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LA Kings: It May Not Be About Dean Lombardi Now, But At One Time, It Was

COMMENTARY/ANALYSIS: How much truth is there behind Los Angeles Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi’s claim that, “…it ain’t me,” when discussing his role in his team winning two Stanley Cup Championships in the last three seasons? One look at the Kings’ team culture, which extends well beyond the dressing room, and has become just as important as the talent level of the team, will provide much of the answer. Final installment of a three-part series.


LA Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi, shown here addressing the crowd at their 2014 Stanley Cup Championship rally at Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 16, 2014.
(click to view larger image)
Photo: David Sheehan/FrozenRoyalty..net

EL SEGUNDO AND LOS ANGELES, CA — It didn’t take Dean Lombardi very long after his arrival in Southern California to lay out his plan for building the Los Angeles Kings into a perennial Stanley Cup contender. But what would probably surprise many, as reported in Part 2 of this series, acquiring high-end, skilled players was not at the top of the to-do list, even though that would have to happen at some point.

Instead, Lombardi stressed that his team would be built by drafting young players and taking the time to develop them—their skills and their character—in the minor leagues. He would build a team in which, as he said when he was hired on April 21, 2006, “…every one of them who puts on a Kings jersey, no matter where they go, feels ‘once a King, always a King.’”

As the Kings fought their way through the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, overcoming adversity became a common theme. Indeed, they had to claw and scratch their way back from a 3-0 series deficit in the opening round against San Jose to win that series, 4-3. They won three seven-game series in which they faced elimination, and they came back from two-goal deficits to win games time after time after time.

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LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi’s Focus On Character and Leadership Is Paying Dividends

LA Kings winger and captain Dustin Brown
(click above to view larger image
Photo: Gann Matsuda/FrozenRoyalty.net

LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — With the Los Angeles Kings on the verge of winning their second Stanley Cup Championship in the last three seasons, perhaps as soon as tonight, much has been said about their character and leadership qualities that have been on display throughout the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Indeed, leading the New York Rangers in the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, the Kings could win the whole enchilada as soon as tonight, when the two teams face-off in Game 4 at Madison Square Garden in New York (5:00 PM PDT; televised on NBCSN in the United States and on CBC and RDS in Canada).

Character and leadership are usually not even a thought in anyone’s mind while watching their favorite hockey team, and especially here in the Los Angeles area, those characteristics were often scoffed at by pundits and fans alike, who believed that skill and talent were all that mattered.

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Chicago Blackhawks May Not Have An Answer For LA Kings “That 70’s Line”

LA Kings right wing Tyler Toffoli celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal in the second period of his team’s 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the 2014 Western Conference Finals at Staples Center
in Los Angeles on May 24, 2014.

LOS ANGELES AND EL SEGUNDO, CA — Prior to the start of the 2014 Western Conference Final, much of the talk was about the upcoming battle between two of the top centers in the National Hockey League, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Conventional wisdom dictated that for whichever player won the battle between them, their team would win the series.

So far, the advantage goes to Toews.

Indeed, Kopitar has contributed just one assist in the series so far, and his line mates, left wing Marian Gaborik and forward Dustin Brown, have been held without a point in the series by Toews’ line, with Bryan Bickell and Marian Hossa on the wings.

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On The Brink Of Elimination, LA Kings Must Figure Out That It’s Not Just About Themselves

LA Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.

ANAHEIM AND LOS ANGELES, CA — After taking a 2-0 lead in their second round playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks, the Los Angeles Kings have dropped three straight games, and face elimination tonight when they host the Ducks in Game 6 at Staples Center in Los Angeles (6:30 PM PDT; televised on NBCSN in the United States; TSN and RDS in Canada).

What has been surprising about the Kings so far in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs is that the best defensive team in the regular season has been anything but in the post-season.

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