On Wednesday morning, LA Kings GM Rob Blake spoke with the media regarding his big trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets that saw him deal franchise icon Jonathan Quick and draft picks for goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov. Here is part one of his extended media scrum:
Blake on how this particular trade came together:
I think we’ve been kind of identifying needs as the season progressed here, in certain areas. This year, at the Trade Deadline, particularly this year, you see a lot of movement prior to [it] here in the last week. So, lots of discussions and [we] felt that this type of move addresses the two situations that we felt needed to be addressed on the team.
On if these players specifically made it a more comfortable trade, with both new guys fitting into the existing group:
I think the team directed us in that. They’ve played hard. They’ve been very competitive in different situations, two very difficult road trips back-to-back here in the last month. That put us in a position that we felt, as a staff, we needed to go out and address needs that we had identified previously to help this team continue to push for the playoffs.
On when he became comfortable with the idea of moving out another first round pick (after the Kevin Fiala trade last summer), and in a deal that may end up being for a pair of rentals:
We understood that risk. Last year’s was a little different scenario. I think we knew the probability of the extension with Fiala in moving that first. We just felt that the team has put themselves in a position to be very competitive and challenge. We want to help do that. There’s lots of time to work on different things with these players as the season progresses. Also, the flexibility in the summer and the unknowns with the cap, we would like the ability to adjust that if needed here as we go forward. But I think the main point was, the team has played very well, very competitive. Like I said, they’ve put themselves in a position that, as a staff here, we felt we wanted to improve.
On trading away a legacy player like Quick and the timing of any pre-trade conversations with him:
First, Jonathan Quick is the best goalie to ever play in this organization, let alone in the league. He’s taken this organization, with a handful of players, to the highest level at two different times. Throughout his career, we have been so thankful for what he’s been able to do for this organization as a player, as a person, him and his family and his kids, we’re indebted for what he’s been able to do for us. Leading up to this and that conversation, I met a few times with Jonathan throughout the season. I wasn’t on the trip there in Winnipeg, I was back here in LA. So, the conversation regarding the trade, unfortunately had to happen after the game by telephone. It’s just the way things worked out. It couldn’t wait until the morning to do it in person. That’s the way that had to unfold.
On if there was a point where he pivoted toward Columbus being the main trade partner this week:
I don’t know if there was a pivot, per se. Like I said, I’ve been very active on the phone in the last three or four weeks. Then, that gets narrowed down and you start to see some movement. We had identified two needs in our organization, for the team, that we thought we could provide benefits for them to push towards the playoffs. So those calls between different teams had always occurred. I would say, the last 48 hours kind of narrowed down or zeroed down to the talks with Columbus.
On Quick’s legacy and what his impact has been over the past few seasons — along with Doughty and Kopitar — to get the Kings back into this position:
It’s hard to explain unless you sit and watch it every day. The players you mentioned are going to go down as the best players at those positions on this team, ever. And very deservedly so, you can put Dustin Brown in that group too, as we saw over the years. What they do is just establish the overall culture for any other player coming into the organization. We are forever indebted for what they have been able to do and build. Now, other players will take that too.
On if Quick or his agent ever requested a contract extension from the Kings:
I’ve had talks with Jonathan regarding that, thinking back to maybe last summer. We haven’t had any recently here.
On when it became a viable option to trade Quick either because of his performance or related to cap space:
I think in the discussions leading up to the last few days. But that is not an easy decision and I will reiterate how important he is to the franchise and the organization. [reporter follow-up – To be clear, it wasn’t a possibility you were exploring last year or earlier this season?] No.
Blake on if he could see something similar to what the organization just did for Dustin Brown happening at some point in the future for Quick:
I don’t have the final say in that by any means. But, by far, he is just as deserving, as a few other guys will be in this organization. Like I said, the group of them have done some things here that are going to be very hard to duplicate. They should be honored and celebrated by the organization and fans very similar.
On if he feels like he’s done making significant moves this week or is there still a possibility for more trades:
We’ve gained cap space in this deal to have the ability to be able to look at different moves. I’m not sure or certain there’s anything going to happen. But, there’s a lot of time left before the Deadline and you start to see different moves or different players that may have not been talked about in the past couple days become available. We’re going to explore different options, as long as we’re pushing forward to make our team better.
On the immediate fan reaction to Quick being traded, with some being divided on how it all went down:
I understand the division in that. I think what the common ground is, is that Jonathan Quick, like I said, is the best goalie to ever play here. What he was able to do and where he was able to put this franchise should make every fan very excited. We’ll forever be indebted for what he has done for our organization. That should be the focus of the common ground. He is, again, the best player to ever play goaltender here and took this team to heights it has never been to.
[PART 2 has been posted here]
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