With the NHL Draft quickly approaching, LAKings.com sat down with Kings Pro Scout Rob Laird
, as the Kings hockey operations department prepares for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
LAKings.com: Go through a typical draft day for you. What are your basic responsibilities?
Rob Laird: As a pro scout I’m evaluating pro players throughout the year and when draft day roles around I’m mainly working with the trades that come down. Maybe I’ll be seeking out a player from another team that we’re interested in and recommending a trade. Or waiting for Dean [Lombardi] to let me know another team is interested in one of our players. But the evaluation process is year-around. You need to get your homework done, so when something goes down, you’re ready.
LAKings.com: What’s it like sitting at the draft table with Dean Lombardi, Ron Hextall and the other scouts? How chaotic can it get?
Rob Laird: Well, it can definitely get chaotic at times, as so many things are happening at once. For me, because I deal with the pro players and not necessarily the draft picks, sometimes it will be quiet for an hour or maybe two. But things can pop up at the spur of the moment and there can be a whole lot of activity at once. If Dean gets a call about a trade, I need to be ready to give him an answer. That’s where the evaluation process comes in. Being prepared and getting your homework done is key.
LAKings.com: When discussing a possible trade are there every any disagreements…maybe even arguments as to making the right decision?
Rob Laird: That’s where all your preparation comes in, once again. You hope by the time a trade offer or trade discussions come around there isn’t a whole lot of disagreement. Going into the draft the scouts pretty much have the same consensus. We’re all on the same team and trust each other. And so does Dean.
LAKings.com: How is a trade orchestrated on draft day?
Rob Laird: A lot of times what will happen is that a team wants to draft a certain player, but is afraid that player will already be picked up before it’s their turn. So they’ll call another team and say, “We’ll give you this player if you give us your draft pick in this round.” That team is hoping to get a higher pick and they’re willing to trade a player to get it. Or it can happen in reverse. Maybe you know a team wants to draft a certain player and your team has a higher draft slot. So you’d call that team and say, “We’ll give you our pick if you give us this player.” So it can work both ways. Either way, you don’t have a lot of time to make a decision and have to be on your toes.
LAKings.com: Your preparation is a year-long process. How many games would you say you scout each year and what levels?
Rob Laird: I’m probably at 160 to 175 games a year. About 60 percent of those games are NHL, 35 percent are AHL games and the other 5 percent are games in Europe. I’m pretty much on the road about 130 days a year. But I love what I do. It never gets old and I’m used to the travel by now. I’m very fortunate to do what I do and be associated with the Kings. I love it.
ABOUT ROB LAIRD
Rob Laird will be entering his 16th year with the Kings and 13th in the club’s Pro Scouting department.
Originally joining the Kings as a coach in the club’s minor league system, Laird spent two seasons as the Head Coach of the Phoenix Roadrunners, the former IHL affiliate of the Kings. With the Roadrunners, Laird helped his team advance to the playoffs both seasons while his club posted winning records both years. Prior to that coaching assignment, Laird served as a Head Coach in the American Hockey League for Moncton and Baltimore.
In 1989-90, Laird was behind the bench for the Washington Capitals as an Assistant Coach. Previously, he was the Head Coach at Fort Wayne (IHL) for four seasons, where he won at least 46 games each year -- including the 1985-86 season in which the Komets won 52 regular season games to earn the Presidents’ Trophy.
During his playing career, Laird, 54 (12/29/54), played one NHL game for the Minnesota North Stars during the 1979-80 season. He also played professionally for Fort Wayne, Nashville (CHL) and Oklahoma City (CHL). The Regina, Saskatchewan-born Laird also played for the Memorial Cup Regina Pats (WCHL) before being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the seventh-round (116th overall) of the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft and by the Minnesota Fighting Saints in the second-round (29th overall) of the 1974 WHA Amateur Draft.
Rob and his wife Madeleine reside in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They have a daughter, Vanessa, and a son, Grant.