Los Angeles Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi was on NHL Live this afternoon. Below are the key highlights. As with all recaps of this nature, please note these are not exact quotes. The comments are close, yet some areas have been paraphrased for brevity.
* GMs are always surveying the market and throwing around options without being committal. I’ve known Paul Holmgren from our days in Philadelphia together so it’s easier to talk to him and get stuff done. He’s more straight forward that there isn’t as much negotiating. We’re able to cut through all of the posturing. By the time we got to the draft I saw that he was serious about getting it done before the draft started. That put some urgency on it.
* What does Mike Richards give the Kings that they didn’t have before? I’ve admired him from his junior days until now. The kid’s a winner, pure and simple. From the Memorial Cup, to the Olympics – and I was amazed when he went to the AHL his first pro year. He has a unique presence, where he can take over a room without even trying. He has that ‘it’ factor, you can’t describe it but you know it when you see it. So much of it comes from the way he plays. He has an aura in the room. That’s just something you can’t teach. I’ve stayed away from certain players that don’t meet a certain type of MO. Part of building here was not only to build the team, but build the culture. Players like this are culture changers. He still has some work to do to become a well rounded pro. He probably learned a few lessons. I don’t think you lose that ‘it.’
* Why Richards, why now? If we were going to match up with the big dogs in our conference – Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit, Chicago – we needed to be stronger down the middle. When I started here the premise was to build from the back out. i think we’ve accomplished that. We’re one of the top five defensive teams in the league now. But, we clearly didn’t have enough hockey IQ up front, in terms of making plays. We needed that type of center that could make other players better. You need that to be a serious contender.
* I’m now fifth in the league in seniority, I feel old. It’s getting harder and harder to do deals with teams because GMs aren’t sticking around very long. It doesn’t kill deals, just makes it harder. You can still tell when a guy is being honest with you and when he’s just posturing.
* Can we get an overview of what took so long on the Ryan Smyth deal? We don’t have enough time. When I got the call three weeks after our season ended I was floored. If this was a hockey decision, I would have done with the Bengals did with their quarterback and said ‘work it out.’ When it’s family related, you want to accommodate the player. Thankfully, the league was there at the draft and they stayed with us for two hours on Friday night to try to get the deal done. I just couldn’t take back the player they proposed because an injured player would have limited my options later.
To read Ian Laperriere’s comments about Mike Richards click here.