A few people asked me to post it here as well, so...
I thank Styx. Styx made this happen because I couldn't be there - It's his audio and he put it on the net for me to type out - I owe you a beer my friend.
I broke it down, not word for word, but you'll get the idea...
It took me a while, but there's a lot of GREAT STUFF here - How Pushkarev came this close to being an ex-King, O'Sullivan and why he's NOT in the NHL. Lubo, the Jack Johnson trade and more.
DEAN: I think I know what at least ONE question will be (laughter)
Q: Are we going to acquire any veteran players?
DEAN: I didn't see enough young players - we have 6 players 24 and under - that's low - I'd rather get us some young players - we have TOO MANY veterans.
Pronger would have cost me three young players and I didn't want to do that. We're not in a position to get a "core" veteran. We have to keep getting younger players, especially on the back end. If you look at the back, it's old. And then we have the goalie issue... (audience laughs)
Q: Why? (asked to expand) Why play Cloutier for 35 games?
DEAN: You have to let the coach make the decisions of who is on the ice - I understand what Marc is doing? Do you sit him and let him try and get his game back or do you let him push his way through it. I think with unproven goaltenders, you would probably say no, lets get this guy back to the drawing board, lets work with him after practice. In this case with a guy who has had 30 wins in this league for a number of years, or he's a proven guy still in his prime, I think Marc's reasoning is "well, I know he can do it, lets just keep letting him play his way through it". When it snoballed, we had the discussion "lets back off of this, let's callin Billy (Ranford) and go back to basics, and then Mathieu got hurt again. Neither way worked. I can understand what Marc was thinking. Maybe we should have gone the other way about a month ago, but then Mathieu got hurt.
Q: I've been a season seat holder a long time - been through this a long time - but I need a plan - watching the Kings this year it's really hard to see how they are going to improve next year - sell me on why I should continue to buy my season seats.
DEAN: I can't promise anything - In this business you gotta be a little lucky - the only thing I'll promise you is we will work 13 hours a day. There are lot of things the fans can't see - when you look at an organizational chart, I've been through this before - there's a reason why New Jersey has those cups. It's not just the players its the way they do things, the pro scouts, amateur scouts, the trainers, development program is integrated and its my job to build that infrastructure and THEN you will see a product you will be proud of.
I think we can do better than New Jersey but there's a reason why they've had so much success.
I can't give you the answer "will I trade this guy at the deadline". I'm not going after free agents unless they are the RIGHT free agents. We've already started that process. How do I explain this? You start by building the reserve list, then you can build a team.
Why would anybody do the Jack Johnson deal? It CLEARLY hurt this team. I agree with you. People sent me e-mail... He's a young defenseman. How do I answer that question? It would take me five hours.
The only thing I can promise you is that nobody's going to give you more of an effort.
It is a chance, given where we're at, we're not in a good position but in some ways we are in a good position because you might end up being a seller when everyone's a buyer. Maybe we can maximize asset value, i.e. draft picks and young players.
(gave an example of the Dodgers and the minors, then repeated himself)
The next question was a big whine fest about how many goals the Kings gave up and Norstrom and Miller, the lousy penalty kill, etc, then made a reference to Cloutier's deal before playing a game... to which Patrick O'Neil said "next!" -
DEAN: That's a COACHING issue, not a personel issue.
Okay, Now you're in my suit. Let's talk about defense. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?? How are YOU going to make it better?
Let's talk about the defense...
I believe in starting from the back - As much as I like these young kids we got up front, if I had my druthers, I'd like to have Nashville's reserve list with Suter and Weber and Hamhuis and Erat and all those kids that are defenseman on the back. I would like to flip the assets but I can't.
The only way to get that shored up is by drafting and making hopefully deals like Jack Johnson and maybe we'll make another deal like that here at the deadline. To really shore it up like you want has to come from a process from within.
The offers I get for Vishnovsky (the audience: NOOOOOOO!) - He's a good player, but you can't find them! It's almost like good pitching.
The reason I'm asking YOU. Look at Anaheim. Once you get past Pronger and Neidermeyer, there's a MAJOR dropoff and then you get down to 5 and 6 and it's ANOTHER dropoff.
I don't like the fact that every one of our defensemen is 30 or over but how are you going to get that asset, I'm sorry, it has to come from within because nobody is going to trade me a top young defenseman in his prime.
Even Nashville and those young defensemen. I talk to them at least one a month about trading one of those, I'll stay on them.
(Dean then rambled on about Norstrom and talked about Derian Hatcher and his game, the guy asking the question *****ed about the penalty kill)
DEAN: The goaltending has not been good, and that's your best penalty killer. You don't like to pin it all on one position but lets get real here. We were in the top 10 early in the year, but if there are pucks going in, its gonna wear on you.
You've been a fan for 18 years, have you ever seen so many blocked shots? That's why teams are collapsing in. These are better questions for Marc, but your goalie has to stop them.
Q: Scheduling question - and where would you rank the kings in regards to scouting?
We have the worst schedule. The traveling. People don't realize how hard it is out here. Remember when expansion came, the theory was they were gonna be bad teams. You wanted to be able to market Mario and Wayne, they didn't care about division rivalries, 'cause those new teams were gonna get the crap beat out of 'em anyway. They didn't have any good players. Now, the issue is, they want the division rivalries to create anger. The problem is: No fighting and players switching teams! Philadelphia and the Rangers fought in warmups! Ask the fans now - are you better off seeing Ovechkin or Crosby 3 times a year? That's a vote that should go to the fans. We have Kopitar, he's gonna be better than those two (gag).
Right now, in the last 6 months, we are moving... When I was making my decision on which team to go to, my biggest concern was spending on infrastructure and they have not denied me one resource. Everything I've asked for... we're completely redoing the war room. The technology. We're still in the process of getting the people buying into how I want things done. That will pay off in the long run rather than going and spending money on a free agent. They have not denied me one penny.
Q: Can we have 1 or 2 games at 7:00?
DEAN: The theory is people can't get there. The game ends at 10:00, what's wrong with that?
Q: Can you explain the Cloutier extension and is his contract on your "long list of mistakes"?
HEXTALL: First of all, thanks for being here (laughter) - When we came in Labarbera had played 32 games, Matty 120 - Clouts had been a proven goaltener, played with Crow. I've been asked this a lot of times. I don't have an answer. We looked at the free agent market for 07 and it ain't pretty (see CBGB's thread). We felt Clouts was the best at the time. Look at Khabibulin. Won a cup with Tampa, goes to Chicago and couldn't play last year. He was terrible. All of a sudden he's great this year. I don't know what it is about the position, I've been there myself.
Q: Looking at all the signings this summer, they're all below expectations. Why should I faith in our future and stick with my season seats?
HEXTALL: We had to build a winning culture. Blake's a winner. McCauley, hurt, is a winner. There's no way to check free agents automatically. He was supposed to be healthy. Blakey hasn't been a Norris candidate, but I don't think he's played poorly.
When we were coming in here we tried to sign Zdeno Chara, we tried to sign Patrik Elias. Chara wanted to stay on the east coast, Elias wanted to go back to the Devils but we did try and sign top players.
Jack Johnson is a short term pain, long term asset. We had to take some short term lumps.
Q: What are we looking for in this years draft?
DEAN: There are no Ovechkin's or Crosby's. It's always the best player. Like football. It's an asset. You want to maximize that draft slot. Nashville is sitting on a gold mine with all those defenseman they have. If two players are equal, I trend towards the defenseman. It's harder to find them. The 2nd thing, and Hex is the same way. Every GM has his beliefs and tells his scout what to look for. I developed my own style.
Here's what I look for: 1) Hockey sense - it's the hardest thing to teach - you integrate the development program, there are certain skills that a player will naturally get better at: His skating will improve, his skating will improve, even his size will improve but its very hard to improve his hockey sense and that takes an enormous amount of work.
Hex and I were here last night looking at film: "Back it up. Does he get under his sticks in traffic, what type of angle is he taking, is he staying on the right side... those are all little things that give you clues on his hockey sense.
Other GM's say they like skating. I think skating is very overrated. I think you can improve skating but give me the asset you can't prove.
The second thing is ??????? (character???)
Getting back to the goalie issue... In 07, Vokoun was the only guy we saw. Too expensive. Biron, Buffalo ain't gonna give up. I saw Gerber, who had nowhere near Cloutiers record go for 4 million. That's why we locked him at 3. It didn't work. Flat out.
Q: Do we have a ETA on Jack (MF) Johnson and Petiot
HEXTALL: Petiot is a couple weeks away from playing in Manchester. On Jack, we don't know. He has to decide. We feel he's ready to come out.
Q: Don't even think about trading Visnovsky - We need bigger players up front - Demitra was a cancer, but he produced
DEAN: I agree on the size issue, but I'm not as adament because of the rule changes. I would like to have more size, but we need size that can play. Frolov, Kopitar and Brown don't play small. I wish Cammy was bigger but he has a big heart. I'm curious on how this Pushkarev kid continues to come along. They're learning how to protect the puck, go to the hole and pay the price. I thought our defense would be fine. I thought we left ourselves short up front. That's where most of the upside on the roster was. And actually that has gone beyond my expectations. Marc's done a tremendous job. He was VERY underrated in Vancouver. With Jovo and Bertuzzi and the Sedins. Those were not proven players when he got them and he turned them into good players. Would I like big guys? Absolutley, but one thing I like about this Pushkarev that I've seen so far is that he doesn't play small.
Dialogue with your players is critical. I have Sean Avery in my office every two weeks, lets talk it through... Let me tell you about a few things in the development of a player that are critical, that you can't put your finger on.
Pushkarev was NOT paying attention in the minors. He had his own agenda, thought he should be in the NHL, acting up. His numbers were brutal, wasn't doing anything the coach told him to do and he could not look at himslef.
We started hearing he wants to go back to Russia, like the kid from Phoenix did. A young player, as soon as things aren't going their way, blame everybody else and go somewhere else, so he's on this path and Russia's after him... "You shouldn't be in the minors, they're sticking it to you, come here and play" - There's no way he's going to get any better if he goes back to Russia and Phoenix lost a player like this... that Lisin kid, good player but he wasn't quite ready for the NHL and he's gonna lose significant development time.
Hex is down there, I'm losing my patience, I'm saying "this is character, If I quit now, am I gonna trust him in the Stanley Cup playoffs?"
And Hex says, "Calm down, I'll take care of it. I really like this kid. Deep down, he's a competitor".
So he goes there, I'm scouting Western Canada, I'm driving across the border and there's this huge line and I've just about had it with him. I say "Get him out of here! I don't want him around our players anymore!!"
"I can get to this guy, Dean. I can get this guy, Dean!"
I say, "Well, don't you kiss his butt! He's gonna be telling every other player out there to try and go somewhere else to get your way."
"Trust me, Dean. I'm not gonna kiss his butt."
Slowly the dialogue... I mean... he commands so much respect for what he stood for, and even a Russian like Pushkarev can appreciate what this guy stands for and I don't know what he did, but there's a joke now around the office that this is his son (laughter). Because I think Hex saw a little of himself, 'cause if you see Pushkarev, he's got it, this guy competes but does he compete when he wants to?
So you see this kid out there now, he's on the top line. The oldest guy on the line is 22. That gets exciting. You ask about season tickets. When you see a kid like that come up, there's hope. Think about how those kids come together. The amount of work that goes into that. Calling him into the office, going over his tapes, like you heard the coaches go publicly, they went over all his tapes in Manchester... "this is what you need to do", then review them after the game. This is all I believe about development, a lot of it is communication.
This is the way you bring young players along. When I see Pushkarev making progress and I see the work he put into that... how do you define that?
I'm screaming at the border guard and he looking at me and wants to go through my trunk now, 'cause I'm out of the car and I'm standing in line and they're ready to frisk me and they're looking at me jumping up and down the thing and people are beeping their horn behind me and I'm hearing "calm down, I'll handle it", those are critical moments in the development of a player that... if we can get to him... he's a good player.
PATRICK O'NEAL: Well, Hex, now I know why you call him "Pushy". But when you're banging your head against the wall, do you ever ask yourself "What Would Avery Do?" (laughter)
Q: Where are we with the salary cap right now?
DEAN: 3 million. Well, if you use some for injuries.... 2.5.
Q: What's the deal with O'Sullivan? Is he an NHL player? Did you have a talk with HIM?"
DEAN: Oh yeah. Oh, he gets it every day. He'll be an NHL player when he starts...learning...to...pay...the...price...in... traffic. I think he was given too much too soon at this level and I think the thing that was showing up... he has to learn to do what Camallerri does now in terms of protecting the puck, getting underneath sticks, going to the crease and not just thinking you can score 50 goals in the minors and come up here and not pay the price. I think he was given too much too soon and I should have ticketed him to the minors right from the beginning, so we'll continue working with him just like Pushkarev.
Questions about Rob Blake, Daryls on air comments about him being a "decoy", worth 6 million a year, etc.
DEAN: In Rob's case, I have no problem in the way he's played. Vishnovsky runs your power play. Rob has never been a "quarterback". He can shoot a puck. The thing I'll go back to is the character. He cares about this franchise and he cares about these kids and he's been... I can't put a pricetag when Kopitar walks into that room and sees Rob Blake in there an hour before anybody else, he's already worked out, he's already watching films of himself and I've got kids coming in an hour later. Eventually that'll rub off and now you start seeing Cammallerri coming in... Marc tells these kids "that's a pro, and he's got a ring, and he knows what it takes to win".
Is he the guy who was 27, 28? No. There were a lot of teams that wanted this guy and he chose to come here for the bigger picture. I don't know how good we're gonna be very quickly but you want to get this franchise where you can be proud of it and he took that challenge. There were 7 or 8 teams after him and he chose us.
Q: Lubo's last year is at HIS option? And does your rebuilding plan include him? - personal note: thank you for asking this question
HEXTALL: Lubo is a core player and we would like to resign him long term (applause) - We can actually start talking to him this summer. He has a year left, its a multi-year deal. You get one year to talk to him. If its a one year deal, you can't talk to him until January 1st but because its a multi-year deal, we can talk to him July 1st and we will.
Q: I hate waiting 3 years to see East Coast teams - you said it should be up to the fans, what do we do, send telegrams?
DEAN: Telegrams? Tray an e-mail. East Coast teams don't want to travel. They complain when they go over ONE time zone. They're beat up. Look at this last trip. We go to Edmonton, Calgary... that makes sense. Now we gotta go two time zones to Detroit then fly home that night and then play two days later in a 3 hour time zone. If you don't think that effects your team.... I'm sorry, those guys in the east, they can take trains... and it hurts us recruiting players.
We had 5 pretty good centerman. Gleason was a piece that we liked. Tim Gleason is a battler, we really liked him as a player to be honest but we felt his upside was in the 5 or 6 category and Jack... well, I don't want to build him up too much but he's got a LOT more upside. He plays with a lot of energy, a lot of juice, he plays physical, he's got skills. He's got some work to do in terms of positioning and he needs to mature as a player but he's a high end prospect for us. It was one of those deals that long term we just couldn't pass it up. As Dean talked about, our depth chart had a lack of young defensemen. It was one of those deals we just couldn't pass up.
Q from GOLFNUT: Every single deal you made with free agents was a multi year deals but returning players only got ONE. Why is that?
DEAN: Brown got two, Cammy got one. Avery?? That was kind of probation. That was easy.
I think in Brownie and Cammy's case, this is the dilemma with the new CBA. Edmonton with Hemsky where they had to give him 4.5 million with limited experience and I might get off track and rant about a CBA that doesn't do justice to the game, but, these kids is hopefully locking them up at the right price and if Cammallerri's agent sees him as a 35 goal scorer he wants a number that's way different than kind of what we saw him. This is kind of like a Cloutier thing, you're trying to project what you're gonna get and hopefully you get ahead of the curve.
The best example I have is Calgary when Daryl did Robyn Regehr. Locked him up for 5 years at 2.5 - Everyone went "Oh, that's crazy", but he ended up becoming a better player and it was a good deal.
The thing you learn taking over a franchise mid stream, you really don't know your players until you see them every day, and a big part is knowing their character, their competitiveness, their ability to be teammates. I don't know if we had enough information to give Cammallerri what he wanted.
As we get closer to free agency, it gets harder and harder. And I hate it, because we've got to give kids too much money too soon because we don't want to lose them at 26 in their prime, but you're damned if you do and damned if you don't and if you give them too much they lose their incentive and their not fully developed as players and we're gonna run into the same crap the NBA has got where you're giving young players too much too soon, the product suffers in the end and I wish we had done more with this system to make sure that the money flowed to the people that had seniority. The old system kind of made sense.
So are Cammy and Avery RFA or UFA after this year? I'd like to see Cammy locked up for 3-4 years, I just wonder what the price would be? Speaking of price, Lubo should be getting a nice raise as well. This offseason could be interesting.