AEG Changes The Tune

Only eight short years ago, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) was playing a much different tune then they are today. Back then, the owners of the Kings were complaining in the newspapers about how much money they were losing on the team and why the Hockey business model was unsustainable. In fact, Tim Leiweke even told season ticket holders that the team could not compete for the top talent as long as salaries, and hence costs, continued to escalate well beyond revenues. Yet today, in an era where neither team nor arena revenues have appreciated significantly, we see the Kings spending close to the salary cap of $64.3 mm and well beyond that when one considers that many of the current player contracts are heavily front-loaded. Despite what has to be significant and growing operating losses at the team level, we are hearing nary a peep from ownership about how much money they are losing or how difficult it is to operate a hockey franchise. So, what gives?

I believe there are several intersecting factors that have resulted in a changed environment from eight years ago and are resulting in AEG significantly loosening their purse strings even to the point where huge losses on the Kings are acceptable. Let’s take a closer look. While season ticket prices have not risen appreciably over the past eight years, the NHL finally has gotten a meaningful national television deal from NBC/Versus, not large enough to stop losses for the Kings but certainly sufficient to mitigate them. In addition, there are no more player buyouts or deferred compensation payments left over from deals negotiated by previous owners. Put another way, the team’s income statement is becoming healthier even as player salaries escalate.

This alone does not explain AEG’s new willingness to spend money to improve the roster. For this we have to look at the company’s other business interests. The primary investment AEG has in Los Angeles is the real estate the company owns in the downtown business district. Much of this has been developed into apartments, condominiums and retail, most notably the company’s 27 acre LA Live project. Success here depends greatly on the amount of foot traffic that comes downtown for the various entertainment events. While visiting Fleming’s, one of the restaurant tenants three weekends ago, I asked the waitress how they could make it with ¾ of the tables empty on a Saturday night. She answered that the wait for a table was two hours on evenings that the Lakers play at Staples. Given that some of the retail tenants may be on percentage leases, AEG has to be enormously motivated to add over 40 (including playoffs) additional busy nights through a hugely successful Kings team. Revenues generated as a landlord have much higher margins than running a hockey team, and, best of all, are recurring with very little effort required to retain them. As a private company not answering to shareholder pressure, AEG has the ability to use the Kings as a loss leader in order to provide economic synergies to their more profitable businesses.

This is before we even discuss the elephant in the room, the NFL. AEG has already received preliminary approval to build a football stadium adjacent to Staples Center. With financing already in place, the only contingency remaining before the stadium can be built (other than the formality of an environmental impact study) is having an NFL team that is committed to move downtown in 2015 when the facility can be completed. While convincing an existing team to move here is a possibility, this presents several problems. Once a team announces it will move, the fans in the city where it will play the next four seasons before AEG’s Farmer’s Field is finished are unlikely to support the team. Besides, an existing owner will have the benefit of having his team play in a state of the art stadium filled will profitable luxury suites without having to risk any of his own capital building the facility. AEG knows from owning both the Kings and Staples Center that it is more tax efficient to own both the stadium and its tenant. This is because profits made at the stadium can be sheltered from taxation by the huge amount of depreciation that is generated from the initial capital expenditure.

Therefore, AEG likely badly wants its own team, either through expansion or from the purchase of an existing franchise. Either of these options is going to require the permission of the NFL, and it is hard to believe that AEG will be the only suitor for a team to play in the nation’s second largest television market, their ownership of the stadium notwithstanding. AEG has proven its success in real estate development, but their history as owners of a professional Hockey team has, to put it charitably, been mixed. Some others would use harsher terms. Hence, it is essential for the company’s wider business interests to prove to the NFL that they can operate a successful team in a major sport. Here we find the real reason why Dean Lombardi has been given carte blanche to spend what it takes to ice a winner. AEG badly wants to win now for business reasons, and the fans are the beneficiaries. The flip side of this is that the pressure from ownership on Lombardi and Coach Terry Murray to win and go deep into the playoffs this season is enormous. Anything less and we could see some significant management changes made as AEG pursues its quest to enter the NFL.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

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32 replies

  1. Very interesting stuff.

    Not unreasonable at all to think the NFL is taking a “show us you can do it” approach with AEG…. and who knows … should Anschutz bring a championship here, the NFL might just say “okay, here’s a new franchise.”

    Not that they want or need to expand but I just don’t see any other team coming here … or (in the case of the Raiders) being welcomed at all.

    The Spanos family (now owning 100% of the Chargers) would have to relinquish partial ownership to come here … and I just don’t see them taking less money to move their team.

    I’ve often wondered why AEG seems to be getting all the press regarding the stadium when Roski’s got a “shovel ready” plan in Walnut.

    Maybe the suits at the NFL just like the AEG boys better.

  2. Great read. I really hope if the team doesn’t go deep in the playoffs, that the blame doesn’t fall on Lombardi. I think DL has done a excellent job here not just in building the team but in building a culture which had not existed before. If the team doesn’t go far, the heat should be put on the coaching staff. Hopefully Lieweekly is wise enough to see that its not DL’s fault if the team is not playing up to its capabilities. I like Murray, but he does seem to be stuck in some old school ways. The non time out last year against the Sharks, constant line shuffling are examples. There seemed to me to be an inability to change strategy on the fly in the last 2 playoff series. The Casucks and the Sharks adapted but we did not. It may take a more risky type coach to get this team over the hump, like a Guy Boucher. Laviolette would be another great coach for this team.

    • … This:

      I really hope if the team doesn’t go deep in the playoffs, that the blame doesn’t fall on Lombardi. I think DL has done a excellent job here not just in building the team but in building a culture which had not existed before.

      and this:

      I like Murray, but he does seem to be stuck in some old school ways. The non time out last year against the Sharks, constant line shuffling are examples. … It may take a more risky type coach to get this team over the hump, like a Guy Boucher.

      do not jibe. Lombardi hired Murray as his head coach. If Murray doesn’t turn out to be the man who gets the team over the hump, that’s on Lombardi as much as it is on Murray.

      And, as for the article, there’s no question that AEG’s spending has less to do with the team winning (I doubt they give two shits about that) and much more to do with the salary cap and the resulting accountability that comes with it. AEG and Leiweke were the league’s biggest proponents of instituting a cap, and they were the people most responsible for an entire season of NHL hockey being lost; if they decided not to spend to or near the cap that THEY wanted in the first place, how bad would they look?

      • ‘AEG and Leiweke were the league’s biggest proponents of instituting a cap, and they were the people most responsible for an entire season of NHL hockey being lost’

        This is flat out wrong. The biggest proponent of a salary cap was Bill Wirtz in Chicago. He was backed up by Jacobs in Boston and several of the Canadian teams. By comparison, AEG were moderates. Yes, they wanted a cap, but they did NOT want to create permanent bad blood with the NHLPA. Besides, like it or not, what the Kings’ owners think does not rank too high in the councils of the NHL which is dominated by the Eastern Conference and Original Six teams.

      • They do jibe. What you’re saying is like throwing out the baby with the bath water. Yeah Dean hired Murray but just because Murray isn’t getting the job done you’ve gotta fire the whole coaching and management dept. That would be a very stupid and shortsighted move IMO. You replace the coach…

        • … I’m not necessarily saying they both have to go. I’m saying that if the team underachieves and there’s blame to be handed out, Lombardi should receive as much as Murray does. And if Murray does get canned, that’s two coaches fired in this regime. At what point do you decide enough’s enough, and move on to new leadership?

          It’s one thing to say that Murray’s not the right coach to see this thing all the way to a title, and I won’t disagree with you there. But is Lombardi the right GM to see this through? I don’t see where that’s an unfair question to ask.

          • Its not an unfair question to ask, but it is unfair to assign blanket and equal blame to both Murray and Lombardi if the team doesn’t achieve it’s goals. Of course, there is plenty of blame to go around if that happens, but we must consider WHY the team doesn’t succeed if that is the case. If it is because Murray didn’t handle the players well, or the systems he chooses to implement don’t work, then that is more on Murray than on DL. If the roster isn’t where it needs to be, that is more Lombardi’s fault than Murray’s.

            I see Lombardi’s method in coaching the same as his method in drafting and trading and his overall outlook to building a team. It’s done in stages. Crawford was the ‘we need a coach and don’t plan or really want to do well’ stage. This is analogous to trading vets for draft picks.

            Murray is the middle stage. Teach, move forward, and taste success. This aligns with developing youngsters and filtering out the ones we don’t plan to move forward with down the line.

            Nw we are in between stages. The team is somewhat battle tested and somewhat mature. We just made the transition to trading youth for experienced talent. Murray got us this far and the way i see it he has one more chance to take the team past the first round. He now has the players to do that. Lombardi has given him pieces and it’s up to Murray to get the most out of those pieces. If he doesn’t, then you have to fire him. That doesn’t mean that Lombardi shares EQUAL blame and should be fired too. Lombardi is at the helm, the King in the castle, the one trying to bring unification to the hockey land of LA. Murray is a lord, and if you must slay him for the good of the kingdom, you don’t just up and kill the King too, because then you have to start rebuilding the Kingdom again. That’s not to say that if Lombardi were fired, we would have to start at square one with a new GM,but you would lose some of that unification that Lombardi has been strategically putting in place.

            Of course Lombardi doesn’t get endless free passes, but since we all saw the hiring of Murray as one made for a specific purpose when it happened (to teach this team fundamentals and to get them over the hump of sucking), a bridge coach, if you will, I don’t think it is at all unreasonable to allow Lombardi the hiring of one more coach to take us from ‘in the playoffs’ to perennial playoff threat.

          • I concur SJ. If Murray can’t get it done he should be replaced. But DL stays, replacing the GM at this stage would be a disaster, his staff, scouts, etc would leave with him. Does DL take a little of the blame for hiring him? Slightly but he isn’t ultimately responsible for how well he performs, Murray is. you are right on that Murray was the coach to bring the kids up right but maybe not the guy that takes them to the top of the mountain.

          • If it is because Murray didn’t handle the players well, or the systems he chooses to implement don’t work, then that is more on Murray than on DL. If the roster isn’t where it needs to be, that is more Lombardi’s fault than Murray’s.

            … So far, the team’s inability to get past the first round has been due to both roster inadequacies and poor handling of certain players. It’s quibbling to say one has been more responsible than the other; they’re both pretty equal if you ask me.

            I see Lombardi’s method in coaching the same as his method in drafting and trading and his overall outlook to building a team. It’s done in stages. Crawford was the ‘we need a coach and don’t plan or really want to do well’ stage. This is analogous to trading vets for draft picks.

            … I find it a bit amusing that a guy who’s won a Cup and has brought immediate improvement everywhere he’s been (except in L.A. of course) would be considered in your mind as a “we don’t plan to do well” type of coach, but whatever floats the boat, etc. etc. etc. It seemed to me that Crawford was established enough to pick and choose where he wanted to go, and that a horseshit team wouldn’t be first on his list – but hey, he took the job. Maybe he wanted a challenge? I dunno. Either way, Lombardi was probably surprised that an established coach would even be available to him, and jumped at it instead of having to break in a guy with no NHL head coaching experience. Your mileage may vary on the reasons why that all went down.

            Murray is the middle stage. Teach, move forward, and taste success. This aligns with developing youngsters and filtering out the ones we don’t plan to move forward with down the line.

            … OK, that all sounds good to everybody, and it’s probably true. But who’s really flourished under his coaching? In my view, Doughty would have played well even if Rin Tin Tin had been behind the bench. Maybe Simmonds? We’ll see how he fares in Philly to get a better read on that. If you ask me, Lombardi just saw a team that needed more defense, and he had familiarity with Murray. Maybe Murray was the guy he wanted all along when he came on board? Who knows? Sure, Murray has improved the team defense, but let’s face facts – he had nowhere to go but up when he came on board, and he’s received a lot of help in that regard from the acquisitions that have been made over the last several years.

            Lombardi has given him pieces and it’s up to Murray to get the most out of those pieces. If he doesn’t, then you have to fire him. That doesn’t mean that Lombardi shares EQUAL blame and should be fired too.

            … Well, that goes back to what you mentioned up at the top. It all comes down to why they didn’t win. If they don’t have a team that is good enough to get past the first or second round, who is to blame? The head coach or the GM? The Kings regressed a little bit last season, all things considered. They needed a 10-2 record in shootouts just to MAKE the playoffs; a red flag in itself. Those who feel that the team is a Cup contender now, or that it’s just around the corner, might have a rude awakening as next season goes along. I think there’s a lot of overrating going on here. They’ve added quite a few new faces – in fact, half of their top six are brand new, and four of those six are people who have learned to play the game in other organizations. To just assume that they’re going to be great together is dangerous. They’re relying heavily on some injury-prone players, as well.

            Time isn’t on Lombardi’s side anymore. We’re heading into year six of this regime, and Dean is making deals which reflect a feeling that expectations are mounting. I’ll skip your whole medieval metaphor, or whatever you were trying to go for there, and say that I don’t think it’s unreasonable to look for new leadership if expectations aren’t met this season. If I could see that the organization was developing some NHL players during this regime, that would be one thing. But, who on the roster fits that criteria? Clifford, Martinez, and Lewis – fringe players. This team has been built on incumbents, trades, and free agents. The GM who professed to “build from within” has done anything but. Now, if he’s able to achieve success this season, that trumps everything else. But if not, how much time to you want to give a guy who hasn’t followed the plan that HE set for himself? Seven years? Ten? Lifetime contract? At what point do you throw up your hands? At what point do you cry “uncle”?

          • I just don’t know how you could possibly look at the team right now, and compare it to the team Lombardi had when he took over .. .and then conclude he’s not on the right track.

            You may not like it or agree with it .. but the simple truth is, Murray would and should go well before Lombardi.

          • I just don’t know how you could possibly look at the team right now, and compare it to the team Lombardi had when he took over .. .and then conclude he’s not on the right track.

            … The first two seasons of the Lombardi regime were two of the worst seasons in this team’s history. And, we’re talking Kings’ history here, so that’s saying something. There was only one direction to go from there, right? I don’t see where it takes an elite GM to improve on a team that was at or near the worst in the league for the first two years and change of his tenure.

          • I’m only talking about how the team does going forward. I am pretty happy with the improvements the team has made since Murray took over and am very confident and excited about the upcoming season. I don’t think either deserve to Even be considered for replacement based on the last 3 seasons.

            If you can’t get excited about our roster for This year then I dont know What it would take to get you excited. Crosby and Datstuk and Tim Thomas on the team?

            As for Murray developing players, Kopi has turned into a selke candidate under him nd Brown has been learning how to be a leader. He has helped settle down Johnson and put Richardson in positions to succeed.

            If you only count Lewis, Martinez and Clifford than I guess we need to have a discussion pointing out that drafting and player development are two separate things. To only count drafted players as developed players is taking way too stringent a definition. Or scratch that, its really mixing definitions.

            Lombardi didn’t draft Kopi but he has sure as hell developed under him. Same goes for Quick. Johnson was acquired via trade but That’s just a technicality, the Kings have developed him all the same.

            Discounting Doughty because He would be good regardless of his coach is narrowminded too. The Penguins Have no trouble taking credit for Crosby. You have argued That Drew improved last year, contrary to popular belief. Are you going to claim that AND sat that Murray had nothing to do with it? Doughty may be uber talented, but he doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

            As for When we throw our hands up and give up on Lombardi, I say when the team takes a big step backwards or fails to improve after moves to improve have been made. Namely if Richards and Gagne suck balls and a new coach can’t even help. Lombardi gets two season more minimum from me unless the team tanks hard this year. They would have to finish out of the playoffs and close to the bottom for me to entertain the idea Of canning him before next season.

            I’m not really hung up on what he did 4-6 years ago. I look forward, not backward.

          • If you can’t get excited about our roster for This year then I dont know What it would take to get you excited.

            … Provided employee #8 is in the fold, and not traded for Random Flyer or whatever (I’m joking! mostly), I am excited for next season. I don’t see where they’re Cup contenders, but I do expect them to get past the first round of the playoffs, so obviously I think they will improve. I expect this season to be one where many will adjust to new roles and learn to play alongside one another. How long that all takes is something we’ll have to wait and see.

            As for Murray developing players, Kopi has turned into a selke candidate under him nd Brown has been learning how to be a leader. He has helped settle down Johnson and put Richardson in positions to succeed … You have argued That Drew improved last year, contrary to popular belief. Are you going to claim that AND sat that Murray had nothing to do with it?

            … Kopitar and Doughty, I think, have mostly improved with experience. But, sure – as Murray has improved the team’s defense, he can be credited as well for those two improving in that regard. And no, I don’t think Lombardi gets credit for either one. Kopitar wasn’t his draft, and never played in the Kings’ system before he was in the NHL, and Doughty was a no-brainer pick from tanking. So – hey good job Dean, way to tank I guess?

            I don’t see where Murray has “settled down” Johnson at all. His improvement has been at the offensive end, but Murray’s supposed to be the defensive coach, right? Yet we have seen a regression in that category. But we’ve gone over all this before, haven’t we? These discussions are like “whack-a-mole” sometimes … I knock this one down, then others pop up (“well what about this and that and the other player and hey here’s an analogy that doesn’t relate to the discussion at all but I think it’s funny so hey lolz”) and pretty soon, the one I knocked down is back up again and I’m thinking “Wait. Didn’t I take care of this one already?”)

            If you want to give Lombardi credit for Quick, knock yourself out … but Quick wasn’t his draft, he spent only a handful of games at Manchester, and he was a complete afterthought to this regime. He was thrown in there as a last resort in late ’08 because LaBarbera wasn’t getting the job done and Ersberg was hurt. The fact that Quick could actually play a little bit was a surprise; in fact he was banished to the ECHL at one point, not exactly something an organization does to build the confidence of a goalie they’re actually grooming for NHL success.

            Lombardi gets two season more minimum from me unless the team tanks hard this year. They would have to finish out of the playoffs and close to the bottom for me to entertain the idea Of canning him before next season.

            … So, he gets at least eight years, huh? Can I come work for you? I’ll produce no results in the first three years and little results in the next two, but I’ll say I’m trying really really hard. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? After all, who cares about the past?

          • I agree with most of what you say except for a few details that I see different.

            “It’s quibbling to say one has been more responsible than the other; they’re both pretty equal if you ask me”

            There not both equal. The Kings play was predictable which falls on TM for not changing tactics and utilizing simple things like time outs, or goalie changes when the other team had obviously changed their tactics, and mommentum shifted (from calling time outs, and changing goalies).

            Even the “TV time out was coming” excuse was lame, because during the TV time outs, no one talked strategy, and the coach didn’t pull the players in to straiten them out during those commercial breaks. He just sent them out once play was ready to resume and said “Play the same way”.

            “If they don’t have a team that is good enough to get past the first or second round, who is to blame? The head coach or the GM?”

            Head coach.

            There are probably very few (yourself included) pundits, or anylists who would look at the Kings line up (as of today) and say “this line up is overrated”. Maybe some are expecting too much, but to say (right now) we’re a contender is O.K. if you match up our line up to the other 30 teams in the league (on paper) we’re a good match up to any of them..

            Injuries can happen, or a player doesn’t play up to his abilities during the season, and things can change where other teams get better, but from where we stand today, you can’t see those things coming anymore then you can see them coming for any other team. So yes! DL has done his job (still needs to sign DD though).

            The difference between Murray, and Lombardi now is that Murrays job (and the whole coaching staff) comes into play now with strategy, and motivation. Reading what’s happening on the ice, and preparing the players to achieve it, or stop it. 1rst period, 2nd, 3rd, TV time outs, per week, per month, whatever.

            If there’s a failure, you have to look at what Murray can control, and say “Did he make the right choice?”. If the team has legitimate reasons like Kopi breaking his ankle or something like that then No! that is something that TM has no control over, but if the team slows the game down, and teams adjust too well to us, or the power play still doesn’t move around, and just fires from the point, and teams adjust too well, and play becomes predictable, then yes! Murray is too blame if we lose because of it.

            Hopefully this is all academic, and the Kings Kick ass anyways.

          • My comments were supposed to be for JT, but ended up at the bottom of the barrel.

  3. Interesting. But to date AEG has never spent to the salary cap. In fact up until two or three years ago, we were close to the salary floor. Nor do the Kings have any long term front loaded salaries on their roster. Now with the Doughty negotiation looming, I’m wondering if AEG is the holdup. Is the ownership balking at the big front loaded contract?

  4. AEG has done a very good job supporting the Kings. They have not been “cheap”, and put resources into the team. If the team does ever evolve into a champion (don’t we all pray that it will?), obviously they should get some of the credit. No they are not altruists, and the Kings are a component of their downtown enterprise. That’s okay with me.

    How much AEG supported the salary cap, I have no idea. While the cap has some problems and unintended consequences, it does help teams like Los Angeles that would have to compete with “richer” teams for free agent talent. Like it or not, the cap does force some degree of parity in the league. It also prevents some of the ridiculous salaries that we see in baseball (e.g. Frank McCourt’s biggest creditor is Manny Ramirez, owing him $21 million even though he isn’t even playing anymore). News flash: Hockey does not have that kind of money.

    The Doughty saga has more to do with his greedy agent than AEG being frugal.

  5. I had a jack ass blogger named backcheck on the Ducks blog last year stating that AEG was trying to sell the Kings because a football franchise owner can’t own another sports franchise at the same time. Since I didn’t take what he had to say seriously (he would say anything to bash the Kings), I never bothered to check. I did love torturing him though.

    Although there were some rumors that the Kings might be forsale last season, I couldn’t see how they could sell (although it might have been true at the time). A football franchise downtown would make sense for AEG. When the Pond was first built, there was a major plan by Disney sports to get a football franchise, and link the pond, Angel stadium, and the new football arena together, but the deal fell through, and that disney president eventually moved on.

    AEG seems poised to make this a reality in LA, with 2 basketball teams, a hockey team, and a football team.

    • The Tampa Bay Bucs owner Malcom Glazer owns 100% of Manchester United, so if he can own one of the top 5 franchises in the world in Man U, I’m sure you can own a football and hockey team as well.

    • Oh, I forgot, Paul Allen also owns the Seahawks and the Trail Blazers.

      So that Ducks blogger is as dumb as their fans.

      • LOL! The guy actually new his stuff. He would just say anything to try and piss me off. His problem was, I new it. I loved making him mad too. He would start ranting, I would work him into a frenzy, and he would start attacking anybody who responded to him. Even fellow Ducksfans. I absolutely loved the guy.

        It was like hitting the lottery, or striking gold in a mine.

    • Oh, Stan Kroenke also owns the Nuggets, Avs, Rapids (MLS) and something around 40-50% of the Rams. I’m sure there are more examples, just all the ones I could think of.

  6. Perfectly said, awesome write up . . I actually learned something too

  7. I have always viewed the Crawford hiring as a straight cock-up. I found it discouraging -a bad sign for a new GM. MC didn’t fit the culture here in any way – I always firmly believed he would fail here and be run out of town.

    But it has been DL’s decision-making that has brought us to a point of expectation -reasonable expectation at that. It has been quite a while since we have had any sense at all that the future may still be before us. Andy Murray’s run was unexpected and very nearly belated, so we have to go back to the McNall era to even remember that feeling. And before that, Pulford’s run, which was more equivocal due to the ownership. And THAT’s IT. That we haven’t broken through yet makes us all impatient, but the Devils’ playoff history is instructive here. Its fucking hard to go from KC Scouts to Cup champions, and Lamoriello’s teams did some serious stumbling on the way to the Cup. Our drafting is now better than it has EVER been, and as long as DL keeps that up, we are in the fight. Det. doesn’t win often, but they remain in the fight every year due to shrewd drafting, trading and FA signings. IT HAS TO START SOMEWHERE. The fact that we are unhappy about not yet playing in the same building with the Cup proves that.

  8. J.T,

    Surly said. “Lombardi gets two season more minimum from me unless the team tanks hard this year. They would have to finish out of the playoffs and close to the bottom for me to entertain the idea Of canning him before next season.”

    J.T said. … So, he gets at least eight years, huh? Can I come work for you? I’ll produce no results in the first three years and little results in the next two, but I’ll say I’m trying really really hard. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? After all, who cares about the past?

    Now I’m saying..

    J.T, hi. I read the discussion you and Surly were having. Great points on both sides. I read your whack-a-mole analogy and thought it was great, I can relate to that. Not saying it’s actually true in this instance but it often is when discussing hockey online. But I wanted to post because I understand what you’re saying, and I think you’re being a bit misunderstood. Put it this way, I’ve expressed similar thoughts about hockey management in general that you just did, and been misunderstood, or found that I although I was dead right it also didn’t really matter.

    Here is what I mean. You’re criticizing Lombardi, saying besides Drew Doughty he hasn’t drafted a single impact player, so for someone who is supposed to be building from within he’s doing a lousy job. It took him years to even make the playoffs, the only reason he got Doughty was from sucking so much the year before, and so on. You said “So, he gets at least eight years, huh? Can I come work for you? I’ll produce no results in the first three years and little results in the next two, but I’ll say I’m trying really really hard. Shouldn’t be a problem, right? After all, who cares about the past?”

    This is the thing, though. You’re right, Dean Lombardi’s track record, if it was in any other profession, he would have been fired. Taking this many years just to make it to the first round, it’s pretty terrible. I personally believe I could do a better job. Things that are obvious to me, to everyone, like Jamie Kompton should be fired, or he should have drafted Tyler Myers, they miss, like idiots. And you can’t just waltz over that, like oh he made a mistake but we move on. That’s Tyler Myers. That’s a one chance thing. Surly and Bobby want Zach Parise, good luck. But Tyler Myers would have gotten you Zach Parise in a heartbeat, if you’d even want to make that deal. Or you could just have the best defense pairing in the NHL for the next 15 years. All that was required of Lombardi was to make the easy pick, and he blew it. Now the team will never be what it could have been had he made the right decision. They can still win but they won’t be as dominant as if they’d drafted Myers.

    So it’s things like that where you’re right, Dean Lombardi has not done a very good job compared to what you’d expect out of someone in any other profession. But, but, but, the reason he is still considered a good GM is because, as much of an awful job as he’s done, he’s done a better job than 90% of the other NHL GMs. I like to say that watching NHL GMs compete trying to be the first to build their team to perfection is like watching dehydrated mentally impaired turtles with broken legs racing against each other in a marathon. The GMs right now in the NHL are just so bad, you don’t have to do a good job quickly to be one of the best. You don’t have to draft all-stars from the second round or do anything at all great. Just the fact that Lombardi has stockpiled 10 B level prospects puts him 7-8 B level prospects ahead of most other GMs, who haven’t drafted A level ones either. If you listen to GMs talk, they actually think it’s a success drafting “NHL players.” Why? What success is it drafting a third line forward, there are like 50 of them available in free agency every year! And 50 better, more experienced ones. For instance, I’m sure if the Kings drafted a young Ethan Moreau five years ago, they would have considered that a success. “It’s an NHL player, he’ll go on to play a thousand games. That’s a great second round pick.” Except you can just sign Ethan Moraeu, or whoever else you want. The whole point of the draft is to draft players you couldn’t otherwise get any other way, like how Nashville got Shea Weber in the second round. But the point is most GMs don’t draft Weber’s in the second round, and their standard is so low. And that’s why when you, J.T, come in here talking about holding Lombardi to a high standard, you’re misunderstood. People say, but he is a high standard, he’s done a much better job than 90% of the other GMs. But you’re not grading him on the idiot curve, you’re just looking at the facts about him, saying what are you talking about, this guy is an idiot, he missed Tyler Myers, there goes the dynasty right there, he should have been fired for that right there because it’s such a crippling mistake to the organization.

    Basically, J.T, you’re right, I like Dean Lombardi but he’s done a really bad job, but also you’re wrong because at the same time he’s been one of the best general managers in the league the last five years because the other GMs have been even worse. These guys are idiots by and large, I could do a better job, it should never take more than a year or two at most to rebuild a team to a contender, but teams take decades. It’s crazy. Unfortunately it’s just the way it is, and the fact the Kings even added one big name player this offseason makes us fortunate. Most GMs are so bad they add no one of impact and then expect to be better. At least Lombardi added Richards and Gagne. Hopefully though he also remembers he lost a lot in Simmonds, Handzus, Smyth, and so on, and keeps adding. But that’s another stupid thing about GMs, they make one or two moves a season, and then it’s “Im done, we’ll see what happens, don’t want to mess up the chemistry, blahblah.” What if your team has more than two holes?

    Anyway there you go J.T. That’s your answer. You have to grade Lombardi on the idiot curve because he’s in an idiot profession.

  9. As much as I don’t give a damn about basketball, I am wondering how losing an NBA season or even two maybe could affect AEG and the Kings in particular.

    I really want to see the NBA players get a reality check, but not at the expense of the Kings’ owners.

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