Lombardi Opens Up About Scuderi, Versteeg, Gaborik and the Blackhawks

Scuderi Rob KingsWe already have the audio from today’s conference call with Kings GM Dean Lombardi up on the homepage. Below are selected comments from the call, where he opened up about Rob Scuderi, Kris Versteeg, Marian Gaborik, the Chicago Blackhawks, and more…

On the acquisitions of Scuderi and Versteeg:

“Huge. Rob was fairly easy. The biggest thing too is, as you saw that work out, keeping your eye on the cap and then the thing with Rob was obviously next year’s salary. I could have got him earlier, but there was an issue with the money for next year. But the way that is now structured, it was almost like, you’re not going to get a better player than that for what we’re going to end up paying. Then it becomes the issue of, before we did it, Darryl and the coaches and I and Blakey, we sat and watched Rob’s game in Pittsburgh and Chicago. Then we put in the games that he played in the conference finals with us before he left, and then tried to make a decision on was the drop-off, so to speak, an issue of his getting slower, or maybe the role and the fit not being right and him being caught in between. And I think all that work was done. Darryl talked to Rob — we got permission from Chicago to talk to him before. One thing good about it is he knows what Darryl expects. I talked to him about the team now and the other thing, too, about moving his family. That was critical. One of the reasons I think he left was because his wife wanted to be closer to his family. I said, “I don’t want you coming out here if the wife is staying back east,” and she was all excited. He commands a lot of respect in that room. Like I said, given what we have to pay him, as well as fitting in, it almost makes too much sense.

Then on the other guy [Versteeg], you’ve seen us do that before, when we got Stoll and Mike (Richards). It was either guys who had been to the finals and won. A lot of those veterans had been in that position. Certainly, Versteeg fits that. The other thing too is, Darryl is very familiar with Versteeg. So even though we’re not as familiar with him as maybe like a Scuderi, having been here, there’s also a history with Versteeg with the Sutter family, if you go back to his time in Alberta. But the winning part you’re talking about, absolutely. It’s a war zone and you better know what you’re getting into. I think we just had a taste of that last night.”

On how much the Blackhawks’ early moves pressured other teams to make moves:

“No. I think now you’re getting into one of the original questions here, or what I alluded to. You’ve got to have a plan and stick with it, in building as well as the ‘window.’ I’ve never been like, ‘Oh, they did this so we’ve got to do that.’ I think that’s dangerous. I clearly don’t think it came into play here. If you look at the money, we had to take a piece of Ehrhoff this year. Well, I knew Stan (Bowman) was getting Ladd. Part of the reason it got held up was that part of the money he had to have. So, I wanted Scuderi. “I know you’re getting Ladd, so that’s why you have to have 50 percent.” Hey, you do what you have to do. It doesn’t surprise me one bit. I mean, you could have guessed that he was going to do that two months ago and he’s really good at what he does. No doubt about it. If you look at it, it doesn’t surprise me one bit, but does that make us go out and say, ‘Wow, we’ve got to do this and that’? No. I think that’s dangerous. You’ve got to look at your team and it’s always been, ‘How good are we?’ Yes, you look at your matchups, but if you start getting into that you might start throwing around first-rounders before you know it.”

On when Gaborik might return to game action:

“The goal would be sometime a little prior to the playoffs. We’ll see. The thing with these things, there is an element of two things. One, how quickly he heals. Secondly, how hard he works. I think you guys know the story of Tony Granato. It was a little different with his ACL when I had him in San Jose. He set a record for coming back in six weeks. It was ridiculous. So part of a player coming back from this type of injury is, one, just his biological makeup, in terms of healing. And second is how hard you work. Granato was an absolute nut and broke the record for coming back. Somebody with Granato’s injury did it in five weeks and other people took ten weeks. So we’ll see, but that would probably be a reasonable estimate, sometime close to the playoffs. Very close.”

On the level of input Darryl Sutter may have played during the acquisition of Brett Sutter:

“The chances are, probably in the next couple days, we’re going to call him up and play him on the first line and move Carter and Kopitar to the two holes. No, no. Blakey made this call, because Blakey runs the (AHL) team. Actually Blakey came to me with this three weeks ago, and he said, ‘We really need a kid like this in the minors.’ He knows how hard he works and what he stands for. I said, “Well, you know what the issue is. As a player, I’ve got no problem with this guy, because he’s exactly the type of guy— he’s a Sutter. He’s your old, throw-back Sutter. I’d take him in a second. But you’ve got to make a decision, as the general manager of that team, is there any potential whatever?” He did some checking on Brett and actually had a talk with Darryl. So, you’d have to ask Blakey more specifically, but that was my question to him. But as far as the player, you’d definitely want this guy around your younger players, that’s for sure. He could come up and help you when he needs to, because he ain’t going to cheat you, that’s for sure.”

To read more of Lombardi’s quotes from today’s call, click here.

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