RECAP: Kings GM Dean Lombardi on NHL Live

Los Angeles Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi was a guest on NHL Live this morning.

Below is a recap of what was discussed (as always, these are near exact quotes, with selected paraphrasing for brevity)…

* [topic: Kings have been good on the road lately] True. However, I think a lot of that is when you’re a young team it’s easier to keep your players focused. I think there is a lot more structure in their day when they’re on the road. I also don’t think there are a lot of buildings anymore that are intimidating to play in.

* [What was the hot topic at the GM meetings today?] We spent a lot of time on the shootout, defining when the spin-o-rama crosses the line between being a good play and going backwards. I think the biggest issue is we just have to define it. We just want to know what the rule is and there is a bit of grey area right now. I dread the thought of that Flyers-Rangers game (last regular season game of last season), where a season is determined by that play. They’ll get on it though. It came to the forefront and we realize the importance of getting some structure in there.

* [Concussions and the Drew Doughty situation earlier this season] That’s the problem, ‘Should your decisions be based on the identity of the player?’ We all know the reality is if it’s a top player, it comes to the forefront more. I thought the league did a tremendous job the first two days here of getting all the facts out there. I’m pretty proud of the fact that people are saying we’re ahead of the NFL right now. We were the first ones to have a protocol. The amount of data that went into analyzing where these concussions come from, the science of it, what’s causing them, etc. I thought the background information was fabulous. There are two things involved here. It’s not only what you do, it’s how you do things. I thought procedurally the league was excellent. This does not lend itself to an easy sound-bite answer. I love the fact that we took the time to look at the science and have data to back up our thinking. There’s no doubt we’re ahead of the NFL here and as a league we can be proud of that.

* [Did you guys feel you're under scrutiny to do something here given the timing of the Chara-Pacioretty hit right before the meetings?] No question! You can’t do things in isolation. I guess it’s like a court of justice – whenever you do something, you’re always thinking ‘What’s the next case that’s coming down the road?’ and ‘How are you going to apply this precedent?’ I know we don’t want to talk in legalistic terms. But, there is some good that comes out of the legal community and its way of thinking. That’s one of them, it’s establishing precedent and making it consistent across the board – understanding there’s so many variables that are going to come off of this decision that you’re not going to anticipate. That’s why the standards have to be there. That’s why, again, I come back to ‘OK, that’s an emotional response.’

What you saw in there (the meetings) was the league, in terms of all its data and the thinking, was going in so many different directions that you hadn’t thought of. That’s just the right way to do things. Unfortunately, the public doesn’t see that. In some cases it would be great for them to see the amount of data you’re looking at and how confusing it can get. But, like they always say, you have to get through the confusion to come out with brilliance, because it can seem so overwhelming. But, you bring it back down the funnel and I think the commissioner has done a great job in this area.

* [The Western Conference standings this year] I have never experienced anything like this. It’s been playoff hockey for us since February. The intensity of these games, I can’t remember it being like this. They talk about the dog days of January or February, it certainly hasn’t been for us. I guess this is a function of parity. I’d still like to be Kenny Holland (Detroit GM) or Mike Gillis (Vancouver GM) – they sit there, they’re not even watching the game. They have their backs to it. They’re comfortable with their 102 points and relaxing. I’d like to know that feeling.

* [What's the difference this year vs. last season for the Kings?] John Ferguson told me when I was in San Jose, ‘The second year making the playoffs with a young group is a lot tougher.’ The first year you still have a little Cinderella element to it. It’s also about young players learning how to deal with success. (note: He’s covered this many times before – basically, young players need to learn how to handle it and not let it get to their head. There is another level still expected from them. They still need to work hard and be mentally tough.)

* [Do you see it taking until the final weekend of the season vs. Anaheim to get in?] I hope not. I’d like a little breather here to regroup. But, they’re all really good teams. It’s such a fine line. Even if you get on a run, you’re wining by one goal or losing by one goal. That’s why you go back to the shootout issue and it being so critical – one call like that could make such a difference.

You can watch the full interview here on Kings Vision.

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