Throughout the week at Development Camp, Kings GM Dean Lombardi has been a highly visible presence. LA’s hockey mastermind has been like a shepherd watching over his flock – usually pacing around the rink or standing on the bench intently watching drills.
It’s an exciting time for a guy who places so much emphasis on player development. Not only is this the lone opportunity per year his club gets to work with their college hockey prospects, it’s also their first chance to be one the ice with the latest crop of kids selected at the NHL Draft.
Even though it’s been all business at TSC, Lombardi made time for a quick joke when we asked what he thought of his latest crop of prospects.
“There’s no question, they’re all first-line players and the defensemen are all Drew Doughty,” he said, followed by a huge chuckle as he cracked himself up.
“All I see is what I want to see, they’re getting better every day,” Lombardi continued. “Let it play out. That’s all I’m looking for. Who’s making the effort to get better? It’s not time to judge them right now, it really isn’t. What good does it do to start saying, ‘This guy is this, this guy is that’? The object of the game right now, I tell (my guys), ‘Don’t frickin’ evaluate ’em, make ’em better.’ When it’s time to evaluate them later, then I’ll ask. But, I don’t want to hear how good they are right now.”
Perhaps Tyler Toffoli came in with the right mindset then.
When we shared the 21-year old rookie’s recent comment about guys not ‘making the team out of Development Camp’ with Lombardi, the conversation quickly heated up again.
“Nobody makes the team, but in his case, given his age and everything, the road to making the team goes through Development Camp, that’s for sure!” Lombardi explained. “It continues from here, to what he does in the summer, to when he comes in prior to Rookie Camp and all the things he does. But, clearly this is part of their process. The great thing about him though, as I talk about kids getting better, clearly you can see the difference in this kid from two or three years ago. The first Development Camp he couldn’t do one chin up – and didn’t care. Now, he works his tail off, his attitude is so much more professional and it continues to be that. It’s a good test for him too. He’s kind of like the senior guy here a little bit, having some NHL experience. Now, in this environment, he gets a little bit of a leadership role. It’s all part of his program.”
To make sure the point was made though, Lombardi then doubled back to what he had said just moments earlier.
“It goes through Development Camp. You don’t make the team. But, he better do what he’s doing right now.”
We had more from Lombardi earlier this week – including an update on the health of Willie Mitchell, what happened with Keaton Ellerby going to free agency and a possible new contract for Kyle Clifford. If you missed any of that, please see the links below.
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