While NHL schedules talks, Kings’ Dean Lombardi takes action [Updated]

The NHL and the locked-out players’ association scheduled negotiating sessions for Wednesday and Thursday in New York but won’t be discussing their core differences. The sessions will be a “follow-up from the meetings we had last weekend,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Monday via email. “We would be happy to listen to the PA on economic or system issues, but they don’t appear to be inclined to bring anything new to the table. As long as that’s the case, I’m not sure we have more to add. They got the last two substantive proposals from us.”

[Updated 7:30 p.m. Monday: Responding to Daly, NHLPA Special Counsel Steve Fehr said: “For more than a month, the owners have not wanted to meet to discuss the core economic issues unless it is on their terms, that is unless the players have yet another offer that includes significant concessions for them. By contrast we place no conditions on our willingness to meet.”

Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi isn’t sitting around and waiting to see what happens: he departed Monday for an extended scouting/evaluation tour back East.

Intent on using this time as well as possible, Lombardi said he planned to spend a week in Ontario (the Canadian province, not the Southern California city) and then visit the Kings’ American Hockey League farm team in Manchester, N.H. He said his experiences during the 2004-05 lockout, when he was scouting for the Philadelphia Flyers, showed him the value of paying attention to personnel, scouting and evaluating the scouting process itself.


“It’s one of those things when you’re a general manager there are so many things you have to take care of, you get away from personnel, which is your lifeblood,” he said.

“We’ve been digging into the amateurs and pros. Now the staff has been together five or six years. When we were coming together we knew everybody would have a learning curve, so now we can dig into what went right or wrong. We can go back to reports and say, ‘Did we have mistakes in terms of coverage?’ Why were we wrong on this kid?’

“This is a great period to go back and look in detail and learn from it. It was a risky venture to bring in all these people and we knew people would make mistakes. Now, we can learn from those mistakes. We can dig in. These are things that get away from you.”

Lombardi will spend some time with his scouts, which he described as ”walking the shop floor with your boys.” He also said he had beefed up the club’s development staff by adding Glen Murray, the former Kings winger.

The Kings had sent assistant general manager Ron Hextall, assistant coach John Stevens and a member of the development staff to Manchester to work with kids there but Lombardi said he will rotate that group out and send in a new group. That should provide another set of eyes for evaluations.

“This can be a productive time,” he said. “There are no excuses for not being able to get better.”

One last note: Teams aren’t allowed to have contact with players during the lockout, but there is an exception for players who had hockey-related injuries. Lombardi said he has been able to see goaltender Jonathan Quick, who underwent off-season back surgery, and that “everything is on schedule” for Quick’s recovery.



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