This isn’t an open letter. I speak on behalf of myself although I suspect the great majority of L.A. Kings fans, especially the die-hard ones, will agree with me.
There is talk, rumors, probably bullshit for a variety of reasons, that Dean Lombardi has talked to the Tampa Bay Lightning about Ryan Malone and is dangling Jonathan Bernier as a return. A thanks to Matt Barry for bringing this rumor to our attention (although he did not originate it).
From said probable bullshit article, we get this:
Kings GM Dean Lombardi — reluctantly pushed into a ‘win now’ mentality by virtue of a $63 million payroll that contains underachiever Dustin Penner and injured veteran Simon Gagne, combined with pressure from ownership to have a deep playoff run — may be forced to break up the young goaltending tandem sooner than he wanted.
Ryan Malone is still a good hockey player. He is also past his prime (32 years old), is often injured, and is a used band-aid on the L.A. Kings left wing wound. I don’t give a damn how gritty he may be or that he may use his size well. I will stipulate he will help the Kings this season. None of that makes this trade a good one.
Any trade between the L.A. Kings and the Tampa Bay Lightning that brings Malone here and sends Jonathan Bernier there, even if it includes a draft pick back to us, is a mistake in both the short-term and long. To this L.A. Kings fan and thousands of others, I assure you “I was reluctantly pushed” or “we needed to win now” will fall on deaf ears and will elicit our wrath and demands for Dean’s termination. The days of the L.A. Kings selling off young assets for aging veterans to help now while hurting our future are over if AEG wants the continued support of its core fan base, Surly & I included.
Good hockey trades like that of Mike Richards for Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn that address the short-term and long-term needs of both teams are welcome with open arms. I do not regret that trade. There is always risk there for both teams but it is calculated. Wayne Simmonds is a solid hockey player and I am thrilled that he is doing well in Philadelphia. He regressed here because of Dean Lombardi’s unwise coaching decision with Terry Murray and firing Murray one season too late. Put a good player in a position to succeed and he often does. Put him in a position to fail (pit him against the opposing team’s top lines night in and night out and then demand increased offense under a system like that of Murray’s) and he will fail to meet the unreasonable expectations.
But a trade for Ryan Malone or any player of his age or status for one of our young top-tier players, especially a goalie, will show Dean Lombardi has either lost control or lost his mind.
If we make the playoffs and lose in the first round because of our weakness at left wing, then I expect Dean Lombardi to aggressively address that in the offseason. If the “hockey deal” is not there before the deadline, I expect Dean will do nothing or make a depth move. I will not throw my hands in the air and demand Lombardi be fired if we don’t go deep into the playoffs this season. I will do so if he trades for Malone or makes a similar move at our significant expense. I will do so if he again fails to address the left wing need in the offseason. Six years is enough time. The overzealous focus on building from the back-end has to stop. Thomas Hickey was a mistake. Colten Teubert was a mistake. Derek Forbort will likely be a mistake. Stop making 1st round mistakes. Do not compound them before the trade deadline.