Here’s what Dean Lombardi said today about the decision to send Thomas Hickey to Manchester, a move essentially secured a roster spot for rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin at the start of the season…
Question: What was it about Muzzin that made him the guy you ended up choosing?
LOMBARDI: “We’re still kind of getting a read on him. You like what you see so far, but there’s still some rawness to him. I think part of it is to see exactly where he is. It’s not only whether a guy is ready, but you’re also trying to gauge how far he is. We haven’t even had him in our system a year, but obviously I think he’s done pretty well. He had a great summer and he has probably fast-tracked himself to some degree. So we kind of want to get another look at him. He’s obviously got size. He has shown that he can make a play. He’s developing some physical things. So it’s been good, but like I say, he’s been fast-tracked, to go from junior to where you’re looking at him thinking, `Wow, he might be a little closer than we thought.’ Does that mean he’s ready, or that type of thing? You’ve just got to let him play.”
Question: What was the message to Hickey, and how did he take the news?
LOMBARDI: “He was great. He was disappointed, but he had a great summer and this is the first time he’s been this far into camp. He was certainly disappointed, but John Stevens met with him and went over four points that he needs to work on. So he’s got his game plan. But this is the first summer he’s really had. Once he got over the injury, he put in 60 solid days (of training in El Segundo). Like I said to him, `You’re back on track.’ He got behind, because of all the injuries, but he’s on track. Now, do you want a guy pissed off and disappointed? Yeah. He is. He’s disappointed. The next step is, he sits down with John Stevens and they looked at video. John went over the clips and said, `This is what has to improve, and these are the four things you’ve got to do to get better.’ So he’s got his game plan and he can get going.”