2014 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONSHIP WRAP-UP: Part 3 of Frozen Royalty’s wrap-up of the Los Angeles Kings winning the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship and the ensuing celebration
LOS ANGELES — During the on-ice celebration after the Los Angeles Kings won the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship on June 13 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, and during their celebratory rally on June 16, also at Staples Center, different members of the organization expressed their gratitude and appreciation for each other and for their fans. But they all had carefully crafted messages for the hockey world.
For President/General Manager Dean Lombardi, the message was that the Kings have climbed to the top of the mountain named “National Hockey League,” and that their unity and resolve would keep them on top, or very close to it, for the foreseeable future.
As reported in this space on June 11, Lombardi stressed the importance of building a team with strong character and leadership traits, right from the start of his tenure with the Kings in April 2006.
That part of his master plan has now paid off in a big, big way.
“The other day, a guy on my staff said that usually, coaches and managers have to motivate their players,” Lombardi said during the on-ice celebration after the Kings won the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship on June 13. “These guys motivate us and that’s how special they are. They care about the right things, they care about each other, and they’re an example for the rest of us off the ice, to do things right, and that’s about as high a compliment as I think you can give an athlete.”
Lombardi elaborated on that theme in his remarks at the rally on June 16.
“This franchise has now evolved to another level,” he said. “[The fans], myself, and my staff are now super-charged by another motivating force. Simply stated, to watch this group of men make a commitment to themselves, as individuals, to be the best they can be, and most importantly, their commitment to each other, that touches all of our souls and transcends their sport.”
“They are now at the stage where they are also consumed by fear,” he added. “They are deadly afraid of letting each other down. They now motivate all of us.”
During the on-ice celebration after they won the Stanley Cup on June 13, yours truly asked Lombardi how it feels to have his long-term plan, in terms of stressing character and leadership, come together so well, with his team winning two Stanley Cup Championships in the last three seasons.
But just like so many of his players often do when they speak with the media, Lombardi deflected the praise.
“Hey, I didn’t get my face plastered against the boards here at all,” he noted. “I feel like I have, but I didn’t. These guys are the ones who get it done. It ain’t me.”
“The thing is, too, this franchise has one of the best owners in sports,” he added. “You never see him front and center. It’s about team. That’s what he stresses all the time. He sets the tone. You don’t see Mr. Anschutz out there, ‘look at me, look at me.’ That sets the tone for the entire organization. That’s where it starts. If you don’t have a guy behind you that, when you have a plan, lets you stick with it—you make a ton of mistakes. I always say that if you go 50/50 in this job, you’re going to do pretty darned well. But he sticks by you through the mistakes. It’s a great reward for him, but that’s where it starts.”
At the rally, Lombardi saluted the fans, but also added to his praise of Philip Anschutz, owner of the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), the entertainment and retail conglomerate that is the parent company of the Kings.
“Seven years ago, when I came to this franchise, I was gripped by an incredible fear—the fear of failure—because I quickly realized that I had inherited a franchise with an owner, Mr. Philip Anschutz, who was committed to winning, and a passionate, resolute fan base that was starving for a championship,” Lombardi noted.
“So many of you have been on this long journey from the start and you never lost your faith in your beloved Kings,” Lombardi added. “But fear of letting someone else down who cares is one of life’s greatest motivators, and myself, and my staff, sincerely thank you for instilling in us the passionate resolve to give you the championships you truly deserve.”
As he often does in interviews, Lombardi shared a quote during his closing remarks at the rally.
“In the words of the late Lou Gehrig, I feel like the luckiest man in the world,” he said. “I am blessed to be associated with you, the fans, my staff and these warriors behind me, who stand up for us all.”
As mentioned earlier in this story, during his remarks on the ice after the deciding Game 5, and during the rally, Lombardi did what so many of his players often do: deflect praise and give credit to teammates. It is now apparent that this behavior has become ingrained in the culture of the Kings and it extends beyond the dressing room. Indeed, it also makes its way upstairs, into the front office.
But don’t be fooled. Lombardi has his hands all over the development of that culture. After all, it was not present prior to him joining the Kings. Indeed, that culture spread outward from his office, and down the hall, before heading downstairs, seeping into the dressing room. It also made its way to AEG offices at Staples Center and L.A. Live, and all the way to Anschutz’ private ranch in Colorado.
Lombardi may be refusing to take credit for his team winning the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship. After all, that is the “Kings” thing to do. Nevertheless, it is plainly evident that his fingerprints are all over everything that made it possible. As such, even though Lombardi would probably reject it, everyone else should give credit where credit is due.
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