Dean Lombardi on how and why he hired Rob Blake

We’ve already posted Rob Blake’s full comments from this morning’s media conference call. Now, here’s what Dean Lombardi had to say about his new Assistant GM…

- On what made Blake the right guy for the job:

“There’s a number of things. First and foremost though, I think that this job entails so much more than generally people can imagine and I don’t think you can generally prepare for this in any course or any other line of work. The most important thing for me was the willingness to extend the work effort and have a good mind and to dive in. I think the critical point for me was the evidence I saw when he worked for the league that he very much took the job very seriously, he spend a lot of time on the road. When he spoke, it was very clear he’s done his homework and he’s well respected. I think that’s the biggest change of this job, in terms of mapping out and meeting all the criteria, that’s almost impossible since the job entails so many facets. So it basically comes down to a good man and work ethic.

“I saw that on display with the league. I think obviously working for the league, although the job’s different, clearly you are very much abreast to hockey when you’re sitting here every night watching three games at once. Sometimes former players have a tendency to turn away from the game at times and not even really watch it. Obviously in that job, he had to do it religiously almost every night.

“The third thing I was – I’m not saying pleasantly surprised but – I was talking to potential references around the league whether it be players, general mangers, league officials, right down to trainers and equipment guys, and I was amazed at how universally respected he is. It wasn’t anything political, he’s just held in such high regard in so many facets of our business that it’s a real tribute to him and the type of reputation he’s built and the person throughout his career and those type of things are invaluable. And then you thrown in the idea, obviously, a former great player, wore a Kings uniform. That’s always been my feeling on hiring former players, they have a wealth of information in there but it’s a thinking process that they have to go through in order to get it out of them. There’s a wealth of information in that head of his that I’m looking forward to mining.”

- On if he looked at other candidates as well, once Ron Hextall left for the Flyers:

“I think you always have to be prepared that when a particular franchise has success, you’re going to lose some people. On the one hand, it’s difficult and on the other hand it’s a compliment. You see- whether it’s the Patriots or the Packers and their day-to-day- it’s just part of the business, when you start having success then other teams want those people. That’s part of your job as a general manager, to realize, I don’t want to say you have a definitive succession plan, but you’re always… I knew this day was going to come eventually so I had this in the back of my mind, so I wasn’t caught completely off-guard. This wasn’t a spur of the moment thing, I’ve had some informal discussions with Rob when he first retired… So, again, you have to be prepared for these things but it’s fortunate to have a guy like this right now in your backyard.”

- On if he went right to Blake then as the only candidate:

“I kind of didn’t want to have… I was more… the interview process can be really misleading. Like I said, I had a very short list, the other guys that I was considering would have been more research on their potential. Just looking at the whole package, in terms of him- other than getting into the management experience which essentially you’re not going to get unless you do it and even an exit game basically he only had scouting experience. There’s a break in period. Other than that, his resume credentials off the ice, that’s tough to beat. Like I said, I really like the fact that he commands so much respect from that players- that was universal across the board. Combine that again with what I’ve seen, his work ethic. I like the fact too, that when you talk to him… this is the other thing- sometimes when guys play for 20 years they think they have all the answers. I really like the way he asks a lot of questions, not questions about whether he wanted the job, but how to do the job. Intelligence to me is asking the right questions, not having the right answers, and it came very natural to him. Not a lot of top players are willing to [ed note: unclear here, may have said 'put in the work']. He’ll learn in a hurry with that type of a mindset.”

- On what will be first on Blake’s list of things to do:

“We kind of started sketching that out last night, and I think the way to approach this is okay, let’s go to the core issue which is analyzing cores and getting a process and understanding the process that is involved in evaluation players. In terms of the core issues, we have the pro meetings coming out in two weeks, that’s essentially getting up to speed on how we think. There’s parts of this that I want to take to another level, that always needs to be the case. Getting a hand on how the scouts think, what type of templates we use. From there, everything branches out. The management job entails so many facets, but the bottom line is we’re still only as good as our players, and it has to start there. Throughout that process you learn the basics of the chapter, it’s one thing to get your players in order around the league, it’s another thing to value the players. So then you get a little taste of what Jeff Soloman does.

“I think in terms of managing Manchester, although the roster is almost filled out get a handle on how things are run down there. Then you get a certain line items to learn the budget side. He has a meeting schedule with our amateur guys in Ontario the first week. There’s plenty to do. I told him last night, I don’t want to give him 100 things at once, so I think we start with the core and as those ancillary issues come up, we deal with them. I think it can be overwhelming if you throw too much at him then you become a jack of all trades and not a master. So I think you start with the core issue of how the cores, the templates, and it will all go out from there.”

On if Blake will have input into the coach in Manchester, or the extension for Mark Morris is a done deal:

“It’s pretty much a done deal, there’s no coaching issue there. Unless you know something I don’t.”

We’ll have lots more with Lombardi next hour – talking Dustin Brown contract extension, the trade for Dan Carcillo, talks with Kyle Clifford and more. Until then, see the links below for additional content posted today.

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Dustin Brown signs long-term extension with LA Kings

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