On September 11, 2010, at the L.A. Kings’ Fan Fest I asked Dean Lombardi about the CBA’s impact on his decision-making process. He answered:
You give anybody too much to chew, that person is not going to be the same in continuing to drive in being the best that he can be. And you put this system in place like they did with the NBA, and then you wonder why the best talents somehow get their way with it. Somehow they’re not focused anymore. Well who’s fault is that? How many of you would be focused in your line of work if all of a sudden at 22 years old you’ve got it all? And again, I had no problem with Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy getting their 10 million dollars; Those guys had 10 years in the league, they had proven they were winners, they had proven they were leaders, and god bless ‘em. But for some reason, we went out and said let’s make free agency 25, and then you have a team like Phoenix that’s one of the oldest teams in the league and has one of the lesser payrolls — it’s completely inverted. So, maybe I’m talking a little for selfish reasons too, though. But I think the product when you have players who have stayed together, come up the right way, they perform better, you get a better team, you can get a better product. The other thing for our game, that I think is critical and not only because it is what we believe in in building a team, and keeping young athletes together so they not only become the best they can be, but they become teammates and they like each other and stay together for years.
That was nearly one year ago.
Ironic isn’t it that a 21-year-old kid with 3 seasons, 239 games, 33 goals and 93 career points now commands the hockey world’s attention while his agent blusters his client’s path toward the highest paid player on our Los Angeles Kings? Be it 5, 7 or the compromised 6 year offer, over or a few bills below $7 million, everything Dean Lombardi declared has driven the discussions that started in June and steadily converge to a close.
Drew is poised ready to chew more than he has earned and many, Dean especially, share the uneasy disquiet about his drive to be the best he can be once he receives the prize potential pays. The best talent beguiles with smiles his way both with and through the process until he succeeds and our eyes then turn to Doughty’s focus.
There is no fault.
Unproven as a winner, as a leader, the payday comes for the blossom and not the bloom, a burgeoning promise more than years of merit and, even then, what Drew desires is not a bounty that will keep him a Los Angeles King for many years so that he and the core can remain together, come up the right way, perform better and get a better team or product. He chases a contract of profound pay until he arrives to unrestricted free agency in search of a loftier benevolence.