to this point?

Lombardi: “It’s a process you work through. It’s not like all of a sudden it dawns on you. You’re starting to think about and you work through the process. I think it’s fair to say we made a final decision that we were one way our another deal with it after the All-Star break.”

Question: How did he take it?

Lombardi: “You can ask him. The process isn’t done because he’s still got to clear. I’ll probably talk to him a little more tomorrow. I’m sure it’s not easy on anybody. These are the tough decisions you’ve got to make.”

Question: You could have bought him out last spring, did you hope that would get him going?

Lombardi: “It was a combination of that and I think it’s … we expect loyalty from our players and it’s a two-way street. I think under the circumstance and what he’d done for us, I thought he deserved a chance to get back to what he’s capable of. That’s a hard balance. Obviously, I’ve thought about that a lot. There’s a new wave thing out there that players are commodities and passion and loyalty, those values made sports so special, the commodities guys will tell you that don’t matter. Well, that’s been a big part of the success of this team, I believe. And that’s how I came down on it. If you’re going to expect loyalty from your players, you have to at times show loyalty to them. Then the issue becomes, where’s that line.

“So, when I step back now, I’m never going to lose my belief in those values being critical, but as we see in the cap area … the cap is designed to eliminate those types of emotions. Fortunately, I still believe they’re a critical part of a good team. In retrospect, if you the commodities angle, you say, well, it should have been easy. If you use the belief in the intangibles it’s not. It is what it is. In the end, I felt he deserved that chance for all he’d done for us. I mean, I don’t think there’s any question that we don’t win that first Cup without what he did for this team. Obviously, you don’t win the second one. But you’ve still got to be at a certain level here that has to get done.”

Question: What about the financial standpoint  …

Lombardi: “That’s what we’ve got to work through. Mike in his career, he’s shown he can be a .300 hitter and get you 80 RBIs and be an All-Star player. So, maybe at this stage, it’s not there. I still think he’s capable of being a .280 hitter and do a lot of those things for you that only he can do. Let’s face it, right now, he’s batting .200. But I don’t see any reason why he can’t get back to that. He’s got to do what he’s got to do. There’s a lot of things that remind me of where Teemu Selanne was at this stage. Remember when he had fallen off the map in Colorado and it looked like he was done? Then he started changing some things and went on to have 10 great years, for crying out loud. It’s up to Mike. In my mind, I believe if he wants to, he can get back to that. I see no reason why not. But it’s going to be up to him.”

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L.A. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi talks about Slava Voynov (part 2)

Here’s more of a 20-minute interview Tuesday with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who talks here about what he’s learned about defenseman Slava Voynov’s arrest and suspension on domestic violence charges:

“I’ve got a conference call today (with the NHL). That’s where it all gets gray here. There’s so many things. Slava certainly has his rights, then you have the police investigation, then you have the league investigation, then you’ve got the issues about, OK, how long does this go? So, we’re in limbo until this process plays out. In the meantime, it has ramifications. Do we recall a player. What are the implications for the (salary) cap. What’s the shortest (he could be suspended)? If he’s found not-guilty does that mean he’s still suspended? There’s so many issues right here. I’ve got a call today, but even then I don’t expect a lot of answers.

“For the NHL, this is probably new turf. I think it’s new turf for a lot of leagues. Again, because the old system was to wait until the criminal system does it’s thing. That ain’t the case. Now what do you do with all that gray that’s out there, particularly now again in a cap era when it’s no that easy to recall players and deal with things. We’ll have to start working their way through it.

“Nothing at all (in terms of discipline issues with Voynov in the past). Never even been late for practice. This is a kid, you could have made more money in juniors, in the minors, and his father was really struggling. Kept his promise. … Anything involving character issues off the rink, even when we drafted him, he kept his word and came over right away when he could have made more money in Russia. That’s all on the positive side. Then, you know, so …”

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L.A. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi speaks about Slava Voyonov (part 1)

Here’s some of what Kings general manager Dean Lombardi told beat reporters during a 20-plus minute question-and-answer session Tuesday in the wake of defenseman Slava Voynov’s arrest and suspension for domestic violence:

“We’ve got to let this process go through. They (the NHL) don’t need to explain. I think it’s pretty self-evident. The biggest issue you’ve got, other than there’s always that line between innocent and proven guilty, that’s where the rub is. Are you surprised they did what they did, especially in this climate? Well, no. In the other cases in the old days, the leagues would always say, wait a minute there’s a criminal process that has to take place before they can react.

“So, you saw that, even in the NBA. They had nine cases in the last three years. You saw that in baseball with Albert Belle, (Jose) Canseco. So, that’s the way it was always handled, that it’s a criminal thing, let it play out. Even the players played, because we were going under the premise of innocent until proven guilty.

“That now is obviously changed. From the old days. I get it. To say I’m surprised they acted that way, no. Do I think it’s inappropriate, no. … That’s clearly the way leagues are headed right now. The charge itself is enough to take action, when in the past, it wasn’t.”

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Kings GM Dean Lombardi reveals details on his pursuit of Marian Gaborik

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi had two concerns going into Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline. First, he knew he wanted to find a player to bolster the goal-starved team. Second, he had to do it within the constraints of the salary cap.

Lombardi targeted veteran Marian Gaborik quite some time ago, but with a hefty salary of $7.5 million for 2013-14, it figured to take a little extra work to make the deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets work to the Kings’ advantage.

In the end, the solution was to ask the Blue Jackets to agree to pay 50 percent of Gaborik’s salary, pro-rated for the final one-quarter of the season. The Kings also sent forward Matt Frattin, a second-round pick either this year or next and a conditional third-round pick to Columbus.

The Kings also had to re-assign forward Linden Vey to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League to clear salary-cap space before acquiring Gaborik. Vey recorded five points, all assists, in 18 games with the Kings. He spent most of the season in the minors.

In return, the Kings acquired a crafty 32-year-old with 688 points, including 342 goals, in 791 games with the Blue Jackets, New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild. He is a former 42-goal scorer with the Rangers in 2009-10 and the Wild in 2007-08.

The Kings also gained a player who has been sidelined for all but 22 games this season because of a collarbone injury. He is expected to join the team for tonight’s game against the Jets in Winnipeg, the start of the a three-game trip.

“I inquired right after New Year’s,” Lombardi said during a conference call with reporters when asked about starting talks with the Blue Jackets for Gaborik. “That’s kind of when we started the process. It picked up about two weeks ago. It goes to 11 (Tuesday) night, then picks up again at 5.”

Lombardi said he believed Gaborik is the right man to aid the Kings’ offense.

“He brings an element we thought we’d like to add to the mix,” Lombardi said when asked why he targeted Gaborik. “There are very few players capable of doing what he does. We thought he was the only guy available who had those dimensions.”



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Kings GM Dean Lombardi says Jonathan Quick could be out until Christmas

When goaltender Jonathan Quick suffered a groin strain during the Kings’ shootout loss Nov. 12 to the Buffalo Sabres, the original estimate was that he would be sidelined for between four and six weeks. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi more or less confirmed that diagnosis when he told a Canadian radio program Wednesday that Quick would be out for at least another month and might not be back before Christmas at the soonest.

“It’s going to be a while,” Lombardi said. “At least another month. We’re probably looking, if things go according to plan, at Christmas.”

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Former Kings exec Tim Leiweke is as chatty as ever in new Toronto job

Timothy J. Leiweke — remember him? — left his position with the Kings and AEG last season to take a similar job with the Toronto Maple Leafs and their parent organization. He always talked a good game in Los Angeles and finally delivered with a Stanley Cup championship team in 2011-12. Can he do the same for the Maple Leafs?

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Ron Hextall talks about leaving the Kings to return to the Flyers’ front office

As it turned out, Ron Hextall decided to leave his position as assistant GM of the Kings for a similar job with the Flyers after GM Paul Holmgren approached him following the NHL draft last month in Newark, N.J. On the surface, it seems like a lateral move, but Hextall was only to happy to return to his roots as a goaltender and later as a scout and executive in Philadelphia. Plus, his contract with the Kings ended at the end of June.

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General manager Dean Lombardi wants to keep the Kings together next season

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.

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Kings GM Dean Lombardi talks about establishing a winning culture

There was quite a bit more from Wednesday’s extended question-and-answer session Kings general manager Dean Lombardi held with reporters after the NHL trade deadline passed: Lombardi talked about why he didn’t make any blockbuster moves in my earlier post. But he also explained why keeping a winning roster intact is so important to establishing a consistent winner. Here what Lombardi said in his own words:

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GM Dean Lombardi talks about keeping the roster intact for another playoff run

The Kings didn’t chase Jarome Iginla before the trade deadline, and he eventually went from the Calgary Flames to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Kings also didn’t pursue Jaromir Jagr or a half-dozen other players who were dealt before Wednesday’s deadline. Why not? Kings general manager Dean Lombardi didn’t want to break up the Stanley Cup champions in order to rent a player for the short haul. The move he did make, adding veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres for second-round draft picks in 2014 and ’15, was designed to bolster the Kings’ blue line for the long term.

Here’s more about Lombardi’s thinking from Lombardi himself:

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