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:
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:
A quick interview with Dean Lombardi…
Question: How did this one come together?
LOMBARDI: “We were trying to avoid what happened last year with Orpik. It was the exact same situation. With Orpik last year, we knew what Pittsburgh offered, and we made our offer but the (current team) is always going to get the last chance, and they got him. In this case, we found out what Pittsburgh was offered and we knew we just had to blow them out of the water. When you’re talking about offers, it’s not just the money. It’s cost of living in L.A. and it’s taxes. If you’re offering $500,000 more, it’s really not that much when you look at everything. So we knew we had to blow Pittsburgh out of the water, but we wanted this guy. He has a ring and there are no questions at all about his character.”
Question: Where do you see him fitting in with the guys already here?
LOMBARDI: “He’s a steady guy who can go with Doughty and a steady guy that can go with Johnson. We like the guys we have, the Quinceys and the Greenes, but the real steady guys I’ve got are the ones that are coming up through the system now. I didn’t want to have to play those kids right away. I wanted another guy with experience, and now I can put all of those kids in the minors for a year and I’ve got a guy with a ring. Now hopefully I don’t have to go back into that (free-agent) market for a while looking for guys (on defense).”
Question: Looking at the roster, it would seem that you have six NHL-ready defensemen. Is there a chance one of the kids could still jump out at you?
LOMBARDI: “Sure there’s a chance, but there’s also a question of how the money might even out. It’s a huge price to pay to break a kid in at this level. You get him in, then he maybe has one good year and then, boom, he’s asking for (a big contract). When you build depth, you try to do it the way Detroit did with (Jonathan) Ericsson, and bring them along slowly. Let’s say Hickey comes in and lights it up in training camp. OK, that’s a good problem to have, but in the long run, if you can wait until your guys are completely ready, you hopefully end up like Detroit. It gets tough when you have a situation like we had with Moller. He has a great camp and we take him, but he’s not really a man yet. I hate to do that, so this (Scuderi signing) helps us.”
OK, here are all the quotes from tonight’s interview with Dean Lombardi. I typed fast, so excuse any typos. The only thing to add is that I asked Lombardi if he had any talks with agent Don Meehan about Alexander Frolov, and Lombardi said those would take place after the free-agency stuff sorts out a little more.
Hope you enjoy the quotes…
OK, this should be the end of the interview. I hope everyone found it interesting and informative. Obviously, I couldn’t ask every question, and I know there are a lot of specific questions that people want answered, but hopefully from the long answers, you’ll see why I asked the type of questions I did. A lot of the draft/prospect related questions can be asked at the end of the season, and the period leading up to the draft and free agency. For now, I’m going to rest my hands.
Question: In your opinion, which Kings player has had the most surprising season?
LOMBARDI: “I think you’d have to say that any time an 18-year-old comes in plays that type of minutes with that much poise… As much as I like this kid (Doughty), I don’t know if I’ve seen this before, at this age.”
Question: On one of your teams, or ever?
LOMBARDI: “On any team. Ray Bourque, I saw him break in. I’m not saying he’s Ray Bourque, but he’s not out of place. The funny thing is, I thought his worst game was against the Islanders, the one we just played. That was his worst game, by far. And it was kind of weird, because he has raised the bar so high with his play. Now, when he has a game that might be considered an average game for a 19-year-old, it sticks out like, `That was awful.’ But if he had thrown you that back in October, when he was just breaking in, you would say, `Well, that’s a 19-year-old.’
Question: You’re going to the GM meetings in a couple weeks, and fighting will be a topic of discussion. When it comes up, what will you say?
LOMBARDI: “I’m absolutely, positively against taking fighting out of the game.”
Question: Are you in favor of any of these reforms, or anything?
LOMBARDI: “I’m OK with the idea that the helmet stays on.”
Question: What about the idea that you need to get rid of the “staged” fights?
LOMBARDI: “What’s a staged fight? I don’t know what that means. Is that when somebody starts talking tough to one of our skill guys and our guy says, `You want to talk to me?’ and they fight? Is that staged? I think it’s answering the bell, and saying, `Quit screwing around with our guys.’ What’s staged? So (Evgeni Artyukhin) runs Doughty and we go after Artyukhin, is that staged?
Question: Going back to Michael Cammalleri. He’s on pace to be a 40-goal scorer with Calgary. When you look back at how that played out, is there any part of you that wishes it could have played out differently, or was it just inevitable?
LOMBARDI: “It doesn’t surprise me that he’s scoring up there. We had to make a conscious decision, based on the type of culture we wanted here, the type of player I wanted to use to set the identity of this franchise and, thirdly, signability. We answered those questions. Am I surprised that he’s on a 40-goal pace, up there in his contract year with Iginla? We all know the kid can score goals.
“I wasn’t trading a 20-goal scorer. I was a little surprised I didn’t get a little more action on him, but I think the reason was that he’s a one-year asset, to any team we were talking to. They didn’t want to inherit the same problem I was having. Now Calgary’s got that issue right now. It’s like a double-edged sword. I don’t think it’s any secret where he really wants to go, so what do I want that problem for?”
Question: Coming into training camp, there were a handful of guys who you pretty much said had earned a spot on the team…
LOMBARDI: “That they had a job to lose. That was the point. They had paid their dues enough, and it was, `We’ve got a box open for you. You’re not boxed in by the fact that there’s a veteran there, and that you can play your (butt) off and not get a job.’ Generally, that happens a lot with young players. I thought those three guys had paid their dues and did a good job in the minors and did what they were asked in the summer. `There’s the box. Grab it, but we’re not giving it to you. You’ve got to grab it. Moulson did early.”
Question: Are we talking about three guys or four? Boyle, Purcell and Moulson, and I thought Harrold was on that list too…
LOMBARDI: “OK, we had Harrold in there too. Moulson was the guy who looked really good at the beginning. Harry was the guy I knew — well, I shouldn’t say I knew — but Harry’s competitiveness is off the charts. Harry, like, forces you to find a spot for him. When I talked about three guys, I was thinking of the forwards, because Harry didn’t really surprise me. Harry always gave you the sense that once it was there for the taking, he would take it. That’s just the way he plays. So then, of the four, he’s the only one who really grabbed it, in my mind.”
Question: What does that say for the other three?
LOMBARDI: “Well, they got beat out by two 19-year-olds, frankly. Moller and Simmonds. What was told to them, when they were up here, is, `You’re not hard enough.’ In the battle areas, they weren’t good enough. One of the things that happens — and this is the hard part — is they can still get their points in the minors.
Question: Jack Johnson, another restricted free agent situation…
LOMBARDI: “We’re working on that now.”
Question: Is it going be a Kopitar situation or an O’Sullivan situation, in terms of how difficult negotiations will be?
LOMBARDI: “Well, number one, we don’t have to worry about losing him. We’re not worried about that. His issue, to me, is finding the right number. Here’s the problem, which is what we’re all struggling with now. There’s the economy, and the issue of the cap coming down. I think it’s fairly safe to say that it’s going to come down a bit this year, but what we’re hearing is that the true impact of what’s happening out there, in terms of the sponsorship dollars, is not going to be felt until the year after.
“So that’s the real rub, and it’s hard. That drives me crazy, because this situation probably penalizes a team like us, that is building this way, more than others, because we have to make projections. We have to make projections, and I don’t know what the budget is going to be. That’s based on the cap, so it’s pretty friggin’ hard. That, to me, is going to be as big an issue as the contract. We’ll figure it out, but it’s frustrating.
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.