Quotable Dean Lombardi

Kings General Manager and President, Dean Lombardi is a charismatic individual who generally speaks exactly what is on his mind…a lot…this page looks at Lombardi’s most interesting quotes since he took over the G.M. reign. If you know of a Dean Lombardi quote you think we should add, send an email to lakingsnews@gmail.com and we’ll consider it for submission.

“I chose the Kings for a number of reasons.  First off, I’m a builder. And I see the foundation put in place by Dave Taylor. People sometimes come in and make things look as bad as possible to paint themselves as heroes. But, that’s not the case here…I want to know what happened this season. How can a team fall off the map like this? It’s easy to pin it on the coaches, but the players have to face responsibility, too. They brought in a different coach and that didn’t work.” (April 2006 after being hired by the Kings as President and General Manager)

“I was thinking about a lot of this stuff even before ‘Moneyball’ came out… It requires almost a cultural change, to get your staff thinking a certain way, and that’s what we’re working toward.” — “Some of that stuff I had in the back of my mind for a while… When ‘Moneyball’ became en vogue, it was when I was spending lots of time on the road for Philadelphia, and I thought a lot about it and parts of it really started to come together.”  — “It’s an ongoing thing. We had another meeting about it (this week). It requires not only open minds but also manpower. I’d like to have that in place in 24 months. Then we’ll really be rolling. This is new turf, but I believe it works. It takes open minds, sharp minds and manpower.” — “We’ve put a lot of time and thought into this, and now we’re going to see if it works… This is one of those things where we’re going to end up going down paths that don’t work. But we’re going to find the right one, and we’re not going to get frustrated along the way.” (September 2006 on influence of “Moneyball” on his plans for the Kings)

“In publications, people might have had him 25 to 30, but there was too much buzz on him. That type of defenseman is hard to find. I kind of drew a line under a certain number and said, ‘I can’t go below that or I’m going to lose him.’ … He would have ended up going from 10 to 13.” — “It would have been nice to go down a little lower, but players like that are hard to find. That’s why (Kimmo) Timonen gets seven million. People find value in that kind of player.” — “When you have a number of players in a certain layer, you lean toward position.” — “If anybody follows my history in terms of defensemen, I like players who can get up the rink in a hurry. I look at this as hopefully being similar to Stuart and Hannan in San Jose. In today’s game, guys who can skate and get up the ice are important.” — “Karl (Alzner) is going to play in the NHL next year. He’s more mature. Alzner is a very good player and a very safe pick. (Hickey) is riskier but the upside is higher.” — “I came down to two players: one defenseman and one forward. We really microanalyzed it.” (June 2007 after entry draft on decision to select Thomas Hickey)

“This kid is obviously a good player, but it became fairly clear to me that he was probably going to be a one-year asset, and it’s very clear that our ownership wants a young nucleus. … I think that arbitration process, people said the Kings won but you never win. Quite frankly it’s a lose-lose situation. That was certainly a factor going forward. Our chances of losing him and not maximizing our value were pretty good.” (June 2008 on trading Michael Cammalleri at the draft)

“Anze is a special player, but he has also shown a strong work ethic and the type of character we believe is necessary to help shape the core of our team.  Along with some of our other young core players, the commitment Kopitar has shown at a young age should continue to improve and elevate his teammates and the franchise.” (October 2008 about signing Kopitar to a 7 year, 46.7 million dollar extension)

“Every good army needs a couple of criminals.” (November 2008 about John Zeiler’s suspension after his hit from behind on Adam Foote)

“We had a lot of conversation. Both of them have played well, and so it basically came down to a matter of seniority. Both of them have played well, and they continue to be on the right path. We were hoping we wouldn’t have to do this this early. Jonathan (Quick) is a little older and he has paid more dues in the minors. It’s certainly not an indictment of Jon (Bernier). He’s been pretty good down there too. But there is a concept of seniority. Kids that come out of college these days, for instance, they don’t seem to understand that.” — “At least (Quick) knows what it’s like. He’s seen NHL shooters, and that can help him. But so did Jon (Bernier). They have similar experience at the NHL level. It certainly helps though. When you go to the next level, at least it gives him a little leg up. He’s a better goalie than he was before. His athleticism is really top notch, but he just has to learn to calm down. With Jon (Bernier), he makes a lot of difficult saves look easy because he’s in good position and he’s technically sound. Jon (Quick) has been so good athletically that he didn’t always have to be technically sound. He just went on reflexes and instinct, but you can’t do that up here (in the NHL). You use that athleticism when you have to. He’s improved on it, and made a conscious effort to improve.” (December 2008 on decision to call up Jonathan Quick in favor of Jonathan Bernier)

“Well, I think he has made a lot of strides. If you remember where he was when we first got him, and we had to send him back down (to the AHL), he’s a much better player. There is a little bit of, like you say, the fit, as far as which line. In fairness to him, we don’t have the right mix in our top nine.” — “Again, that’s not taking anything away from Sully, but I think there is a little bit of…where exactly does he fit with the guys we were going with? Sully would probably still be a player with upside. I think he has showed a lot of upside in his last 24 months. Now there’s another step that needs to be taken.” (March 2009 on Patrick O’Sullivan after trading him to Carolina for Justin Williams)

“With Williams’ game, he’s a really smart player. He can do a lot of things for you and, again, he has proven he can play in the playoffs. I think he’s a better fit for us.  Now, would I have done this if Justin Williams was 31 years old, or a rental player? No. That was the other thing I was looking at at the deadline. We weren’t looking at any rentals. Anybody we were going to get, it had to be somebody who fits with us next year and the year after. So this was a good fit, on all accounts. He’s signed, he’s bigger, he’s more experienced but still only 27 years old, and I think he’s a better fit in our top six. (March 2009 after acquiring Justin Williams)

“I told them right from the start that I wasn’t even concerned with their current roster. I was more focused on what they had in the system.  I said that if I am going to work for you, I need time and patience because if we’re going to do this right we need to build this back up from scratch and we need to revamp the defense position.” (April 2009 in an interview with NESN.com)

“I want to assure you that all of our end-of-season discussions with our players involved a clear message and understanding that next season carries an expectation that we will be playing playoff hockey.” (May of 2009 after the Kings’ season ended)

“We can talk all we want about ‘let’s go out and get this guy and that guy and this guy but unless Kopitar, as one of our key players and with the commitment we made to him last summer in terms of locking him up, gets on board and learns that he has to take on Getzlaf, and that means preparing in the summer and showing up in top shape where not only are you at the top of your game, but we also expect you to set an example for the all the other young players considering he wears an ‘A’. That is the most critical thing to this franchise…” (June 2009 speaking about Anze Kopitar)

“We were trying to avoid what happened last year with Orpik. It was the exact same situation. With Orpik last year, we knew what Pittsburgh offered, and we made our offer but the (current team) is always going to get the last chance, and they got him. In this case, we found out what Pittsburgh was offered and we knew we just had to blow them out of the water. When you’re talking about offers, it’s not just the money. It’s cost of living in L.A. and it’s taxes. If you’re offering $500,000 more, it’s really not that much when you look at everything. So we knew we had to blow Pittsburgh out of the water, but we wanted this guy. He has a ring and there are no questions at all about his character.” (July 2009, speaking about the signing of Rob Scuderi)

“Ryan is the type of player who fits with our team. He fills an important need as he is a competitive, gritty scoring left-winger, and he fits with the overall identity we continue to build here.” (July 2009, speaking about the trade for Ryan Smyth)

“Near the end of the first period, we started losing territory. We stopped making plays, stopped moving our feet. Then at the beginning of the second period, I think we went 10 minutes without a shot. Then they score two goals, and all of a sudden we get (mad) and get four quality chances. But that’s the point. When you talk about the mental side of building a team, it’s the same old story. You have to respect your opponent, but you can’t fear them. Yeah, they’re still the Red Wings, and they’re a hell of a team, but we’ve got to get over that mental block and start believing in ourselves. I thought we looked up and it’s 1-0 and, `Holy smoke, we’re playing with them,’ and then – like last year – there was a little bit of waiting for something bad to happen. And it did.”(October 2009, after a 5-2 loss against the Red Wings)

“When you sit a player out, and it’s a player who should be one of your best players, it’s safe to say you’ve probably tried everything. This is not something that was a knee-jerk reaction. That’s the first thing. Then, like I said, you’re worried about the message it sends to the rest of the team, because you want those guys to play hard. As far as how you handle it, you see how he responds, and then we make our decisions accordingly. We’re going in the right direction. He’s either going to get on board or we’ll go in another direction with him. It’s as simple as that. I like a lot of the things I’m seeing, with what we’re trying to establish here. Get or board, or there’s another way too. But like I said, this is not a knee-jerk reaction.” (October 2009, about Alexander Frolov being a health scratch)

“The thing with Jon, we brought him up a little quicker than we had hoped last year, but his whole history has two things. He is probably our best athlete and he is really competitive and he has always been a gamer…good goaltending is like good pitching. You can never have enough.” (November 2009, about Jonathan Quick)

“Where he frustrates you, and you just said it, he could do more and nothing in any walk of life frustrates any employer or your relatives—he could be so much more.  But if you’ve reached your potential and that’s to drive the garbage truck, that’s good. But if a guy’s driving (a garbage truck) and should be a Harvard MBA or something, that’s not good.” (January 2010, about Alexander Frolov)

“It was a big risk for us to trade for him.  There was all that hype and stuff because he’s just like a thoroughbred. It’s like looking at a horse and saying wow! But then he gets on the track and he has no clue how to run the race. He might even run in the wrong direction. That was Jack. Really raw.” (January 2010, about Jack Johnson)

“I believe they’re going to get it done. I’ve seen enough of these kids grow. Kopitar, he had that little lull there, and you can see him taking another step. The way he competes now, he never competed like that before. You saw the highlight stuff, but I see this kid competing. Quick learned to battle. Drew and Jack are getting better. Brownie is getting better, learning to lead. It’s a good group of guys too. I don’t have one jerk in the bunch.” (February 2010, about the team)

“That’s exactly what happens when you haven’t matured mentally as a team. That’s exactly what I saw last night, but that’s to be expected. (Ron Hextall) said it last night before the game. `I’m worried.’ And sure enough, that’s what you saw. An immature team, not understanding that you’ve got to put these guys away like Detroit, and not let him hang around like that. That’s what good teams do. `See you later. I’m going to knock you out in the first period.’ They played the night before. You let them hang around like that? Good teams don’t. But that’s all the little things, when you talk about culture and becoming mentally tough, there are always those little tests you see along the way, with teams maturing. That was one, last night, that showed me some immaturity.” (February 2010, on the loss to Edmonton on 2/11/10)

“I think we’re a better team and we’re not off-course. That’s all you can do. In the end, you’re trying to improve your team. If you really look at what’s in the marketplace at the trade deadline in the last couple years, there are not a lot of impact players there. The one impact thing that was there was Kovalchuk, obviously, and it’s well-documented why we walked away from that. So now, it’s how can I improve this team, and what’s available? And not blow your brains out, as far as throwing around first-rounders or Brayden Schenn or something.” (March 2010, on the acquisition of Halpern and Modin at the trade deadline)

“Never an issue. We can put this thing to bed. I have never had a deal for Frolov, or even close to a deal for Frolov. You can put that in writing, finally, with the trade deadline done. I have never had anything close for trading Fro. I think those rumors about him started when, yeah, we gave him a little boot there when we called him out after the Columbus game (in October). It’s just amazing how stuff comes out, that it’s a fire sale on this guy and he’s going to be gone. For all the guys you talk about, leading up to the deadline, there was nothing even close for Fro. Not even close. It’s just ridiculous.” (March 2010, on whether he ever intended to trade Alexander Frolov)

“The one thing about experience is that it brings credibility. He has experienced all types of teams. In Philly, he had a powerhouse with the Lindros line. He’s had an expansion team like Florida. He’s built teams in Washington. He’s seen it all. I was talking to him last night, and he’s saying, `We’ve seen this before. This reminds me of Washington, when we were getting better.’ So he’s got experience to draw on. So that’s not a problem. Even as a player, he’s always been a smart, extremely analytical guy who can keep his head about him. You hope that translates to your players. That’s one of the advantages of, `Hey, this guy knows.’ He’s had great players, he’s had working players and he’s seen all types of teams. That’s where experience can be valuable, because they can look to him and say, `He’s been there,’ especially when we have so many players who haven’t. So they have somebody who’s been there.” (March 2010 on Terry Murray after a 3 game losing streak culminating with a March 27 loss to Dallas 4-1)

“Halpern hasn’t found his role yet. That’s the problem. This is what I was nervous about. I was looking at Halpern or a truly fourth-line center, but I erred toward Halpern because I wasn’t sure if Williams could come back. He played with Lecavalier and Malone, so I had no problem in thinking that he could move up, in the short term, and I could cover myself there. So now he goes from playing with Lecavalier and Malone to the fourth line, whereas Modin goes and plays with Handzus and fits in right away. The one thing about Halpern is, he’s a guy who could resurface in the playoffs. Don’t forget the other reason that I did it, too, which is exactly what happened. The other guy [Oscar Moller] belonged in the minors, and he’s starting to get it. I wanted to get a guy because I didn’t want him sitting around. Sure enough, when he first went back, he sucked. But since Hex went down and said, `Wake up,’ the way he did with Bernier, he’s had four really good games.” (March 2010 on Halpern and Moller)

“It’s safe to say we took a step forward this year and had success, but that success is useful only if we learn why we failed. Next season essentially starts now. Part of the message we’re giving them as we’re sending them off is that this is the first meeting for next season.” (April 2010 after the 6 game playoff loss to Vancouver)

“I am happy with the season, although I felt that we could have won that series. Now we know what it takes to get to the next level. I don’t think anyone in the organization is happy today. And that is a good thing.” (April 2010 about the season and playoffs)

“When you talk about building today, it’s certainly different from prior to the lockout. You really get tied in with, `Do you like the player?’ Yes, but do you like him at `X’ price? Because you now have to get the right price, if you’re going to be able to keep your core together. So would we like to keep him? Yes. But if the price is prohibitive, and maybe would prevent us from filling other holes and making sure we keep Doughty and Johnson and all these kids coming through, then you have to walk away.” (May 2010 about Alexander Frolov)

“I think, whenever you’ve got a young team, there’s a saying that one playoff game is worth 30 regular-season games, in terms of the growth of a player. I thought our young players handled it really well. Certainly there were times when they showed their nervousness and inexperience, but I was really impressed that so many of them, who are 20, 21 years old, showed that they belonged. I said that during the year too. When I said we were ahead of schedule, remember that we approached the playoffs from the top down, and what I meant by that is that we didn’t get in by being Cinderella. We were in it the whole way, and we went through a tough period and basically put expectations on ourselves. So that was the first thing.” (May 2010 about the Kings’ performance in the playoffs)

It’s Hamburger Hill. I told them after the season that they’re ready to hear the Hamburger Hill speech for the first time. My boys in San Jose, they text me and say, `Did you give them the Hamburger Hill speech yet?’ No, not yet. The point is, it’s what you’re talking about, and that was certainly a theme when I talked to them as a group at the end of the year, and as individuals. `It starts now. You’re back at the bottom. You can be proud of what you accomplished, but the fact of the matter is that you’re going all the way back down to the bottom again.’ We had success, but that success is only going to be valuable if we learn why we failed. (June 2010, Dean Lombardi talking about the “Hamburger Hill” speech which bluntly makes little sense given what actually happened at Hamburger Hill)

“He’s going to a great program. As you can see, he’s clearly raw. He’s young. But when you get a defenseman that size, with that type of range, there’s a lot of upside. Like I said, we like where he’s going to be [North Dakota]. With our reserve list, we can do that now. We can put a kid in college and let him go, as long as he’s in a good program. We’ve got our other defensemen to develop, so we can take our time with him. We’re not in that situation where you have to force guys into the lineup early. So you look at the potential upside. He’s raw in some areas, but there’s some things to work with there, when he’s got that size and that range.” (June 2010, on moving up to number 15 and picking Derek Forbert)

“Take the rest of the day off.” (July 2010, when asked by Rich Hammond about the Kovalchuk talks)

“We are not a choice.” (July 2010, when asked about Jay Grossman’s comment that Kovalchuk’s choices have been narrowed down)

“Well, I think there’s some similarity to Fro. The size, and he’s a good player. He can kill penalties and he can score. He’s kind of a versatile guy, and I like the fact that we stayed with size in that slot, and size that can play. He’s not just big. We felt that with the Frolov role there, one thing we always liked was the size, and that’s why this guy was a high option. He was a guy we went after hard at the trade deadline. Then when we couldn’t get him, we went to a guy with, I guess, a similar m.o., in Freddy Modin. You can see that the m.o. is the same, but I think that this guy, because he skates so well, was considered Option A at the trade deadline. I’m just glad that we were able to hold on here and start addressing some needs.” (July 2010, when asked about the free agent signing of Alexei Ponikarovsky)

“It was kind of a strange thing. Boy, there are so many things involved there. That’s one of the downsides of putting so much energy into a Kovalchuk-type scenario. It’s not only what time is spent, but it’s neglecting other players. So when we got the go-ahead to look at other things, after Kovalchuk, it’s kind of hard for some players, emotionally. I had talked to Fro, after the dust kind of cleared, but I can understand when a player gets kind of hurt. When you’re talking about a guy with Kovalchuk’s ability, I don’t know how exactly to describe it, but it’s almost like the other player is the stepchild.” (July 2010, when asked about not negotiating with Frolov)

“I don’t know how practical that is. That whole circumstance, you see it in a lot of things, not just sports. The issue is a lot bigger, and involves so many other interests. It goes well beyond just the player and his team. I certainly felt, from my end, that we couldn’t wait for that to play out. I think we needed something. We’ve been seriously weighing our options here, and I don’t think the chances of this…well, I shouldn’t comment on it either way.” (July 2010, when asked about whether he is keeping an eye on the Ilya Kovalchuk arbitration)

“I can’t say, but there’s kind of one piece that I’m looking at, that I have in the back of my mind. But in terms of our biggest concern, in terms of our ability to fill that hole, I think this was the main hole that had to be filled, because we don’t have that in the system. So for me, it’s kind of a relief here, to say, `OK, this other thing is over, so let’s move on.’ It still comes back to the continued emergence of our young players. The framework around them has changed. We lost O’Donnell, Jones, Frolov, but I want to make sure that we try to bring back that framework, knowing that we’re not that far away, in terms of some of our kids being ready. When you had the youngest core in the playoffs, by far, by definition it’s going to improve from within. I want to put the framework around them that is similar to last year, and allow them to continue to grow without putting more on their shoulders. I think this was the biggest hole that had to be filled. So like I said, given all we’ve been through, to get a guy like this, I think it’s pretty significant, because we were very exposed.” (July 2010, asked whether he feels the need to go get another player this summer, i.e., a top 6 forward, or is that not something he sees as an absolute necessity)

“No factor. No. We saw him as the perfect fit for this team, so no. We would have been just as aggressive, whether Greenie was ready right at the start or not. No, it was never an issue. This guy was one of the top guys on our list for fit and what he could bring to our team at this stage of our franchise, so not, it was not a factor.” (August 2010, asked if the offseason Matt Greene injury was a factor in signing Willie Mitchell)

“No. I think, given the caliber of this player, and the fit, I think this is huge for us. So no, I’m totally comfortable with our top five. Then you’ve got some kids like Drewiske breaking in, and we’ve got that slew coming behind him. I just think that the way Willie plays, it’s one of those situations where the coaches looked at him and everybody was on board, as far as what this player can bring to the team and how important he could be to this mix. John Stevens was talking about the impact of the veteran of this caliber, what it can do for the young players, like Timonen did for Coburn and Carle, that type of thing. It all comes together. I think I’m very comfortable with our mix right now. It was a huge hole. It was something that was obviously staring at us all summer, and it’s hard to imagine getting a perfect fit like this. His defensive skills are textbook, and I don’t think people appreciate, at times, the fact that he can make plays. He’s underrated in terms of his puck play. If you put that in the mix of our top four, it’s got a real nice blend to it, so I think we’re pretty comfortable right now.” (August 2010 on whether he is comfortable with his defense after the Willie Mitchell signing or is he still looking to make some moves)

“There are certain players who, when you get into free agency, you’ve got to be aggressive. I think any time you get into free agency, there’s risks, and you’re balancing risks with what the payoff is. We felt so strongly about this player, whether it was personnel, management, coaches, that it’s worth the risk. There is risk with any player you sign. When we got Jarret Stoll, Jarret Stoll had already been through two concussions. So there was a risk there, but we haven’t had a problem. I signed Tony Granato in San Jose when Tony was coming off a brain aneurysm. I signed him to a three-year deal, and he went on and finished his career. Mike Ricci had a back that was supposed to be a disaster when I got him. So that was how strongly we felt, that we had to get aggressive here. You’re also dealing with a player whose character is beyond reproach, and you know that no matter what happens, he’s going to do everything he can, as a player, to fulfill his obligations without jeopardizing himself. I think that’s a big part of it, too. When you’re talking about players with risk, all of those guys that I talked about, whether it was Ricci or Stoll or Granato or a Willie Mitchell, these guys are all character guys, and sometimes you go out on a limb a little, but I think the payoff is way too big.” (August 2010, on why he was willing to give that second year on the Willie Mitchell contract when other teams were not)

“You give anybody too much to chew, that person is not going to be the same in continuing to drive in being the best that he can be. And you put this system in place like they did with the NBA, and then you wonder why the best talents somehow get their way with it. Somehow they’re not focused anymore. Well who’s fault is that? How many of you would be focused in your line of work if all of a sudden at 22 years old you’ve got it all? And again, I had no problem with Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy getting their 10 million dollars; Those guys had 10 years in the league, they had proven they were winners, they had proven they were leaders, and god bless ‘em. But for some reason, we went out and said let’s make free agency 25, and then you have a team like Phoenix that’s one of the oldest teams in the league and has one of the lesser payrolls — it’s completely inverted. So, maybe I’m talking a little for selfish reasons too, though. But I think the product when you have players who have stayed together, come up the right way, they perform better, you get a better team, you can get a better product. The other thing for our game, that I think is critical and not only because it is what we believe in in building a team, and keeping young athletes together so they not only become the best they can be, but they become teammates and they like each other and stay together for years.” (September 2010 @ the LA Kings Hockey Fest in response to Bobby Scribe’s question about the CBA’s impact on Lombard’s decision making process)

“We’re still kind of getting a read on him. You like what you see so far, but there’s still some rawness to him. I think part of it is to see exactly where he is. It’s not only whether a guy is ready, but you’re also trying to gauge how far he is. We haven’t even had him in our system a year, but obviously I think he’s done pretty well. He had a great summer and he has probably fast-tracked himself to some degree. So we kind of want to get another look at him. He’s obviously got size. He has shown that he can make a play. He’s developing some physical things. So it’s been good, but like I say, he’s been fast-tracked, to go from junior to where you’re looking at him thinking, `Wow, he might be a little closer than we thought.’ Does that mean he’s ready, or that type of thing? You’ve just got to let him play.” (October 2010, on Jake Muzzin and keeping him out of rookie and training camp)

“He was great. He was disappointed, but he had a great summer and this is the first time he’s been this far into camp. He was certainly disappointed, but John Stevens met with him and went over four points that he needs to work on. So he’s got his game plan. But this is the first summer he’s really had. Once he got over the injury, he put in 60 solid days (of training in El Segundo). Like I said to him, `You’re back on track.’ He got behind, because of all the injuries, but he’s on track. Now, do you want a guy pissed off and disappointed? Yeah. He is. He’s disappointed. The next step is, he sits down with John Stevens and they looked at video. John went over the clips and said, `This is what has to improve, and these are the four things you’ve got to do to get better.’ So he’s got his game plan and he can get going.” (October 2010, on sending Hickey down to Manchester after rookie and training camp)

“We have no problem having three NHL goalies available… (but) that has to be mutual,” general manager Dean Lombardi said today. “He has to go down there with a good attitude, and if that’s what he wants to do then we’ll be fine with it. If, at this stage of his career, he wants to go back to Sweden, then we’ll try to accommodate that too. This whole goaltender market can change in a hurry.” (October 2010, on putting Ersberg on waivers)

“It’s not easy. These are good problems to have. We had some tough decisions here, and those are subtle signs that your reserve list is certainly getting better, when you have tough decisions. There’s not much. They both played their role pretty well. I think it’s just a question of numbers. Obviously there’s a little window here with Clifford, in terms of the 10 games, but I think it’s just a question of numbers. It could have gone either way.” (October 2010, on putting Richard Clune on waivers)

“Don’t forget, last year he went right down to the end. I think we were more surprised last year. I don’t think there’s any doubt that we think this kid is going to be a good player. When you talk about culture, you’ve seen how he responds and stands up for his teammates. These are the kinds of things, when we were playing Anaheim three years ago, that stood out. There are certain elements out there that Anaheim, in the past, took advantage of, but we set out to address that. We’re getting there, and this guy certainly understands not only being a good player but being a good teammate. Again, he’s still only 19 years old here, so we have to be careful. We approached this with an open mind, and thought that he had a chance, and he certainly held up well. He’s going to improve, too. He’s not only going to be a physical player. He has a chance to be a good player.” (October 2010, on whether he was surprised that Clifford made such an impression in the Kings’ rookie and training camp that the Kings kept him on the roster)

“We started this process when we got here, building from the back, building from the draft. You get younger every year, and the goal is to get better every day. Last year, it started to become seeable. There’s no way anybody is satisfied. You can see the progress and now the fans see it. There were fans who stuck with us when we weren’t very good. At least the vision is starting to become reality. But let’s not kid ourselves. Let’s get real. We have a lot more to accomplish. We’re sitting on a lot of potential, but there’s still a lot of work to do.” (November 2010, on the team’s success this season)

“I’ve been amazed at how many people have been behind (building through the draft) and a lot of people stuck it out. I’d heard L.A. was a bandwagon town, but a lot of people stuck by us when we weren’t that good. I’m happy for them, but we’ve got to give them a lot more. It’s been 44 years and they have haven’t won a championship. If any place deserves it, it’s this town.” (November 2010, on the fans’ commitment to the team)

“To have 16 guys on our roster 25 and under, this start really helps their psyche to believe in themselves. That’s really critical when you are this young.” (November 2010, on the great start to the season after the 3-1 win over Dallas)

“(Williams) has that old school mentality, which I like, but his preparation wasn’t the best. This summer he made a commitment to follow the script of our trainer and really bought in. He showed up as one of our best conditioned guys.” (November 2010, on Justin Williams after the 3-1 win over Dallas)

“He’s taken the next step. With all the kids, I tell them, ‘It’s one thing to play in the league, and it’s another thing to win in the league.’ The things he has improved on, aren’t things that jump out at you, but they are things that are critical to winning.” (November 2010, on Anze Kopitar after the 3-1 win over Dallas)

“He was always known as that great athlete in the highlight film but he’s doing so much more of the little things. He has a great rapport with John Stevens. I think Johnny has been good for him…He still has that (being a risk taker) but when the coaches come in to watch the game film, they notice he’s doing the little things. He’s at the top of his game.” (November 2010, on Jack Johnson after the 3-1 win over Dallas)

“Focus, and competing every shift. He’s big, he’s tough, he’s got talent. Of course he’s got to get better in all those areas, but that’s there. In terms of getting where he needs to go, it’s going to come down to competing. It’s the same with a lot of guys. Lewis has had to learn, and you see him getting better all the time. It’s probably a little early. Ideally, I don’t like to bring kids along (this quick), but with Parse out now, we need someone on the wing spot. Otherwise, you would see Loktionov here, but I think, ideally, he’s a center. We tried him on the wing.” (November 2010, on Dwight King making his debut with the team)

“You know what? If this was 15 years ago, I would be, but I’ve just seen it too much. It’s one thing for guys to play in the league, and it’s one thing for them to have success, and now, going to that next level, to become a top player, it’s the hardest. I’ve seen it with so many young players. You’ve got to believe that, deep down, they’re good people and they’re competitive people and they’re going to figure it out. It’s a tough position to play. It’s a lot harder for a player to have had success, and then push it to the next level and really be a top dog, than it is, mentally, to make the league. There is enormous responsibility on them. The other guy [Mitchell] being out, it hurts the fit. But yeah, we’re counting on them. So if you’re asking me if I’m nervous, no. Because I’ve seen this too many times before with young players. What you have to come back to is, do you believe in them as people, first of all? And then do you believe in them as players? There’s no question that I believe in both of them. They’re too good of players, and they’ll figure it out.” (November 2010, on whether he is concerned about Doughty and Johnson’s play)

“Don’t forget, the learning curve is not only physical, it’s mental. There are lifestyle changes that they go through. You see this in the NBA all the time. And they’ll get through it. That stuff that they’ve done, it doesn’t go away. But they’ve got to learn, like a lot of pros, to be consistent. When things aren’t going your way, don’t try to do too much. Now, on the other hand, I kind of like the fact that they take responsibility, but you’ve still got to play within yourself and not force things. Again, that’s a part of growth. Stay with it, stay with it, pick your spots. You don’t learn that overnight, particularly in that position. So, no, I’m not concerned about them at all. I think, probably, part of it is that I’ve seen the other side. That’s how Chris Pronger gets traded. Chris Chelios gets traded. You think, `Why is this happening?’ and you think, `Oh, I’ve got to get nervous.’ No. I’ve seen it too many times. Al MacInnis, the struggles he went through in Calgary before he won the Norris Trophy. Ray Bourque. They all went through it. Now, I’d like them to get through it faster…” (November 2010, on the growth and development of defensemen like Doughty and Johnson)

“Well, there’s a lot of things. When we found out Parse was going to be done, I’ve been looking at something since we found out about Parse. It’s really hard to find deals early in the year. There’s just not a lot happening out there. I started looking at this about four weeks ago, as a possibility, as well as looking at our other options. This was clearly our best option, and I think it’s a good option. He’s a solid guy. He can play with good players. Assuming the knees are good, he brings a lot of speed, and he plays hard. So I think he can do a lot of things for us. He’s a very strong option for us. The other thing it does is, it keeps our flexibility. This contract doesn’t take us out of pursuing other things at the trade deadline, as well as keeping all our options open, even next year, depending on how all this works out. So it works from a player standpoint, the character standpoint and the contract standpoint. Now if he just passes a physical…” (December 2010, on the Marco Sturm trade)

“I’m glad to see what Schenner did. He needed to do that. He won every award there, and deservedly so. On the other hand, it’s fair to say we expected him to step up. He did. He was certainly the top play among the players there. His points weren’t cheap. He did a really good job. It’s too bad, the way it ended for Canada, but he needed to be a top guy, and he was.” (January 2011, on Brayden Schenn’s WJC performance)

“Kitsyn is going to be real interesting. He was real impressive in the pre-All Star Games. I watched all of those, and it was actually the first year that Russia won that tournament too. He was clearly one of the better players amongst that group. You can see that he’s not vanilla. There are some high-end things there to work with. There were some goals where he showed his skill, but I’ve also seen him score some goals where he hung in there, in some tough areas, and used his good hands. So it’s not just a skill thing. What I really love about him, though, is that he kept his word. When we drafted him, it was similar to Loktionov. `Are you going to come over here (for junior hockey)?’ He said, `I want to play in the World Junior, and then I’ll play Canadian junior.’ And he’s doing that. He got his release, and he’s going to St. Mike’s with a chance to win a Cup, very similar to Loktionov. It will be interesting. He has certainly had a very good audition for this side. But it’s going to be an interesting test for him, over the next four months, playing on a very good team that should go a long way.” (January, 2011 on Maxim Kitsyn’s WJC performance)

“Forbort, he was the youngest player there on the back end. A year and a half ago, this kid was playing bad high school hockey. For him to play in that tournament, at this stage, just being there and making that team is a good step for him. Certainly we would expect him to continue his progression and play a bigger role on that team next year. I think just making the team, and experiencing that, he has come a long way in a short time. We drafted a specimen there, with what should be a lot of upside, given that he has never played in these type of tournaments. He had high school hockey and one year in the U.S. program and then right to North Dakota. So, like I said, it’s a year and a half removed from bad high school hockey, and it’s a significant jump. It’s a good experience for him, but certainly we would expect him, next year, to have a bigger role in that tournament. They were all, at their own levels, pretty good. Schenner, like I said, we’re certainly proud of all he did there, tying the record and all that stuff, but that was the goal he set for himself, and that’s where he should have been. So, good for him.” (January 2011, on Derek Forbort’s WJC performance)

“First, the player had no problem doing a six-, seven- or eight-year deal. That’s very unusual these days, that players, at that stage of their career, will commit to a franchise. He was very sincere about that from day one, and stuck to it. A lot of guys will say it at the beginning and then back off, thinking there will be greater riches down the road. So once we had a player who was committed to that long of a structure, we could go ahead. If you look at it, the three years of restricted are based on what that arb [arbitration] number would probably look like, based on the way he has performed so far. Then, on the unrestricted years, you look at guys who signed last year, whether it be a Michalek or a Paul Martin, and the key is to try to gauge where your player is going to be. The longer you wait, the higher that AAV [salary-cap hit] is going to go. So if you look at his AAV, and look at the market for available defensemen, it’s very reasonable, assuming he continues to get better. That’s where you have to make a reasonable assumption that this player is going to continue to progress. If he does, you’re sitting there with a contract and you can fit in other guys. The only other way you can do it, as we’ve seen, is to put out those 20-year deals with bogus years. There are teams out there that have done it, which means they have a competitive advantage. The only way to beat that is to do it early, and keep that AAV down. That’s the second part. Number one is the commitment. Number two is the development. In Jack’s case, I don’t have any doubt that he’s not going to get complacent on us. That’s always your fear, when you step up for a young player, that he’s going to go, `Well, I’ve got it made,’ and stop trying to be the best he can. I have the utmost confidence, in terms of Jack, that this is not going to happen. If anything, it’s going to make him more confident, and drive harder. That’s the other thing that allows you to step up. It went back and forth for a month. It was very amicable. Every time we looked at something, we put it up on the board and looked at how it impacted Doughty and Simmonds and all our young players, and pieces we might want to add. All that research was done. When you have a guy who is willing to commit to seven years, it allows you — once you get that number locked in — it allows you some flexibility with the other guys. Sure, we would like to do Doughty on a similar term, but you don’t have to now. It’s good to have one in the bank. And don’t forget, Drew is three years younger than Jack, in terms of being removed from free agency. So he [Johnson] was a good target to focus on, in terms of the fact that he was willing to do it, and he’s the type of player who is going to do his best to be better. Getting that term in there allows us some flexibility with the other guys. You don’t have to get the long-term deal. Maybe it is smart to chip away at it, and then get them (long-term) when they’re Jack’s age. So I think it made sense for everyone. I think it’s a fair deal. Like I said, the key, whenever you’re doing this, is your belief that the player is not going to get complacent, and I don’t sense that in Jack at all.” (January 2011, on signing Jack Johnson to a 7 year deal)

“When the guy in Toronto making the decisions on the goals, in Ottawa and the one tonight, wanted the G.M.’s job in L.A. and was not happy about not getting it, you have to assume you are going to get those type of calls. However, we have put ourselves in a position where these calls have a monumental effect on our season, and we’re going to have to find a way out of it ourselves.” (January 2011, on Hanzal’s goal that was upheld on video replay and direct attack on Mike Murphy for the decision)

“I spoke to the commissioner today and he made it very clear to me that my actions last night were inappropriate and detrimental to the game. There is no question that his assessment is correct and the punishment fits the crime. Just as important, I apologized to Mike Murphy this morning and I sincerely appreciate his willingness to accept my apology. Like the team must learn from its mistakes, the GM has to learn from his mistakes as well.” (January 2011, on being fined $50,000.00 for his comment about Mike Murphy’s bias on video replay)

“To make it simple, the bottom line is that we had to create a roster spot in case something happened at the (trade) deadline. I guess it’s safe to assume, obviously, that there was a risk we were prepared to take. That’s it in a nutshell, that if we had, or, if we do something here Sunday, then we would be in a roster jam and we wouldn’t be able to do anything. You saw Chicago do it with (Nick) Boynton. They lost Boynton, too, but you have to weigh the risk in order to create the best possibility.” (February 2011, on losing Marco Sturm to the Capitals on waivers)

“No, it would have to be really something significant. The way his stock has risen here with the World Juniors and what he’s done, it would have to be really special and quite frankly I don’t think he’s going anywhere.” (February 2011, on whether he would consider trading Brayden Schenn)

“There’s no way that we were going to do that. It just didn’t make sense. It’s about making this team better right now. We’re at a different stage with this franchise. To fill a hole and create a hole just didn’t make any sense.” (February 2011, on whether giving up a roster player for a trade at the deadline was an option)

“Yeah. I think you know him here. That’s the other thing that’s attractive about him. Whenever you get a guy that has a Stanley Cup ring — and was a big part of that team, in his own way — that certainly bodes well for somebody that has been through the wars and understands what it takes in the playoffs. But you know, you hit the nail on the head. That’s his strength, his size. The one thing we’ve prided ourselves on here is becoming a team that’s hard to play against. That’s also why sometimes, when you go to the marketplace, I’m skeptical of certain things. This is a guy that would certainly fit that definition, of being hard to play against. You know, you’re also banking on the whole Edmonton experience. You see this in the other sports at times. He comes off a big season, and there’s a lot of pressure that comes with that big contract and expectations. I think, here, he can just come in and fit in. The good thing is, he has played with Greener [Matt Greene] and Stolly [Jarret Stoll], so he can already feel at home. He actually lived with Greener when he was in Edmonton, so there should be a comfort zone right away. So, in a lot of ways, this should be a good fit for us.” (February 2011, on the Dustin Penner trade)

“In a backhanded way — and I said this during the season — I don’t like the fact that we put ourselves in situations where we had to face adversity, but I liked the way we dealt with it. The way they responded after putting themselves in that position in late January, we went through a stretch there for a month and a half where we only lost four games, and every one of those games was critical. The way they found a way to win, that, i think, is progress. That’s part of building mental toughness and not caving to the pressure of having expectations or whatever. But on the other hand, and I’ve had a couple players already talk about it, we almost have to be better — well, I don’t want to say almost, because you’re always trying to gauge the mental look of your team — it was almost like we had trouble dealing with success. I put success in quotes. We had the 12-3 (start), and there’s such a thing of feeling good about yourself in the wrong way. Then we had another stretch where we were really good, and it looked like we had learned from the first one, then we fell off and put ourselves to where we had to fight our way back and play at an incredibly high winning percentage to get in (to the playoffs). Then you almost look at the playoffs too, a 4-0 lead (in Game 3). It’s almost like you’ve got a microcosm of some of the things you faced during the year. Again, I put this in quotes, but it’s a version of `success,’ and dealing with it. That’s where, on the one hand, I liked the fact that we responded to putting ourselves in a predicament, and not giving up, and on the other hand, we have to learn from this and not get in that situation in the first place. So you lose a 4-0 lead, and then you find a way to go back up there and win Game 5 and take them to overtime. Even in Game 6 there, the first 30 minutes, they’re all over us, and the last 30 minutes are ours. So they’ve shown they can respond to it, but the point is that to be a really good team is to learn to be professional. If you look at the good teams, you have to define the problem and then recognize the signs that this is not going to seep in again. That’s the responsibility of your captains and your young people going, that when you get off to 12-3 and you start seeing that slide, knock it off. Detroit, when they’re in a slide, they’ve be .500, but you don’t go 0-8 or 0-9 or whatever. Those are the two things that I take out of it, in terms of progress. I do like the fact that they dealt with that. That wasn’t easy. From the high-stick game (against Phoenix), I looked at it and we had lost only four games up until the last week there. That’s a lot of pressure, and that is responding. Then, obviously, they found a way after losing their top player, to get in in the first place. The irony is, you look at this playoff series and everybody talked about our scoring. I think that’s the thing we’ve got to figure out here now. It’s identifying your areas of strength and weakness first, and really identifying it. I think if we had gone into the series and lost games 2-1 or 3-2, everybody would have said, `OK, that makes sense.’ And that’s kind of the way we looked at it. We thought it would be tough to get in a shootout with them. The number of goals we scored in six games, I think we only did that once this year, if you look at six-game blocks. We scored 16 goals in (the first) four games, and I know we only did that three times during the year, over a block of four consecutive games. I haven’t looked at it yet, but I think there’s one block now, over six games, where we scored that many goals. So that’s the one thing that’s troubling. So that’s what we have to look at. And our goaltending was great. So we scored goals, and we’ve proven we can stop them. We beat them 5-0 up there during the season (and) we beat them 1-0, so we proved we can deal with probably the best nine forwards in the league, collectively. Then, all of a sudden, the playoffs start and we were very uncharacteristic in what is supposed to be a staple of our game. I told you this three years ago, that we’re going to build this from the back out. Defensively, it’s the first step. We were fourth in the league in goals against, and we accomplished that. Then we got in the playoffs and we scored goals and all of a sudden we’re giving them up. So that’s something we’ve got to look at closely. Now you’ve got to give San Jose credit. Obviously those three lines, like I said, I think collectively are as good as anybody. I do think what showed up is the emergence of one of your top players, Kopitar. I think, over his first couple years in the league, we talked about it. He was free-wheeling and it looks great on offense, but he was not a great defensive player. I think, this year, he became one of the best defensive players in the league. You’ve got a guy here now that has has already done the Yzerman, Sakic transformation. It usually took those guys until 25, 26 (years old) before they figure out how to be a complete player. This kid has done it at an early age. I think that’s huge, particularly when you’re dealing with big bodies like San Jose down low. But that’s the irony of it. We all looked at it and thought missing his offense (would be big), but we end up missing his defense. But give San Jose credit. And also, when you’re talking about our key young guys on the back end, and the way we’re set up with the 3-3 split, with three puck-movers, those three are just starting to get playoff experience. You saw it there when they ratchet it up, and you see it in all these games. It’s an enormous level of intensity, it’s an enormous level of pressure, and generally, when you’ve got those scrambles going on and Doughty is on his game, it’s, `Settle it down, we’re going to make a play here and we’re going the other way.’ You saw, at times, it go like this [up and down]. When I look at the experience of those guys, the three puck-movers who have to show poise, you’re dealing with (limited) playoff experience. I think that was part of the issue, but that part, those kids will figure out. So this goes through the whole series. It’s not just the end. That’s why the pro scouts are constantly watching, because these are key evaluation periods. But those are the things that kind of strike us. The staple of our game, where was that? What was going on there? Those are the things that strike me. The poise level, the key defensive guys, and then I think you’ve got to give San Jose credit, because that’s as good a group as you’re going to face. It’s one thing to shut down one line, but you’re dealing with three lines there. The other thing that would show up is the skill level, at times, to get in their end. Because when we were at our best, we were playing in their end and exposing their back end, and we didn’t do that enough. You saw pockets of it, like certainly in Game 2, and even in Game 6 you saw it when we finally got our feet under us. That’s our game. It’s one thing to be a staple, but part of being good defensively is playing in their end. So those are the things that strike me. Ask me in two weeks and I’ll give you a longer-winded answer.” (April 2011, on the success and disappointments of the 2010-2011 season)

“Well, I think what we’ve done here, particularly the way we play — and I think we can still improve — in the last couple years we’ve set a culture where you have to be in shape here. I talked about that three years ago, when players started to be here over the summer, how far we have come in terms of commitment, from (having) no players here in the summer to the whole team coming together. So I think, as a group, some of the young ones still had to learn it. We saw this year with Drew (Doughty), being in shape, but for the most part it’s been a pretty good group. Kopitar took a step last year, to become average in conditioning, so it’s mostly our kids now who have to take that (step), which is usually the way it goes. In (Penner’s) case, he has obviously been a pro a lot longer, but it’s (about) buying into the way Matt Greene approaches his offseason. I could use him as an example. I’ve got a lot of guys like that. But that is number one. There is some serious work to do here in the summer, and to me, that’s all culture. It’s almost like you look at him and say, `There’s some upside here, if you’re going to buy in,’ because this is a strong man. So that’s clearly the message. It’s buying in to what your teammates believe in, in terms of how you prepare. It’s as simple as that. It’s not only going to make him a better hockey player, but clearly it’s about attitude.” (April 2011, on the message to Dustin Penner)

“I don’t know if it’s a down year, per se. I wouldn’t say it’s a down year. Early in the season it was (up and down) and then it came back. He was a big part of us, certainly, when we got out of that second slide. It’s kind of like a sideways thing. It kind of went like this [up and down]. I wouldn’t call it a down year, no.” (April 2011, on whether Drew took a step back this season)

“He can start working into getting into the top… What’s the most important thing, the growth from within? Yeah. If he’s going to take the leadership role, he has to start preparing to compete. Nobody questions this kid’s ability or (that) he competes when he walks through the doors. But he’s got to learn that when you’re preparing, you’re competing. And a lot of kids go through this. I’m looking for much more improvement than we had this year, when we had to put him through the (strength and conditioning) test again. It’s not surprising, given the way most of these kids are, but that’s what I want to see. My feeling is, you can’t lead until you’re trying to be the best you can be, and your best players have to take charge. You don’t have to be the vocal guy, or whatever. It’s the guy that gets out there and gets it done. I think, what he found out too — and this is the other thing that happens — to reach that level you talk about, whether it’s Tom Brady or Jeter or Gretzky, that top level, you’re not going to be allowed to just go out there. You’ve got to learn to work. I saw a thing on Brady there last week, and it was just incredible, talking about how hard he has to work to be prepared for those situations. That, i think, is a huge thing for (Doughty). So all I’m going to do is look at those (strength and conditioning) scores. That will tell me a lot. Stamkos figured it out last year. Stamkos was the same way last year. He had a bad season the previous year, he got ticked off and went to Gary Roberts and then took off. Problem is, Drew didn’t have the down. Stamkos, great scorer, first pick in the draft, he’s not scoring for two years so he says, `That’s it, I’m going to go get in shape.’ And he goes and spends the summer with Roberts and now you’ve got a 60-goal scorer.” (April 2011, on Drew Doughty & what to tell him this summer to improve his game)

“Well, there’s no real urgency in terms of, `We’ve got to get it done now.’ July 1 is still a ways away, but as a practical matter, the ones are the two unrestricted, Handzus and Ponikarovsky. The other guys, you’ve got your offer-sheet possibilities, but I think the most important thing right now is to evaluate where we are, what we have to get better at, where our holes are, and now start placing them in, start trying to project where some kids could be, whether it’s Schenn or Loktionov or some of these guys in the minors who can help us. Is there another Clifford there, that has a chance? Then we’ll get to the guys, and then there’s the (salary) number. The cap is going up, so obviously we’re in pretty good shape there. Let’s not kid ourselves. Part of this is, do we go short-term with Doughty for now, and keep it down, or try to go long-term? It’s similar to the issue with Jack Johnson. A lot of what you do is going to revolve around whether that is short-term or long-term. That will determine a lot about your space.” (April 2011, on his impending free agents)

“I don’t only look at him. I look at the whole group, to be honest with you. I think they grew, but I think there’s still room. They have to step back. Ultimately, the way you learn is how you deal with failure. I’ll get a sense of that as I go through some of these players (In exit interviews). I let them do a lot more talking in these things than I do. Their meetings are long but they do most of the talking. So I think, collectively as a group, that’s still evolving, just like their talents. I’m OK with it, but I think it has to be better. It’s not good enough for where we have to go, but I look at that intangible as no different than evaluating a player’s skating getting better or his decision-making getting better.” (April 2011, on Dustin Brown & leadership)

“I liked his calmness. I think one of his strengths was, when we were in that slide there, he kept his composure. I think that during that slide, when we slid out of the playoffs, the necessity of calm and focus was essential. If we had gone the other way, I think that would have been ripe for not getting out of that (slide). So I think a lot of coaches, you evaluate (them) at critical moments, and I look at the way we came out of that, during that period. We had to go into Phoenix and win that game (on Jan. 22) and get on a roll. I thought he was the perfect guy for that situation. I think, going forward, we’re all the same. Now we write down all the things we could have done better, including me, Hex [Ron Hextall], and that’s the next assignment. We expect players to evaluate themselves, and, `What did we learn from this, to do better?’ I think he [Murray] is capable of doing that, just in terms of, just like the players have to grow, we have to grow.” (April, 2011, on Terry Murray’s performance in 2011)

“They [coaches] recognize that. It was so good two years ago. And this is not singling out the player, because I think he has become one of the most complete players in the game. If you ask the coaches, the biggest area of focus is getting our best player in situations — Kopitar, our number-one scorer — in situations where he can produce. Because if you look at it, his numbers in 5-on-5 are near the top of the league. His power play, compared to the top guys — five goals — is way down. If he has the average, in power play (goals), of the other top guys, he’s one of the top scorers in the league. … It’s almost like getting Kobe Bryant the ball here. Who do you want in scoring situations, particularly on the power play? It’s your best offensive player, so you’ve got to take a good look at that. The problem is, two years ago it was pretty good. So what happened here? It’s the same players. Doughty should be better. (Kopitar) should be better. If you look at the structure of it, you see, in fairness when you look at San Jose, there’s a skill issue. Now we’re back to what we tried to do at the trade deadline and we’re back to the same thing about building from the back end and what the next step is. So on the power play, on the personnel side, on the coaching side and on the players’ side, we’ve all got to look at ourselves. You see San Jose enter the zone with possession. There’s a level of skill there that I’ve got to help them get on the rink. I’ve got to look at the personnel. The coach has to look at how we get out best player out there in a productive role, and then the player has got to figure it out. So I think there’s an element of all three there. And it usually shows up in zone entry. It’s not just when you’re getting in the box. It’s when you’re gaining the zone with possession, versus having to dump it in and spend 20 seconds getting it back. That’s kind of telling you some things there. But we were still good enough getting in there, as we saw two years ago, and our top guy was in situations where he could be productive. So clearly, when you ask the coaches would could be better and what has to be better, the power play is going to be at the top of their list.” (April 2011, on the powerplay problems this season)

“Williams, obviously there’s going to have to be an issue there, and that’s kind of going to be a player thing (as to whether he has shoulder surgery). I think I told you this before, and I forget the exact percentage but I think he can get it 90-percent back (without surgery). I think he had it 80-percent back, in terms of going out there and being able to play. But the issue, obviously, is the long-term effect. But this is one where you have to be careful. It’s not like Parse’s hip, where you have to have it done. This is one where you kind of have to make a decision. If you go through this (surgery), it sets you back three months but your shoulder is going to be as good as new. It’s one of those where it’s more for his long-term benefit than being ready for training camp. That’s what happens too, even with Willy having been out that long. How many times have you seen it, where a guy comes back in the first game and it looks like they went to a whole new level, and then it goes (down). It’s a combination of adrenaline — he was really good in his first game back — but I remember seeing it and thinking, `You know what? That might be the best,’ because when you get a guy who has been out two months with major (injury), it’s really hard to maintain it. You’ll usually see it for the first game. He was outstanding. And then it (dips). You saw him a couple times where I almost got the sense that they [the Sharks] were targeting him. I love the kid. A lot of guys wouldn’t have played, at that stage of their career. They’d say, `I’m not going to risk this.’ But he did everything possible to get it up to 80 percent and go out there. Parse is going to be another issue. The (hip injury) is tied to the groin. Remember, this all started with the groin, and it’s connected to the hip. You’re seeing this more and more, but it’s mostly with the goalies. So, first of all, it’s getting him through this (hip injury). Give him credit for trying to play out there. He was pretty good in his first game back, and then we had to bench him. But the issue is whether it connects over here (to the other hip) now. That’s a tough injury now. Remember how 10 years ago, everything was the sports hernia? Now it hasn’t been everybody talking about that. The new one is this hip stuff. So we’ll see where it’s at. But it’s kind of like Williams. It’s like, `What do you want to do with your career?’ It’s just so frustrating, because you talk about our skill level, and clearly that’s what we’ve got to address. Even the fact that our goals suddenly went up and our defense went down (in the playoffs), I don’t think we’re going to come out of this evaluation saying, `Oh my gosh, we do have scoring and it’s our defense (that’s the problem).’ I think we’ll stay with what we believed going in. But (Parse) was our most-skilled guy. This was the year we were going to put him on the top line, let us see what you can do. Boy, it’s been frustrating to get him out there and see what he can do. Because at times you see the flashes. Even in San Jose, on his first shift he makes that little criss-cross pass and you go, `Whoa, there it is.’ So he’s a tough one.” (April, 2011, on Williams and Parse injuries and potential for surgery)

“I want guys pissed off. I’ve said it before. You know you’re turning the corner when guys go home and they’re pissed off. I sense that. Versus, I’ve seen it before. We went through it in San Jose. Fergy [John Ferguson] would sit there and we would say, you can tell when they [players] are legitimately pissed off, versus, `Yeah, I would have liked to win,’ or, `Yeah, I’m ticked off, but it was pretty good.’ And we actually got there quicker than I thought. You know what? They really thought they could win this thing. They kind of liked the fact that nobody gave them any chance. `Their best scorer was out and their other player is coming back from a shoulder injury and they’ve got no chance.’ They took (the Sharks) to overtime three times and essentially had them. I think that’s the thing that they get disappointed at, at this time. At critical moments, not only to know that you had a chance, but you actually had them. I think the feeling was, if we get them to Game 7, it’s going to be our edge. That’s the thing, from the players I’ve talked to so far. It’s not only that, but it’s almost an opportunity lost when nobody thought you had an opportunity. That’s the way it should be.” (April 2011, on the player attitude he wants to see post 2011 playoff disappointment)

“Dustin is at the cross-roads of his career. He can choose to use his athletic ability to either become a dominant power forward in the National Hockey League or be a dominant number four hitter for the El Cid Lounge in a men’s softball league—the choice is his.” (May, 2011, on Dustin Penner)

“It’s something that enters into the equation. Let me just put it this way. Anything can happen. I don’t think it’s likely. And it didn’t have any bearing on us trying to bring this to a close quickly. I gave you the two reasons that we were moving quickly. One, to build the rest of the team and, two, to get Drew focused. Getting serious about this offer, versus letting things drag out throughout the summer, the offer-sheet part was not entering the equation. So, are you concerned about it? It could happen, but it wasn’t a factor in us trying to get this done. It’s more of a byproduct. This is a very significant offer anyway, and if you’re going to make offers based on the threat of someone giving an offer sheet, I think you’re going to have real trouble. it’s hard enough, as it is, putting your payroll in order, the way salaries have gone for young players. Now if you’re going to add an offer-sheet-potential inflator, you’re not going to be able to build your team.” (June 2011, on concerns about a Doughty offer sheet)

“It’s fair to say that, particularly over the last three weeks, we’re at the stage where you would consider them to be serious discussions. I think the situation is probably unique, or maybe it’s not unique and it’s just the nature of the way the game is now. But traditionally, in the past, a lot of these contracts for restricted free agents often didn’t get done until the end of August. There was an old school of thought, that a lot of GMs would say, `What’s the sense of talking in July and August? Nothing gets done.’ Because traditionally, in any negotiation, whether it’s a player contract, the CBA or a TV contract, it always comes down to the end. But in this case, we’ve tried to accelerate it, not only because he’s certainly a player that you envision being a cornerstone of your franchise. There’s two things. One, you’d like to get it done so you know what you can do to improve your team. So you don’t want to go out, with the whole theory of `the grass is always greener,’ and not take care of your own. That doesn’t apply here. You’ve got to take care of your own, particularly if you’ve got a player of this caliber. But, that said, you’d like to say, `OK, it’s done, and let’s go out and improve the team.’ So, given the magnitude of the contract, you’d like to put that in place. Secondly, I also think it’s important because my experience in this area — and I guess I have very good first-hand experience, because arguably it cost me my job in San Jose, where there was a group of young players got together and held out. It’s not only the holdout. What happens with young players is, it really disrupts their focus and their routine in the offseason. So not only did those players hold out, but their learning curve kind of became stymied, because it took away from the critical part of their career when they need to totally focus on getting better. Also, particularly in Drew’s case, we’ve still got some work to do in order to get him to the area where he prepares to compete. Nobody questions that when he puts on a pair of skates, he competes. But part of being a real pro is preparing to compete, and that’s what so many young players have to learn. So I’m expecting him to take a step here in his conditioning. It’s somewhat like Kopitar. Remember Kopitar’s first couple years? He was at the bottom of all our conditioning charts. Last year was the first year that he moved up to average, overall, and I expect him to take another step. Drew is kind of similar, but we’re trying to accelerate it here. I think whenever you have a young player with the uncertainty of a contract or whatever, it really disrupts their focus. Then, particularly if they hold out and don’t show up to camp, it’s not about how good he’s going to be this year, it’s about whether he’s going to be here. So those are the two years we really accelerated this, to get this done now, was to prepare to build the rest of our team and to ensure that he is focused on his preparation, in taking another step. So, like I said, this started… I went up there (to Toronto) four weeks ago and opened up the dialogue (with agent Don Meehan). It was very clear, at that time, where it looked like it was headed. We came back and did our planning, looked at our options and what we could offer him, looked at the market, went to the GM meetings and then I flew up to Toronto from those meetings for another meeting (with Meehan). When you have the first meeting, you’re kind of laying the ground rules or whatever. This one was a little more focused. Things become clearer and we say, `OK, if this is going to get done, this is probably where it needs to be.’ Then I think we made a very serious offer to him this past week. I’m hoping to really push this forward at the draft.” (June 2011, on the status of the Doughty contract talks)

“That’s your first and foremost. Kopitar, all those guys. We talked about Drew and how he went a little backward, but I thoroughly expect him to bounce back. That’s one of the advantages. We were the youngest team in the playoffs. In some cases that’s a disadvantage, because experience is valuable. On the other hand, we’ve clearly got upside. As far as the boxes, without saying a lot here, the situation is not a lot different than it was at the trade deadline. I’m also finding, based on my discussions is that, like the trade deadline, there’s not a lot of options. There are some things we’re looking at, but it’s not a lot different than the trade deadline. I think it’s been well-documented. The numbers on defense speak for themselves, between the goaltending the defense. There’s a nice mix and it has already proven to be one of the top crews in the league, statistically as well as subjectively. Now, our goals for, at even strength, that needs to improve. That 145 or 146, we have to raise that. That is usually a real strong indicator of whether you’re solid. Those numbers work out, when you see that the top teams in 5-on-5 scoring were Boston and Vancouver. When you have that type of strength, to be able to play 5-on-5, that’s a big part of the playoffs if you’re going to go through the wars. So when you look at our team, I believe we were at 145. That’s got to improve. Secondly, I think it’s fair to say that the power play from the first half was good, and then it really dropped off. We have to improve that, to where it was in the first half of the season, all the time. So when you look at our team, on the macro level, clearly the defense is a nice mix. The numbers bear that out. Where are you lacking? It’s not only what you’re watching, but the numbers bear out that offensively we have to improve. Did we know this going into last year? Yeah. We obviously looked at some things. The trade deadline was very similar to what we’re looking at now. Like I’ve always said, you can’t just snap your fingers and get the right player. I’ve also said that, in terms of the ability to be active, your options are more limited because, as you said, there aren’t many boxes to fill. In my first year sitting here, we signed five free agents and I remember telling you at the time, `This is not good.’ Because we were filling a lot of boxes. That’s what it is saying. So it’s nice to look busy, but trust me, we’re very busy in terms of trying to fill this. It just doesn’t always look that way, because it’s harder. It’s a more limited market, in terms of what we’re looking for and what’s abatable. But you keep plugging away. The one good thing, as we plug away at it, is that two of our best prospects have some of the dimensions we’re lacking, in Schenn and Loktionov. But it’s fair to say they’re going to need some time to figure it out.” (June 2011, on improving the team from the inside – out)

“No, we don’t know, but in what we’ve seen so far this summer — and I haven’t had him his whole career — but it’s very clear that this is the most committed he’s been in his career. So I give him credit for that. But that said, I would still… Even if we had a crystal ball, and we knew that was going to happen. If you said, `Dean, I guarantee this is going to happen,’ I would still be looking to add to facets of our offense. Now, we certainly anticipate — if he continues the way he’s been going — that he is going to improve and contribute more like he’s capable. We want to solidify our playoff and move to contender status. There’s a difference. I would like to see both things happen. If we can add the right player, and Dustin Penner performs up to his abilities, I think it’s safe to say we would improve to contender status.” (June, 2011 on Dustin Penner’s progress)

“That’s the choice you make. This is the first year, obviously, that we’re down a pick. Last year, that was a conscious decision to move up. There’s a difference between how many you have going in and how many you pick. What happens is, when you don’t have those picks, you’re kind of limited in your ability to move, unless you want to start moving picks from next year, which I will not be inclined to do. But this is predictable, right? And remember, a lot of those picks we got in the early years came from the trade deadline, when we were trading veterans for picks. That, obviously, has been moved along in the last two years. At the trade deadline, we were looking for players, not looking to add for the future. So that’s pretty much predictable, when you’re on the plan we’ve been on.” (June 2011, on not having a pick in the first round of the 2011 draft)

“Yeah. He’s way ahead. Every indication is, he’s good. And it’s like the basketball player, Blake Griffin, when he got hurt he used that time and worked out. What I noticed is that he was using that time to work out in the gym, working on his upper body. So when he left here, he had more definition than he ever had. Even though he had the ankle problem, he was in here every day, sometimes three hours a day. Obviously he was doing the ankle rehab, but a lot of it also was working on the parts of his body that he could train. He left here looking better than he did in training camp. Williams, he too is way ahead of schedule. So he’s right on track, knock on wood. Quicker was back here for a minor check on something (near his hip). We learned from some of the stuff that happened with Frolov. If a guy has anything that is bothering him, we’re not waiting. Willie Mitchell had a slight problem with his shoulder. Same thing. We learned our lesson a little bit with Fro, when Fro was here. We weren’t aggressive enough in making sure that players come back here if they have anything wrong. A lot of times, players don’t want to tell you or whatever, because they think it’s nothing, and/or they don’t want to see a doctor and come back. But after that, if anything is going on, we get those guys back here. So Quicker was back here and Willie Mitchell was back but that’s OK now.” (June 2011, on Kopitar and Williams’ recovery)

“Well, it’s been a pretty hectic four weeks, actually, between everything. I would say the issue of possibly acquiring him was broached about four weeks ago. Things just kind of evolved and then moved to a pressure point, to so speak, which is usually the draft and July 1. So in terms of the possibility of acquiring him, I was aware of that about four weeks ago, but I wasn’t sure how sincere they were, or what it was going to cost, those type of things, but certainly the last 48 hours have been pretty grueling. That’s usually the way these deals work.” (June 2011 on the events that led to the Mike Richards trade)

“What was the first part of the question, the wings and the centers? Yeah, I think you pretty much know my philosophy in terms of building from the back and then strength down the middle. I think it’s very clear, not only historically — you can go back and look at Forsberg-Sakic, Nieuwendyk-Modano — I’m a very strong believer in strength in the back and then get that strength down the middle. It’s the old thing Bobby Clarke once told me. In the end, you’d rather have Clark-McLeish than Clarke-Barber. Not taking anything away from the players, but it’s the strength down the middle. I think this is something that clearly I had my eye on at the trade deadline. I thought this was the one position that would make us the biggest leap. It certainly wasn’t there, but again, you guys have asked me hundreds of times about, `Who are you getting?’ `What are you going to do?’ `Do you have to do something?’ But it has to be two things. The timing has to be right and it has to be the right player. I think it’s fair to say that when I found out this player was available, there was no doubt in my mind — given what I know about his character and his competitiveness — and the thought of having him and Kopitar down the middle, that allows us, I think, essentially, to match up to any team in the Western Conference. I think that was a big hole. So I think we’ve cleaned that up today.” (June 2011, on filling the center depth need with Mike Richards)

“The player that was available. At the trade deadline, there was nobody comparable to Mike Richards available.’ … You’re right. Brayden Schenn is a very good player and a very good prospect, but as I said then — when everybody was asking about him — why would I give this guy up for a guy with one year left on his contract, or a free agent? it made no sense. You just never say never, but we’re also talking about a player here who arguably isn’t even in his prime yet, and the fact that he’s signed to a very favorable AAV. At 5.7 (million) in today’s day and age, with trying to keep our core together and seeing how some of these AAVs are going, this deal made a lot of sense for us. So, I guess what I’m saying is, you never say never. I mean, Gretzky got traded. But clearly a player of this caliber was not available at the trade deadline. Again, that’s taking nothing away from Brayden. The Flyers got a very good player, who is going to play next year, but we felt that given Mike’s age and our need to move to the next level, this is our Adrian Gonzalez, I guess.” (June 2011, on why Brayden Schenn could be traded for Mike Richards)

“It makes no sense for me to lose this player and lose the flexibility. I need to replace him. That’s where it broke down. When it was clear that I couldn’t do what I needed to do with that player I’m taking back, then it’s not what the deal was based on, in any stretch of the imagination, and it certainly doesn’t make any sense for me. So I’ll keep working on it. As you guys know, there’s been another team involved. I talked to them today and they’ve got some other issues that aren’t related to us agreeing on the compensation. They’ve got issues relating to the fit.” (June 2011 on why the first Ryan Smyth trade fell apart)

“Making the Ryan Smyth deal was probably harder than making the Gretzky deal” (June 2011, on Ryan Smyth trade)

“We haven’t got a resolution yet. In fact, I’m supposed to talk to (league lawyer David Zimmerman) today. There’s no question. There’s a dispute, there’s a gray area, in terms of whether the doctors think it’s going to need surgery or it’s going to take two weeks or four months. There is some gray in terms of the doctors’ opinions. There is no question that this player is not fit to play now, and obviously was not fit to play when he [Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini] said he would be fit to play, which was the Wednesday after the trade. So, this is called the red-herring method. What you do is say, `OK, the doctors disagree,’ but they don’t disagree on the fundamental premise, that this guy is not fit to play. So, they might disagree on whether it’s two weeks, four weeks or four months, but the deal was, `He’s fit to play.’ To say they sided with the Oilers, no. There’s a disagreement as to whether it’s two weeks or four months, whether they would do surgery on the cyst. The independent doctor says, `Let it go two more weeks to see if it heals.’ Our doctors say, `Don’t mess around.’ So, OK, there’s a little gray area. But the fact of the matter is, at the minimum it’s another two weeks. So, the independent doctor is saying it could heal within two weeks. Great. So, the issue is, was he fit to play on the Wednesday after the deal? No. Is any doctor saying he’s fit to play now? No. So, the gray area is how long, which might determine how we resolve this. It’s only relevant in terms of the solution. The gray area, as far as whether it’s two weeks or four months, or if you want to take the Edmonton doctor’s opinion and say, `Yes, their doctor was right,’ all it changes is the resolution, not whether they sold me a guy that was fit to play. So, bull. (August 2011, on Colin Fraser trade)

“We did the deal on (Sunday) and it was, `Oh, he’s coming to see the doctor and he’s going to be cleared on Wednesday.’ That doctor still would not clear him to play now. So you’ve got a gray area in terms of the solution. If he was ready in two weeks, it might effect how you resolve it. If he’s ready in four months, that’s a different way to resolve it. So, OK, but don’t tell me he’s fit to play, which was the number-one issue. You know what they call it in legal circles? When you’ve got a bad argument, you throw out the red herring. Classic deflection. When you want to get the jury off-track, throw out an ancillary issue and turn it into a major issue, and they forget about the real issue. You learn that in the first year of law school. Nice try. Because there’s a gray area, do we wait those two weeks to see if the doctor is right and it heals, when it hasn’t healed at all in four months? That’s what our doctor is saying. He’s saying, `There is no improvement in this bone in four months. What’s going to change in two weeks? Let’s go in there and get the surgery done as quickly as possible, so he can get ready to play.’ Now, if you want to give it another two weeks, to see if all of a sudden this bone starts healing on its own, if David (Zimmerman) says to do that, we’ll do it. But I don’t know how that’s going to change anything. This is twice. There comes a point where you say, `This is wrong.’ I think it’s a fairly easy thing to work through. … We want to save the spirit of the trade, although I did have a team call me today, saying that if it’s not going through, they would take (Smyth), but that’s not the purpose. It’s, let’s try to work this out the way we understood it at the time we did it.” (August 2011, on Colin Fraser trade)

“The bottom line for me, I would have rather invested my money with Bernie Madoff than invest in Edmonton’s word.” (August 2011, on the fallout from the Ryan Smyth for Colin Fraser trade)

“Obviously we’re very disappointed that he’s not here. I don’t think it’s any secret, what we think of this player and his abilities and what his potential is. So that’s certainly not an issue, as far as the quality of the player or the quality of the person. We hold both to high regard. That said, a couple things. I don’t want to get into the intricacies what we offered, in terms of the minute details. It’s safe to say that, as far as the big picture within the league, we certainly made him an offer that puts him amongst the top defensemen in the league. Then you look at your team. It’s no secret that he would be at the top of our team. Then, thirdly, even thought I think you know how I feel philosophically about paying for potential, it’s part of the system unfortunately. But the third thing that’s critical to us is the allocation. Where we’re at now, we certainly stretched the limit in terms of paying him amongst the top players in the league, paying him appropriately within the team’s salary structure and, most importantly, being able to keep this group together.” (September 2011 on Drew Doughty not being signed)

“So we are a cap team. This is not an issue of spending money. But what people sometimes don’t realize is, it’s easy to say, `Well, just pay a little more.’ Under this system, that can really hurt you, as far as keeping other key components of your team. So even though the number is still, I think, fair in terms of the league and the team, where we’re at now is the most we can and feel comfortable that we can keep all the pieces necessary to be a contender, year in and year out.” (September 2011 on why he can’t pay Doughty what Doughty wants)

“The other thing that I think has happened here is, we were very aggressive in trying to sign Drew before July 1. There were three reasons for that. Number one, we wanted to get our payroll in order, to have some finality in terms of what we would have to pursue free agents. Number two, obviously, we were potentially concerned about an offer sheet. Three, I felt that my experience in this, when young players are not signed, and have this period of uncertainty, they don’t always focus on training properly. So we really got aggressive there, prior to July 1, and realized that we were going to have to pay him at the top of our team. So we did it then. Traditionally, it always goes down to the deadline, whether it’s the deficit ceiling or collective-bargaining agreement, but our deadline was prior to July 1. Now it is what it is. That said, it’s unfortunate. It’s uncharted waters for Drew, when you see a young player like this, and I think our offer reflects that. What we have (offered) is no doubt an expression of how we feel about him as a player and a person.” (September 2011 on why his negotiation tactics with Doughty may have backfired)

“The problem we have, and we’re going to have to see how this evolves, is that generally with a player, you establish his market value and he signs up for 275 days of work. That was the one thing that changed during the CBA, that players were paid during training camp. So, quite frankly, it’s the way we have to approach this. Let alone missing a day or work, as well as getting behind your teammates in terms of preparation. It probably makes this a little more difficult, but you have to factor that in now. You’re not getting a full year’s work as of today. There has to be some finality, in terms of when the players are supposed to report. It’s no different, I think, than what the other teams have done. It’s, `OK, now we have to regroup here and see what evolves,’ and then I have to go back to ownership. It’s no different than anything else. You do this based on 275 days of work, and now it’s down to 274.” (September 2011 on Drew losing pay for every day he does not work)

“Yeah. Well, it’s not that one [previous offer]. It doesn’t mean, certainly, that there isn’t going to be dialogue. The point is that missing days of work has to now factor into this negotiation. There’s no doubt in my mind that this kid is going to play here and play here a long time. But now, like I said, missing a day of work has to be factored into this. It’s no different than any other player. The lines of communication are certainly open. There was a cordial discussion last night, and that’s it.” (September 2011 on whether there is an offer on the table at this point with Doughty)

“Like I said, there’s no doubt this kid loves the game and loves this team. It’s disappointing. It’s not that I’m not encouraged that he’s going to be here. Obviously there’s a great feel around camp. The players are excited. But let’s face it, Drew is a key part of this process. But right now, we have to focus on the team. The players, they understand what’s going on and they’re pretty focused today, as is everybody else. That’s the way you have to be. We have to focus on doing what we’re doing right now. Like I said, these things can change in a short time. It’s not that it’s not encouraging. It’s a little disappointing, but we’re also excited as to what I’m seeing and feeling downstairs. We see this kind of thing happen, and eventually it will be resolved. We can’t let this, in any way, derail us from the focus we need here every day.” (September 2011 on Drew Doughty & the negotiations)

“The first thing you look for is whether a guy is getting chances. One thing that was encouraging last night was that he got chances. You really get nervous, when a guy who should get you 20, 25 goals — I know he’s had 30, but in today’s game it’s harder — and he’s not getting chances, that’s when you really get nervous. Last night, he had three quality chances. I don’t think he’d had that in three weeks. So you’ve got to build on that. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s pressing. That’s the biggest thing. When you’re pressing, you’re caught in between, or the legs feel really heavy. I’m encouraged by the fact that he got chances last night. Hey, you’ve just got to keep working through it. This is a guy who has done it before. We’ve got to find a way to get it out of him. The one thing, to his credit, he’s not in elite shape but he certainly made the effort to get in average shape, and he is continuing here. I see him here, working out in the gym before practice, something that he never did before. So he is making that effort. A lot of this, now, is between his ears. Similar to a number of our players, it’s, `Just play.’ He’s an important guy, and we’re going to have to find a way to make him more productive. When you talk about depth in scoring, he doesn’t have to go out and give us 40 goals or anything, but certainly he’s capable of making a contribution.’’ (November 2011 on Dustin Penner)

A long answer in November of 2011, 14 games into the season, about offensive concerns:

The first thing you want to see is the effort. The Pittsburgh game, we certainly played hard. Even last night, we certainly came out ready to play, and we got ourselves in trouble in the second period with penalties against a very good team. You can’t do things like that. But in terms of effort, in the last two games, I think that’s what we need to see consistently. That’s always the first step. In the players’ defense, it’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to rush to judgment, because of what they went through early in the season, in terms of getting their feet on the ground after the three-week road trip and coming back. The first time, I think, we were able to really get in our rhythm and sleeping, rest routine, was probably prior to the Edmonton game, when we had the four days. That was probably the first time. So, even though our effort at times was in and out, even when we were 6-2 there, I was a little hesitant to rush to judgment. Now the Edmonton game, certainly, was one of our worst games, but in the last two games I think we’ve seen the effort we need to see. That’s always first and foremost.

“Secondly, we’ve always said that we want to add to our game, and part of that was obviously adding to our offense without losing our defensive identity. We’re still caught there. We’re one of the best defensive teams in the league, but offensively we’ve been one of the worst. We have to continue to address the idea that we’ve got to put more points on the board without sacrificing the defensive identity. So there have been some good things. Obviously our top-end scoring has certainly held its own. The power play has been much better. Our penalty killing is good. There are a lot of good things going on, even though I don’t think we’ve been able to throw our best effort out there. I think the thing is, too, I don’t think there’s a player in that (locker) room who doesn’t think we’re capable of doing more. We’ll work through it here. We’re still not at the 20-game mark, and usually you start getting a handle on exactly what you have to adjust when you get to that 20-game mark. Like I said, I was a little hesitant to rush to judgment here until I could see these guys start to get into their rhythm, and their personal life and rest and that sort of thing. But I do think we’re at that stage now.’’

A long answer on the L.A. Kings offensive woes in December of 2011:

“I do think it’s probably a combination of a number of things. Number one, no question, we set out to put a strong defensive structure in place, because there’s no doubt in my mind that it starts back there and it’s critical for the playoffs. That said, this year in particular, we made a point of saying that we don’t want to change our game, we want to add to our game. We don’t want to lose the foundation we put in place, but if we’re going to be a contender, it’s necessary that we add to the offensive side without losing our defensive part. After 27 games, we’re certainly not on a pace to get that done.

“Now, in terms of how we rectify this, first off, so many individuals are capable of more. We don’t have any players who should be on the down side (of their careers). We have a number of proven players with a track record in this league of putting up some numbers for offensive production. Whether it’s Willy [Justin Williams] or Gagne or Stoll, Penner, all of these guys have a proven track record and none of them are on the down side of their careers. Although I’m waiting for Selanne to get to the down side of his career, at 41, but that’s not happening. So there’s a band (of stats) there, that all these players should be able to be within, and all those guys should be able to expect that out of themselves again, without becoming sloppy defensively.

 “With a number of our younger players, it’s about taking another step. They are still defining where they are going to be, in terms of the offensive side of the puck. I think a number of them have a lot of upside left, and it’s up to them to take that step, whether it’s Kopi or Jack or Doughty, Clifford, Voynov. All these kids have offensive potential that has yet to, I think, maximize. That’s just part of the development curve. So every individual has a responsibility to contribute more. It’s just that some of them have a proven track record, and some of them have to push themselves to be the best they can be.

“Secondly, I do think, when you say collectively, I would probably use the word `support.’ Again, I’m just talking offensively. I never want to lose sight of the fact that I don’t want to lose one iota defensively. In terms of supporting each other on the ice — this kind of goes to the question about the system, I do think it’s something we’ve talked to the coaches about a number of times — part of producing offense is being able to be there to support each other on the puck, getting open so that when someone has the puck, you’re open for him in a scoring position. Going to the net and creating space and rebounds is a fundamental part of support. When we’re in on the forecheck, that second man has to be closer and that third man has to be willing to jump. That is something that, no question, we have to improve on. Because when you’re establishing that, you’re establishing a tempo, particularly in your own building, that you’re going to play in the other team’s end. So if we’re supporting each other around the puck the right way, we’re going to play in the other team’s end more. Particularly at home, that’s going to get your crowd into it. Two, it’s actually going to make you better defensively, because you’re not defending.

“Thirdly, I think there’s an attitude. This malaise that has kind of seeped in here, given that we’re now 30th in the league, we’ve got to get beyond this whole thing and they have to believe in themselves the right way. So when Willy scores a goal, like the other night, we’ve got to get that attitude of, `Yeah, you’re freaking right,’ and not, `Whew, I scored.’ Here’s a veteran player that you’re counting on. As individuals, it’s human nature, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve got to get out of that funk, and have the attitude that we’re going to score. It’s not, `Oh my God, I scored.’ That goes for each individual, and it’s a team attitude. Because the same thing can happen to a team. You saw us the year we scored 236 goals. When we got down two goals, you never got the sense that this team didn’t think it could come back. But when you start falling into this rut mentally, it’s like, `Oh my God, we scored.’ We’ve got to get rid of that in a hurry. That’s attitude. So to answer your question, you’ve got individual issues, you do have system and support issues, and I think a big think is attitude. All three of them.’’

“I don’t think words can ever describe how hard something like this is. You’re talking about, first off, a really good man. As far as a coach, if you look at what he’s done for us, he really stabilized this franchise, pointed it in the right direction. He taught these players a lot. When they look back, they’re going to realize they learned a lot from him. The team got younger and got better under him. He did a lot for this franchise.’’ (December 2011, on the difficulty he had with firing Terry Murray)

“It’s simple. It’s sounds cliche-ish, but it’s true. The message is, they’re accountable. Unfortunately, the coach has to pay the price, but make no mistake, they’re the ones who are accountable for this.’’ (December 2011 on what he told the players about the firing of Terry Murray)

“It doesn’t hit you like a ton of bricks. I think it’s something that kind of builds up. We hadn’t been playing up to the expectations of this team. The last homestand was kind of like the end of it, but you’re constantly evaluating everything, whether it’s coaches or players or how they’re responding. So I don’t think you can say it’s one glaring moment. It just kind of builds up. I think it’s probably safe to say that we reached the point where we had to make this decision yesterday. I flew out early this morning and went right to Murph’s room, so it was around 4 o’clock.’’ (December 2011 on what finally got him to fire Terry Murray)

“I think it’s possible, but in the end it comes down to the players. I don’t think you’re going to do this unless you think you’re going to get some improvement. Sometimes it has an impact, like in that case. There’s different degrees. I think every situation is different, though, in terms of the impact of the new coach, in terms of the fit at that point of the franchise. And every franchise, don’t forget, has different levels of expectations. This team came in with a very high level of expectation, so that puts a different perspective in your room, particularly when you’ve got younger players leading that group. So it’s unique here, in the sense that you have the youngest core in the league and you’re counting on these young players. But again, these established players have to step up here. To answer your question, I think every situation is unique, but why else, in any sport, would you make this change unless you’re hoping for improvement?’’ (December 2011 on whether the Kings can turn it around with a new coach)

“He’s in the line of fire there. You never see exactly what your coach sees, but for the most part, I think it’s safe to say that with the expectations this year, it becomes more result-orientated. I guess, again, this goes back to (a previous) question. Every situation is different, and the challenge for a coach, as well as players, when you have expectations it’s driven more to results. It’s harder, at times, to look for those victories within losses. That’s just the state of the franchise right now. You could look for more of those things three years ago, but we’re trying to push to the next level. And it isn’t easy. It’s a lot easier playing with the house’s money. So I think, to answer your question, you’re never going to see things exactly (the same) but I do think we’re at the stage of the franchise where you’re going to be judged on wins and losses and playoff rounds. And that’s where you strive to be. It’s a lot easier when there’s no expectations, and with every win you can get a parade. We’re not there right now, so it comes down to wins and losses.’’ (December 2011 on whether he saw the team compete well like Terry Murray claimed)

“I think the one thing he immediately gives your team is an identity. Having known him as a man, you know he stands for something. Usually when you have an identity and you stand for something, some people are going to like it and some people aren’t. But you’re going to stand for something. But that was the experience I had with him in San Jose, and I think he clearly had that in Calgary. As soon as he comes in, your team starts getting an identity. So it’s that intangible that you can’t define, that I can’t put into numbers, and I think that’s critical. think we’ve struggled with that a bit this year, and I think that if we’re ever going to get to that level we want to, I don’t care how good your players are, or whatever, you have to establish an identity and stand for something. This is the way we’re going to play, and away we go. I think you can say that in any sport.” (December 2011, on hiring Darryl Sutter)

“Yes. I alluded to that last year, that it was the first time there were real expectations. I think some of the struggles we saw, with the swoons, I think were a byproduct of that. And then I don’t know if we dealt with success very well, because we’d go on a run and then we would go the other way. Then, when I talked to them during this season — and this was a critical message — it was, yeah, you’re young players, but we do have some solid veterans in there, and if you’re going to get to the level you want to go to, you’re going to have to deal with expectations. Then I think what happened this year is, when you bring in Mike (Richards), whether they learned enough last year or not, now the bar gets raised higher. But it’s like I told them in Columbus, this is where you wanted to be. You don’t want to be a Cinderella team. And you see that all the time. I still go back to the Detroit example. When they were building, there was that period where they were struggling and they were going to trade Yzerman for Yashin. It was like, `Oh, this isn’t working,’ but they stuck it out and got through it, then boom, your culture is in place and everything else. This process, of dealing with expectations, I think any good team is going to go through it, and it isn’t going to be easy. But you’ve got to stick with it. Again, I think part of getting through it is getting an identity, and going back to basics. It’s not complicated. Yeah, the general manager has got to do a few things. I know what’s in the back of my mind. But, in the end, this is still a simple game.” (December 2011 on the team’s struggle with expectations)

“I think it’s safe to say, as far as Darryl, that we’re very similar but yet different. We’re both the same age and we grew up in different environments, one the son of a factory rat, the other the son of a farmer. The values are the same. If you work hard, you will be rewarded. You have an identity. You stand for something, and as long as you work hard and you’re a good teammate, we’re going to have all the time in the world for you. As far as what Darryl has accomplished, and what type of man he is, you just have to look at his background. Coming out of junior hockey with the Chicago Blackhawks, an 11th-round draft pick. They didn’t want to sign him out of junior, so he went to Japan to play. He had a scholarship to Princeton University, turned it down to pursue his dream as a player. After the Blackhawks signed him, where did he end up? A 40-goal scorer in this league, a captain of one of the most storied franchises in the National Hockey League. As a coach, he has seen each end of the spectrum. When he took over the Blackhawks, it was a good team and he immediately led that team to the second-highest point total in its history. When we were in San Jose together, we took over a bad team. We improved it six years in a row while getting younger every year. Then, his last tour, he took over what essentially, probably wasn’t a very good team. He basically willed them to the Stanley Cup Finals. So, in the end, with this type of background, what I’m really excited about is, I think this guy is in his prime, and I really think the best is yet to come (December 2011 at the L.A. Kings press conference to introduce Darryl Sutter as coach)

“I should have never said what I said publicly. It was the wrong thing to do. That was the wrong way to handle it.” (January 2012, on making public comments about the Colin Fraser trade and stating he would rather invest with Madoff than to trust Edmonton’s word)

“The question about the rentals is just the price. If you look back, and you take all the deadline deals — just look at them and line them up — you’ve got all kinds of juice on deadline day, but how many of them have really effected the team? There’s this perception of all this juice and action, then you look at what really happens. Last year, arguably, we got one of the top players. How many players had average 25 goals? That was, `Wow, that was a big deal.’ In terms of the rentals, that’s always going to be there. As a practical matter, we don’t have a second and a third (round draft picks). Manchester is still a very young team, but you always have to be cognizant that (new) guys are coming through.’’ (February 2012, on the value of rentals at the trade deadline)

“It’s being cognizant of knowing what we’ve got coming and knowing what we’ve got now. It’s knowing who we’ve got coming and who is going to help this team next year, and making (a potential move) fit with that. With a rental, you can say, `I don’t care if it doesn’t fit with these kids that are coming,’ but with other (trades), it’s, `OK, let’s trend this way.’’’ (February 2012, on where the big players go on deadline day)

“When we were doing this, we said that one of the benefits of maybe going slow, so to speak, was just that, that we wanted to be in a position not only to win but to keep it together. So, generally, if you go along those lines, with the draft and not over-doing the free agency, you’re able to do that. Given our age, of this team, even though we had to pay those big contracts, that’s what I was always saying with Doughty. We don’t want to go through this and just have a one-year run and blow it up. So we’re in that position now. Secondly, what you’re asking, I’ve got to do some research. This is a new experience for me. Darryl has been through it three times, although this is the first time he has won it. I find some of the dialogue I’m having to be interesting. I’m talking to a number of people in different sports, and that is one of the issues. One guy told me that one of the hard parts was, he made a mistake in terms of training camp. Because (the previous season) was so long, guys were banged up. They weren’t hard on them in camp, like they usually were, and the team didn’t come back until December. So there’s a small thing to be conscious of. Then, as you said, there is a school of thought that says you’ve got to make changes and not get stale. I’m not sure about that. On one hand I could say maybe, but we’re a young team. It’s not like there’s old guys that need to go, who had a last hurrah. Secondly, it’s a very tight group. You can say, `Well, chemistry changes when you’ve had success,’ and that’s true. I don’t think these are things we could sit down and analyze and come up with a definitive answer. You’re right. These are things that have to be discussed. I don’t have those answers now, but I’ve already done some surveying and I intend to do a lot more. Clearly I’ve been around a little while now, and I’m getting old, but I’m learning things I never thought of before.” (June of 2012, about how he will approach free agency and whether he will keep the team intact or bring in fresh blood, since winning the Cup)

I don’t want to make a habit of that but, you know, people always said, `He’s in love with his draft picks.’ Well, at the time, we were, but sometimes you have to move them to improve the team. Obviously if you’re going to have a down year with (number of) picks, this is probably the one, but in no circumstances do we want to make a habit of this. But it isn’t like we used them for old players. That’s the other consolation. If they’re going into a Richards deal and a Carter deal, you’re still dealing with guys that are 26, 27 years old. Again, that said, I don’t want to make a habit of this.” (June 2012, on the coming draft where the Kings won’t have a 1st, 2nd or 3rd, after winning the Cup)

“Obviously it was the last one that we did. We had the draft and everything, but we really thought it was imperative for him to sit down with Darryl and I, and let him know — how do you want to put this… You can’t do anything contractually, but we felt it was important for Darryl to re-affirm what’s going to have to happen next year, that, in the end, no matter what we do in terms of adding or subtracting players, every one of those players has to get better. I just think, with Dustin, obviously we saw it’s been a long ride, but we want to make sure that he’s committed to the effort we saw in the last two months, and not the player we saw prior to. And he was very good, too. Darryl, it was, look him in the eye, man to man, and there were no punches pulled. To his credit, he could have easily went to the market and maybe came back, but he called that night and said, `No, I want to stay, and I’m going to show you.’ He was willing to take a one-year deal. It says a lot about him, too, in terms of his commitment, that he had no interest in testing the waters. Like I said, in that conversation, Darryl didn’t pull any punches, which you probably don’t expect him to. He said, `No, I’m in.’ Even that one, I give him a lot of credit.’’ (July 2, 2012 on signing Dustin Penner to a one year deal)


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