About these ads

LA Kings Dean Lombardi Answers His Critics

The following is the first in a series about Los Angeles Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi, his rebuilding plan and how it is being received by fans.


EL SEGUNDO, CA — The 2008 off-season has been a relatively quiet one for the Los Angeles Kings. To be sure, outside of the 2008 National Hockey League Entry Draft in June in which they selected, according to most pundits and hockey media outlets, one of the strongest draft classes, the Kings have been virtually silent in terms of free agent signings and trades.

Indeed, the Kings have a defensive corps that has just three veteran players in Tom Preissing, Denis Gauthier and Matt Greene, with the rest being very young players, including Jack Johnson and Peter Harrold. Add to that the fact that the number six and seven spots could be filled from a crop of young prospects, including Drew Doughty and Thomas Hickey, and it becomes clear that experience is not going to be the strong suit of the Kings’ defensive unit in the coming season.

Clearly, unless the Kings can add another veteran defenseman to that mix—they are definitely in the market—they will be awfully inexperienced, not to mention that while some have a boatload of potential, none of the blue liners currently in the lineup jump out at you as being top-notch defensemen on a team that gave up goals in bunches last season.

The fact that the Kings do not have what many would consider to be an NHL-caliber blue line corps at present is among the many reasons Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi has had to don a flak jacket and helmet while trying to dodge heavy incoming fire from a very vocal segment of fans who are absolutely livid about the current state of the franchise, and that would be putting it mildly.

Another reason for the heavy criticism is the overall lack of veteran talent throughout the lineup as of this writing.

“Too high risk,” said Santa Barbara and Bakersfield, California resident Michael Simpson about Lombardi’s plan to go with a youth movement. “He once said that the team should have a combination from young players to old veterans. He seems to be fully committed to young players, who may or may not be successful.”

“The Kings do not have [Evgeni] Malkin or [Sidney] Crosby, where you can bet everything,” added Simpson, 50, a season ticket holder since 2000 who did not renew his seats for the coming season in protest. “[Anze] Kopitar is good, but not even close to the [Pittsburgh] Penguins players. Unfortunately, Crosby is a one-in-a-generation player, so the Penguins can make a strategy that won’t work for the Kings. But it really looks like Lombardi is copying him.”

“Only a novice would go one hundred percent youth and have no NHL quality veterans to guide them in their development,” said Tustin Ranch, California resident Charles Emerson, 39, who has been a Kings fan for 31 years. “No team relies one hundred percent on the development of their youth in order to achieve some future success. There has to be a balance and it is ridiculous if the Kings and Lombardi expect any fans with a clue who have watched this disaster of a team for years, [to] buy into this latest idea without showing at least some sort of commitment to the current team.”

And after years and years of mediocrity, the Kings also have a credibility problem.

“I am not convinced that Lombardi is doing anything to improve the product on the ice currently and this strategy he is implementing is risky in that there is no balance between current and future talent,” Emerson lamented. “Fans are expected to just sit and hope the prospects pan out and if they don’t then we will have to cross that bridge when we get there?”

“That is asking a lot from a loyal fan base that has seen this team do nothing of note for years and talk is cheap,” Emerson fumed. “Why should we believe them when they have flip-flopped over and over again? What’s to say they won’t do it again in two years if this strategy doesn’t pan out?”

Indeed, because of the credibility issue, some fans want to see more transparency, especially with the team floundering.

“[Lombardi’s] biggest gaff since coming to Los Angeles is not trusting Kings fans,” said Bruce Cameron, 60, of Sherman Oaks, California, a Kings fan since 1981. “He’s never been straight with us, and that’s cost him. There ain’t a lot of us, but we few, we happy few are not hockey dolts either. Had he come out and said, ‘look fans, here’s the deal and here’s how we’re gonna get from point A to point K. We’re gonna suck badly for two or three seasons, but with the good kids we’re going after, it’ll be a whole new game on the ice by the end of the process.’ He never did that. I for one, and I can’t be alone in this, resent his distrust a lot.”

“I have found that Lombardi has been less than candid about the road map for the Kings,” said David Willis, 34, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who has followed the Kings closely for twenty years. “During the weeks following his hiring, he claimed a time frame of three years with a ‘retooling’ process. Now, two years later, it appears that a new philosophy is in place, but Lombardi has not outlined this new approach, nor given a revised time frame. He suggested that the Kings would be competitive in three years. While it is unclear whether he meant competitive during the third year or competitive in year four, it is clear now that the Kings are unlikely to make the playoffs not just in 2008-09, but also in 2009-10.”

“It is hard to ask a fan base who has suffered like the Kings to remain faithful if the general manager cannot articulate a cohesive strategy to build the franchise into a perennial powerhouse.”

THE FAITHFUL

As it is with most debates, especially on World Wide Web sites and forums, the disgruntled are far more vocal than the rest, and this is exactly the case for Lombardi and the Kings. Nevertheless, they do have their supporters.

“Now that we are truly in full rebuild mode, I hope the organization sees it through,” said 30-year-old Keith Korneluk of Los Angeles, a season seat holder who is co-host of the popular fan podcast, KingsCast. “The Los Angeles Kings have never done this before. They’ve never stripped the team to the core and try and build something special. If it doesn’t work out, hey, at least we tried it. After this, we will have tried everything.”

“As fans, we have to trust the pro here,” added Korneluk. “We have to believe. That doesn’t mean we cannot express our distaste for poor on-ice performance but I think the fans calling Lombardi an idiot and demanding his resignation before his plan is fully executed are shortsighted fools.”

Some long-time fans are rejoicing in the fact that the Kings are finally rebuilding through the draft.

“I still support Lombardi one hundred percent,” said Patrick Schroeder, 53, of Prescott, Arizona, a Kings fan for 38 years. “No one is perfect, but the future of this franchise has never looked brighter. And I’m talking orders of magnitude. I used to peruse the Kings list of prospects and just shake my head. Now, the list is, in my opinion, the best in all of hockey. Lombardi is controlling and doing very well with the things he can control. He can’t control what, for example, Brooks Orpik is thinking or feeling. If Lombardi is allowed to finish this construction project, LA hockey fans will be the ultimate beneficiaries.”

“I support the youth movement,” added Schroeder. “Historically, most successful franchises have built from within. They have drafted young players and brought them through their systems. Remembering the [Los Angeles] Dodgers, they had a period where they had something like five rookies of the year in succession. That kind of franchise building typically translates to winning, and on occasion, despite all of the variables, the brass ring.”

“I think that the Kings have never really been serious about rebuilding or even developing their young prospects,” said season seat holder Benjamin Ing, 46, of Los Angeles. “Too many ownership groups in the past were more concerned about filling seats and star power than actually trying to win games or championships. Even [former Kings owner] Bruce McNall was more into bringing in the best player of the league so that he could be ‘the cool kid’ than he was about trying to build the best team possible.”

“It is much more difficult to risk losing your fan base through a rebuilding phase than simply signing name players to fool them into thinking that the team is getting better,” added Ing. “Hockey is a team game and very few teams have had any success in simply signing the big-name players to win. To win in the NHL requires commitment from everyone on the team to play their role and unless the big names are willing to come in and play down their egos to contribute to the team, they aren’t going to be all that effective. By going the full rebuild route, Lombardi is trying to develop a culture where kids are branded and have loyalty to the ‘name on the front.’ Too many players that go for unrestricted free agency are simply doing so to help the ‘name on the back.’”

Ing emphasized the core building that Lombardi is focusing on.

“I think that this team will not be successful until it has a strong core,” said Ing. “I can only think of one or two seasons when the Kings have even looked like they were building a strong core of players and it was always abandoned after a season or two. As a matter of fact, one of those times was immediately prior to when Wayne Gretzky was brought in and I believe that it could be argued that the Kings may have been better off simply continuing the course that they were on with a young, exciting, up and coming team rather than chucking it all to bring in Gretzky, sacrificing the youth that they had been building and try to win while Gretzky was in his prime.”

“I admire Lombardi for sticking to his guns and staying with the plan of short term sacrifice for long term success, because he is the first manager in the history of this franchise to do so, even against mounting pressure and unending criticism by Kings fans,” added Ing.

Naturally, some are wavering a bit in their support.

“I definitely still support Lombardi’s youth movement, but it seems like he’s stripping away the roster of anyone in their 30’s or above,” said Connie Kim, 26, of Redondo Beach, California, a season seat holder and publisher of the blog, A Queen Among Kings. “I don’t doubt the talent of the kids. I’d just feel a little more comfortable if the veteran pieces were a little more exciting than Michal Handzus and Tom Preissing.”

“I was one hundred percent on board [prior to the trade that sent Lubomir Visnovsky to the Edmonton Oilers on June 29 in exchange for center Jarret Stoll and defenseman Matt Greene],” added Kim. “This week, I’m eighty percent on board. The trading of Visnovsky and releasing of [defenseman Rob] Blake [Blake actually signed with the San Jose Sharks as an unrestricted free agent] really turned me off to this ‘vision.’ I think if [Lombardi] stays on the path he’s on by completely getting rid of the veteran presence with no wins to show for it he’s not going to find himself under Kings employment for much longer. I thought out of all the veterans, the Kings would have wanted to retain Visnovsky and Blake. Now that these two are gone, I can see Lombardi doing just about anything except for trading away the top prospects.”

KEEP THE FAITH

During an interview with Frozen Royalty following his Breakfast with the GM event in which he fielded questions from season seat holders on Saturday morning, September 8, Lombardi’s message, which he also closed with at the breakfast, was “keep the faith.”

Indeed, he showed a chart to season seat holders that showed the Kings’ draft history and how so many first-round picks were traded away and became stars for other teams, including legendary defenseman Raymond Bourque and several others. In short, Lombardi made a rock solid case for the fact that the Kings traded away their future over the years—they never actually tried to build their team the right way—through the draft.

“I could go into the whole philosophy, but I love reading history and I think that’s the way you learn,” said Lombardi. “I’ve just been fascinated [by the Kings history]. It was one of the issues when I decided to come here—why there’s never been a [Stanley] Cup, and then when I got here I talked to people like [Philadelphia Flyers’ Senior Vice President] Bobby Clarke about where that identity comes from. I talked to some of the old [New York] Islanders like Bill Torrey. I just started studying it and I was shocked that the first first-round pick to play for the Kings was [defenseman] Jay Wells, and that’s twelve years after the first draft [for the Kings]. That’s unbelievable, unprecedented.”

“I broke [down the history of the Kings] into the four segments and why they haven’t won the Cup and it all came back to what I believe in, it just reinforced what I believe in,” added Lombardi. “That’s the only thing I can tell the fans. I think I’ve told the story, I met with six or seven of them. I was sitting there and the passion—one [frustrated fan] said, ‘I know…I know this is the right thing to do, but I can’t take it anymore! It’s been forty years!’”

“These people have probably all heard it all—the sales pitches or whatever,” Lombardi continued. “The only thing I could come up with was the only reason I can tell you to stick with us is that we might get it right this time. And that’s it. Other than that, I don’t know. It just came off naturally because I didn’t know what to say.”

And for those who contend that the Kings need star power to be successful, Lombardi says that philosophy has been part of the Kings’ problems.

“It’s not just to get it right, but you’ve never really tried it this way and I’m so sick of hearing that LA needs stars,” he lamented. “You know what? I haven’t seen a star since I’ve been here. I see blue collar working people. When I come to work, there’s construction workers and everybody else with honest jobs who want a winner. So I don’t buy this whole stuff that LA needs stars. Maybe if you want to attract Hollywood stars, but the real fans just want a winner.”

“I think that whole thing where it’s ‘let’s get off the plan [because] we’ve got to give these people a star,’ I think its one of the roots of where we’re at,” he added. “Just build a winner and when you build a winner you’re going to have stars. But to go out and get stars without the idea of winning, if you put that before the horse, I think you end up with that problem.”

THE ILLUSION OF YOUTH

One thing that is not going to sit well at all with Lombardi’s critics is that it is going to take longer than three years to turn the Kings around.

“We weren’t young, first off,” said Lombardi. “Just look at the numbers. Secondly, how were we going to get younger and put the core together? You had to go to the draft table. That’s why you see we had fifteen picks. I would’ve taken twenty. We’ve got to get this thing stockpiled. Tell me another way. You weren’t young, but now you’re going to start.”

“I think what I said was that—and this gets lost—three years is when you’re going to start getting young and this is the first year we’re going to start,” Lombardi explained. “We had the illusion of youth with our best players, but our average age was 25th in the league. That’s not a young team.”

“If [center prospect Brian] Boyle and [right wing prospect Teddy] Purcell and [defenseman Peter] Harrold and maybe one of the other kids makes the step that’s four guys that go in, the average age starts to drop,” Lombardi elaborated. “Now you’ve got guys who’ve come through your system and now you can at least try to get younger.”

“I think there’s a misnomer there, there was nothing to get young with unless you were going to pull Boyle out of school,” said Lombardi. “I don’t know what else we could’ve done to get younger because you can’t get young free agents. So how you are going to get younger? You have to buy time. And that’s what I’m looking for.”

Lombardi pointed to his experience with the Sharks as an example.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be exactly like San Jose, but once we had it stabilized [there], when I had more there to work with, infrastructure-wise and reserve list, we got younger every year and better every year,” he emphasized.

“I don’t think we need to go that long because it’s different pre-lockout, but it is the same theory,” he added. “The one thing there, I was able to start getting younger in year two, versus I think this is the first time we can start getting younger and it’s going to continue. The point is to not just get younger this year, but keep those guys coming and maybe next year it’s two or three. But get these three or four in the lineup and they show they’re NHL players where I can look at next summer and put’em in a box [on a chart] and say Boyle’s a bona fide number three center or Purcell has already showed me he can get in that two box or Doughty, no question he’s going to be up here. That’s the type of progress that gets you excited. Now let’s get three more in the lineup.”

So now that we know the plan is longer than three years, has the plan changed from when he started with the Kings back in April, 2006?

“Underneath, the plan has never changed,” said Lombardi. “The free agency gives you the illusion of bigger names. The big test was this summer, not trading those picks this year because I could’ve traded Doughty, I had opportunities to pick up a player with the [Colten] Teubert pick, and then late in the second, we picked up a player [Brad Richardson], but even he’s a 1987-born. That tells me that it’s not what you say, it’s what you do—[ownership was] still committed to doing this type of thing.”

Despite all that, one has to wonder how many fans the Kings might lose by the time Lombardi’s plan comes to fruition.

“I like the youth, it’s refreshing compared to the older rosters who are in contention presently but may not be in two years,” said Kim. “I feel that we’ll have less of a turnover rate once we get all the homegrown talent in LA. But I can’t help to keep the thought in the back of my mind of how once Dean Lombardi got his roster together in San Jose, he left the organization, [then] they made a trade for Joe Thornton, and then they really hit the upper echelon of the league. Are the Kings going to have to wait a couple more years to really be in contention?”

Good question. And you can read more about Lombardi and his thoughts about his team, his plan, what the fans think and more in the next installment, to be published on Tuesday, September 9 or Wednesday, September 10.


Creative Commons License Frozen Royalty by Gann Matsuda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Frozen Royalty – Licensing and Copyright Information.

Frozen Royalty’s Comment Policies

About these ads

28 Responses to LA Kings Dean Lombardi Answers His Critics

  1. Good job as always, Gann. Looking forward to hearing the interview as you beat Deano into submission!

  2. Gann Matsuda says:

    Actually, Lombardi is straightforward and quite forthcoming, a far cry from Dave Taylor, who would talk but never say anything. Great guy, but he kept everything very close to the vest. Compared to Taylor, Lombardi is an open book. And, very clearly, he’s not going to BS you or lie to you, as some claim. It’s just not his style. He may not tell you something because it’s not in his best interests, but if that’s the case, he’ll tell you. Otherwise, he’ll give you chapter and verse.

  3. An Astute Observer says:

    Deano didn’t have to trade any picks or young prospects in order to acquire a free agent (or three) who could have kept this team competitive for the 3-4 years it will take for Doughty, Teubert, Hickey and Voinov to develop into legitimate NHL players.

    Instead, he is going to wind up throwing those guys into the frying pan before they are ready, with little veteran presence to cover their mistakes and help boost their confidence. This could hurt their development, and is exactly what DL knows (and has said repeatedly) should NOT be done.

  4. FroFan says:

    What the heck does “[keep] this team competitive” even mean? A few first or 2nd round playoff exits, and an even longer wait for true respectibility because (OOPS!) we traded away more picks or prospects for the stop-gap vets?

    No thanks. Stay the course, Dean!

  5. rob says:

    The ducks did not strip down their team and wait on a whole bunch of prospects.

    They got lucky in 2003, found a franchise goalie which was the start of the foundation. They had some good work done by Dave McNab and the scouting department, along with some good trades and signings, and they’ve gone deep into the playoffs and have won a cup.

    Getzlaf and Perry were not high picks, they found Andy McDonald, Chris Kunitz and Dustin Penner as undrafted FA’s, they rebuilt their defense…but they always had the one key element needed…goaltending.

    until the kings get a franchise goaltender they will always be somewhere in the middle.

  6. DIEHARD the King Fan says:

    DL has said many times befoer, including in that small meeting with just a few season ticket holders that you don’t rush kids you have to season them in the minors. But now thosekids wil be thrown to the wolves, sink or swim. didnt work out well for Chara, it set him back and even Phaneuf had to go back down (to the minors) when he was brought up too soon. Cammy was home grown and wanted to stay, but the real issue, with this owners group has always been money. They wouldn’t pay it to Cammy so he’s gone. They over extended on Lubo, Gone. But they will overpay a Handzus or a Nagy or a Cloutier and McCauley and now we are paying for it because AEG has imposed an internal cap that means we wont have any real (read talented) veteran leadership to teach these kids how to play.

    You can call a dog a cat, but its still a dog, and this team will not compete for several more years, and then only if all the kids pan out.

    This is hockey on the cheap brought to you by AEG and their current Shill, Dean Lombardi!

  7. Bob Bobson says:

    I think Dean may be struggling with finding the right balance of youth and veterans while keeping the team under AEG’s budget. I agree with the concern we may be throwing kids into the fire. What is the point of having all this youth if all you will do is set them up to fail ? That being said, I am glad to hear they are still looking for a veteran defenseman but I only hope we do not have to give up too much to get him. In a best case scenario, maybe we can allow a team to dump salary on us and we can get a pick in compensation.

  8. Mrbrett7 says:

    When will people get this about the Ducks?

    They were horrific for years. They drafted well for years and many of those players played on their championship team (Perry, Getzlaf, Penner who was an undrafted FA signee, Phalsson who is probably the best defensive forward in the NHL). They had Pronger fall into their laps because they were able to trade other DRAFTED ASSETS, Niedermeyer came to them ONLY because of his brother (that’s the two best defensemen in the NHL basically coming without any effort), they got the world for Fedorov (Columbus are fools)…

    Now…now look at them…their farm system is downtrodden, they have nothing left in the tank, they can only replace with free agents, nothing coming up through the system, and they actually need to trade some away right now because they are OVER the cap.

    Everyone is frustrated, EVERYONE wants to win…BUYING CUPS DO NOT WORK, HAS NEVER WORKED, AND WILL NEVER WORK. Deal with it, learn it, live it, embrace it…now just move the hell on already…jesus…

  9. gumlegs says:

    DIEHARD the Kings fan has hit the nail on the head. First and foremost this is “hockey on the cheap brought to you by AEG “. I fully support DL’s stated goal of rebuilding the kings through the infusion of young and relatively cheap talent. Unfortunately, the only aspect of rebuilding that AEG has demonstratively embraced is its relative short term value. What can we expect if and when the young talent is no longer so young and no longer cheap? Will AEG then open up its purse strings to keep the talent in the organization or treat them as it did Cammi? Now is the time to find out. If AEG is serious about rebuilding it needs sign Kopitar, Frolov and Johnson, etc to long term contract extensions now. This would free up salary cap room in future years due to the “averaging” of salaries for the purpose of determining the cap hit for any given year and demonstrate it is sincere about rebuilding. In the hockey world the Kings can easily absorb the increased Cap hit this year and next year without any problem and leave the Kings with increased room to maneuver when the Kings are more competitive. In the hokey world of AEG such sincere rebuilding efforts would cost money and violate its internal Cap and therefore are not allowed.

  10. JDM says:

    Bringing in 3-4 young players when you have 15 or so quality prospects in the system is not “rushing the kids” The few who are the most ready will get their chances and the rest will still be in juniors or Manchester. It’s like because Doughty and Bernier may be in the line-up people assume all of the prospects are getting rushed. Seriously, Manchester and Ontario will still be full of quality prospects paying their dues and gaining tons of experienced. Boyle is ready, payed his dues. Purcell had as good a year as you can have in the AHL and isn’t a 18 or 19 year old child. Johnson came in at 19 or 20, I forget and proved he can handle the pressure, even if he had some off nights. Bernier has some NHL experience and probably could use some more AHL experience, but if he’s the best goalie we have in camp, how is it rushing him if he beats out Labs who has played NHL hockey for a few years? Doughty was proclaimed NHL ready before the Kings ever drafted him. Hickey will probably be in juniors, Tuebert most surely will. Moulson is ready. Meckler, Lewis, Parse, Moller, Simmonds will all see more junior and AHL development.

    How again are we throwing all ours kids to the wolves?

  11. bcamnla says:

    First. Gann: Excellent work. Thanks for hanging in there to get this interview. Second. “I think what I said was that—and this gets lost—three years is when you’re going to start getting young and this is the first year we’re going to start,” Lombardi explained. Yes – I’d have to say that policy statement got lost. I don’t think I remember ever hearing it. There are a lot of smart, attentive Kings hockey fans, and I can’t recall any of them picking up on that prediction. Third. The past is gone. What was a 3 year plan is now a 5 year plan. Yes, we will move onward, but maybe not forward.

  12. accustat says:

    hey scribbles, where’d you find those cranky crackpots in the first half dozen paragraph… oh wait, nevermind.

    always, a thorough job.

  13. KingzzFan says:

    DIHARD, Where do you get your information from, Cammy never has any intentions of staying in La. He made that clear when he went to arbitration. We are a better team without his look at me and what I did attitude.

    JDM, Right on, how are kids who have done their time and ready for the NHL being thrown into the fire? You need to get the facts before you make outlandish statements that make fans look like ignorant fans.

    There are a hand full of (so called) Kings fans all over these sites that do nothing but stirr the pot making it seem like we’re all unhappy with what’s going on with our Kings. Not so, I’m here to tell you that we understand the rebuild, we understand it will take time and we understand it will make us competitive for years to come. Are we tired or waiting? yes. have we been duped by the rebuild for years and years? Yes. But we have never seen anything like this in Kings History and it is exciting to see somebodt actually had the b@lls to do exactly what they promised to do.

    I’m behind DL all the way and am excited about the future.

    GO KINGS

  14. Connie says:

    Great job, Gann.

    JDM – Amen.

  15. Pingback: It’s A Matter Of Trust For Lombardi, Kings, AEG « Frozen Royalty

  16. cristobal says:

    great prospects. who annointed all the kings watchers scouts? constant crowing about the “great future” and the depth of prospects is merely fooling oneself about the lack of quality on the team. zeilers two years and 4 points attest to how staggeringly awful this team is. add to that the list of injured and overpriced free agents and one thing is clear – Dean Lombardi does not know what he is doing.

    all the buddy buddy talk in the world won’t make all these young guys productive NHLers. can the cornball friends routine, be a leader, and DEMAND excellence. the Kings don’t need a NICE GM.

  17. Gann Matsuda says:

    Have to interject here…if you’re questioning the credentials of those who you disagree with, what makes you more qualified than they are? Do you work as an NHL scout or general manager?

    This is not actually aimed at any specific person. I just want to point out that no one should be making such statements because you’re really in the same position as the rest of us, if you think about it. Just because you believe that you’re right doesn’t mean that you are, or that you know more than the next person.

    We would all do well to keep that in mind.

  18. triplcrown says:

    We definitely do need to add a veteran D-man (Carney?) to stabilize our 1st 2 pair. A vet left side D-man could pair with Preissing for a solid 2nd pair.

    1st pair would be JMFJ and DOUGHTY—Young as they are, they are not ordinary players; I say, throw’em in there against the NHL’s best, & let our own Talent, Youth, Blood and Sweat take over.

    JMFJ/DD will be the NHL’s premier defensive pair in 3 years, maybe less.

    So let’s make it less.

    Plus, we’ve got some other rookie talent that is ready to make the step up besides Doughty—Boyle, Moulson, maybe Purcell, possibly even Hickey.

    Enough talent is there to hold the fort this year and improve vastly from there, as the coming years bring Teubert, Voinov, Simmonds, Moller, etc etc

    The real secret will be Team Spirit and CHEMISTRY.

    We haven’t had much of either the last few years.

    If THAT changes, whether due to Murray, or other factors as well, then fear not, fellow Kings fans—The talent we have is enough!

    The most precious thing for us is…to find our own holy grail of Team CHEMISTRY.

  19. cristobal says:

    I’m not saying I’m more qualified Gann. I’m just pointing out what Dean Lombardi’s teams have done over the past 2 years. If we have such great talent just waiting to go, why was Zeiler playing last year? If we have such talent ready to go, why is there a need to focus on playing defense, instead of puck control like Detroit? Of course I don’t work as a scout, but I can take a look at the standings, and since Lombardi came in, he’s had 4 great young players blossom – Kopitar, Frolov, Brown, and Cammalleri – but they have had little help. He also had a darn good player in Visnovsky. Lombardi is the one who decided to get rid of Conroy, Sopel, Garon, Corvo, Demitra, Gleason, and Belanger. If they were so horrible, why hadn’t the Kings had a pick higher than 11th since Jokinen? If we’re better without them, why are we looking at the bottom of the league 2 years in a row with the overexpenditures on Cloutier, McCauley, Thornton, Handzus, Nagy, Calder, and Preissing, (not to mention Crawford) with the looming threat of Stoll having possibly another struggling year? I think its diversion to bring up drafts from the 70′s and 80′s when Lombardi has inherited greatness in Kopitar, and incredible players like Brown, Cammalleri, and Visnovsky.

    Just because I believe I am right doesn’t mean I know more than the next guy, but why don’t you criticize others for a rosy outlook? Why are others allowed to say we have great prospects, and that the future looks bright? They have no proof. All we’ve seen so far is Bernier get shellacked in his first stint as a pro. What if that happens with Doughty this year? Where will we turn?

    Alexei Lalas was fond of overstating the quality of both the Galaxy and MLS. He knew, as did others, that he was only buying attention and publicity by talking nonsense. It seems to me that Lombardi is up to the same business.

    As far as the STAR business goes…I don’t think for a second that his job is in jeopardy if the Kings get a superstar and are selling merchandise like crazy. Ownership wanted Jagr when the team was first bought, and they’d love to have the next Crosby or Ovechkin more than anything. I wouldn’t doubt that is the goal. Beckham for the Galaxy, Tavares for the Kings. It is likely the only way they’ll actually spend to the REAL cap, not their internal one.

    Finally, the things I keep hearing don’t seem to be true. Lombardi again spoke of San Jose and the youth movement, but the young players that worked in with the team – Stuart, Cheechoo, and Marleau – were playing alongside veterans Ricci,Graves, Marchment, McClaren, Damphousse, McGillis, and Selanne. Has he spoken about the mistakes he made in San Jose and the lessons he’s learned from them? I haven’t heard it if he has. I’ve heard him say that he’s regretful about not doing it “his” way from the start. Well, who’s way was he doing it, and why?

    I don’t doubt that Lombardi will have some success with his draftees. He was able to find a few good players in San Jose. But if you look at how he did it, there were few successful picks outside of the top 3 overall draftchoices. Sturm, Cheechoo, and Samuelsson are the 3 most successful. that is over a span of 6 years or so. By destroying the team completely, he’s going to get 3 top 3 picks in 3 years.

  20. Gann Matsuda says:

    I felt I had to step in because when you posted your previous comment, that made it two comments posted here (one by you and one by someone else) that criticized other fans for the views they held. IMHO, that is not appropriate, mostly because no one here is qualified to do so. Also, it is rather discourteous, don’t you think?

    Let’s stick to the high road, folks. Criticize the opinion all you want. But keep it on the opinion. There’s no need to target the person or people who holds/hold that opinion.

  21. Robert e Lee says:

    Hear, hear, Great article Gann…loved it. You’re just helping to get me jazzed for the upcoming season!

    To KingzzFan and JDM THANKS FOR SOMEONE FINALLY SHOWING SOME “POSITIVE ENERGY”. Talk is the cheapest human commodity I know of. I agree with the brunt of group that the Kings have finally gotten themselves into a potentially winning situation…and please don’t anyone use the Penguins as a comparison at any level…idiots…the Penguins had so much luck and sucked so bad that they were nearly removed from the city of Pittsburgh during their long stretch of irrelevance! So what if they got about 5 top picks. They won’t be able to keep them in a few years, anyway, once the CAP hits them. So big deal. Same thing goes for Tampa Bay and their “Re-building”, ya, right…more like trying to buy their way in. Again, time and the CAP qill bring them down…hard. I not only like DL’s efforts, but the position to be in-as a fan-hearing your GM threatening other teams: “hands off” regarding your top prospects? I love it!

    I’m not asking the faithless to “wait and see” but would like to remind them of some of the great games the Kings played this past season. Ya know, they weren’t as bad as their record attests to and San Jose wasn’t as good as their points represent. The puss way of playing hockey-that allows losers in overtime to retain a point-is the biggest joke I’ve ever seen. I guess anything to placade those who refuse to accept a loss for their team. Gimme a break! Let’s try to remember that great comeback against Dallas, the whip out of the blackhawks…and Nashville…and some other crowning moments in which the team seemed to really come together. Perhaps without “den mother” screaming at them this year, they might actually have the self-confidence to advance a bit more?

    Come on folks, one thing about L.A. fans is that they have grown together with a common: the years of being seen as a laughing stock. They originally laughed at our uniforms (that I really liked), they laughed at our “re-tread” players-some of whom made the hall of fame-they weren’t impressed by our building (and I thought the FORUM totally rocked…and even now, there are those who laugh at a genuine attempt to rebuild the team into [just that]…A TEAM. Let’s give them a chance. With 31 days to go until opening day, if you have nothing left to look forward to with the Kings, perhaps you’re ready to take that next step……I hear Kansas City is looking for fans…even a sports franchise <—go get ‘em Tim…

  22. Pingback: Frozen Royalty Audio: Interview with Dean Lombardi « Frozen Royalty

  23. cristobal says:

    robt. e lee – after reading about Lombardi on some of the sites, i was perusing the Kings drafts on the HB boards, and came across this guy – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Young_(ice_hockey)

    I’ve never heard of him, and he seems to have been traded or something, but man, what stats. Do you remember him playing with the Northstars? If so, could you describe him and his play?
    Thanks.

    By the way, despite trading away many picks, there were quite a few good years of drafting in there. Despite trading away the likes of Stevens and Murphy, there were the Nichols, Kennedy’s, Evans, and more. When will the fans give the old GM’s a fair shake? The Kings had many years of playoffs then. I don’t know if the team was fun to watch or not, but they were giving it a go, not just bringing in stars.

    cheers

    ps – Gann, are the rookie camp practices open to the public?

  24. cristobal says:

    Hovik – Read you articles and have to say, “hold on.” Here’s a link with all the Kings drafts:

    http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/draft/teams/dr00006664.html

    I’d hope we took a breath and waited for at least one Lombardi draft pick to actually play the equivalent of half a season before he’s annointed Royalty. If he could have half the success of former GM’s in the draft, I think people would be moving to his compound in French Guiana in no time. Even when the Kings were busy trading for Gretzky, the GM’s team was busy drafting Rob Blake 70th overall. Other great draft picks were Bob Kudelski in a supplemental draft, Alexei Zhitnick, whom I’d love to see don an LA jersey for one more year, and plenty of later round gems like Butch Goring, Dave Taylor (nearly a point per game in around 1,100 games), Billy Smith, and Mark Hardy. I for one would like to thank all the great GM’s in Kings history for giving the Club great heroes like Taylor and Blake. The ownership may not be in the hands of people I like, but the team is full of history they cannot own. Lets hope Lombardi realizes that and SOME of his draftees live up to the legacy of these other greats.

    cheers

  25. Robert e Lee says:

    Hi cristobal,
    Thanks so very much for having posted that site. I just spent over an hour going over it from various angles…the last of which was trying to compare some of the successes/failures versus the coaches/GM’s with the team at the time of the progression/failure per player. It’s strange just how many ways there are to evaluate, re-evaluate and finally ‘play arm-chair-quarterback” when looking at historical figures of any kind-but esp. as they relate to pro. sports.
    One thing stood out, I felt I could kiss the ground Alexander Frolov walks on when reviewing the Kings’ record of drafting Russian players Although both sickening and disheartening, I simply felt gratified that we’ve got him [/"Fro"] and hope he continues to progress throughout his career (in L.A.)!!!!!
    2nd, I was surprised at the length of time it took for those whom we did draft (on average) to actually hit their stride as NHL players…and it seemed to run between 5 and 7 years for those few…those very few…who succeeded. So on that note, I wanted to say this about current management: I am neither indicting nor defending them, but wanted to point out that no matter how good or bad the scouting team might be, there is something innate, something built in to each player, something absolutely personal that no other human being could possibly see or feel until they are in contact with said individuals for a period of time…whatever that something turns out to be with each player drafted, our management team must somehow find it and leverage it, mold it into the players they are looking for for the Kings’ future! I can only think of one man whom the scouts missed, who actually did what had to be done through his own perseverance; and that man was Luc Robitaille. I cannot think of another-at least with the L.A. Kings. I mean, I love hockey-truly-but as a business, there is only so long you can wait for your “product” to develop/come of age. The average life of a coach on the L.A. Kings speaks to the futility of putting one’s eggs in any one players’ basket (if you know what I mean~) So having seen the number of players who ended up succeeding once on other teams only speaks to the nature of the business and the fact that past Kings’ ownership simply could not afford to stick with so many talented kids while they developed. So what am I saying, to tie this to the current situation? I felt a sudden gut-wrench as I realized-looking over the current young group & their stats.-that there really aren’t more than a handful who even have a small chance of making this years’ Kings’ team! I can see that management wants to bring them along quickly, but going from college/the OHL to the WHL to the USHL, etc. and then jumping to the Manchester team is a huge leap. Thus far, few have mastered it. So to then presume they can jump even higher into the NHL and our Kings’ team is simply pushing way to hard. I know that the brunt of us wanted, desperately, to field a potential playoff team this year. We tried threatening via “holding to account” DL on this subject. We have done whatever fans could do, but the obvious point from reading the stats. is that the current team we have is just not gonna be ready for NHL play this year. We are a few players short of a solid enough roster to even be considered competitive.
    Now with that said, I remain thrilled with the possibilities in the future, but it appears many of the past few years’ choices were aimed at keeping competitive teams in the minor leagues…smaller shorter, lighter weight, speedier, agile guys with lots of potential but in need of heavy bulking, thousands of hours of game time, a few million tons of NHL confidence and one helluva coach who understands these fellows also need a parent-away-from-home to help guide them on the right track.
    I would love to be wrong on this subject, but 40+ years of watching, always watching has left me with this to ponder…
    Cristobal, I was reading that other thing about Tim Young, and I swear to you, I cannot for the life of me remember his career…and he had some real respectable numbers too? And I definitely remember the brunt of the North Stars players? My liking them began with their cool uniforms when I was a youngster. It also brought to mind one of the saddest hockey incidents to have taken place the year our teams came into existence because one of the players involved later ended up playing for L.A….briefly..I will close leaving all of you to guess who/whom the player was and whom the incident involved ;-) All right…two hints…Jan. 13th, 1968…and a major trophy was named for this fallen hero to the hockey world of hard work and perseverance!!! But good luck in figuring out the name of the Kings player…and no fair calling Bob Miller for an answer (I’ll bet he wouldn’t remember anyway…”Jiggs” would!)
    GO KINGS!!!

  26. cristobal says:

    robt. e lee – I had never heard the story…I found this article on the good site Hockeybuzz…

    http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?post_id=4812

    It makes me think of the Malarchuk and Zednik injuries and how lucky, fortunate, and blessed these two are to have survived. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the news of zednik’s incident. I just cannot believe the great skill and preparedness of the trainers and medical staff in these situations.

    Glad you liked the link to the draft history. It was passed on to me by JDM I think. Good source for hours of entertainment.

    cheers

  27. Robert e Lee says:

    Wow;
    That was a good article by Al Cimaglia, cristobal. I should have known you would quickly find a solid resource but that still leaves off the name of the former Kings player. There were two men involved in the check, but only one ended up on our team ;-) We’ll see if Gann picks up on it and finds an answer…it’s not impossible, but there were more than one Oakland Seal to end up playing in L.A.

    Thx. to JDM for posting that link too. Man, I couldn’t stop going through it…although the first draft was the one that still makes me choke! Ya know he never made it to the NHL…and was our only #1 draft pick? Oooooof, if only we’d had Lombardi that year? Of course, we also had a terrific coach named Red Kelly who was unbelievable. The stories told by the players blow my mind. They said he could still outskate and outmaneuver most of them and they were afraid he might make them look bad during practices……RL

    p.s. a friend of mine who’s friends w/DL’s wife says one subject is forbidden as conversation around the house: “hockey” I love it!

  28. Pingback: Lombardi interview and articles - Los Angeles Kings Hockey Fan Forum

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 108 other followers