Blake, whose name has circulated in the rumour mill for almost a month now, clarified his position in an interview Friday. He said that at this juncture, he and Kings general manager Dean Lombardi had not spoken about the possibility of him waiving his own no-trade clause to go to a contender as a rental at the deadline.
"It's never been agreed that I'd waive my no-trade and I've never been approached about it," said Blake. "I don't know where that started, but I knew it would eventually creep in, given my situation."
However, Blake did not rule out the possibility of moving at the deadline, if Lombardi pitched the idea to him.
"I don't know how I'd approach it," said Blake. "My philosophy was to come back here and remain a King for the rest of my career.
Unfortunately, when you get in last place, things do change. I haven't really sat down with Lombardi and spoke to him, but I'm sure that's something that will happen in the next little while — that we're going to sit down and discuss what the future holds.
"Obviously, you think about it, but until it happens, I don't know what I'd do in that situation."
Blake, who is still averaging more than 22 ½ minutes of playing time per night, would be a huge upgrade for any number of teams seeking a skilled, physical presence on defence. Beyond his role in mentoring Kings rookie defenceman Jack Johnson, coach Marc Crawford says Blake has been an effective player for the team, "especially in the last two months.
"He's playing just terrific. He's getting lots of shots. His shot totals are way up. When Rob plays, when he's looking to shoot and looking to jump up in the play, that's when I feel he's at his best. Defensively, he's played very physically this year as well. Most of guys, as they get up in years, they recognize it takes a little more out of them to play the physical role. But Rob's physical game has been way higher than it was last year. I think he's feeling good about his body too. He had the off-season surgery for his hip, the labrum problem. For him, he's skating better and I think he's feeling better.
Those things, all in combination, are giving us high-end, quality play from Rob. He's been a pleasure to be around this year for sure."
As for the Kings' goals in the short term, Blake suggested: "It's an important stretch for us to get competitive down the stretch, even if we fall out of the race. We've got the majority of our team, 25 and under, playing pretty well, but they haven't played in a playoff game. They need that experience. Pittsburgh last year played great, got in the playoffs - and that experience is really going to help them this year.
"Unfortunately, we don't have that situation.
If you can’t beat them, Rob…
Also is it fate that earlier in this article the writer only specifically mentioned two players that waived their no-trade clauses last season (Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque)?
Blake’s long been a west coast guy but he’s also very familiar with Darryl Sydor (his teammate in LA from 1992-1996) and Mario (who played with Blake on Canada’s gold medal team in 2002) and probably vets like Roberts and who could help sway his opinion to join up with the Penguins. The Penguins, for their part, could sure use a physical defenseman with an all around game.