On the amount of work ahead and reflection on the difference between this year and last year at this time:
“[We’ve been working to nail all of] that down. Because of what happened in the past, it was a more recovery-based offseason than upgrading our conditioning. A lot of time was spent evaluating that, coming up with standards, now that we have that opportunity. A lot of time was spent with our off ice issues. We had to face up to what happened there and it was the same thing. What could we have done to prevent this? More importantly, what is our approach here in the future to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Between that and what we’ve started with the templates and everything else, it has been pretty much nonstop. This is one thing; we’ve taken some hits this year. The one thing that I haven’t seen, nobody is pointing their fingers in the wrong direction. The whole goal here is everybody points the finger at themselves and let’s go from there. The players have, regardless of what they’ve been through; we never had any of that stuff when we were winning. That ‘I’m better than anybody else.’ We didn’t have any of this pointing the fingers when things fell out from under us this year. That is the one thing that has been consistent in terms of their approach. I’ve said this, but this season we were all struggling to find that certain ‘it,’ or whatever you want to call it, all year.
“When it was over after Edmonton and Calgary, in reality we just got what we deserved. We have nobody to feel sorry for, whatever excuse, but how does it feel now? Every time we thought we were going to get out of it because we knew how to win or we had been in big games before, well that didn’t happen. But now we can learn from this. If you look at the cores of teams, if you believe a core, it is seven players. We’ve had a team whose core is in tact, has won two cups, won ten playoff rounds and their average age is 26.5. It is a marvelous opportunity for a lot of key players, secondary core guys who’ve won, to stick together and learn from this and make us better. If this had all happened and our core was averaging 34 years old or something, you’d go ‘Holy smoke wait a minute here.’ I think maybe having that success with so many young players might have been a product here. Handling success can be as difficult as handling failure. Let’s face it, we didn’t have it. We have a marvelous opportunity with this group to learn from it and make us stronger.
“If we approach it like that, it could be an even stronger group. Only time will tell and the players will determine that and you cater to that. I think our top players have a chance now to become our best-conditioned players. I think if any great team, if you look at the Lidstroms, the Yzermans, the Bradys, Kobe Bryant, the top players set the mark. Not the coach or anybody that can get in their ear. They show up in the top condition, ready to go for 82 games. It has been hard because we’ve been playing in June. This time, there is no excuse. It is a marvelous opportunity for our top players to go back and take over that room. They start by doing that, becoming the best they can be, and I think they will. There is no doubt in my mind about what guys like Kopitar, Doughty and Quick stand for. Hopefully this rude awakening, it being no fun watching the playoffs, that in the long run we can benefit from this.”
On what kind of moves he will be looking to make and if he’d look at a bigger deal if it came across his plate:
“If you look at our team, I don’t see a major move. You never say never. I hate to say it, but the truth is now that people are talking more, I’ll look at anything. For the draft you predict. Do I see a major move? No. But I could get phone call five minutes from now that I didn’t expect, it has happened before. But it is certainly not the priority sitting here that I need to make a big move. To me the big move is like I said. Those guys that are all 25, 26 and 27 years old, the big move is taking another step in terms of their preparation and assuming more of a leadership role. That is the big move. If we do that, we will be more than fine no matter what we do.”
On if VP Mike Futa is staying or leaving the organization:
“Mike Futa is still a Los Angeles King and will remain a Los Angeles King. You don’t think a guy could jump ship now, right? … There is a big challenge ahead of us. I don’t think he’s had time to think about it. He’s been going 100 mph. He’s at the combine now.”
For a detailed look at the off-season roster moves being contemplated by the LA Kings, be sure to check out our recent MayorsManor feature story covering more than a dozen players. Plus, the remainder of Lombardi’s comments are linked below.
MORE MUST-READ LOMBARDI CONTENT:
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