The Case For Carlyle & Dean Lombardi’s Courage Or Lack Thereof

From Helene Elliott:

Randy Carlyle, who coached the Ducks to the Stanley Cup title in 2007 but was fired Wednesday because of the team’s prolonged struggles, said Saturday he has been traveling “an emotional road” since his dismissal and will take a brief fishing trip to Northern California before considering his hockey future.

“We’ll see,” he said when asked whether he expects to coach in the NHL again. “I’m working on putting one foot in front of another for the next couple of days.”

I started this article with that quote to make a point. Randy Carlyle and Terry Murray are very different coaches. Murray is an apathetic and stoic coach. He is unwilling, by his own admission, to motivate. He is inflexible, refuses to adapt and evolve from the game he used to coach and teams, pre-lockout, played. He is what you have seen each of the four seasons – a coach without a greater success despite greater talent and one, with the exception of seemingly random and illogical line shuffling, that perpetually does the same thing with the expectation of a different result.

Randy Carlyle is intense. He is a disciplinarian. He commands the best from his players. He coaches a style that has proven itself capable of winning the Stanley Cup in the post-lockout NHL. He took a Ducks team that should have finished no higher than 11th in the Conference last season to the playoffs and damn near past the first round. In his career coaching a young Ducks team with a mixture of proven veterans, he led them to this (from Wikipedia):

Six full seasons post lockout, five playoff appearances, three of those past the first round, one of those a Western Conference Finals appearance and one Stanley Cup.

He didn’t play a run and gun style. He wasn’t a defense first, defense last coach. He wasn’t an “extreme” and therefore ineffective anything. His teams played a fast, hard, forechecking style with a creative offense that emphasized the high percentage scoring areas and a punishing defense that, when the game required, activated the defensemen.

Nothing about Randy Carlyle was soft. Similar to the best Flyers’ teams, something that Dean Lombardi of all people should understand and covet, and last season’s Boston Bruins, he coached a rough and menacing style that balanced the skill.

How would you like that style and playoff success for our team? How would you like to hand Carlyle, a proven winner in the new NHL era, the keys to our stacked defense and goaltending with Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Justin Williams, Dustin Penner, Andrei Loktionov, Jarret Stoll and captain Dustin Brown? How would a player like Kyle Clifford do with Carlyle as his coach? You know, as I do, the Ducks were an awful team the past two seasons, without any offensive or defensive depth and it was Bob Murray, not Carlyle, who failed Anaheim.

The L.A. Kings hiring a winner like Randy Carlyle won’t happen because Dean Lombardi probably doesn’t have the courage to make it happen. It should. If Lombardi is happy with his L.A. Kings, the team he has been “rebuilding” for 6 years, continuing with the same struggles, being an average team with average results, then he should do nothing. If winning and contending for the Stanley Cup matters as much as he claims, pick up the phone and make the call before or after Randy Carlyle returns from his fishing trip. Opportunities like this are rare. Winners strike fast.

Finding the right coach isn’t a “skill”. It is 1 part intelligence, 1 part luck and 1 part timing. Despite his polar Marc Crawford and Terry Murray mistakes, I know Dean Lombardi has the first and has been handed the second and third by Bob Murray’s mistake. If, as the L.A. Kings marketing claims, the “time is now”, there is no better time than now to bring in a coach that can take the L.A. Kings to the Stanley Cup. The other option is to do the same thing and nothing and expect a different result.

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46 replies

  1. I advocated this a few weeks ago…actually before Carlyle was fired. Would love to see it happen but I cant help but think DL will try and get TM his 500th win before making a coaching change.

  2. The Kings need a change, make it the coach. On paper the move looks like a no Brainer, but does DL have the Heart (fire)! Lastly, can Kings fans be patient with a change if we don’t see immediate results.

  3. Please email this to DL. Let’s see what kind of stones this guy really has or if he is just full of rhetoric and chart propaganda. You want a winner, you hire a bench boss that gets the max out of his roster, something TM has ZERO clue how to do.

    This is a crossroads moment Dean…put up or shut up. If you eff this season up after spending to the cap limit then you and TM can wax poetic while packing your shit.

  4. A coaching change seems due.

    Circumstances on left wing are less them optimal nonetheless the character and makeup of the team have changed for the better, Murray hasn’t.

    Having not opted to incorporate several rookies for Murray to train the Kings could certainly do no worse with a shift to a Hitchcock or Carlyle caliber coach.

    Sorry Terry…you’ve been great.

    (Note: Just saying, I’m aware Hitchcock is taken)

  5. Do we think Dean is really aware of this and has been working behind the scenes? How can he make a move like Richards and then not see thru 25 games that TM is not the right fit for this team to move to the next level. If the “Time is now’ that requires a leader who can motivate his players to work to the best of their abilities and beyond that. And you’re right, discipline is a part of that. I’m frustrated every game watching the guys who DL identified in August (Kopi, Richards, Quick and Doughty) as he 4 foundations and seemingly have them playing in a stifling system that smorthers any creativity (althought God bless ‘im, Richards is trying hard there) unless they are PP or PK.
    How can not watch how other teams with lesser skill (on p[aper) are better to do coaching and system.
    The longer he lets this drag on, the worse it’s gonna get. now is the time to make the move on this…
    I hope he does…because I think this team , with a few changes (third line and winger for top 6) can excel.

  6. Please this is all I want for Christmas. We dont need anything else really, maybe a deadline pick up. Just get it done Dl, I actually think our entire season depends on it.

  7. Please NOT that red-in-the-face…heart attack-going-to-happen-bellower..
    GO KINGS GO!!!

  8. Here’s how to do it and save face for all involved.

    * Acknowledge that Hextall is ready to be a GM; let it be known that other teams can negotiate with him. (Could we ask for draft picks as comp if they sign him?)

    * “Promote” TM into the Assistant GM role for a few years. He can assess talent; he can coordinate the relationship with ManchVegas; he can run the scouting department, etc.

    * Wait til his brother is fired in Calgary; ship him up there….


  9. A friend of mine once told me that the definetion of insanity is when someone “does the same thing over and over, yet expects a different result”. Are DL and TM insane? Absolutely!!

    • I hate that stupid saying, because sometimes doing the right thing doesn’t give you the results you desire. Also, everyone only looks at the results anyways.

      And then everyone just goes rabblerabblerabble and their brains turn to mush.

  10. Bobby, I just put a post on laki. I essentially said that while I suppose Carlyle is a good coach, he won with a team that, while one can rationalize anyway we want, was a damned good team, and picked by the Hockey News before the season started, to win the Cup.

    Let’s be realistic. Niedermayer, Pronger, Perry, Getzlaf, Selanne, Giguerre, Kunitz and even a 30 goal scorer named Dustin Penner, plus a fabulous checking line w Pahlsson and Travis Moen. That’s a very good team. Slice the cake anyway you want, but no way does the Kings d compare to that at this moment. Our supposedly best dman can in no way be compared to either Pronger or Niedermayer. If he recaptures the form he showed two years ago, then no doubt that might be in his future. But at the moment, really virtuall only three people on the whole team are stepping up. Anze, Richards and JQ (and I suppose Willie Mitchell and JJ to a lesser extent).

    • Drew, I like that you are commenting here more and hope you keep coming back.

      What I am going to share with you applies to hockey as much as to life, at least how I approach mine. There will always be excuses for losing, as there are for winning. When one wins, another claims, “yeah, but…” and when one loses, the loser claims, “yeah, but…” That is a failure of human nature the elite in any profession or sport have eliminated from their mindset. Unfortunately, in society, it has become more prevalent. It is one of the driving forces for this Country’s spiral downward – people no longer take ownership of success or failure. Facts are no longer self evident. Nowhere is that more clear than the people we put in political positions of power.

      Regarding the Kings, there hasn’t been a single Stanley Cup winning coach that didn’t have a great team. There has never been a winning coach over the course of several seasons that didn’t have a team that merited the victories. Is Scotty Bowman a great coach or not? He had great teams. Do we dismiss his accomplishments and just say, “yeah, but…”?

      What great coaches do is take the team, skill set, strengths and weaknesses and set forth a system of Xs and Os, work ethic and motivation / inspiration so the team plays its best on a consistent basis. That is what Randy Carlyle has done throughout his tenure until Bob Murray failed that team and did not address the gaping holes on defense and beyond the first line. That is why Bruce Boudreau will similarly fail until the personnel are upgraded.

      With the Kings, I am disappointed you don’t look at our D and goaltending and see one of the best in the league. In that, I suppose we can agree to disagree. I am surprised you don’t look at our top 8 and see a damn good lineup with two elite players in Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards and proven goal scorers in Williams, Gagne, Brown, Penner, and Stoll as well as solid kids like Loktionov and Clifford. I do. I also recall the Kings were picked by the very same media to which you refer as a contender this season. Didn’t Turco actually pick us to win the Cup?

      If you don’t believe the Kings are failing to meet expectations, then I can see why what I wrote (and have written) about Murray doesn’t register with you. With that, we can agree to disagree. But, to claim that Randy Carlyle is not a great coach because he had great teams is shortsighted and just sets forth a “yeah but…” excuse for winning.

      • With the Kings, I am disappointed you don’t look at our D and goaltending and see one of the best in the league. In that, I suppose we can agree to disagree. I am surprised you don’t look at our top 8 and see a damn good lineup with two elite players in Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards and proven goal scorers in Williams, Gagne, Brown, Penner, and Stoll as well as solid kids like Loktionov and Clifford.

        … You’re seriously not comparing the current Kings to the ’07 Ducks, are you??? The Ducks had two former Norris winners on their defense. For the Kings, Doughty was nominated for one, but beyond that, what do they have? Defensive defensemen that don’t play offense and an offensive defenseman that doesn’t play defense.

        In goal, the Ducks had a former Smythe winner. Quick, while he’s been off to a very good start this season, has nowhere near that level of accomplishment. Even before he won the Smythe, he had two finishes in the top ten in the NHL in save percentage. Quick has zero.

        You call Clifford and Loktionov two solid kids, and yet they have 1 goal and 4 assists in 35 games, collectively. I like them both, but they’re not getting it done. Will another coach give these guys more of an opportunity than they have received with Murray? Possibly, but I seriously doubt it. As for Stoll, Richardson, Penner, Williams, Brown … the culprit is low shooting percentages. Is it luck? I think so. It’s not like they aren’t getting chances. My feeling is that those percentages will improve, no matter who’s behind the bench. They’re better shooters than that.

        The Kings are better than their record. But how much better?

        • Well if you read what you quoted, you’d realize he didn’t compare the Kings D to the Ducks’ Cup team D. He said one of the best in the league, meaning best out of the current 30 teams. Carlyle coached one of the best Ds in the league at the time to a Cup. Bobby thinks we have one of the best Ds in the league, capable of being coached To the cup by someone capable of coaching properly.

          Whether the kings’ D is analogous to the 07 ducks D is irrelevant. The point is how does the Kings D stack up to the rest of the league.

          Now I know your answer will be ‘not very well’, and that’s fine, I just want you two to be talking about the same thing.

        • Well… Technically he never compared our D to the 07 Ducks. No one has that D in the league right now.

          The comparison is that Carlyle coached The league’s best defense at the time to a Cup and that we have one of the league’s current best defenses. The comparison between the two teams is irrelevant. The comparison is between two teams and their respective strengths to the rest of the league.

      • That was another one of those replies that reaffirms why I enjoy your postings so much..
        Politics/Sports/ People in general have become diluted of their moral principals..
        and it becomes the norm to expect less of such.
        As for the Kings.. we do have talent.. and unfortunately improper leadership at this point of our journey to the Cup.
        GO KINGS GO!!!

      • I’ve gotta agree here. Drew is comparing a good coach with good players performing at their best to a lackluster coach with good players performing relatively poorly. I think when you’re looking at a coaching change you just have to assume every player will play much closer to their potential, otherwise the whole notion of a coaching change seems to lack any meaning… or why have coaches at all?

        Considering this, our defense has ENORMOUS depth (if your “worst” dmen are Martinez and Greene, come on, you’re sitting pretty), an elite top 6 and a bottom 6 that has shown flashes of brilliance and just needs some inspiration.

        • I’d further point out that our defense is currently rated 4th with immense pressure on them. The fact that our offense can’t produce or maintain solid possession puts all the more pressure on the defense and they’re STILL rated 4th. What would they be rated if we actually spent the time in the offensive zone that we should?

          Dutch says we don’t have 2 Norris winners and Smythe winner. That’s obviously true, but those are just titles. How much better would our D and goalies look if we could actually control game momentum?

      • Hi Bobby. Thanks for acknowledging me. Yes I’m pleased to be here and comment and enjoy the blog a lot.
        The only thing I want to say is that while you’re saying we agree to disagree……. nope. Actually the main point is…. we agree, way more than what you realize. I do for sure know that the Kings have an outstanding defense and goaltending as well as some world class forwards. No question there.

        The only area perhaps where we slightly disagree is as follows: I think that DL’s choices of certain forwards ‘who have character’ has left the balance of the forwards with too little skill (I love Cliffy, but when you add him up w Moreau, Hunter, Westgarth, then add in Richie and Lewis that’s almost 50% of your forwards. And, lo and behold, they’re getting virtually no scoring from any of those guys.
        30% of your forwards? Sure. 50%!! There is a very real issue there.

        Now, as that in my own strange way links in with what you
        suggest about Carlyle. I think that there is a crack somewhere in the foundation of the team. It May be a very slight crack, could be a bigger crack, but until that’s sorted out, I think that will limit to an extent what another coach can do. The Pens had their foundation very firmly in place. Bylsma came in and voila.
        That’s the only difference. But on the other issues you and I do agree way more than was evident. Thats why its do damned Frustrating because they DO have talent!!

  11. He took a Ducks team that should have finished no higher than 11th in the Conference last season to the playoffs and damn near past the first round.

    … Carlyle’s Ducks were a lucky team last season. They scored 235 goals and allowed 233, nothing spectacular by any means. They should have finished about 10th in the West. Their 5-on-5 scoring last season was very poor, and their overall defense was very poor. They had a very good PP – that was their only saving grace. They didn’t “damn near” get past the first round any more than the Kings did, and they had a weaker opponent than did the Kings.

    This season, the Ducks’ luck has run out. It’s that simple. Their 5-on-5 play is atrocious, and their defense is swiss cheese. They’re still an undisciplined team, taking far more penalty minutes than their opposition. That trend has been going on for years under Carlyle.

    They have won one playoff round in the last three years (going on four, because they won’t make the playoffs this season), and it took their goalie having a .957 save percentage to win the round that they won.

    So Carlyle has won a Cup. Marc Crawford won one, too. Referencing the “post-lockout” era, which has only gone on for six seasons, seems a bit silly to me. I don’t see Carlyle’s “system” to be anything special. He won the Cup with an extraordinary team, deep and talented up front, anchored by two Norris winners, and backed up by two outstanding goalies.

    If, as the L.A. Kings marketing claims, the “time is now”, there is no better time than now to bring in a coach that can take the L.A. Kings to the Stanley Cup.

    … There is no way in the World the Kings will win the Stanley Cup with their bottom six. It just doesn’t happen. Bringing in a new coach isn’t going to turn Hunter, Moreau, Fraser, Westgarth, and Lewis into good players.

  12. I agree with Dutch and I disagree with Dutch.

    Carlysle had Neidermeyer and Pronger. We don’t have anywhere NEAR that. The Ducks also physically beat the crap out of Ottawa. We don’t have that either.

    I do NOT think the Kings were “overrated”. They’re record shows we’re worse in scoring than Columbus and Phoenix yet you can’t convince me they have better top 6 forwards than we do. You just can’t. Our coaching staff sucks, but if they’re gonna fire Murray, for the love of God, make it a coach that can RELATE to the players (like Yeo, Bylsma, Dineen, etc)

  13. I had the most vivid dream last night that Murray, and Kompon were fired. I read the article, discussed it with my brother, and even posted something on this website (as I am doing now). I had two happy minutes when I woke up, because I thought the dream was true. Why did I dream that, who can say, but I am sure thinking about it, talking about it, and reading about it all the time didn’t have anything to do with that ;)

  14. Dutch, I just now read your comments above after doing another post, and I have to say that I’m in ‘paradox’ land. Sometimes conflicting things are true. To Bobby, while I said above that we agree more than what you think, I must say that I really like Dutch’s post above, because it’s exactly what I too think.

    That’s exactly the reason I wasn’t jumping on the ‘let’s get Carlyle’ bandwagon.
    Here is something that no one has pointed out about the Ducks championship year. While it’s already been stated that they had this, that and the other – here is what hasn’t been said. I had just moved back to the US from Europe and so I watched that series with a lot of concentration. And one thing I also saw in the Ducks was a huge lack of discipline. Way way too many penalties. But they had Giguerre, Pronger, Niedermayer, Pahlsson and Moen to deal with that.
    First I’m not sure the Kings have that, but regardless, one of their big problems has been the ridiculous march to the penalty box. Last I checked they were 7th most in penalties taken this year.

    That for a team that needs to spend as much time on 5-on-5 to give themselves a chance, to say nothing of what it’s done all season to the momentum switches and chasing games vs. Vanc, Pitts, etc.
    So, that’s why I absolutely agree with Dutch and am not on the same bandwagon to get Carlyle as quickly as we can.

    I hope that makes sense.
    Last point re: coaches. Take it w a grain of salt, but I absolutely feel that there is a crop of young creative coaches in the nhl now. I really like Guy Boucher. Even Tortorella who has been around for quite some time has a rather balanced intensity that I like and he makes it very very clear to his team what he’ll put up with and what he won’t put up with. Bylsma….. wow. Read an interview w him and that guy ‘get’s it’. TM is a true gentleman, but if you don’t lay down the law w these guys, regardless of vet or rookie, you’re apt to get the results we’re getting (and that’s saying nothing of the system issues).
    To me, when Moreau took that late penalty that cost the Dallas game, I was gobsmacked that he started the Chicago game!!

    That’s it guys. I’m back east so gotta get back to work.

    • First I’m not sure the Kings have that, but regardless, one of their big problems has been the ridiculous march to the penalty box.

      … Well, to be fair – the Kings have fewer penalty minutes than their opposition this season, although the numbers are almost identical (305 for the Kings, 307 for their opponents).

      But … there is a trend with this.

      2010-11 – Kings 962, Opponents 968 (+6)
      2009-10 – Kings 979, Opponents 1028 (+49)

      In Murray’s first season, the Kings had far more penalty minutes than their opposition, so the Kings HAVE improved in this area during Murray’s tenure here.

      Otherwise, I enjoy reading what you have to say and agree with you on most points as well.

      • Yeah, well Dutch the feelings are mutual. I totally enjoy your posts. Not only that but appreciate how well you back up your points with evidence. That to me is very important. It’s too easy to just say this or that.

        Last point that I’d wanted to make on the Randy Carlyle issue is as follows: to me there is a crack in the foundation of the team (as it’s constructed currently). It could be a very small crack or a larger one. That I don’t know. But as with a home, you can redo a room and make it look better, but that won’t change the issue w the foundation.

        Again, I’m not saying that it can’t be fixed. Most certainly it can be. But that’s the best analogy I can give. I think that has to be dealt with perhaps along with a coaching change? Just don’t think the coaching change alone is the whole answer. Part yes….. the whole…. not certain about that.

    • Nice write on the coaches ..
      As I watched alot of Ranger games last year…I did like the passion of Torts..some of his choices..not so much…but they had a terrible injury plagued season last year.
      GO KINGS GO!!!

      • Yes, in fact. And watching this year I’m seeing two things from the Rangers. There is still that commitment to defense, blocking shots etc that they had last year, but I’m also seeing a great attack mentality (not to be confused with ‘shot mentality’) and speed thru the neutral zone.

        So thats why I say that it seems to be a good balance.
        I think one of the reasons so many Kings fans are frustrated is that we all believe it’s possible to have more creativity in the offensive end without sacrificing the commitment to defense.

  15. TM is a thinker, he wants the same thing all of us kings fans want. Most of disagree on how hes trying to change things up. He took the 2010-2011 team out of mediocrity jan – feb (without looking at the exact dates) and the Kings were known as a tough team to get a couple of points from (for the rest of the season), from all teams. When and if this team starts to put it together we will be praising him. The players need to gel and start scoring goals and TM will be the beneficiary. Last year, had we not lost Kopi he would have very possibly lead the kings deep into the playoffs. To me that raises the question: does the shake up of a coaching change kick the boys into gear? One way or the other we will see….

  16. God…Bless…Helene!,0,4572683.column?track=rss

    “The season’s coaching carnage count is four, starting with Davis Payne’s firing in St. Louis on Nov. 6 in favor of Ken Hitchcock. The number is sure to increase: Columbus’ Scott Arniel has survived a swirl of rumors, and Montreal’s Jacques Martin faces intense criticism daily. Terry Murray did a fine job installing a strong defensive system when the Kings needed a foundation, but they lack creativity and struggle to score. He might have taken this team as far as he can go — but not as far as it should go.”

    Read those last two line. Read them again.

    We should send her flowers.

    • A reader sent it to me yesterday. The paragraph is seemingly random at the end of another article. I want an actual article on the subject. She is a columnist and covers hockey and especially the Kings and Ducks – I want her opinion in a dedicated article on the subject while asking some hard and tough questions of Lombardi…she can borrow some of mine :)

  17. The only thing I want to say is that while you’re saying we agree to disagree…. nope. Actually the main point is…. we agree, way more than what you realize. I do for sure know that the Kings have an outstanding defense and goal tending as well as some world class forwards. So there is no question.


  1. Kings Finally Fire Terry Murray, John Stevens is Named Interim Coach - The 110 Report - A Los Angeles Sports blog

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