OK, finally I can get to the full quotes from tonight. Here’s the first part, with Dean Lombardi answering the question of why he fired Marc Crawford today, more than two months after the season ended…
“It’s hard to explain. I guess the timing is a little odd. I had some concerns in terms of the team’s performance. Although I didn’t think we were world-beaters, I also didn’t think we should have been out of it in January. I think it’s fair to assume we probably should have been in it. We probably weren’t good enough to get in but I thought we were off the map way too early. The other thing that’s hard to judge is, yeah, we were better down the stretch but, as I’ve always said, in those games nobody respects you and nobody is `up’ for you. I don’t know what they mean once you’re out of it early.
“But that’s all in the past. What I was doing going forward was a number of things. I think we were getting a handle on what was in the draft, what possibly was in play for us (trade-wise). We’ve gotten a handle, since the season ended, in terms of Manchester did go out in the first round of the playoffs, we had a chance to see those kids a little further along. We had exit meetings with some of them, where we got a feel for where they are in terms of coming into our lineup, and I think we feel pretty good about that. Then you come into managing the payroll. I think we see some changes in there that are happening that — I don’t want to say `force us’ — but in order to continue this plan and make sure we keep these players, I think we had to make some adjustments in our projections.
“So this issues are, OK, I have some concerns about the past, and then there was, OK, what are we doing going forward. At the end of it all, you go to ownership and say, `OK, this is your new periodic.’ They know the plan, and what I want. It’s not unusual for ownership, in any organization, to say, `You know what, you have to adjust the plan because we don’t want to take the heat,’ or `We want to make the playoffs,’ or whatever. But really, the message I got was, `Stay with this and actually, even go younger. Don’t get off it.’ It was more toward the plan. So now, this is the team we’re looking to have and it’s clear to me that that’s what they (ownership) want. Now, do we have the right fit? You can do all your analytics but when it comes down to it, you go with your gut and you say, `You know, with the way we’re going to have to do this, I don’t think (Crawford) is the best fit.’ There you go. That’s two months in a nutshell.”