Lombardi on identity, expectations, near trade of Yzerman

Following this afternoon’s press conference to ‘officially’ announce Darryl Sutter as the new coach of the LA Kings, GM Dean Lombardi held court for over 30 minutes. With respect to time, we’ll break things up into multiple articles. Here’s the first batch of quotes…

On what Sutter brings – “If you take a larger perspective and if you could capsulize it, I would say ‘identity.’ I think the one thing he immediately gives your team is an identity. Clearly, having known him as a man, you know he stands for something. And usually when you have an identity and you stand for something, some people are going to like it and some people aren’t. But, you’re going to stand for something. That was the experience I had with him in San Jose. I think he clearly did that in Calgary (too). As soon as he comes in, your team starts getting an identity. So, if you ask me for that intangible, that you can’t define or you can’t put into numbers – and I think that’s critical – I really do think that we’ve struggled with that a bit this year. And I think if we’re ever going to get to the level that we want to get to, I don’t care how good your players are, or whatever, you have to establish an identity and stand for something. ‘This is the way we’re going to play’ and away you go. I think you can say that in any sport.”

Has this team struggled with expectations – “Yes. I alluded to that last year. It was the first time there were real expectations. I think some of the struggles we saw with the swoons were a by-product of that. I also don’t know if we dealt with success very well, because we’d go on a run, then we’d go the other way. I had talked to them during the season about that. This has been a critical message to them. Yes, you’re young players and we do have some solid veterans in there. But, if you’re going to get to the level you want to go to, you’re going to have to deal with expectations. Then, I think what happened this year – when you bring in Mike (Richards) – whether they learned enough last year, now the bar gets raised even higher. But, it’s like I told them in Columbus (last week) – ‘This is where you wanted to be. You don’t want to be a Cinderella team.’”

More on expectations – “I still go back to the Detroit example, when they were building, there was that period where they were struggling and they were going to trade (Steve) Yzerman for (Alexei) Yashin. It was like, ‘Oooh, this ain’t working.’ They stuck it out, got through it and boom – you’re culture is in place and everything else. So, this process of dealing with expectations, any good team is going to have to go through it and it isn’t going to be easy. But, you have to stick with it. Again, part of getting through it is getting an identity. Back to basics. It’s not complicated…in the end this is still a simple game.”

Much, much more to come from Lombardi. New articles will be posted on the homepage and/or linked below.

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