Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti is a huge hockey fan. He is in his seventh season at the helm and his club is currently (entering play on Tuesday) one game behind St. Louis in the chase for the National League's second Wild Card spot.
Colletti recently answered the following questions from LAKings.com:
Q: What’s your passion for hockey like?
A: “I grew up in Chicago and I’m old enough to remember when it was just six teams, the original six. I’ve been a fan since I was a young kid and I love it. I spend a lot of time in the offseason, the baseball offseason, coming out to STAPLES to see the Kings play.”
Q: How did you first become interested in hockey?
A: “I think just watching the Blackhawks play. The Blackhawks road games were always on television and they always historically played on a Saturday night for Hockey Night in Canada. They were always on the road in Toronto or Montreal. I just started watching it and growing up in a cold weather city I played the sport a lot. I played it until about 10 years ago. I just love the sport and the people who are in it.”
Q: Is it true that you know and have developed many relationships over the years with a number of people in the NHL?
A: “Yes. Dean Lombardi and his staff here are great people. I was in San Francisco for a while working for the Giants, so I’m close with Doug Wilson, who runs the Sharks, and his group. Brian Burke, who was the GM in Anaheim when they won the Stanley Cup. Now he’s in Toronto; he and I speak all the time. Bob Murray who’s in Anaheim and Tony Granato, who was a very good player here [for the Kings], coaches in Pittsburgh now. I stay in touch with him. The people in hockey are great and I count them as some of my best friends.”
Q: What are the similarities between hockey and baseball?
A: “I think the grind. You don’t play every day in hockey but the physical grind of playing an NHL season is not easy, much like playing baseball where you play it every single day. They’re different type of sports, baseball’s not a contact sport as hockey is, but the daily grind, traveling all the time and getting ready to play every day is very similar. From an athletic standpoint you need great hand-eye coordination in both sports.”
Q: How is putting together a hockey team is different from baseball?
A: “In hockey you do have a salary cap. In baseball you don’t. So right there you have a different dynamic to how you put your club together. You’re dealing with a really strict budget that the league will not let you exceed. That’s one difference.
It’s interesting because when I try to assemble our club, I look for guys who I think have the mentality that you need almost to play either sport. Not that they’re going to play either sport, don’t get me wrong, but that type of attitude where it’s team first. You worry about your personal goals and personal statistics some other time. You worry about winning that game and you worry about playing hard for the group. I think a lot of guys who play in the NHL are like that and a lot of guys who play for the Dodgers are like that.”
Q: And you also have enjoyed some great international hockey moments, right?
A:This past year at the World Junior’s we watched Sweden and Russia play for the World Junior Championship up in Calgary and it was a scoreless game going into overtime. Sweden won for the first time since 1981 after finishing second like nine times in a row. That was kind of a cool game. A few years ago we were at the World Juniors in Saskatoon and USA beat Canada. There were probably about 50 Americans in the building including myself and a group of guys I go up there with. They blew a 5-3 lead with two minutes to play and ended up winning it in overtime. That was exciting.”
- By Ryan Kantor