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Luc Robitaille Joins ESPN on Ice Podcast

The Kings' President talks about the recent coaching change, Ilya Kovalchuk's debut and how gambling may affect the NHL

by LA Kings @LAKings /

LA Kings President Luc Robitaille joined the ESPN On Ice podcast with Greg Wyshynski and Emily Kaplan. They talk all things Kings-related, including the recent coaching change, how the team can increase their speed and Ilya Kovalchuk's debut. 

To listen to Robitaille's section of the podcast, skip ahead to 19:26.

Or, we've summarized the best quotes and responses below!

The thinking behind the quick coaching change

"We didn't like the way our team was playing all year," said Robitaille. "Better to make a move now rather than waiting another two or three weeks."

Overall, Rob Blake just didn't like the way the team was responding, and didn't have confidence that anything was going to change.

The reasons behind the decision

"We are aware of what the LA Kings fans want and that's what's important to us," said Robitaille. "The decision was made because of where our team was in the ranking.

"Unforuntaltely, our guys just didn't perform."

Whether or not the struggles were related to Quick's injury

"Quick's injury is only going to be 4-6 weeks and everyone is aware of that internally," said Robitaille. 

"We weren't really good before when Jonathan was in net."

With two high profile changes in a row, Joel Quenneville in Chicago being the second, is the landscape shifting?

"We know John [Stevens] is a great person. He's a good coach and for some reason it just wasn't working."

"Everybody knows Quenneville is a great coach also. For some reason it hasn't really worked. Our teams are changing. It's a tough business and those are things that happen."

"Everyone understands that it's part of business unfortunately."

How much of the struggle is team construction vs coaching?

"Playing fast is about moving the puck fast. It more has to do with the way you play"

"If you have a roster where the age is a little older, you have to adjust to that. Usually it's because you've had some type of success. Those players have character and should be able to come out of it."

"We're trying to rebuild on the fly. You're counting on the veterans who you've signed long term."

"In the last 18 months, we've acquired 18 young players. Rob is trying to rebuild our farm team, but at the same time he's being very smart and patient on not pushing these kids before they're ready."

Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Gabe Villardi, Austin Wagner, Michael Amadio are among those players who will hopefully be able to give the Kings youth and speed in the coming years. 

On Willie Desjardins as Interim Coach

"He was willing to take the challenge to turn our team around this year. He believes in himself as a coach, that is what Rob liked the most."

However, Robitaille noted they would be looking at both the coach and team next summer to reevaluate going into next season. 

What has Ilya Kovalchuk showed so far this year?

"Out of 13 games, I'd say he's led our team in scoring chances in 10 of them. He's doing exactly what we wanted him for."

"He's been really good and I suspect as our team starts playing better, he's going to be even better. We're really happy with what he's brought to our team so far."

Gambling and the NHL

"I think it's going to help everyone. It's been going on everyday in all sports for the last 100 years, I don't think any of it changed."

"If the teams profit, everybody will profit from it. If there's a lot more money on the table, it makes everyone's life a lot easier."

Referring to the recent deal NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman made, he commented, "Big deals like that can make a difference. I commend the commissioner to be proactive on it."

Listen to the podcast now!

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