The L.A. Kings Patience Ship Has Sailed

“I chose the Kings for a number of reasons.  First off, I’m a builder. And I see the foundation put in place by Dave Taylor. People sometimes come in and make things look as bad as possible to paint themselves as heroes. But, that’s not the case here…I want to know what happened this season. How can a team fall off the map like this? It’s easy to pin it on the coaches, but the players have to face responsibility, too. They brought in a different coach and that didn’t work.” (April 2006 after being hired by the Kings as President and General Manager)

I have previously analyzed Dean Lombardi’s tenure in an article called The Culture Of Winning. I am proud of that article because I was able to articulate with complete candor exactly how I felt at the time which, when I read it again, is precisely how I feel today. That article however was about looking back. This one is about looking forward.

In any employment context, whether the person is a CEO or a mail room clerk, a warning or two traditionally precedes a termination. I have wondered if hockey coaches and general managers are any different. Did Terry Murray know he was about to get fired? I don’t know. His words indicated surprise. Did Randy Carlyle? Don’t know but he seemed downright stunned. Has Dean Lombardi been warned? Has Tim Leiweke told Dean Lombardi if the mandate of making the playoffs and getting past the first round is not met, the changes will start at the top? I don’t know.

I do know this. For me (and I don’t speak for Surly as he may have a different opinion), the “patience” ship has sailed.

“And I see the foundation put in place by Dave Taylor…” Dean Lombardi stated in April of 2006. That “foundation” is the L.A. Kings best forward, Anze Kopitar, its captain Dustin Brown and their most valuable player, Jonathan Quick. It also included Matt Moulson (Moulson was Lombardi’s UFA signing) who Lombardi lost for nothing, Michael Cammalleri who he traded (but never replaced) as well as Brian Boyle.

“I want to know what happened this season. How can a team fall off the map like this? It’s easy to pin it on the coaches, but the players have to face responsibility, too. They brought in a different coach and that didn’t work…” Ironic isn’t it that we are asking those same questions today? What happened this season? How can a team expected to compete for the Cup struggle this much? He replaced the coach but the offense still cannot produce.

We discussed the “why” in the Culture of Winning article. Here is the “what if.”

What if the L.A. Kings do not make the playoffs this season? Dean Lombardi should be fired.

What if the L.A. Kings make the playoffs and are again eliminated in the first round? Dean Lombardi should be fired.

Harsh?

I don’t think so.

If the L.A. Kings were in the league’s top 5 and true contenders, where would a significant amount of the credit be bestowed? Dean Lombardi. He would be praised for his trades and signings, for his patience, building from the back-end out and for having the guts to acquire Mike Richards. If you know that to be the case, why should it be any different when his moves have failed to produce the intended result. When the CEO of a major corporation spends significant money and uses the company’s resources without the intended result for many years, what happens to that CEO?

But not yet.

The L.A. Kings are in a playoff spot. There is still one half of February left as well as all of March and a speck of April. March looks like a daunting month of games so February has the potential to break us if we continue to falter. I believe at last count, the Kings’ percentage odds of making the playoffs were just over 50%. I think Dean Lombardi should consider that to be his odds of being around after the end of this season and the playoffs. And he should. For this Kings fan, the “patience”, “building” and “the future is bright” mantras have little meaning. After nearly 6 years, I expect results.



Categories: L.A. Kings News

Tags: , , , , , , ,

23 replies

  1. He should be fired… and yes, he is very much on a short stick. I doubt Tim Leiweke reads this blog and I would doubt anyone would send this to him but at a dinner he said in no uncertain terms (and I’m paraphrasing a long Tim Leiweke answer here…) “Lombardi is on a short leash”.

    I begged Leiweke NOT to allow Lombardi to hire Sutter. His reply in an e-mail was simply, “I have to trust my guy”. i.e. it’s his rope to hang himself with.

    I’ve lost faith in Dean. Word around the league is players don’t want to play here. I know why Kovalchuk didn’t sign here (but can’t disclose unfortunately) and it was pure and simply… Lombardi.

    Brian Burke would have had this team in the finals already. He would have mortgaged the future… wait… what “future” do we have? Tyler Toffoli? Oooooh!

    Nope. Lombardi is done. It’s why I’m so depressed. I followed this guy for 5 years and he led me down the path to nowhere.

    • I emailed to say don’t hire him too but the email got kicked back. He probably got 500 emails about it.

      As far as Kovalchuk was it because DL grilled him about being a team player and playing better defense? Without disclosing, you can just type a” y” to confirm that one.

  2. Tim Leiweke does read this blog and he posts under the alias Tuan Jim. :)

    • Dear Tuan Jim,

      Please trade Drew Doughty for some scoring help. The guy is a big giant douche. The team is down 2 goals and he’s laughing, giggling, and partying his pants off. I had more fire and intensity as a five year old playing G.I. Joe.

      In conclusion, thanks for reading and hopefully a trade happens soon to improve our team.

      Thanks Again,
      Childish Vermin

  3. Bobby, I think you know how I feel more or less about Lombardi.
    I’ve talked endlessly with my friend about him.

    I’ll keep it simple. As you aptly point out, he did come in with a valid point of view (pov from here on out) and did succeed in installing a successful defense.
    He also made some good trades. Jack Johnson, Justin Williams.

    Now, wrt trades, and I think people often forget it…. he acquired a large number of future picks in those trades (Pavol Demitra, god bless him, and others though they escape me at the moment).

    Where imo he lost the plot is two fold.
    ONE: I haven’t had the time or interest to go in and breakdown the number of picks used on goalies and defense. But if you go thru several years of rounds 1-4, it has to be over 70%? I would be surprised if it’s less. I mean still concentrating on defense he could have kept in mind that Kopi was his key and he needed players to play with. But almost six years later he’s playing (as others have said) arguably two solid second line players. Mike Richards is barely playing with third line players….. after playing with solid talent in Philly.

    TWO: This is a character trait. Intractable. (obstinate, stubborn). I said to my friend that he is so damned set on doing things his way. My friend’s response was that all GM’s want to do it their way. Agreed. But Dean seems to leave virtually no flexibility for adjustment in the mix. I believe that’s one reason we have a laundry list of people who are in or have passed thru the organization that were ‘known’ quantities. Cloutier, Crawford, Gagne, Justin Williams, Zues, TM, Sutter, Mike Richards, Hunter, Moreau, Ponikarovsky, Halpern. And I know I’ve missed a few. Some worked out really well, others not well at all.

    In life sometimes you have to take risks…. like go with the ‘unknown’. He did it with Jack Johnson and I feel it’s a good move. But you’ve gotta be a little bit flexible in life to succeed. Look at the NY Giants. They had a completely different group of receivers in this super bowl compared to four years ago, and a few key linemen (Jason Pierre Paul). That’s in just a 3-4 year stretch. They didn’t just stick with what they already knew. Meanwhile the NY Jets got all these ‘known quantities’ from S.D. Chargers and Steelers and all, and completely tanked.

    See Part Two Below.

  4. What if the L.A. Kings do not make the playoffs this season? Dean Lombardi should be fired.

    What if the L.A. Kings make the playoffs and are again eliminated in the first round? Dean Lombardi should be fired.

    … With all of the mismanagement in this particular season and the poisonous atmosphere surrounding the organization, it’s not difficult for me to agree with you on both of these.

    The only exception I’d make is if the Kings can take whoever they play in the first round to the full seven. If the Kings can take Detroit or San Jose or Vancouver to the limit and play a good, hard series … I’ll be fine with that, regardless of whether they win or lose in game seven. If they can just make a good accounting of themselves and not roll over, I’d be satisfied, all things considered.

    I wanted to believe that this team was going to be improved from last season and the season before that – but they’ve declined over the last three seasons. From going 36-28-18 without the shootout two years ago, to 36-34-12 last year, to 22-23-10 in this one. That doesn’t speak well for Lombardi, and it’s been disheartening as a fan. When Kings’ fans suffered through two years of the team getting their collective faces kicked in from 06-08 and another year of poor to mediocre in 08-09, I’m sure the expectation wasn’t to see this team end up as another run of the mill .500 team in 2012. Were all of the losses for naught?

    I begged Leiweke NOT to allow Lombardi to hire Sutter. His reply in an e-mail was simply, “I have to trust my guy”.

    … Calling B.S. on that one – because if Tim felt he had to trust “his guy”, why did he leak a story about firing Murray to the media, and then order “his guy” to go do the deed? Why is it a suddenly a big deal to trust Dean now when it wasn’t a big deal before?

    • Calling BS on your BS. Lombardi is essentially in charge of personell. His performance is based on his personell decisions.

      Liewieke may have used his veto power on Murray, and may have had misgivings about the fact that Lombardi was either unwilling to see a problem, or unwilling to act on it. But Tim said ‘I have to trust my guy’ in the later context of the new hire, not in the context of the firing. And if Tim is thinking about firing Lombardi, then that is exactly what he should do. He gave Lombardi exactly enough rope to either save himself, hang himself, or prove that he was ineffective in leading his personell (I.e. failure regardless of good/bad decisions). Was Sutter a bad hire. Maybe not. He certainly seems to have brought some needed motivation and discipline, and they do attack the net better, although still not with consistency or effectiveness. Is that really a Sutter failure? Or is it a Lombardi failure of the third type (ineffective leadership)?

      • Calling BS on your BS. Lombardi is essentially in charge of personell. His performance is based on his personell decisions.

        Liewieke may have used his veto power on Murray, and may have had misgivings about the fact that Lombardi was either unwilling to see a problem, or unwilling to act on it. But Tim said ‘I have to trust my guy’ in the later context of the new hire, not in the context of the firing.

        … This reads like total BS and spin. It’s also quite convenient to trust a guy except when you don’t trust a guy.

        If Leiweke trusted Lombardi and if Lombardi was really in charge of personnel, Tim wouldn’t have ordered him to fire his coach. “Essentially in charge” is horseshit. Who is in charge, here? Who’s the leader? There’s nothing right about non-hockey people undermining the leadership of hockey people in matters which involve the hockey product. You don’t see that shit happening with winning organizations.

  5. I see it this way. Let’s look at Brian Burke. On XFM Home Ice one of the commentators spoke about how Burke is building the Leafs. He specified (his words, not mine) that Burke’s approach to building the Leafs is vastly different than was his approach in Anaheim because he recognizes the importance of speed and skill in the game.

    THAT is what I mean by not being intractable. In three years (barely…. not even) he constructed from nothing a fierce first line. Though people blistered him for the Kessel trade, he now has a first line that is more dangerous than the Kings first line (to which DL has added JW in five years).

    He’s very clear (Burke) as to what he needed to do and he’s doing it. He didn’t need to ‘concentrate’ just on d and goal. Oh, and somehow he managed to get Phaneuf in the mix. Granted the Leafs still make too many mistakes on d, but they’re going in the right direction, and I imagine Burke will sort that out.

    The offensive mess that is the Kings at the moment is such a tangle of confusion, that it’s hard to know exactly where the chemistry is off. On top of that, unless the trade DL would make, rather than JJ for another player, would be something along the lines of JJ and our first for another teams first that is drafting high, to finally get a skilled forward.

    Hickey is one thing. Teubert is another. Penner is another. Everyone makes mistakes. Cool. The thing is, if you expect to compete against teams like Detroit and Vancouver, you just can’t keep making mistakes like that one after another and expect it to work. Oh, I didn’t mention Trevor Lewis. That’s another middle first round choice… in his third nhl season (?) with two goals (which should be one as the penalty shot shouldn’t have even happened).

    Yes Bobby, indeed the patience ship has sailed.

  6. I agree Lombardi has done some stupid shit. My only problem with canning him this off season is who is gonna run the team? Dale Tallon would be my 1st choice but obviously that ship has sailed. What good GMs or potential GMs will be available?

    I have 0 faith in AEG and their ability to bring in a good GM. Lombardi’s hiring was an anomaly.

    If you think it’s bad now wait until they bring in really shitty GM who will suck on his own only to have Lieweekly compound it by doing what he has mostly refrained from doing with Dean but did with Dave Taylor and that is to involve himself in hockey ops and demand certain trades.

    The current rebuild will be taken apart, they will trade away key pieces for floaters or washed up names, because thats what fans in LA want right? Stars and GOALS!!

    We’ve seen this fucking movie before and sucks ass. In fact there was a time there that I had lost absolute faith in the organization. They didnt understand culture, identity or how to build a team.

    So as much as DL has screwed up and not delivered on the 5 yrs, I’d still take his way of doing things vs. Lieweke’s way of doing things.

  7. I would not say Lombardi is cometely to blame. The formula of losing, drafting high, and slow rebuild has been used by recent Stanley Cup winners Pittsburgh and Chicago who fell into the right places by chance and were able to draft Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, Staal, Kane, Toews, Seabrook of which Dean was not. He got Doughty, Hickey, and Schenn which doesn’t even compare to the names listed previously and it was like all by chance. Also, remember how long Detroit and Boston sucked before they built a culture of winning. Quebec/Colorado too.

    I wouldn’t change Dean just yet. Yeah, he’s done some dumb things but I say let him find an answer because if you start over again all the time it’s not good either because there is no continuity and it’s one mess after another.

    • It’s a bit of a double bind isn’t it? Phil Esposito said in what was I believe DL’s second (?) year as GM ‘I don’t know if he’s the guy who can get it done there’.

      I happened to be listening to nhl home ice and have never forgotten that.
      At the same time, very valid points you bring up wrt AEG. I don’t trust them either, and just last night was wondering if they’d have half of a clue as to who could come in and straighten things out. Because If someone did come in, they could right the ship or make a complete mess out of it.

      But I have doubts at this time (big doubts) as to how DL and his ‘offensive vision’ fits in with the way the game functions today.

  8. The Anaheim Ducks are just 11 points behind the LA Kings with one game in hand.
    Just wanted to point that out so, when they pass us before the season is over you aren’t surprised.
    We should’ve won the Pacific Division this season and now we’re struggling to make the playoffs only to probably lose in the first round again (we could wind up in last place).
    I love the Kings, but hate the management.
    We got rid of Dave Taylor because we couldn’t win with him, we didn’t spend the money we now spend when he was our gm.
    I understand there were several ownership changes during Dave Taylor’s time as gm, he did alot more with less, I believe.
    It’s time to bring in Wayne Gretzky as the gm, keep Darryl Sutter as head coach for now, get Tony Granato as an assistant coach (to run the offense/powerplay) and bring back Mark Hardy as an assistant coach (to run the defense/penalty kill).
    Trade Doughty, trade Bernier, let Penner and Gagne go and sign Quick to a 5-6 year deal for top 5 goalie money unlike Doughty, he’s earned his pay fucking paycheck!!

  9. I think if they fire Lombardi, they will not have to look far for his replacement. After all, that guy named Sutter has lots of experience as a GM.

    That’s the thing about Hell: it don’t stop.

  10. We are at a cross roads of sorts, one wrong move and the dominos will fall, unfortunately a team that does not score can’t win, so screw it let’s raise ticket prices so the few that stay for the bad ride next year will continue to support our marketing strategy and pay for the expected loss of season ticket holders, we don’t need whiners, let’s just push the fans to the brink and see what happens. After all the most important thing for management is to keep our jobs, if we can’t do it by winning, we can sure do it by showing a healthy profit to AEG. We have done it for over six years, masterfully!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,827 other followers

%d bloggers like this: