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Lombardi has novel way to get read on Frolov

Times Staff Writer

What little free time Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi has is spoken for, at least for another 1,000 pages or so. Lombardi is stuck reading “War and Peace” because, he said, “I made a bad bet.”

“I was challenging [Alexander Frolov] to pay attention to detail and stick to things,” Lombardi said. “Fro is a pretty deep thinker, and he had mentioned before that he had read ‘War and Peace’ twice. What better example can you have of stick-to-itiveness and attention to detail and not quitting than reading that book?”

Which led to the fact that Lombardi had not read the epic novel by Leo Tolstoy, a point that Frolov and Nikolai Bobrov, a pro scout for the team, noted.

“I said if Fro showed more determination on the puck, I’d read it,” Lombardi said. “I’m on Page 250 and I’m wondering if I can buy my way out of this.”

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Still, Lombardi sees some value in reading the Russian classic.

Frolov frustrated the Kings’ previous management and coaching staff with glimpses of his abundant talent that became almost a shell game -- now you see it, now you don’t. He has averaged 20 goals through his first three seasons but was projected to be a 30-goal scorer, something the current Kings’ team desperately needs.

Frolov has four goals this season.

Although Lombardi didn’t single out Frolov, he did say, “Nick told me to understand the Russian mind, you have to read two books, ‘War and Peace’ and ‘The Idiot.’ That’s how all this started.”

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Lombardi has no plans to read “The Idiot,” a novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky, though he has read Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.”

“The Russian mind is a different mind, Nick told me,” Lombardi said. “The history, the society they grew up in, their parents grew up in, their grandparents grew up in.

“It’s not just Russian players. One challenge is getting to understand the young player. We complain they don’t respond to the stimuli of the past, generally fear and discipline.... Young people today want to know why. In our day, it was ‘Do it or I’ll kick your butt.’ It doesn’t work that way anymore.”

Still, reading “War and Peace” seems a hard way to gain insight.

“I had Fro up in the office and I asked him, ‘Can you tell me what this thing is about?’ ” Lombardi said. “But finishing the book has become a touchstone for how tough I am.”

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Forward Jeff Cowan left Monday’s game because of what team officials said was upper-body soreness after he was run into the boards by the New York Rangers’ Sandis Ozolinsh.

chris.foster@latimes.com

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