Kings' Hockey Fest: Dany Heatley not invited
Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi isn't interested in bringing disgruntled Ottawa forward Dany Heatley to Los Angeles, even though the prolific Heatley might solve the Kings' goal-scoring problems.
Acquiring Heatley, who asked to be traded from his first team, Atlanta, and more recently asked the Senators to deal him, would be "too risky," Lombardi said, an emphatic response that drew applause from the audience assembled at the Nokia Theatre for the final day of the Kings' first Hockey Fest.
Lombardi's unequivocal answer also should silence the Heatley-to-L.A. rumors that have refused to die, probably fueled by the ample cap space the Kings will have and their need for a pure scorer.
"I would like to focus more on this group reaching its potential," Lombardi said. "A big part of this process is culture, making an identity. What does it mean to really be a King?"
Apparently, it doesn't mean whining when things don't go well and being a bad influence on a group of young players who are only now beginning to become leaders and forge an identity as a team.
"Do I want to bring in a Dany Heatley with all that baggage? It might work," Lombardi said. "But I don't think we're in a position where we can afford that. ... Maybe a change of environment and he grows up. But my point is, do we need to take that risk right now? It scares me.
"If your core is established and they've proven they can win, it's different. I think you can take that swing. I don't think we're in that position yet. Because if we're wrong, [Anze] Kopitar and [Dustin] Brown and [Drew] Doughty and these guys lose control. He becomes the room and then you have a huge problem. And he's not going to be controlled by them. That leadership group is not strong enough yet to deal with a guy who can change your team. I'm not saying those kids can't do it. It's still in the formative stages. I don't need to put that burden on them.They've still got to perform and go to another level."
Lombardi also said he's "a little concerned" about the team's depth on defense because so many defense candidates are so young, meaning he might make a depth move there or for a fourth-line center. He also said he's expecting big things from winger Teddy Purcell, who had four goals and 16 points in 40 games last season.
"This is the year I think Purcell has to start showing he's ready to contribute at the NHL level," Lombardi said. "There's a lot there if we can get it out of him."
Coach Terry Murray said he expects more out of Brown, who scored 24 goals last season after scoring 33 in 2007-08. "I think he can score more than he has the last couple of years, but we want him to keep the physical part of his game," Murray said. "I think he can be a 40-goal scorer."
Murray also said he has spent quite a bit of time watching videos -- not only of the Kings but of teams that had success in the playoffs last spring, to get an idea of what those teams did that the Kings might adapt. He has been sketching out tentative lines and defense pairs and was surprisingly bullish on 24-year-old defenseman Davis Drewiske, saying that "coming into training camp this year we have him penciled in as one of our top six guys. The anticipation for me to see him is very high."
More later from the Hockey Fest.
-- Helene Elliott