Matthew Barry at HockeyBuzz.com did an interview with Dean Lombardi that’s got so much good stuff in it, I’m carving it up into its tastiest bits.
But with such a young nucleus, I asked if he worried about bringing up players too soon and could those added pressures have an effect.
“Yeah! (laughs) This team got a lot younger faster that I thought it would. The idea was to probably go gradual, like San Jose, one at a time and just avoid that pitfall”.
But unlike San Jose, these young players have proven they were ready. “(Wayne) Simmonds just wouldn’t go away. From the first day he stayed out here all summer, slept on a couch, he used to use my car because he didn’t have a car. He was out here Saturday’s and Sunday’s and he would just never go away and he kept getting better.”
As for Oscar Moller, “He was one that I really struggled with because he’s not as physically mature and the coaches really kept fighting for him which is unusual because most times the coaches want veterans”.
But his biggest praise was reserved for Drew Doughty. “You know when I knew he was ready is when Ryan Smyth beat him. Because most kids, when they fail or something happens when you get exposed you could lose them for two, three months. They can lose their confidence. Drew had his moments early but that night when Ryan Smyth went around him, cost them a goal and I can just see him, see his whole body language. There was no flinch. He came back in that 3rd period and scored that goal, That was a message. “I’m gonna get this back”. That’s special to me”.