The Dean Lombardi stuff from today is pretty long — you’re surprised, I know — so I’ll break it into two parts, the first covering trade-deadline issues and the second covering team-development issues. Lombardi spoke just a few minutes after the noon roster freeze took place…
Question: Did you come close on anything?
Question: With this roster freeze now, does it give teams a chance to step back and get a fresh look at this?
LOMBARDI: “Unless something has happened here in the last five minutes, because sometimes it does — like the real trade deadline, sometimes they come across later — it’s kind of what I expected. We all say we want to do these things earlier, and then every year it always goes to the deadline. The second part is, there’s still the issue that you’ve got too many teams that are in it. There’s not a lot of sellers. Figure it out yourself. How many sellers are there? So, even from a seller’s standpoint, he’s looking at it and saying, `You know what, I might get more later.’ Then, for the buyers, there’s not a lot there.
“The one thing I think the stop will do is take the emotion out of it. Too many times, people think, `Well, we’ve got four games this week. If we don’t win two of them, I’m selling.’ It’s really not looking at your team. It’s like you’re caught within this. As we see, you win three in a row and you’re in third place, and you lose four in a row and you’re in 14th. Particularly in the East, it’s ridiculous. Boston loses 10 in a row, and at the end of it they’re two points out. So it’s really hard for people to `define’ themselves as sellers. So like I said, now there’s this deadline and you’ve got (two) weeks off and people can step back and say, `OK, what are we?’ So there’s going to be a lot of talk during this. It doesn’t mean people can’t talk.”
Question: So what are you?
LOMBARDI: “I’m a buyer. I’ve made no bones about that. I’m done trading veterans for picks. You never say never, but…”
Question: There have been some guys out there on waivers. Is there any interest there?
LOMBARDI: “I think some people are trying to create cap space. Now we’re losing guys on waivers. We just lost Segal. So nothing for us at this point, certainly, no.”
Question: Where are you with Frolov right now?
LOMBARDI: “Trying to sign him? No. I think we decided to put that on the back-burner. I think after Toronto — we met there, when we were back East — I’m fine with that.”
Question: What about in terms of keeping him, and risking losing him for nothing in July?
LOMBARDI: “Yeah, but we’re at this stage, where we don’t want to do anything that doesn’t make our team better. We’re not at that stage where, `OK, we’re going to lose him, so let’s get a first-rounder’ or something. That’s not fair to the team. At this stage, they have worked hard and I think they’re learning every day. I don’t see ourselves making that room worse, in terms of personnel.”
Question: Terry talks about being happy with this team. Would you have to be blown away in order to make a deal?
LOMBARDI: “I wouldn’t say `blow away.’ It’s fit. It has to fit. Not only the player, in terms of what he brings to the table. Like Ryan Smyth and Scuderi. I’ve always said, it’s not so much that they’re good players. It is, but they fit. And they also fit in terms of the way they approach the game in the room. It’s not so much that I need to be blown away. It’s got to be the right fit. Unlike two years ago, where I was looking for everything — just give me a body that can play — you’re getting closer now in terms of what you want. There’s more things out there, but it ain’t what I’m looking for.”
Question: If this team stays intact after the trade deadline, will you be happy with it?
LOMBARDI: “Yeah, because you can’t make a deal unless it fits and it’s the right deal. When you hear GMs use the cliche, `You’re always looking to make your team better,’ you really are. We’re not really (lying to) you. It’s the same thing as the guy said on `Wall Street.’ You look at 100 deals and choose one. All the work that goes into the other 99, you throw away. You probably spend more time on the one you do. Are you happy? I don’t know how to answer that. Kenny Holland, they were winning Cups right and left, and he said, `I’m never happy.’ So I don’t think you’re even happy when you win four Cups in a row, in terms of trying to get better. It’s just that your avenues get more and more limited. Not a lot of things fit.”