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Lombardi answers some questions

Times Staff Writer

At least there was no food fight.

There was just about everything else on a fascinating Sunday breakfast get-together in El Segundo between Kings President and General Manager Dean Lombardi and about 700 season-ticket holders.

You had war analogies, admissions of mistakes, age-distribution charts and a strong hint of a preference for taking a defenseman with the first-round draft pick in June. Yes, there was even a slice of Lombardi playing relationship advisor to defenseman Peter Harrold, joking that he was trying to talk him out of getting married, saying, ‘Do you love her?’ ”

Call it Dean-of-consciousness.

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The Kings may be the most interesting last-place team in recent years, one part tantalizing promise and one part defensive train wreck, testing the considerable patience of the long-suffering fans.

“I expect the coaches to do everything possible to get the goals against down and to start the process now,” Lombardi said. " . . . Just like the analogy: Lee’s at Gettysburg. He’s totally outnumbered and outmanned. But he can’t throw up the white flag and say, ‘I can’t get it done.’ ”

Said Kings Coach Marc Crawford: “It’s a legitimate criticism. When you look at our goals against, as a coaching staff, we’re embarrassed by it, to be quite truthful.”

So there were plenty of questions about goaltending and defense. Lombardi revealed that the Kings were in the hunt in the summer for goalie Tomas Vokoun, who went from Nashville to Florida, but would have required giving up picks in the first and second round and goalie prospect Jonathan Bernier.

Another target the previous summer landed one county away and led the Ducks to a Stanley Cup. Lombardi said the last piece of the multi-player puzzle to getting defenseman Chris Pronger from the Oilers would have been Anze Kopitar, adding, “Thank God we didn’t do that.”

More recently, there was former Ducks goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who went to Phoenix on waivers in November and is responsible for 23 of the Coyotes’ 34 wins this season with a goals-against average of 2.36 and a save percentage of .923.

The Coyotes, then trailing the Kings in the standings, had the right to pick ahead of them. But it was widely known that Ducks GM Brian Burke was trying to move Bryzgalov at the draft in June and then throughout the summer and fall.

“Uh, yeah. That’s a good one,” Lombardi said. “I think the jury is still out. There were some issues, things you heard out of Anaheim in terms of him being a teammate. . . . In retrospect, we should have been more aggressive. This is how a mistake can lead to another, a logjam of contracts there cut off our flexibility.”

The long session teetered toward raucous on the issue of players leaving and playing better, and fans shouted out several names of players. One was the New York Rangers’ Sean Avery.

Lombardi said he got a text message from Avery -- “Happy New Year, don’t forget your little buddy” -- and thought his assistant GM Ron Hextall was playing a prank on him. Indeed, it really was the provocative Avery, safely ensconced in the Eastern Conference.

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TONIGHT

vs. Vancouver, 7:30, FSN Prime

Radio -- 1150.

Site -- Staples Center.

Records -- Kings 27-38-5, Canucks 34-24-10.

Record vs. Canucks -- 3-0.

Update -- Ten goals in two games, both wins, represented a scoring bonanza for Vancouver, which had six goals in its previous four games.

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lisa.dillman@latimes.com


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