(Colleen De Neve/Postmedia News)

If this is the mug of the next L.A. Kings coach, then Dean Lombardi better be prepared for his own exit in 2012, likely before we reach the month of April. In such a case, I hope he likes coincidences and ironies because, when his legacy as a G.M. is written, it will be with the inescapable theme that he didn’t learn a damn thing from his days in San Jose.

I tell myself that Dean Lombardi cannot be that obtuse.

He cannot possibly replace Terry Murray with Terry Murray.

He cannot fire a defense first – defense last coach for a defense first coach – defense last – nothing but defense coach.

I tell myself these things but there is a sick feeling in my stomach this is more likely than not going to occur – that I will be sitting at work or home and I will read from Helene Elliott or Lisa Dillman or one of Bob McKenzie or in-the-know peeps that Darryl Sutter has been hired as the Los Angeles Kings coach. About the only thing I am certain of is I won’t read it from the “Insider” Rich Hammond first, who treated us earlier today with a “there is zero indication that any coaching change is on the horizon today.”

Terry Murray’s firing was the direct result of one or a combination of the following:

1. Dean Lombardi’s will and want;

2. Tim Leiweke’s pressure on Dean Lombardi;

3. Dean Lombardi’s perceived lack of options.

There are arguments for each. From the “leak” to Lombardi’s statements to Hammond, one could speculate whether this move was one Dean wanted or was forced to make. Nothing will make that more clear than the next hiring.

If Dean Lombardi comes in with an old school coach who has won nothing in his entire coaching career, whose resume is riddled with 1st and second round defeats and one Stanley Cup appearance and who is, by all reasonable deductions, out of touch with today’s game, he will take this team right to San Jose, circa 2003. History will repeat itself. He will alienate the players who, by one of their own admission, were dead. Rather than see the landscape for what it is, a team stifled by a coach that refused to infuse any reasonable offensive structure designed to score goals, Lombardi will simply pile onto them. “You thought you had it bad with Murray, heeeeere’s Darryl.”

He cannot be this obtuse.

He cannot possibly replace Terry Murray with Terry Murray.

He cannot fire a defense first – defense last coach for a defense first coach – defense last – nothing but defense coach…

…I tell myself again.

I remind myself that Tim Leiweke, although he knows little about hockey, would step in and say no. I tell myself this is crazy. Six years, Lombardi has seen what it takes in this new NHL to win. How could any reasonable person believe Sutter is the answer to what ails this team. This is just a bunch of speculation. Dean Lombardi will not hire Darryl Sutter. Nobody in their right mind who wants to win would hire Darryl Sutter to coach in this league. Then I realize Lombardi has talked repeatedly of his “short list” of replacements. A short list does not imply change, it does not imply an open mind, it does not imply bucking any trends. A short list can be one name. It implies pain.

If this happens, know this. Neither hell nor a woman hath the fury that this 31 year Los Angeles Kings fan will manifest for our general manager if I see that face or anyone like him behind the L.A. Kings bench.