In the seven-and-a-half years since he arrived in Los Angeles, Dean Lombardi has turned the Kings inside out.
When Lombardi took over as the Kings’ President/General Manager in April of 2006, he found it necessary to import players from winning programs in an effort to change the organization’s culture from the outside in. Now, after a Stanley Cup winning season and a trip to the Western Conference Finals, Lombardi works from the inside out, adding role players to enhance an established program.
The inside group that is developing a winning tradition in Los Angeles will get help from the outside this season, as forwards Matt Frattin and Daniel Carcillo, and goaltender Ben Scrivens are indoctrinated into the culture of Kings.
“We had to move Bernier,” Lombardi says, “which was not a good situation to be in.”
The Kings made the best of bad situation, picking up a forward, a goaltender, and second-round pick in the 2014 or 2015 NHL Draft in exchange for Bernier. While Scrivens, who posted a 7-9 record with a 2.69 goals against average in 20 games for the Leafs last year, has taken over the role vacated by Bernier, Lombardi says getting a goalie back was not a prerequisite in finding a trade partner.
“We were trying to get the most back for the player,” Lombardi says. “But you certainly have to have two NHL goalies and Ben has proven he can play at this level. He has to make the most of it. He is still young and still has upside.”
Scrivens comes to LA as a backup, but his career path has followed a Hall of Fame roadmap: He hails from Spruce Grove, Alta., hometown of Grant Fuhr, and is a graduate of Cornell, the school that produced Ken Dryden. Still, Scrivens says he has made it a point to develop his own style.
“I had a wide array of goalies I liked,” Scrivens says. “The way this guy holds his glove, that guy’s gear. There is a conglomeration of different guys that I have tried to emulate while also being myself.”
The Ivy Leaguer considers himself a student of the game and believes playing behind one of hockey’s premier goaltenders will be another valuable learning experience.
“You have to know your own game,” Scrivens says. “But at the same time, it never hurts to watch a world class athlete and Quickie is definitely that. He is a Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup winner. He knows how to win and get the job done. It doesn’t always have to be a technical thing you pick up. It can be a game day routine or how he carries himself. When getting here I was really looking forward to picking his brain and learning from a guy who knows how to win.”
That makes Scrivens a Quick study. But he has always been a good learner.
“One of my favorite quotes,” Scrivens says, “is ‘the more you know, the more you know you don’t know.’ I like to approach my own game in an analytical sense. I like to do things logically, things that make sense to me. You are always learning, always trying to pick up one more trick and add one more save to your game, and eliminate one more goal, no matter how you do it.”
Frattin, the other player obtained in the Bernier deal, has been on the Kings’ radar as far back as his days as a Hobey Baker Award finalist at the University of North Dakota in 2011.
“We had our eye on him for quite a while,” Lombardi says. “We saw a lot of him going back to when he was at North Dakota. Like a lot of young players, he is still rounding out his game. He has a lot of things you can’t teach. He needs to prove he can play at this level. The puck finds him, he has a great release.”
Frattin’s own assessment of his game is simple and straightforward.
“I like shooting and I like scoring goals,” he says.
Frattin arrives as more of a known entity after scoring a combined 15 goals and 28 points in 82 games for Toronto over the past three seasons.
“I have played in the league for two-plus years now and I feel like I can play at this level,” Frattin says. “I made it a point to get here three weeks before camp to get settled in and get to know some of the guys.”
Although Frattin only saw the Kings twice while playing in the Eastern Conference, he says his new team is recognized league-wide for playing with an edge.
“The Kings have a reputation for being Boston West,” Frattin says. “They are fast, physical and hard to play against.”
Frattin is no stranger to hard work. His family owns two Italian bakeries in Edmonton and Frattin has never been shy about taking a shift.
“I used to help out and I did it because I wanted to,” Frattin says. “They have Cannoli’s, and all the pastries, and meats and cheeses. It is definitely something I am proud to be a part of.”
Carcillo, who once hosted a radio show called “The Bomb Shelter” on WGN Radio 720 in Chicago, plays with explosive energy and has never been the type to get lost on the perimeter. He came to Los Angeles from Chicago, where he was a member of last year’s Stanley Cup champions. The feisty Carcillo enhances the Kings’ brand as a team that plays hard.
“He is an agitator,” Lombardi says. “He is not afraid. He doesn’t start something and then leave; this kid is all in. He can play with good players. He played with (Mike) Richards and (Jeff) Carter in Philadelphia, and he played with (Jonathan) Toews and (Patrick) Kane in Chicago. It’s a good way to improve our team.”
As traditional enforcers become an endangered species, players who can both mix it up and put the puck in the net have added value. Carcillo believes he is the kind of player who can provide a physical presence without being a liability.
“I have always prided myself on being offensive,” says Carcillo, who had a career-high 13 goals for Phoenix in 2007-08. “I was offensive before I was a fighter. You see the fighting slowing down and now you have to play with the same toughness but you have to be able to play some and skate a bit. But you can still stick up for your teammates when it’s necessary.”
Carcillo says he feels healthy again after a right knee injury limited him to 23 regular season games and four playoff games last season.
“I am getting my game back after the lockout and the injury. I had a long layoff. It’s really exciting to be here. I feel like myself again.”
“It’s a great opportunity and nice to be reunited with guys I have played with in Richie and Carter,” Carcillo says. “We were close in Philly. I am ready for any role they want me to play. Regardless of what line I am on, I approach the game with the same energy and work ethic.”
That gig moonlighting as a DJ suggests there is more to Carcillo than brawn.
“It was a lot of fun,” Carcillo says. “It was different and had nothing to do my job. I am really into music. I am into learning the business, seeing what it takes to bring a band up. Hockey is a gateway.”
As the puck has dropped on the 2013-14 season, Carcillo (13 games – one GW goal), Frattin (16 games – four points) and Scrivens (a shutout and a 1.98 GAA) are now learning what it means to be a King.
From the inside out.
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