Q & A with Rob Laird
LAKings.com: What are your thoughts on the Kings’ performance this season?
Laird: From a personal standpoint, it was a real enjoyable year. The Kings were pretty much in the playoff hunt from day one. That was our goal last season, to make the playoffs. So when you’re a scout going to games and you’re looking at scores and getting reports after the game and you’re winning, it gives you a little bit more bounce in your step cause we’re rooting for the team every night and it’s nice to see the results. Certainly the results were there for the Kings last year and in Manchester.
LAKings.com: As a pro scout, you see games at both the NHL and AHL level throughout the season. How did the Kings prospects look in Manchester this season?
Laird: As part of my job, I see every team in the American Hockey League. We’re all a little biased on our own teams but I truly believe we have the deepest group of prospects in Manchester; guys capable of playing in the National Hockey League someday. It certainly bodes well for both Manchester and LA in the coming years. We’re all optimistic.
LAKings.com: Were you surprised at the Monarchs playoff run this season; going to the Eastern Conference Final?
Laird: Not so much. There was a little hick-up late in the season but Mark Morris and his staff got it together. And with Jonathan Bernier leading the way, I know a hot goalie can take you a long way. I watched a lot of the series with Texas and Hershey. I thought we probably had a better chance of upsetting Hershey and we came very close there; and with a much younger team. I think we’re real proud of our guys and what they accomplished in Manchester. Next year, everybody’s going to be a year older and should be more competitive.
LAKings.com: It’s been four years since Dean Lombardi took the reigns of the Kings, where do you see the organization right now?
Laird: I see us as the next Chicago Blackhawks! I watched the Stanley Cup playoffs this year and I’ve always kept track of the average age of the Stanley Cup winners. Chicago’s average age was 26 and a half, and by far that is the youngest team to win the Stanley Cup in the last decade. That’s how long I’ve been checking it. But I don’t know if there’s ever been a younger team than the Hawks. That’s kind of the path we’ve been taking. Our young guys are getting better and we should be coming of age around the corner. Whether it’s two or three years, we all feel if we keep working on this thing, we can get there.
LAKings.com: This week, the Kings recent Draft picks will be in Development Camp but you’re going to be more focused on free agency which begins on July 1. What’s your role for the organization this week and the weeks to come?
Laird: First of all, it’s nice to come out here. We’re having all three things together: the Draft, then the Development Camp and then free agency of course. That’s basically our job as a pro staff with Steve Greeley and Alyn McCauley. We were watching these guys all season long, all the free agents. Then we continued to do video in the summer time. We ranked them by position. We ranked them by age. We ranked them any which way we can. Then, depending on what our needs are with the Kings, we’re going to try to sort this out. There’s a few holes we’d like to fill and hopefully we can make our team stronger within the next week.