Blake on What’s Ahead for Kopitar, Gaborik, Lombardi, Iginla

More from LA Kings General Manager Rob Blake following today’s press conference to introduce John Stevens as the team’s new head coach…

— PART ONE OF THIS INTERVIEW POSTED HERE

Blake on if Gaborik will be bought out:

“Will he get a buy out? No.”

On if not buying out Gaborik was a decision he has already decided against:

“Yeah. I am comfortable saying that right now, yes. [Reporter: Do you think a new system will improve his output?] Yeah. And I don’t think he was completely healthy this year. Say it’ll be a clean slate for Marian to come in and prove to himself that he can play. He’s one of the players that we’ll talk about tomorrow that did have a procedure, and he’s out an extended period of time.”

On any players who needed surgeries following the conclusion of the season:

“We’re going to release a statement tomorrow. There was two players who needed surgery and two that received a procedure (that was) non-surgical to repair injuries that had been bothering them throughout the season.”

On if he has made up his mind on decisions regarding the expansion draft:

“No, not yet. It’s been talked about many times, and you try to analyze every team’s possibilities and different things. In the next month here for sure, we’ll kind of get it down. We haven’t really dove in, I would say, the last two weeks on that. I’ve kind of been busy. It’s funny, just talking about just hockey has not been a part of it the last two weeks. Trying to reach out to all the staff members and obviously with John here, and what we’ll do going forward. Is there a background into the expansion? Yes. We’ve been under all the different scenarios. We haven’t made a formal decision yet.”

On what he thinks happened with Anze Kopitar this past season:

“I think there’s a lot that went into Kopi. First and foremost, he’s played a lot of hockey too. I’ve had a conversation with Kopi the last couple weeks, and a lot of it revolved around his off-season training, and to look at the top players – the Toews, the Crosbys, and see what they’re doing off-ice, because there has to be an element, when you get to a certain age, to be able to play at a high level, the off-season becomes such an important factor. I know our strength guys have met with Kopi, and he’s got a real good attitude and understanding on what he needs to accomplish to get back to that high level.”

On training strength versus speed in the off-season:

“The game’s quicker now. For sure it is. And you need to train that way. But, it also comes with the age in your career, and the amount of games you’ve put in. You have to adjust and adopt your training. I think Kopi’s at that stage in his career. He’s very open. The good thing is, his agent is Pat Brisson, who deals with some of these high-end players that have been able to do those changes and incorporate that into their game, and I think Kopi will take full advantage of that.”

On if he will push Kopitar to stay in LA to train this off-season:

“It’s difficult, obviously with where his home is and things like that. He’s got a young family, and he’s going to have to spend more time back here at different times. We’re comfortable with thes guys. They get to a point where they’re men and they understand the business side. We’re real good with our strength and conditioning to be able to, if they have to take a trip over there to monitor (workouts). A lot of players have their own trainers. I think the key is getting to know those trainers and making sure they’re on the same program we think these guys need. Listen, a majority of players all take off. They go back home and do their thing, which is fine, but they have to be committed to the same type of program that we want to see a benefit from.”

On if Kopitar was potentially out of shape, leading to struggles this season:

“I’m not saying he’s out of shape, I’m saying he needs to adjust his training or adapt his training. It’s a different style of game than it was eight years ago and the quickness aspect has to be in there. Listen, there’s a lot of things, the team wasn’t having success, he wasn’t having success he’s a new captain. There’s a ton of stuff that goes into it, Kopitar [Anze] will be fine, he’s a smart kid. He understands the game, he knows where he is and I wanted him to make sure that he’s in that top group with all these other elite players. There’s no problem looking at what they do, I’ve done it myself, Luc [Robitaille] has at certain times in his career. Look at the best players and see what they’re doing, you have to adapt as you go but age and stuff comes into effect.”

On if he is anticipating any contract issues with Tyler Toffoli:

“I don’t know, there are issues with everybody’s contracts. I’m probably one to speak. [Laughter]. I think you know, with what Pat [Brisson], Luc [Robitaille] and I experienced through Anze [Kopitar’s negotiations] too, there’s a familiarity of what limits are – you know, ‘Hey listen, let’s get down and other stuff out and get this deal done.’ So yeah, Toffoli [Tyler] and Pearson [Tanner] they’re priorities right away here to get done.”

On if Lombardi will get permission to interview for other NHL GM jobs:

“If we get called, yes. We have not been contacted at all yet.”

On the possibility of bringing back Jarome Iginla:

“Yeah, I’m not sure. I’ve talked to Jarome and he’s kind of hinted at possibly playing. I think what happened was when he got traded here, I’m not so sure he was 100% that he wanted to play after this year. I think you saw a very competitive player, listen he came in and did things that you could only wish all your players had, those intangibles. We’ll have to sit with Jarome and get a good sense on what he wants to do and see if it’s a fit on this team. I think he was a fit at that time, for sure. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to accomplish what we wanted to help him too, being in the playoffs. He’s as competitive a guy as they come.”

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