FREE AGENT PREVIEW: SASHA?

It’s difficult to write Alexander Frolov next to the colon in the title so I didn’t. Kings fans have come to love our metrosexual, smiling, defensively responsible, offensively enigmatic left winger. For those reasons and more, Frolov is two parts hockey player and one part our friend. But it appears after the Lombardi interview with AM-1260 in Oiler country that this Kings fan is sharing Dean’s not so optimistic view of signing him.

Dean tells us:

“I think you’re probably right on Fro. He’s a good player. I guess at times, like you say, you think he’s capable of more, but he’s still a productive player. But you still now have to really be astute in how you attach a price tag to that, or you’re going to get yourself in trouble down the road, and then all this building we’ve done makes no sense if we can’t keep these young players that have come through our system. So I’m not too optimistic, given what he’s looking for. The other thing we’re confronting here, don’t forget, is the KHL, and they’re offering an awful lot of money, tax-free. It’s almost like the WHL days, where the difference in dollars is huge. It’s not like you can accuse the player and say, `Well, he just wants to take the easy way.’ No. We’re talking significant dollars, in terms of the difference. I talked to him at the end of the year, and I said to myself, `This is no different than when Bobby Hull left.’ I’m sure he wanted to stay in the NHL, but when the money is that much different, you can’t blame him. So you’re also confronting this with Fro, so we’ll see but we’re going to keep our options open.”

Some fans are upset that Lombardi is, as they advance, again airing the laundry in the press. That is one way of looking at it. Another is to understand the pretty shrewd negotiation and subtle self sustaining (say that fast three times) tactic employed.

“He’s a good player. I guess at times, like you say, you think he’s capable of more, but he’s still a productive player”: Here, Dean is attaching value to Frolov but carefully doing it by using the word productive. Productive translates to worth without indispensability. It compliments without accolades. It provides a foundation for the opinion that Frolov is worth keeping around but only if the price is consistent with that worth.

“But you still now have to really be astute in how you attach a price tag to that, or you’re going to get yourself in trouble down the road, and then all this building we’ve done makes no sense if we can’t keep these young players that have come through our system”: This is a tactician’s statement. He set the foundation (lead in, above) for believing that Frolov should come with a price tag in the first part and in this second, he hits a core nerve by referencing our youth (implicitly excluding Frolov from its equation) and the rebuild. Lombardi without directly stating it leads the listener / reader to believe that signing Alexander Frolov would impact the signing of Doughty, Johnson, Kopitar, etc. and could lead to the demise of our long suffered rebuild. Would you sign Frolov at the expense of losing our core youth and taking years of steps backward? Of course not. Lombardi wants you to believe it can.

“So I’m not too optimistic given what he’s looking for”: Dean directs the focus away from the Kings signing Frolov to Frolov asking too much. This type of deflection in negotiation is designed to put the burden on the other side. It is akin to stating, “If Frolov wasn’t asking so much, we could sign him.” Who is to blame there to the lay reader? Certainly not Dean.

“The other thing we’re confronting here, don’t forget, is the KHL, and they’re offering an awful lot of money, tax-free:” Did he state that Frolov was offered a lot of money from the KHL? No. But do you see how you read it that way? Lombardi stated a generally accepted concept within a specifically framed scenario thereby leading one to believe the concept applies to the scenario. This creates a second level of deflection. The first was Frolov’s asking price. The second are the reckless heathens at the KHL.

“It’s almost like the WHL days, where the difference in dollars is huge. It’s not like you can accuse the player and say, `Well, he just wants to take the easy way.’ No. We’re talking significant dollars, in terms of the difference. I talked to him at the end of the year, and I said to myself, `This is no different than when Bobby Hull left.’ I’m sure he wanted to stay in the NHL, but when the money is that much different, you can’t blame him. So you’re also confronting this with Fro, so we’ll see but we’re going to keep our options open”: Why give this example? Because he wants you to know that this is not new, it has happened before, it is happening now and it is outside of his control. “I cannot control greed and economic realities,” Dean is telling you.

Do I believe Dean is being deceptive? Absolutely not. I believe he is a brilliant negotiator, one who understands that Frolov is well liked among the fan base, that his departure may come with fall out but that even the most Sasha loving fan must understand that the Kings are bigger than Frolov and he doesn’t have the luxury of being a fan of any one player. He has a team to worry about, one he has helped build and one in which a “productive” player with a “price tag” cannot set back.

Where will Frolov go? My bet: He’s a Red Wing…and with that, I need a beer.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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4 replies

  1. If he goes to the Red Wings it will be interesting to see if Mike Babcock can give him a kick in the ass so that he plays consistently, rather than the streaky play he’s had with the Kings for all these years.

    I don’t think the relevant question for DL, the Kings (or even the fans) is “Should we sign Frolov? “, rather, “For what it will cost to sign Frolov, could we get something better signing another player?”.

    My inclination would be to spend the money elsewhere. But I am not an NHL GM and probably not as smart as DL.

  2. Personally I see him going to the KHL. They’ll probably throw a lot of money at him and he’ll take the best offer and I dont blame him if he does. Although it wont be easy to see him go.

    GO KINGS!

    • I’ve heard that the KHL is looking wobbly these days, with Moscow Dynamo folding. So it may not be a given that any KHL team is in a position to throw wads of cash at Kovalchuk, Frolov or anyone else.

      I understand Bobby’s reading, but I think you can put a slightly different spin on it: That Lombardi isn’t so much preparing the fan base for bad news as he is signaling to Frolov’s camp that they don’t have him over a barrel. If Lombardi is as shrewd a negotiator as Bobby says (and I think he is indeed), he knows that to get what you want, you have to be willing to walk away from the table — or at least, get the other side to believe that you’re willing to walk away from the table. I think this is a message to Fro’s people: “We like your guy, we’d like to have him back, but ultimately we’ll be fine without him.” Today’s signing of Parse might also be construed as a similar signal.

      • Granted the economics will have its say here but there’s still plenty of wealthy Russians out there and they could still put together a real lucrative offer for Frolov. Just because one team went belly up, doesnt mean all teams are reeling financial wise.

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