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NUGGETS FROM BREAKFAST WITH THE GM

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Close to 900 Kings fans showed up to the annual Breakfast with the GM where fans asked questions of GM Dean Lombardi and staff.

Saturday was a busy day at Toyota Sports Center.

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With legends from the Kings past on hand tutoring hockey players of all ages on the adjacent ice for the Kings inaugural Fantasy Camp, Kings GM Dean Lombardi met with season ticket members outlining his plan for the future of Kings hockey at the annual Breakfast with the GM.

While Kings Alumni Luc Robitaille, Marcel Dionne, Bernie Nicholls, Marty McSorley, Jim Fox, Daryl Evans, Steve Duchesne, Ian Turnbull, Dave Taylor and Ray Ferraro were instructors at Fantasy Camp, Kings fans asked questions of Lombardi for close to two hours.

Lombardi and his staff - Vice President/Hockey Operations and Legal Affairs Jeff Solomon, Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall and new Kings head coach Terry Murray – answered them candidly.

There was a lot of laughter, a lot of facts, and of course knowing Lombardi, a lot of charts.

Bob Miller served as MC and opened with a joke.

"Thank God for Sarah Palin," Miller said of the recently announced Republican Vice Presidential nominee. "I knew that would wake you up. I don’t know if she’ll win but she has gotten more publicity for hockey in the last few days than we got all summer."

Questions ranged from what Lombardi expects this season, to where goaltender Jonathan Bernier projects to be to the young defensemen on the roster to who will fill leadership roles on the club.

"Our goal here is to try and be a top team for a long time," Lombardi said. "We want to be in that Detroit model, where everyone says they are in the top four every year."

And of course no Q and A session between fans and the Kings GM can be complete without the inevitable goaltending situation.

Lombardi and his staff answered questions candidly for close to two hours. 

"When we were in San Jose, we had three top goaltending prospects in Evgeni Nabokov, Miikka Kiprusoff and Vesa Toskala," Lombardi said. "As prospects, I think we have three of those type now in Jonathan Bernier, Jon Quick and Jeff Zatkoff. When you are dealing with young goaltenders, when you start making predictions and start putting them in your lineup, you are setting them up for failure.

"Our job is to make them better every day, let them go through the process and let the cream rise to the top."

Regardless of who mans the pipes in 2008-09, Murray spoke of making the goaltender’s job a little easier this season.

"We have to work in training camp and throughout the year on our defense," Murray said. "We have to cut down on our goals against. We have to give our goaltender better support than what has been there. We are going to talk about defense and we are going to talk about accountability."

Bolstering the blueline would certainly help in that area and the Kings went about that this summer, drafting Drew Doughty, signing Denis Gauthier and trading for young blueliner Matt Greene from Edmonton, in a deal that sent Lubomir Vinovsky to the Oilers.

"Green is an important acquisition for us because he is young enough to grow with this group, he is a right shot, he is a great teammate and he is going to get better because he works his butt off.

"He addresses a size issue on the blueline."

Hextall believes the young blueline is in good hands with Murray and his staff.

Bob Miller served as MC dishing out zingers through out the event.

"The one thing we are very comfortable with is Terry Murray was a defenseman, a very good one I might add, and (assistant coach) Mark Hardy was a defenseman," he said, "so we have two defensemen on our staff with all these kids. They are going to be extremely helpful, working with them every day, at practice, after practice.

"They know exactly what it means to be a young defenseman breaking into the league."

Murray would later add that, "our overall philosophy will be solid defensive play. We have to have everybody on board and have the players thinking that has true value in their game in all areas so we can move forward in the right direction."

Throw in some coffee, fresh fruit, eggs and bacon, and close to 900 Kings fans were given a lot to chew on Saturday morning.

For information on how to become a Kings Season ticket member and enjoy events such as these, visit the LAKings.com ticketing section and have a Kings account representative contact you about Our Fan for Every LA Kings Fan.

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