Dean Lombardi was asked about the “process” leading to Sunday’s trade for Ben Bishop, which carried some interesting timing as it was consummated just one day after star starting goaltender Jonathan Quick returned after a 59-game absence related to a groin injury. Among the interesting bits included in the decision was that Lombardi clearly did not see this as an “insurance” policy for Quick, and that the Kings are going to roll with two number one goaltenders. He also noted that Quick’s familiar workload – he logged 140 games over the last two seasons – was not a rhythm that could be replicated while Quick was returning from injury and the team has so little margin of error.
“I think it’s not that complicated. Obviously we have Jon coming back. However, I think there’s a number of concerns. Number one, you’re never sure how well a guy who’s been out this long – is he going to have his ‘A-Game,’ so to speak, or not? These types of injuries which are fairly serious, the history of comebacks can go either way. That’s the first thing. On the other hand, we all know that Jon’s a tremendous athlete. He’s one of the top goaltenders in the game, and most importantly he’s one of the game’s top competitors. So you certainly don’t worry about Jon that once he passes the mental part that ‘I’m capable of doing athletically what I have in the past’ that he’s going to be able to give his all.”
“But, I also think that when you’ve been out this long that to think you’re going to ride this like on a ratio of the past and playing Jon 70 games, I think that’s totally impractical. Number one, I don’t think it’s the best way to break in a guy who’s been out this long, and you look at the condensed schedule of three-in-four nights, and number two, quite frankly, I don’t think it’s good at any time. I think the days of playing Jon Quick 70 games, like we did two years ago, make no sense in terms of not only letting him play at his best, but also making sure that you have a player of his caliber extending his career and not wearing him out so he’s at the top of his game and he’s able to get the proper rest. So that all kind of ties into that short window here.”
“So in terms of Bish, he was the number one target that we felt that this is not an insurance policy. No, no. He needs to play, and like I said, we looked at the schedule here, preferably I would’ve been able to do this deal two weeks ago, but this is just the way trade deadline deals seem to work. Best case scenario, assuming Jon is at the top of his game, what’s the best number of games to play him? And we had sketched that out, and said, ‘you know what? It makes a lot of sense for him, but we better get essentially another number one. So, like I said, this is not an insurance policy. It is a way that we think can make sure that Jon is broken in properly … and makes sure we’re in position here to win every game, because every game down the stretch here is critical. Let’s face it, there’s not a lot of room here for error, and we just want to take that out of the equation by making sure that we have a number one goalie in there every night.”