On if the team will have a different style of play next season, one that is more skill-based:
“It’s a fair question. We always put that on the board every year we take a look at it. I think if everybody’s there the way we’ve kind of got it planned, we’re not slow. If you go through the roster, Pearson and Toffoli aren’t slow, Kopitar’s not slow, Gaborik’s not slow, Carter’s certainly not slow , Lewis isn’t slow, Brown isn’t slow. Then its speed through the puck that’s more important, quite frankly. I think we have an issue, at times, where we’re making more plays. We look slow when we don’t connect the dots, because we’re not a team that has that one guy who is going to turn nothing into something, per se. Maybe Carter has got a little of that. You’re right, it has to be discussed, but am I there? No. Let’s face it, we got to where we were by playing that way. Quite frankly, every team we were up against was playing that way. San Jose was physical. Anaheim was physical. St. Louis was an absolute war, and Chicago is no walk through the park either, even though they’re skilled. I don’t know how you would survive. I guess maybe it could happen. You certainly see Calgary with a lot of skill. Probably, in our conference, they’re the one team that strikes me. They’re really good on the back in terms of the puck movement and things. Our guys with size, if they played them, they got ability. That’s usually the problem you run into, just size and they can’t make plays. But again, Pearson, Toffoli, Dwight King wants to play, he can make plays. Kopitar makes plays.”
On if he will tailor the team more to a skilled roster than a dump and chase style roster down the road:
“I don’t know if you’re tailoring it because here’s the other thing, they’re not going to play if they start pulling up and not winning their battles. That’s what these charts are there for, shore is the same way. How much are you willing to tolerate losing luck puck battles, not protecting the puck, not paying the price in order to get skill. How much or how far do you want to go with that. The one thing about Pearson and Toffoli, they’re not bailing on the wall. That combined with the fact that they got some special skill is kind of what we’re all about. We haven’t gone how far we want to go with not paying the price because you got great skill. I’m not sure. I’m not ready to move that meter too far to the right because like I said, Pearson and Toffoli are not soft. And they’re still babies. It’s obvious that you look at them and their bodies; they’re far from being men. It’s up to us now to do a hell of a lot better job making sure these kids max out on the physical side. So it maybe doesn’t take as long for them to get there where we need Drew and Kopi to take that final step. They’ve made progress in terms of getting their bodies in shape. If someone asks the question about Pearson and Toffoli because they’ve got skill and can do those things, yeah, but they’re not soft. When you ask the question do you want to go away from your values or what’s got us here because the game is changing or whatever, since you’re saying maybe allowing guys to pull up and not pay the price because they can make something out of nothing and put on a show. And yet there’s a place for that. But those two kids aren’t like that. Now, they’re not fully developed yet. Being where they’ve had success, are they going to work hard this summer or worry about their contract. But I don’t consider them in anyway soft players. Quite frankly I don’t think they would have played, we wouldn’t have brought them up if we thought they were going to be cheating.”
More general comments on the Kings roster:
“The primary core of this team is not that old. Every player is just entering his prime or right in the middle of his prime [and] they have won. The whole thing is to keep certain things together, because to me there’s a lot of upside. Of the players, I’m not sure who has reached his maximum potential. You might say that about Carter. But I don’t think Kopitar, Doughty, Muzzin, Martinez, Pearson, Toffoli – who is maxed out? So that’s kind of what I’m looking at. This is a slap in the face, big time, when it finally hits you when you’re sitting up there in Calgary. But the one good thing about it is, this could turn into a big-time positive if it’s handled right, because so many of these players are not maximizing their abilities at this stage. So maybe you need that, because you’ve got a lot of players who have had great success here and won two Cups, and there’s no way you’re going to convince me they’re as good as they can be. I think it’s a fact… This isn’t a team where you’ve won with a bunch of 35-year-olds. We have a marvelous opportunity to learn from this experience, and maybe we needed it. I don’t think there are too many people looking in the mirror saying, `I’m as good as I can be.’ That’s the one saving grace about this. If I was sitting here now, and we’d got knocked out with a roster filled with 34-year-olds, I’d be thinking, `Oh boy, we have to go back and start over.’ No way. They know how to win.”
We have lots more from yesterday’s session with Lombardi posted here.
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