Following the Kings trade with Carolina earlier today (broken down here, including a detailed look at the price they paid), GM Dean Lombardi hosted a conference call with local media. Per the norm, there was a tremendous amount of content, so here is the first of a three-part article…
Lombardi on what he likes about how his team has responded over the last eight games:
“They made me start working. I had to go out and try to get them some help or try and improve [the group]. Boy… (long pause) I don’t know. Haven’t we seen this before? I think this year has been a different type of struggle. It’s been hard to get a handle on some things. Part of that is not only a challenge for them, but my inexperience in reading a team that’s accomplished what they’ve accomplished, and trying to stay there. It’s a new experience for me, as it is for them. You can say, well you guys won [the Cup in 2012], but I think this one was different and I think it presented a very different challenge than the first one.
“I think, as a group – the management, coaches, and players – all year, there have been countless meetings. It’s that whole thing about you can’t get a statistic for that certain feel, than emotion, that intangible, that often times that you can sense. You guys sense it too. You guys have been in enough rooms. It’s not that different than what you guys feel in a room, at times. This has been a very different challenge. So many times during the year it looked like were getting it going, but it was like a car going [ed note: he made the noise of a car having trouble starting – you can hear the audio below, if you’re so inclined]. And it just can’t turn over.
“Make no mistake, we’ve all been searching. Nobody had stopped working. I think I come back to, again, two things. One, we’ve never had an issue, throughout all of our struggles, of players ever pointing fingers. I think we’ve seen that in some other teams that have won, and probably some teams that have made moves at times because the chemistry of that team changed, as people started thinking more about themselves getting credit. We’ve never had that. I could always put that aside. In talking with GM’s of other teams, and some of the things they struggled with, that was always one of the issues. I could always put that aside, though. So, we didn’t have that.
“I think [our players] have always known, they hadn’t been working like they should. Not only were they not pointing the fingers at each other, but a lot of guys, too, were pretty hard on themselves. And then you just come back to the same old story I’ve said many times, they found a way. Hey, we lost eight games in a row last year. The puck was going in off the back of the net. Lesser men would have folded and found excuses. But, they haven’t in the past, so what would make me think they’d start now? It’s the only way I was able to sleep at night, and it hasn’t been very comfortable – make no mistake. But, you get some solace in the fact that, you know what, they’ve shown that they can figure it out. That’s what it comes down to. In the end, it isn’t me, it isn’t Darryl [Sutter], it’s themselves. The only thing I was able to figure out deep down, I know they’re not going to quit. And they’re not older, it’s not like they’re past their prime. The core of this team – it ain’t an age factor. Identifying that emotion, or what that intangible is… I can’t define it, but you know it when you feel it and when you see it.”
On the win streak coinciding with Mike Richards being put on waivers and ultimately sent to the AHL:
“(long pause) I have no idea. That was just something we felt we had to do for the team. It certainly wasn’t the objective. It’s like [asking me] if I knew Gaborik was going to score 15 goals last year? [And them me saying], ‘Yeah, I knew he was going to do that.’ No. It wasn’t the objective. I don’t see that as an issue. Michael was never a problem in the room. I don’t think those guys were using him as an excuse or anything like that. I never heard that throughout the whole year [or] after. So, no, I don’t think so.”
In part two, posted here, Lombardi discussed if the Kings have other plans before the trade deadline.
Later, in part three, posted here, he spoke in depth about the Sekera trade, Tanner Pearson coming back, Kyle Clifford’s new contract, and the Slava Voynov situation.
3 MUST-READ ARTICLES:
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