A Culture Of Winning

“Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all time thing. You don’t win once in a while, you don’t do things right once in a while, you do them right all the time. Winning is habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.”

– Vince Lombardi

Good words.

At no time during the L.A. Kings’ 40+ year existence has the team personified these words – doing it right “all the time” or making winning a “habit” requires a culture change, one about which Dean Lombardi has spoken but, 6 years later, has failed to instill. I have wondered where and why Dean has failed. Was he simply a victim of bad luck, the inability to land coveted free agents because they prefer the other coast, filling holes with low risk, mid reward players who rarely met the expected reward and languished, foolishly thinking injury prone players would stop being so prone after they signed here, building too much from the back-end out and not placing enough significance at the forward position, one poor coaching decision after another by using old school retreads who didn’t fit the new NHL’s mold or something else?

I have sat and analyzed Dean Lombardi’s tenure more than ever during the past week. There was something about the way Terry Murray was fired, the chaos that ensued, a short list that appeared to only include one name, Darryl Sutter, and a team spiraling downward that made me wonder if Dean Lombardi really knows what the hell he is doing. You can’t and don’t understand any company’s underbelly until you are on the inside or they take actions that, to any reasonable and objective analysis, show a lack of control. Dean Lombardi doesn’t appear to have control. He is scrambling. His conduct is not calm and calculated. This worries me more than anything and I can bluntly write I have never been more concerned about this franchise’s state than I am today.

So, where did Dean go wrong? Strangely, he may have given us the biggest clue to this in April of 2009:

“I told them right from the start that I wasn’t even concerned with their current roster. I was more focused on what they had in the system.  I said that if I am going to work for you, I need time and patience because if we’re going to do this right we need to build this back up from scratch and we need to revamp the defense position.” (April 2009 in an interview with NESN.com)

We need to build this back up “from scratch” and we need to “revamp” the defense position. Now, there is something he didn’t state there. The defense “position” isn’t just defensemen but it’s a state of mind that permeates through every player, by Dean Lombardi’s expectations.

Think about what Dean Lombardi has done.

He discarded Michael Cammalleri, allegedly referring to him as the stuff that floats on the water. “What?” Let me explain. Dean Lombardi likes to state there are certain types of players – there are the surfers, the swimmers, the floaters and then there are the little pieces of “stuff” that sit on the water. I don’t think this is his original analogy – I am fairly certain he took this from another GM and quite possibly Lou Lamoriello. To Lombardi, Michael Cammalleri was that “stuff”. At best, Cammy was a floater. It’s really an incredible analogy (one that a long time season ticket holder and friend passed on to me and which, if I recall correctly, he heard from Dean Lombardi) but gives us Dean’s state of mind. He simply doesn’t place much value in goal scorers.

Matt Moulson, Brian Boyle, Teddy Purcell, failed here because they didn’t fit the defense first mold.

Look at his drafts.

In 2006, he picks a goaltender in Jonathan Bernier and Trevor Lewis, the latter of whom has become a defensive center / wing.

In 2007, he went off the board (and out of the planet) and picked Thomas Hickey, who has yet to play in the NHL. He passed up some decent forwards, not the least of which was Logan Couture.

In 2008, he made the no-brainer pick of Drew Doughty. My wife would have picked Drew. I won’t give credit for no brainers. That is not good drafting. Neither was the number 13 pick of Colten Teubert. Dumb.

In 2009, we got Brayden Schenn. Another no brainer. Brayden couldn’t stay with the club because he wasn’t defensively responsible yet. Eventually, he was packaged with Wayne Simmonds, another forward who was molded into a two way wing and who could not achieve any consistent offensive production, for Mike Richards. Richards is by and far Dean Lombardi’s best trade from my perspective (reasonable minds may differ) but, again, look at the mold – a two-way forward.

In 2010, he picked Derek Forbort…out of high school? That’s not a bad pick but, do you see a common thread here? Everything is focused on defense.

The coaching decisions – Marc Crawford is admittedly a total albatross but he is a retread. It is the only move he has made during his tenure that is not consistent with his defense first / defense last mentality. Terry Murray couldn’t fit the Dean Lombardi mold any better. Darryl Sutter…birds of a feather.

Would Dean Lombardi have drafted Anze Kopitar? I am 99% confident the answer is no.

Why didn’t Oscar Moller make it here? Not big enough, not heavy enough, not defensively responsible enough.

“But Brandon Kozun, Tyler Toffoli…” you may ask. Where are they? Why is it other teams are perfectly comfortable letting their youth cut their teeth in the NHL but our club is not? On a team that is having so much trouble scoring goals, no less? Because Kozun and Toffoli first have to become responsible two-way forwards – I assure you that is the answer. I am not criticizing. I am pointing out a fact. The only reason Kyle Clifford and Wayne Simmonds made the club as rookies was because of their physical and two-way play. If Kyle was a pure goal scorer without the…actually, that is a silly statement to even start to make. If he was that, he would not have been drafted. Neither would have Wayne Simmonds.

You may think I am being unduly harsh on Dean Lombardi. That is not my intent. If it was, I would go through all the things he “hasn’t” done, the trades he hasn’t made, the arguable myopia that attaches to his decision making process. There is some wisdom in his mindset. There is a reason we have an excellent defensive core and an excellent 1-2 combination in Jonathans Quick and Bernier (which Terry Murray managed to mismanage during his entire tenure). But, that same mindset for which he should get some credit may likely be his downfall – the same fall he suffered at San Jose.

This brings me back to the “culture” of winning.

If Dean Lombardi commanded an army of Roman soldiers, they would all be shield and armor. The sword would be an afterthought and therein lies the problem.

You have to strike to kill.

You have to score to win.

You have to win on a consistent basis to develop the coveted culture.

Unless Dean wants to see his career here come to an end sooner rather than later, he must evolve. Defense does not win Championships. He has to ingrain that in his stubborn and thick skull. Balance wins Stanley Cups. There hasn’t been a single team since the lockout that competed for the Cup with an unbalanced lineup. You need it all. Goaltending, defense, play makers and goal scorers. A top 6 of high-end two-way forwards is a fantasy. Not every player is going to challenge for the Selke.

“Will he evolve?” I don’t think so and not necessarily because he may not want to but because he has very much made his bed – the one in which we are all sleeping. Dean Lombardi, the Kings and the fans will sink or swim with his choices. The most recent choice of Darryl Sutter made damn certain of that. I hope we swim or, better yet, surf. Irony aside, I hope Dean Lombardi’s legacy with the L.A. Kings will not be one wherein he worked so hard to avoid the floaters while managing to become one.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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41 replies

  1. You say he wouldn’t have drafted Anze, and while yes Anze is very much a play-maker he also has two-way written all over him. He doesn’t seem particularly capable of scoring the elite finesse goals that someone like a Kane or a Jagr can, but maybe that’s just because he’s been groomed in the two-way mindset for so long and the system just doesn’t afford him enough opportunities. I don’t know. I guess he put up some number in the all-star game. =p

    100% agree with your bolded statement. It’s funny how if you put up some numbers you can actually afford to make a few mistakes instead of having to play perfect defense and goal tending for 60 minutes and still be stuck praying you don’t get bad bounces.

  2. The guy is way to stubborn, it’s so irritating.

  3. Crawford refused to tank games in the 09 season, because Lombardi wanted Stamkos. Think about this, Hickey, Teubert these were going to start the “core”

    I guess Tyler Myers was not good enough. and that 3 team trade setup Teubert for the Kings to take.

    I am not making this shit up, I heard this from a former player, turned analyst. Crawford wasn’t a great coach, why Lombardi even bothered to allow Cloutier to be his carry-on baggage is beyond me!

    This whole abortion has happened in Lombardi’ past. The fact Lombardi was the GM with San Jose, and Sutter was the coach, both were canned after a slow start, when again Lombardi had built a team that was ready to go deep into the playoffs. Irony, the same season they got excised from San Jose, Nabokov held out.

    Drew Doughty is the holdout and Dean Lombardi is the GM and now Sutter is the coach.

    How can AEG allow this to happen?

    If you really want to make a statement, do not go to games, don’t spend your hard earned money on a horrible product on the ice. Take a page from all the demonstrations going on because of Wall Street being bailed out by our government.

    Fact: Lombardi has never be able to acquire a big name UFA. Fact: Sutter has made it to a Stanley Cup Final and lost, same thing with Terry Murray. Fact: Sutter coached teams have lost mostly in the 1st round of the playoffs, Same thing with Terry Murray.

    The common denominator is Dean Lombardi. Poor scouts, poor player management, proven bad GM.

    Forbort instead of Etem? There are a few draft picks playing in the upcoming World Juniors, one for Team Canada Toffoli, and then Team USA Forbort, Gravel

    • My bad it was in 08 Crawford was supposed to lose, to give the Kings the #1 pick.

      Oh, before I forget, where is that Left Wing that the Kings have been searching for over the past 2 years?

    • 1) Do you really expect anyone halfway intelligent to believe your outlandish claim? Yeah, some guy on the internet sez Crawford refused to tank a season when Dumbardi told him to. I believe him bcuz he sed a formor player turned anal-yst told him so.

      2) Last I heard, Toffoli was cut from the Team Canada.

  4. Outstanding stuff Bobby! I have been a Kings fan since 1977 and I too, have never been as concerned as I am right now. What we once thought was our Savior, now appears to be our doom!

  5. Scribe, should the unthinkable happen and we miss the playoffs,does Lombardi get the axe? If so, would AEG consider moving Luc Robitaille to the GM position or would Hextall get the promotion?

    • Good question. But is just making the playoffs enough? I would think that at least going to the second round would be necessary to save DL’s ass!?

    • Yes. I think Lombardi is fired if we miss the playoffs.

      Hextall is the logical choice. Murphy is the other candidate, the one the Kings nearly hired.

      I don’t think Luc takes the GM position. I have heard he doesn’t want it but things can change. Nothing is static except static.

      • Hextall is the logical choice.

        … He needs to be the logical choice to walk out the door right behind Lombardi.

        If Dean isn’t the one to turn this team into consistent winners, I don’t see the point in hiring someone who learned at Dean’s feet. As far as I’m concerned, Hextall can take his sorry ass back to Philadelphia.

        I’d much rather see someone who has some tenure within the organization. I don’t know if that man is Mike Murphy, but I’d definitely give Mike a shot over anyone else at this moment. The coming off-season will give a better idea of possible candidates.

        The problem is that as long as the de facto GM is Leiweke, not much progress is going to be made regardless of who’s hired. If Tim’s still able to interfere in the hockey product, he might as well introduce himself as the next GM.

  6. GM Prospects: Mike Milbury no problem with, yeah Rick DiPietro cross him off.
    Pierre Magwire: Too much of a Crosby man crush, and was turned down for the GM position for Calgary.
    Mike Murphy: He and Lombardi were both final candidates for the GM of the Kings. We know who was hired. Then we hear Lombardi accusing Murphy of being biased because Lombardi was hired and Murphy was bitter.
    Ron Hextall: Theres a thought, if hired, must be a no trade/draft pick/or former Flyer exclusion. He does know what the Kings have in Manchester.
    Lure Pierre Lacroix from Colorado? He is now President, so give him both positions, he has 2 cups, made some trades like that Bourque guy and Blake.

  7. Been saying this for ages, fantastically analyzed Scribe. Its unfortunate, but most the best goal scorers in today’s game dont give it a 100% all the time. They dont dive head first in front of every slap shot.

    Only if you’re EXTREMELY lucky do you find a goal scorer to add to your team who is also a heart and soul two-way player who gives maximum effort. These are the Iginla’s and Crosby’s of the world. There arent very many of them.

    if you cant get one of these guys, and you usually cant, then you have to make a choice. Do I want to score goals, or do I want to have the perfect locker room filled with guys who always give 110% percent?

    Dean Lombardi has picked the later pretty much religiously, and its been his downfall. Finally, after seven years, he finally got lucky that Richards became available, who fit his mold. But thats just one player. Its not enough. Cammelleri is a hell of a hockey player, one of the best wrist shots in years, quick, great hands, just a really solid hockey offensive hockey player. Is he perfect? No. But thats the kind of player this team needs right now. And the reason they dont have them is because Lombardi avoids them like a plague.

    Also been his problem.

  8. Also “balance wins championships” perfectly said. Every time I hear a grisled old coach talk with a know-it-all face on, “Defense wins championships,” like he’s brilliant, I think what an idiot. Same for people who say offense wins championships. A goal for is worth the same as a goal against. There is no differentiation. You need both.

    And the stats proof it. Defense without offense gets you into the 8th seed, with a 1st round exit. Look at recent NHL history. LA, Nashville.

    Want to know who goes far?

    2007-2008 Red Wings, Cup Winners, were top 5 in both offense AND defense during the regular season.

    I dont have as good a memory on the Penguins the next season, but Im sure they were good at both.

    Then 2009-2010, the Chicago Blackhawks were top 5 in both offense and defense, I believe, or close to. Top 10 in both, anyway. Same with philadelphia I think.

    Last year, Vancouver was top 5 in both. Same with Boston, I believe.

    Being top 5 in both offense and defense wins championships. Top 10 in both can get you to the finals, with a shot at winning it.

    Defense by itself gets you eliminated early, because no matter how good you are at defense, theres bound to be another team who is also very good at defense, and who also has an offense.

  9. Vegas,

    Kopitar cant score many highlight reel goals because his elite skillset is in his size, puck protection, balance, and hockey sense. In terms of pure speed, agility, stickhandling, and sniping (the skillsets that go into scoring highlight reel goals and taking over games singlehandedly as a goal scorer would), he is not elite in.

    Thats why when people say Kopitar should be a 100 point player, I think they are overvaluing his offense. People confuse the fact that Kopitar is an elite top-line center with him being a truly elite offensive one. He is a top 5 center in the NHL or whatever he is because of what a good well-round player he is while giving you 75-85 points, the way he can dictate the pace of the game, keep puck possession, make his linemates better, and so on.

    But 100 point player? That’s Evgeni Malkin territory, Sidney Crosby territory. Offensively, you could make the argument that Malkin is everything Kopitar is, but with better hands, a better shot, better playmaking, and a more explosive stride all on top. Thats a 100 point player. I suppose you could even call Malkin a 110 or 120 point player, in which case theres more room for Kopitar to slot in at 100 and have the universe still make sense. However, I dont think Kopitar is, or should be expected to be, a 100 point talent. Keep in mind, Jonathan Toews put up 75 points last season in a more offensive system than the ones the Kings played. Toews isnt as good as Kopitar along the wall or in puck protection (hes not as big, basically), but the speed, quickness, stickhandling, and shot are all significantly better. Is Kopitar really 25 points better than him? Is he better at all? You could say Toews had a down year, but even if Toews is an 85 point player, 90 even, then at best thats what Kopitar is, too. Not 100.

    So hes not a highlight reel player. He doesnt have a sniper’s skillset. Thats the problem with him and Richards being the Kings two main offensive threats. Theyre great players, but neither provide that imperative goal scorer’s skillset. Of course that wouldnt be a problem if someone else provided it.

    But just answering the specific question of why Kopitar and Richards arent enough to take over games regularly for the Kings, its not just that their quantity of two is not enough star power up front, its the type of elite forwards they are.

    • I disagree with you over whether we’re overvaluing Kopitar’s offensive capability. I wouldn’t put Kopitar at quite the level of a Crosby or a Malkin, but I personally think he’s only half a step behind those guys.

      He’s been pretty close to a point per game player for the Kings (except for the 2008-09 season). And, he’s done this with next to no help on the wing the past couple of seasons (if ever). Yeah, he had Smyth and Williams last year for part of the year, but once injuries hit, just about every forward on the Kings ended up on his LW by the end of the year. What team brings in an AHLer (Dwight King) and throws him on the top line? That blew me away.

      Guys like Toews, Getzlaf, Thornton all have high-end (if not elite) wingers to work with. Williams and Smyth and Brown are all good players, but are in no way first liners on a lot of teams. If you were to throw a guy like Perry or Parise or Sharp or Hossa on Kopitars wing, I could see him hitting 95-100 points in a season. Could you imagine him setting up Stamkos or Kessel?

      I do, however, completely agree with your assessment of where his elite skills lie. The fact that he’s able to shut down some of the top centres in the league while still scoring regularly is damn impressive, no matter how you look at it. His puck possession skills are among the best in the league, in my opinion.

      • He’s been pretty close to a point per game player for the Kings (except for the 2008-09 season). And, he’s done this with next to no help on the wing the past couple of seasons (if ever).

        … Exactly. The only thing the so-called elite centers in the league have that Kopitar doesn’t have are high-quality wings.

        I’ve never seen a better all-around forward in Kings’ history than Anze Kopitar. Yes, Dionne and Gretzky put up better numbers. But – Dionne had Simmer and Taylor and Nicholls, and Gretzky had Robitaille and Sandstrom and Granato. And neither Dionne nor Gretzky could really compare to Anze in the defensive end of the ice.

        I can’t really find fault with Kopitar and his overall game, at all. He’s amazing. I feel for him; being around all of this losing in his NHL career, getting injured right before the playoffs started last season. It’s too bad that he’s unfairly maligned because of the players around him.

  10. If the Kings get a new GM, it shouldnt be an ex NHL player, or any of the old boys, or any of the new old boys.

    Get a creative mind with new ideas, someone that isnt stuck thinking inside the box because theyve BEEN inside the box for so long. “Oh yeah, we cant have scorers on the bottom lines. Not allowed. I mean they only play half the game.”

    Get a new, fresh mind with a NATURAL eye for talent. Someone who cant believe his OBVIOUS luck that 6’9″ version of Dan Boyle is available to him 10th overall in a draft. Not someone who goes, 6’9″? Dan Boyle? Eh.

    More than anything, how about getting someone with a grasp of the obvious, for a change?

    Thats my biggest pet peeve about Lombardi and every other NHL GM. Is this really so hard that you cant draft an NHL player with your 1st round picks half the time? Is drafting Cam Fowler or Macillrath really that difficult? Is Myers over Teubert really that hard? Its not the lack of brilliance that bothers me, I could accept that, its the absolute stupidity, constantly. I shouldnt know who the best players, picks, and free agents are better than a paid NHL GM. I dont even have the information they have, the fitness reports, the combine testing, and I can still tell better than them.

    Thats my problem. Just give me someone as a GM who I can actually look up and say knew better than i did ONCE.

    • You’re preaching keep it simple stupid which is not always simple or stupid. Hindsight plays a large part in this.

    • Agree wholeheartedly wrt your comments….. someone who thinks outside the box and that he’s been Inside the box for so long. Yes, exactly. I’m also a bit befuddled as to all the comments (not recent mind you) as to what a spectacular job DL did building the depth of the organization.

      Because as Scribe rightly points out in this piece, when you look at what he’s done with the first round picks, essentially what you have is three things: Schenn…. no brainer flipped for MR, Bernier who has been completely and totally mismanaged by the organization…. so what could you even possibly get for him now in a trade, and Doughty (no brainer).
      That’s it. That’s it. Otherwise four first rounders equate to Hickey, Penner (last yr’s first and Teubert), and Lewis. That is very very poor. What other GM can possibly make moves like that and expect to win in the west where you have Vancouver, Detroit, Chicago and San Jose?

      • Hockey is about bounces evening out. After years of good management Lombardi has come to ground.

        Lombardi seemed lose his center with Kovalchuk. Since that nonsense there has been little in the way of progress.

        1) No holes filled during the Kovalchuk off season.
        2) Demoralizing log jam in the farm system (IMO due to a lack of long term planning).
        3) Exceptionally costly for Penner.
        4) Doughty signing saga.
        5) Too many players on the cusp/ill used/distracted
        (IMO Martinez, Bernier, Loktionov, Richardson, Drewiske, Lewis, Moller).
        6) Handzus
        7) Smyth and two fleecing by the OIlers.
        8) A fog of a training camp.
        9) Failing to spot trouble after the 1st four games
        10) Resorting to boasting after early power play numbers are inflated by two 5-3 power play goals.
        11) Kompon
        12) Richards and Gagne but no offensive scheme change.
        13) Not replacing Simmonds
        14) Moreau
        15) Hunter
        16) Murray’s Offense
        17) The chaos of Murray’s firing and a short list of one name, Sutter.

        poorly managing the paic

  11. I understand that argument towards people who thought Macilrath should have been picked over Fowler at the draft, and now say otherwise.

    Its not hindsight when you know at the time of the draft.

    I dont think Im really bragging when I say I knew Myers was a better prospect than Teubert on draft day, and I knew Fowler was better than Macilrath. I think everyone but some of the NHL GMs knew that.

    Starting with Tyler Myers. All season long we all heard “hes sort of like Zdeno Chara, if he fill outs.” “Will he be able to fill out?” “Im not sure hes like Zdeno Chara.” “Hes not physical enough.”

    Of course, i had never seen him play, so I had no idea.

    I finally watched him play, and was like WTF? All these scouts worrying about Chara, hes nothing like Chara. Hes better in his skating, he can puck handle. Hes Mike Green on stilts. How many puck moving defensemen’s weakness is that they are small and cant handle bigger forwards? Myers were like the perfect antidote. I have seen few more obvious top-pairing defensemen. It was obvious. I have rarely seen a big man skate that well. Its a true rarity. His value was obvious.

    Thats not hind sight. i knew ON DRAFT DAY because it was damn obvious. Wasnt it? Either that or I should be an NHL scout.

    With Fowler its similar. His shot sucks in my opinion, and thats one of the reason I feel hes not an ideal powerplay quarterback yet. Maybe thats why some people soured on him. But other than that, hes awesome. Amazing skater, good hands, and hes smart, too. Has good vision. The Neidermayer comparison is way too easy because its the same team and hes living in Neidermayer’s house, but I honestly havent seen a defenseman that reminds me more of Neidermayer. Keith I suppose has similarities.

    Could Macilrath turn into a top-4 two-way guy with great physicality and intangibles? I suppose its possible, in which case the gap is lessened between him and Fowler, and maybe theyre even. But why get cute? Fowler was a lock top-pairing puck-moving defenseman on draft day. Everyone knew it but some of the GMs. If you can get that at 10th overall or whatever the puck was, you take it.

    So it wasnt hindsight. GMs are just bad at their jobs. Only, theyre all bad at it, so you can get away with it. That Lombardi is considered one of the better GMs in the league says all you need to know about the people running these teams. Ex-hockey players with no eyes for talent and no creativity, mostly.

    • I agree with you to a great extent but, again, you are not taking in the whole picture. I actually thought we were going to grab Myers. I was surprised by Teubert. But there is the rub – GMs don’t think simple stupid. Have you ever seen a scouting sheet on a player? I can’t recall what they are called, but if you have never seen it, Jesus, it’s something else. The scouts go through every aspect of the player you can imagine. If you look at one of the scouting sheets they use, it may confuse the hell out of you – it did me – until you start to dissect it. That is the problem. Over thinking. Every GM does it to some extent. Look at Thomas Hickey. I still remember my reaction when we picked him. It wasn’t a kind one toward Lombardi.

      As it relates to Dean Lombardi, he is actually a bit dishonest about his drafting. He claims he drafts the BPP but he doesn’t. He drafts the player that best fits into his preferred mold.

  12. Best article ever about Dean, your 100% right about him and what his done.
    History will repeat itself like san jose. Fire Dean Now!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. My god these Tyler Myers comments just wreak of stupidity. But ilI just give you all a pass and say that I just have a better memory as to why we took Teubert. Let’s start with comparisons ,Drafting a potential Boyle (Myers) or potential Scott Stevens (Teubert). Could be tough…… but the obvious pick would be to go for a Stanley cup raising defenseman right?….I shouldn’t even have to add anything else but I’m going to kick this dead horse. You just drafted a slick puck moving defensemen and A GM probably can see that his roster is lacking beef at the blue line . You have JMFG , Lubo , preissing and even modry as your puck movers. Your only roster muscle is Stuart and Blake and you wanna take some soft 6’9 defensemen ? Right well looking at them now it was a no brainer … But I’m sure Ryan Miller would of loved someone like Tuebert to standup up to Lucic instead he had that 6’9 softy

  14. Where’s the like button?

    Deans stubborness to draft and trade for players that don’t match the philosophies of the coaches he picks is maddening.

    Manchester is supposed to be playing the same style as the parent team plays in an attempt to familliarize his prospects with the LA kings system, but even though they spend years in that system, once they reach the NHL, they’re not big enough, or strong enough, or responsible enough defnsively.

    He’s got a whole stable of naturally gifted offensive players being groomed to be muckers and grinders. I don’t even want to get started on the players we’ve let walk for nothing because they couldn’t hack it in our system, but we have some untapped talent still developing that don’t match the system as it stands now either.

    All that aside, he’s not even adressing the Kings main weakness ever since he got here. The need to score consistantly. Hiring defense first coaches when your terrible offensively is a GM that is more worried about hookin up past fellow employees, then adressing the Kings only real weakness.

  15. I think the biggest problem here is the unrealistic expectations. I never saw the kings being serious contenders until doughty Johnson and quick were more seasoned pros, past their mid 20s. But this is LA everything has gotta be overnight success. The org was ready with the hype machine calling this team a contender in the offseason. Billboards all over town. It looks ridiculous now. This team is really a couple pieces, stronger captain and a good coach / offensive system away from being a top team. With a little more maturity in the defense and a couple better wingers this will be a good team. I actually think missing the playoffs would be good for these guys. They need to man up and stop goofin around (doughty) and grow a pair (kopitar). If aeg goes and blows the whole thing up and hits the reset button they are idiots. My fear is that sutter will not bring the type of o system the team needs to compete. That in turn will get both him and DL canned and AEG will start trading key pieces. So the cycle will repeat

  16. I have a question for you guys. Let’s say the Kings get the 1st overall pick in the 08 draft and pick Stamkos, is he still a 50 goal scorer in the Kings system? Does he score 40, 30? Or is he talented enough to thrive in any system? Also, do you think he plays as an 18 year old, or the Kings send him back to juniors to develop more?
    I know I often wonder how the Kings would handle a franchise scorer like that. He’s clearly not a two-way guy, he’s a pure goal scorer. I also wonder would the Kings even draft him, even though he was the clear #1 that year. Just curious for your take.

    • Look at his teammate and you have your answer. Purcell has played both sytems, but failed with the Kings, and he played in the Kings sytem for a number of years.

      It took less than 1 season in Tampa to retrain him to concentrate on using his speed to just get into shooting positions instead of worrying about where he was defensively (in the offensive zone).

  17. Bobby,

    It sounds like youve given the answer to why GMs make so many mistakes at the draft table. Ive considered the possibility as well that they are just too close to the situation, taking in far too much information and noise, whereas we can just watch the players on the tube and see who the most talented players are.

    But regardless of why they are messing up, they are messing up. The choices they make still end up being stupid whether it’s because they themselves are stupid, or they are just overcomplicating.

    However, a smart man makes a mistake once. He over-complicates once, then, like you and I are doing here now, he realizes the error in that, and he finds a new, better way to go about making his decisions.

    And really, its not just simplicity Im after. I didnt mean to give off that impression. It’s “obvious.” I dont care whether you over-complicate or keep it simple or what you do that brings you to your conclusion for who to draft, as long as your process brings you to the right conclusion. Its really not about simplicity at all unless you’re correct in that over-complicating is part of their problem, and I think you are.

    So yes, once again, very perceptive comment, and you make a great point about why they fail so much. But it still doesnt excuse it, or make it any less stupid in my book. I’ve read books on scouting and NHL scouts so I know what you’re talking about, but no amount of “Myers has gotten dumped by girlfriends three times, and never dumped one,” “Myers’ father owns a cat, not a dog,” “Myers gave his coach two tickets for him and wife to go to a spa as a goodbye present when leaving junior,” “…I think Myers is actually a chick” would have kept from drafting him on draft day.

    So what Im saying is, for a next GM, if over-complicating was the problem with Lombardi, then I want him to not over-complicate. If a poor eye for talent was the problem, I want him to have an adequate eye for talent. If the scouting staff has been relying too much on their reports, the psychological testing, and all the off-the-ice stuff, then fix that. Im just sick of knowing what picks and moves the team needs to make better than the GM does. (Continued subtopic in next comment)


    You shouldnt go around calling people stupid when you have bad information, and in general dont seem to know what youre talking about. Drafting Teubert over Myers boiled down to whether you would take Stevens or Boyle? And Lombardi picked Stevens because he’s won a Cup?

    Dan Boyle has won a Cup, too.

    More importantly, what are you even talking about? Not every physical defenseman with size is the next Scott Stevens, just like not every good skating defenseman is the next Dan Boyle. The pick wasn’t “should I pick a Grade-A puck-mover or a Grade-A two-way guy with physicality?” That is always a very difficult question to answer, and you cant really go wrong either way.

    But that wasn’t the question. The question was “Should I pick a Grade-A puck-mover with amazing size and reach, and really the whole package, or a smaller, grade-B-minus physical defenseman with far less offense and two-way abilities?”

    You’re trying to make this about style, Rudedog, and thats not it. On draft day I saw Tyler Myers as the better defenseman, period. Better overall player, styles be damned. Its not that Lombardi made the mistake of drafting a grade-A two-way guy over a grade-A puck-mover, you couldnt even call that a mistake, for one, and I wouldnt have complained about that. It’s that Lombardi drafted a C+ defenseman over an A defenseman. He drafted the clearly inferior player. He drafted the role guy over the clear and obvious star.

  18. I mean, take the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Half these players I havent seen, period, and the ones who arent in the NHL yet Ive mostly just seen on youtube. But I bet I can put on record right here who the best picks are going to turn out to be. Some of them already have like Skinner, but some havent.

    First, the top 10 picks were all really solid looking prospects, so it was hard to go wrong. I also havent seen enough of some of the players to say for sure. Two players i have seen a ton of are Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. I heard, on draft day, the Bruins offered the Oilers a sweet package to swap 1st and 2nd picks.

    Oilers should have took that because they still would have gotten the better player long term with the #2 pick, not to mention whatever extra picks/prospects. That’s right, Tyler Seguin is better than Taylor Hall. Why? One reason above all, Hall doesn’t have hands. He was so physically dominant and fast in junior, it didnt matter nearly as much, he overpowered everyone. Hes still going to be a great NHL player, but Seguin has the full arsenal. He dekes, makes plays, his shot has even impressed me more than Hall’s although I think Hall has the shot, too. But really its the hockey sense and hands, Seguin sees the ice better, and can beat his defender better.

    Then there’s Gudbranson. Its hard not to like him on youtube, which is mostly where Ive seen him, because everything physical about him, from skating to strength, is great. But what about hockey intelligence? Havent seen enough of him yet to give a good indication on him, but Im curious to see on that question. i cant even call it a gut feeling because I really havent seen enough of him, but chart it down anyway.

    Chart down Brett Connolly in the same category. Very good physical talent as a forward, but does he have the vision? Hes loaded with potential, but not so sure Skinner, Grandlund, Fowler, and Burmistrov, wont turn out better. I can give a more definite answer if I watch him more.

    Write down Ryan Johansen officially as the next Travis Zajac. Hes a very good player, but its also possible Johansen wont be as good as some who come after. Dont like watching Columbus so have only seen him briefly as well.

    Nino Neiderreiter Ive only seen on youtube and briefly in the WJC. Good finesse talent and physical strength, really liked what I saw initially. Have to watch him longer to determine the vision and hockey sense (as always), but my initial impressions for that pick were that it was fine. To say whether it was better than Johansen or whoever else, Id have to watch him more.

    Alexandr Burmistrov I have seen play a bit more, enough to tell you hes a really good player. Great two-way talent, really underrated strength in addition to his skill level. This pick is one of those situations where they got a great player, and beyond that a lot of it is preference. Im not sure he was the very best offensive talent left on the board (have to scout everyone more to really say if Granlund will be better or not, or other players I’ll get to, but I’ve seen enough to say they got a very good player).

    Grandlund has great skill level and hockey sense. He was a great pick at number 10. The only thing that could hold him back at the NHL is if he doesnt work out at all and has no physical strength, so gets knocked off the puck (or if he cant shoot, I have no idea about his shot because I havent seen him play live, and highlights only show the shots that go in). Other than that, great talent, good pick.

    Dylan Mcllrath. Rarely if ever seen him play, maybe shortly in the preseason this year for the Rangers, looked better to me than people gave him credit for, like if he learns to read the play well enough he might be able to develop into that underated Dan Girardi type of mold. But thats if he has the hockey sense and I have no idea, barely watched him. But without having seen him much, I still doubt he will be as good as Fowler, so have to say its not a good pick, although it could end up better than people think.

    Jack Campbell was a terrible pick. Notice how the Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes both found starting goaltenders in free agency this offseason on the cheap, but no one found a top-pairing defenseman on the cheap. The Stars needed Fowler more than they needed Campbell, not to mention Fowler is better, in general. Terrible pick and this I also knew from day one.

    Brandon Gormley haven’t seen him play, same with Schwartz, Forbort rarely saw him, but going to say it’s not a good pick. Hes clearly a project defenseman, has a lot of those aspects scouts like, length, long reach (maybe Lombardi’s misguided reaction to the Myers miss), pretty good mobility. He could definitely turn into a good defensive defenseman, but I didnt see enough offense or “wow” factor to justify using the 15th pick on him, not when some major scorers were still available.

    Tarasenko I’ve seen. Would like to see more of him before giving my final say on him and buying into everyone’s hype, but I mostly liked what I saw. My only concern was, he can play a power game at 6’0 190 in juniors, but thats not a power forward’s frame in the NHL. Luckily these kids still fill out after theyre drafted, still grow sometimes, and regardless, Tarasenko has plenty of finesse skill to go around, plenty more to offer. This is one of the players Lombardi should have picked instead of Forbort (felt that on draft day, again). No hindsight there as these guys arent even in the NHL. I would have an even better idea if Id watched these guys more, but regardless.

    Hishon and Watson I havent seen.

    Nick Bjugstad is another one of the better post-Fowler picks to go along with Tarasenko. Fantastic size, puck protection, good hands for a big guy, made some plays. Havent seen enough of his hockey sense but from what Ive heard its good. This is the whole package you want for a two-way power center. Not saying hes Getzlaf but he should be a lock to be a top-six center in the future. Lombardi would have been better off with him, too.

    Bennett havent seen.

    Sheahan has potential, really like his talent. One thing about him is, like a lot of Red Wings like Hudler and Filppula up to this year, they play a pretty game but it doesnt always translate to the scoreboard. In other words, they cant always get turn their talent into goals. I havent seen enough of Sheahan’s shot and how well he deflects pucks and works in the dirty areas to recommend him, but from what Ive heard he does have trouble producing. Nevertheless, that can be worked on, from what little ive seen Id say hes a better pick than Forbort too, although not necessarily Bjugstad or Tarasenko.

    Tinordi, Psysyk, Hayes I havent seen. Howden I dont remember well enough.

    One of my favorites of the whole first round was the next pick, Evgeny Kuznetsov. If he can manage to avoid Alex Semin syndrome, and as long as Washington has done their due diligence having him put on physical strength since being drafted, Kuznetsov should be an offensive force in our league. This is who I would have picked instead of Forbort. I think he would have made a great winger for Kopitar.

    Haven’t seen Visentin.

    Charlie Coyle is someone with all the intangibles, size, grit, everything he needs to be dependable defensively. Hes a safe pick, but also one with some upside. Whether hes a good defensive 2nd line center, or a great two-way one, or where his offense maxes out, really depends on how much speed he can add. The opposite of Sheahan, he’s the type of guy that will produce more than his talent level. He’s savy like that. In terms of the big power centers, from what I’ve seen, Bjugstad is the more naturally talented one, but like I said Coyle is savvy. I have to go with the talent on that comparison, go with Bjugstad, but I think Coyle is going to be a good hockey player. I think if he really works hard he can be a good two-way second line center if he has linemates who play the same type of way he likes to, along the boards, below the net.

    Another player I think will be better than Forbort. Again, not having seen Forbort much.

    Haven’t seen Brock Nelson.

    Emerson Etem, I know people are high on, and I am in some respects too. His ability off the rush to score goals in junior is great. The problem is the NHL isnt a rush league anymore, and Etem will have to figure out how to play in the half court. Havent seen much of him, but from what Ive seen, not sure his hockey sense and vision is up to the level of his speed, hands, and shot.

    Would have to see more, but I would put liken it to say, a lite version of Ovechkin. Because Ovechkin is primarily a rush player too. He doesnt excel at a half court game. If Etem can get so dominant at playing off the rush, or get in a system with linemates who help him do that, he will be a very good player. Otherwise, he needs to develop a half-court game.

    Have to see more of him to get a better idea of what will happen with him, but thats the scenario, anyway.

    Quick and dirty, here are some of the best picks made after the top 10.

    Cam Fowler, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nick Bjugstad, and Evgeni Kuznetsov.

    And Tyler Seguin is better than Taylor Hall.

    Dean Lombardi should have drafted Kuznetsov over Forbort.

    There you go. Lets see how these predictions turn out in the next couple years. If someone who has barely even seen the players play, sometimes not at all except on youtube, can still project them better than a paid NHL GM who watches them all year, then that is exactly my complaint, and I think its valid.

    What I really wish I could do is find a way to get junior games on my TV, actually scout these guys all season before every draft, and then put up my projections on draft day, time stamped, and really put it on record.

    • You’re hired

      • He is a Sharks fans…and I am concerned the “3Team” could even refer to the Ducks…it which case he should be flogged, not hired. He can however serve as my assistant after he is appropriately and ritually cleansed of the misguided allegiance to the other two teams. If that does not kill him, he is worthy. :)

  19. It’s *the “obvious” it should read.

  20. Loktionov is the next young, offensive Kings forward that is being ruined/will inevitably be ruined. 3rd line roles (checking)…benched, sent down, minimal PP time. We’ll eventually lose him because he’s not a grinder and doesn’t have size…and he’ll go somewhere else and immediately score 25+ goals.

    The 2006 Draft still kills me. He picks Bernier and Trevor Lewis in the 1st…when he picked Lewis…. Claude Giroux, Chris Stewart and Milan Lucic were still available. Fucking kills me.

  21. In response to Rudedogg, the Stevens analogy is a stretch. The book on Teubert was he was a big (6’4″ I believe) defensive defenseman. He fancied himself as a “punishing” defenseman and, here is the key, was a throw back to the bigger and physical Dmen who lacked speed and hockey sense. Myers was an offensive defenseman, one who was blossoming. For his size, he skated very well, especially his first step which is rare for his size (I cannot recall how big he is, 6″6 or 6″7″?). Where Myers needed to improve was the blue line although NOT because he lacked a physical presence (he had it, he could play physical) but because was a natural offensive defenseman (see Johnson, Jack).

    Lombardi went old school and traditional.

    In isolation, you can’t be too hard on Dean for doing it. The problem is this cannot be taken in isolation which is the entire point of the article.

  22. Bobby, I’ve run thru a whole littany of stuff wrt Lombardi since the whole mess started. Not true, actually way earlier in the season as soon as I started seeing indications that didn’t look promising.

    But I’ll tell you this. Your article is perfect. Perfect. It’s not slandering him. It just brings up point by point the issues. I agree with every last one of them. Also, remember the long essay I sent making points about TM and DL and the blend of the two? Remember that one of my key points was about Adaptability (i.e. flexibilitiy) and you rightly make reference to that in your article as well.

    Don’t know if I can articulate the following point the way I want to but I’ll give it a try. You know how Hammond always rather joked about how Lombardi can go on and on about a particular subject, whatever it may be? And it led me to believe that there is something living ‘too much in the mental plane’ if that makes sense.
    When the mind is so filled with information, it doesn’t leave a whole lot of space to see what our ‘instincts’ may be telling us. Henceforth, we default to ‘the known’ and to me, that ‘known’ as pertains to Lombardi has to do with all his reference points. The problem is that they’re Old reference points. They are Not new reference points. It’s not per chance that many teams are opening themselves to new possibilities by bringing in younger coaches who see things from a different perspective. You can even get an older coach who does that. It isn’t a question of age, it’s a question of mentality and openness.

  23. Just reread the article. So spot on. Now I remember where you sort of referenced the issue of adaptability… it was when speaking of the Thomas Hickey draft. That had been my point also. It’s one thing to say ‘we need to build from the back on out’. I have zero problem with that. But when you don’t have a reasonable assurance that you’re getting a solid nhl dman, fine, then be a little flexible and say, ok, at least we got a terrific forward. For sure not what I had in mind, but we’ll target that dman next year…. it’s gonna be a deeper draft (if that makes sense).

    Also, something that you didn’t indicate: the three keys to the Kings are Anze, Quick and Doughty. Well he isn’t even responsible for two of the three, and as indicated, the third (DD) was a no brainer. So where is One single draft pick that he’s responsible for on this team who has made a significant impact? After SIX years?

    PLUS, as for Kopitar, given that he was already there, how difficult would it have been to make a commitment to draft a winger who could complement Kopi?

  24. I’ve heard Dean use the surfers, swimmers, sunbathers. And he did say that he got the quote from a buddy GM of his..


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