Does Dean Lombardi Care About Winning Above All Else?

Dean Lombardi loves the Yankees or at least he loves to talk about the Yankees.

How many times have we read or heard his quotes equating something hockey related to baseball and the Yankees. I got to thinking about that tonight. I got to thinking about the Yank of all Yankees, George Steinbrenner. George once said:

Winning is the most important thing in my life, after breathing. Breathing first, winning next.

Does Dean Lombardi agree with this? My initial answer was…I don’t know. You’ve probably seen our Quotable Lombardi page. It’s under Surly & Scribe features at the top of this site. It’s a collection of his quotes from April 2006 through the present day. We think we got most of them. He said this in December 2011:

You never see exactly what your coach sees, but for the most part, I think it’s safe to say that with the expectations this year, it becomes more result-orientated. I guess, again, this goes back to (a previous) question. Every situation is different, and the challenge for a coach, as well as players, when you have expectations it’s driven more to results. It’s harder, at times, to look for those victories within losses. That’s just the state of the franchise right now. You could look for more of those things three years ago, but we’re trying to push to the next level. And it isn’t easy. It’s a lot easier playing with the house’s money. So I think, to answer your question, you’re never going to see things exactly (the same) but I do think we’re at the stage of the franchise where you’re going to be judged on wins and losses and playoff rounds. And that’s where you strive to be. It’s a lot easier when there’s no expectations, and with every win you can get a parade. We’re not there right now, so it comes down to wins and losses.

To put it in context, he was asked whether he saw the team “compete” like Terry Murray claimed it was doing.

The thing that jumps out at me is this part: “I do think we’re at the stage of the franchise where you’re going to be judged on wins and losses and playoff rounds. And that’s where you strive to be.”

Strive to be? What the hell did Dean Lombardi think he was being judged on since April of 2006? His word count?

In fact, when you look up and down the Quotable Lombardi page, you don’t really see much of anything about “winning” and the importance of it. Instead, you read a lot of words about character, attitude, competitiveness and intangibles. But “winning” for some reason doesn’t enter Dean Lombardi’s mind or exit his mouth. This also hit me when I read Helene Elliott put this in a tweet a couple of days ago (I have yet to see the tweet by the way as a reader forwarded this in a comment):

When i talked to him monday he was already talking about next season and cap space he gains July 1 to make moves. draw your own conclusion.

I admit to having a what the fuck moment but, again, it didn’t quite register why this bothered me until tonight.

Next season? Cap space on July 1? Okay, I get it, that’s important too but shouldn’t he be absorbed with winning this season? I think that is what “draw your own conclusion” implies.

If I am the GM of the L.A. Kings (for which I am eminently qualified), I am thinking about one thing every minute of every day – winning the Stanley Cup. That’s it. Nothing else enters my mind. Every word I speak is with the goal. Every action I take, directive I give, move I make is to further that intent. I care about winning because that is my job. It isn’t to “compete”, “build character”, “gain a moral victory”, or any other bullshit. It is to kick my opponent’s teeth in and win a Cup. Does Dean Lombardi think like that? Or does he think he is the smartest man in the room? You know what happens when you sit around planning so that one day you can make winning your priority? You lose.

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28 replies

  1. My takeaway is that at least Lombardi admits that he epxects his team to be in the playoffs and win a round or two. With that he establishes what should be the current point on his projected timelineof “the rebuild.” In other words, the building is supposed to be over, the pieces are supposed to be in place, it is reasonable to expect a playoff win.

    Meanwhile, the Kings are withering under pressure, scoring less as time passes, and the answer when Gagne and Stoll are injured and Penner has become impotent is to draw on the supposed wealth of pipeline talent to call up a guy that is getting half a point a gaqme in the minors, and another guy that is playing his first NHL game ever.

    The fact that the Richards’ line clicked is more a condemnation of Penner than a statement of potential future production. Sutter was quoted saying these guys were brought in to score, not to be evaluated for the future. To rely on these guys so heavily in such a critical period of the season is an indictment. To struggle against the Islanders, even if they are “so hot right now” reminds me of the Oilers game earlier this season which I don’t dare look up for fear the the actual specifics may put me out on a ledge somewhere ready to jump.

    This is not a bad phase, this is not a tough stretch, this is the season starting to slip away with no hope for recovery. This is a team missing the creative drive to win.

    Heart and soul can be a wonderful thing, but they really only get you to 100 percent of your capability. As a group, for a million reasons, this team is incapable of mounting a sustsained and productive attack. It’s like the team is one giant Brian Willsie; all kinds of looking busy but a step away, hands of stone and soft like Dairy Queen.

    • Brian Willsie, the lost boy!  So funny. Exactly  who came to mind watching the Florida game. How could you have known?  Wish the Kings offense was that creative!

      The organization has been lying to itself since game one’s “great win” on a not so great OT power play flub.  Delusional. From that point it was clear something was missing and the organization was in spin mode.  After the Devils loss it was clear the Kings “just weren’t right”.  Even training camp didn’t feel right and seemed like a confidence deflater. 

      Every team knows the Kings offense. That’s why this mantra “we are getting our chances we just need to finish” is nonsense.  Even bad teams know how to defend the LA finish.  The creativity needed to change this pattern was never a part of the Murray vocabulary or team development.   

      Think Sutter can instill the creativity necessary to overcome predictable hockey?  Huh! I doubt he’ll return–regardless of the contract.  

      But not all is lost if Lombardi recognizes a season lost and choses to not waste resources buying Glade Air Mist for the locker room. 

      Offload the baggage and reposition for the offseason. 

  2. … Every GM in the league is thinking about one thing, and it isn’t winning the Stanley Cup. They’re thinking “what can I do to keep my spot here as long as possible?” Dean’s no exception.

    You mentioned George Steinbrenner, and I’m still from the school that everything starts at the top with the owner, and if the owner wants to win, the team will win.

    When did the Dodgers last win a championship? In 1988, when Peter O’Malley owned them. The O’Malleys only owned the Dodgers; it was THE family business, and the Dodgers have won all of their World titles (six of them in all) for the O’Malleys.

    The Lakers have won ten championships since 1980 for owner Jerry Buss, and they won one for Jack Kent Cooke in 1972. Both owners clearly wanted to win. Cooke later won with the Washington Redskins.

    The last football World championship here was won in 1984, by the Raiders, who were led by owner Al Davis.

    The last (and only) time the Kings came close to a Championship was for owner Bruce McNall, who may have lacked the money to sustain a winner, but wanted to win more than any other Kings’ owner I’ve ever seen before or since.

    Obviously it’s not impossible to win with an owner who doesn’t care much about winning, but it’s certainly not the norm. I don’t see AEG or Leiweke with any desire to win a championship. Leiweke may do a good job of pretending he wants to win and pretending he knows the game, but he doesn’t care too much about it. He cares about the other projects he’s on. The Kings are merely an afterthought, and their results speak to that.

    • Dude. That was simple, straightforward, bordering on excellent in its common sense. Fess up, Tuan Jim wrote that for you didn’t he? ;)

      • I’ll add to that that I met a very important person in the Lakers hierarchy (four or five years back) and said person told me that the problem with the Kings was ownership.

        Seeing the team get better from that point I thought that perhaps that wasn’t the case. But JT I think is spot on in the assessment.

    • That’s right. For these guys it all about football and growing an international sports conglomerate. Winning is a tool only used in case of emergency.

  3. Imo, I think DL wants to win the cup. I think he’s been trying to put together the pieces of a winning team. Defense is critically important and we all know that. But so is offense. He’s made some bad moves and he’s tried to remedy them by bringing in some key players.

    The Penner trade. I guess a lot of fans were pretty stoked. Big guy, decent track record of goals scored, SC winner…this guy can really help us. The guys ends up being a complete failure.

    Richards trade. To me it’s like saying the time is now. I think he sees Richards as the “real” captain. The one to take this team deep. Schenn and Simmonds are great players but they are not the ones that will take the team deep anytime soon.

    Gagne. I think it looked good on paper but his injury history was questionable. DL rolled the dice, he was looking ok then he got hurt. His career might be over. Intention was good but a failed trade.

    Moreau and Hunter…more veteran presence maybe???

    None of these guys are really working out as planned. Richards started off pretty well and then is Mr MIA goal wise. That might change though with this Nolan/King deal.

    So I think he’s trying and to me has one last chance with this team and he sounds like he’s electing to wait for the summer rather than the trade deadline to start really fixing shit.

    But its the Team ie the players that seem to have a false sense of security of themselves to me. They seem to strut that they are capable winners but it’s just not in them. The way they played in the 1st, to me, they were basically dominating play. But they got scored on. And it seems when they get scored on the real team comes out. They panic. They panic because they know in their heads that they have a helluva time scoring. There’s no attitude like “No worries we’ll get it back and then some…” It’s like “Oh crap they scored and we have major problems scoring…we’re in deep shit…”

    That to me is why this team sucks ass is because they don’t really think they can win. They have this loser mentality. So where does this mentality come from? When did it start? So the more I think about DL the more I think his time is over as GM. This team is so no where near a real SC contender. So over the summer its going to start all over again and then another 5 year wait? Sorta looks that way to me.

  4. There does seem to be a common thought in the Kings organization that you win some and you lose some. While it’s true, you don’t really say it all the time. The Kings quotes from top to bottom seem to indicate that as long as the effort was there then a loss is somewhat acceptable. I’d really like to see somebody really pissed after a loss. But what we see is a sort of complacency and no fire in the belly. No intensity.

    • New organization, traditional excuses. There is more to hockey then saying “we are two points ahead of where we were last year at this time”. Yeah, but how does the product smell?

  5. The Stanley Cup champion Bruins were built on the same ideal of what Lombardi is saying. Name a player from the Bruins who is a superstar, a perennial all-star. Only Character can fit into that category and really his biggest contribution is unflasshy defensive play. I know what Lombardi is trying to build only problem is it’s much harder on the west coast with a franchise not known for winning.

    Dean Lombardi cares about winning and cares about the legacy he leaves behind. For you to say anything different is moronic on your part. I fully support Dean and hope he gets a couple of more years to try and figure it out before AEG hires another generic punk.

    Good day gentleman.

    • Only Chara I meant, not character. Damn auto correct.

      • Patrice Bergeron. Don’t think he won rookie of the year, but people really took notice of him in his rookie year. He’s a top player. Superstar? No, but very exceptional player. Has just as many points as Kopitar this year.

        Tyler Sequin – 20 goals in his second year. So probably will end up with high 20’s….. and will only get better.
        Milan Lucic – could be on any team in the league.20 goals so far as well and consistently borders on 30 goals.

        Brad Marchand. All he did was single handedly win game 7 in the finals (with Thomas) and has 19 goas in 47 played (as he was suspended).

        Those guys have character AND the instincts and hands to put the puck in the net.

        How many times have you seen a King score a goal like this all year? I can’t think of one. Never mind that this is in the SC Finals.

        • Okay Drew, that’s a reach. Seguin wont be a star for a couple of years. Bettering, while an excellent player is a 60 point man, which is good but not great and Marchand is a 20 goal agitator. Then there’s Horton, Kelly, Peverly, Kreicji, and so on. All high character 2 way players, none are huge scorers but play a good 2 way game and always team players. No Drew Doughty egos among the lot. Drew Doughty would be too afraid to break a nail if we traded him to the Bruins, he would want out.

          I think Dean wanted to build the same thing here but players like Doughty, Brown, Richardson, Johnson and others have been huge disappointments and that’s a fact. I personally like what Dean is trying to accomplish. He brought excitement to a Kings team that hasn’t had any for a while. Have mistakes been made? Of coarse but I want Dean to get a couple more years to rectify the situation.

    • Lombardi has made more mistakes during his tenure than I care to count. He hired and then hung on to a coach who any reasonable person would have known would not take the Kings far. He traded away offensive talent and received nothing in return. He gambled with our future with idiotic draft picks like Hickey and Teubert. Defense does not win championships. Balance does. Dean Lombardi has failed in every respect if his goal was balance. The thing is, that was never his goal. He means it when he says it – that it starts and ends with defense. Facts are stubborn things and now you see it play out right in front of you. Incidentally, the Kings MVP, the player without which we would be near the bottom of the West, had nothing to do with him – Jonathan Quick. The player who is our best forward and the one we covet was not his pick – Anze Kopitar. 6 years and the man has not drafted or developed a SINGLE top 6 forward. 6 fucking years. I am supposed to believe what now? That will suddenly change? You know what I expect to see in the 2012 draft with our 1st round pick? “The L.A. Kings are proud to select from the _____, defenseman ____.”

      • There you go Bobby. That’s the same thing that I’ve been saying for ages. I know a woman who works in the domain of human psychology. She said something to me one time that I’ve never forgotten: People will tell you who they are. Believe them when they tell you who they are.

        BS “Facts are stubborn things and now you see it play out right in front of you.”

        He said it was about defense and he’s succeeded in doing that whether or not he drafted Quick.
        He never really spoke much about offense (other than citing the issue that was 5-on-5 scoring for the team) and the results are evident in that as well.

        It’s lopsided. Honestly, how many other teams in the nhl are this lopsided? I can’t think of a single one in the last decade. Doesn’t mean there hasn’t been one, but I can’t think of one.

      • Noooooo Bobby…..what offensive talent. Aside from Moulson all were expendable. Boyle still sucks, Cammaleri had to go, we all know that. Purcell is a 50 point guy playing with Stamkos and St. Louis (he always irritated me with his on again/off again lack of effort), I still think he’s a bum. Can’t think of anybody other than that. For the most part, in the draft he’s taken the best player available, like with Forbort who most everybody thought was a great pick. I didn’t want Etem. In the Hickey draft, an extremely weak draft, the next best player was a defensman, Alzner. Yeah, he passed on Couture but I understand why he liked Hickey. In 06′ he took Bernier and then Lewis. After picks 15 its almost a crapshoot anyway. He took Schenn, a center who landed us Richards. He fucked up on Teubert but the next best player was a defensman, Myers. I would have taken Myers myself but I understand why he took Teubert. You know how I feel about Doughty but shit, he’s a defensman.

        He was never able to land promo talent like Pittsburgh and Chicago did draft wise so he’s not to blame there. Give him a couple more years for God sakes. Lets have some continuity.

        Plus, I don’t care if he takes defensman. I love Voynov and Deslauriers.

    • The Stanley Cup champion Bruins were built on the same ideal of what Lombardi is saying. Name a player from the Bruins who is a superstar, a perennial all-star.

      … LOL whaaaat? So, if a player isn’t an All Star or a Superstar, he’s unskilled? How fucking ridiculous.

      Dustin Brown is no All-Star or Superstar, but if the Kings had four Dustin Browns on the wing in their top six, they’d be an elite team.

      • No, you obviously don’t get what I’m saying but that’s okay don’t care to explain again anyways.

        • … Whatever, dude. I got exactly what you said.

          For you to think that Lombardi’s building in the same way the Bruins were built is fucking retarded as hell, but hey – it’s you who’s posting, so I’ve come to expect that.

      • I’d rather have four Anze Kopitar’s or Mike Richard’s, sorry.
        If Dustin Brown was a real leader, he would give the effort every game like he used to.
        The passion and professionalism isn’t there anymore, I think it’s time for a change of scenery.
        I think he’s a great guy, probably a wonderful husband and father and is terrific in community involvement, that doesn’t mean shit on the ice!!!
        He’s able to do those things because of the money he makes by what, he used to do on the ice!!

        • I’d rather have four Anze Kopitar’s or Mike Richard’s, sorry.

          … The point I was trying to make was that the Kings have a guy in Brown who isn’t considered an All-Star or a Superstar, just like guys on the Bruins such as Bergeron, Lucic, Marchand, and Horton.

          If Dustin Brown was a real leader, he would give the effort every game like he used to.

          … I’ve never seen any kind of scenario where Brown doesn’t try.

          The passion and professionalism isn’t there anymore, I think it’s time for a change of scenery.

          … For once I’d like to know what in the World people mean when they use terms like “passion” and “professionalism” when they have not the first clue of what’s going on in the dressing room. Those terms just sound like lazy analysis to me. The Kings just need to score more goals. Sure, Brown’s part of that problem – but so is everyone, Kopitar and Richards included. Brown’s not a star. He’s going to have some bad games. But he’ll do enough good things over the course of a season to help a team win.

          I think he’s a great guy, probably a wonderful husband and father and is terrific in community involvement, that doesn’t mean shit on the ice!!!

          … I think you’re going to just have to live with the fact that Brown’s going to be here for a long time. He’s signed to a sweetheart deal, he’s a fine captain and representative on and off the ice, he’s been here long enough to know the L.A. area, he works his ass off, and he’s the kind of model citizen that any franchise would want. Those kinds of guys aren’t common.

          • Response to J.T. Dutch-

            I had noticed some people call you “douche” and now I can see why!!
            I don’t do anything lazy!
            Even when I fart, I give my best effort!

            “passion” and “professionalism”

            Those fucking words mean something to me!!
            For instance;
            During the first two and a half periods of the game against my opponent, I would’ve given so much effort I would be sucking for air trying to get ready for the next shift.
            That way I could rip my opponent a new asshole where his forehead used to be!!!
            I wouldn’t be laughing on the bench while losing yet another game on our team’s 6 game road trip that we couldn’t score more than one glorious goal per game on a regular fucking basis.
            I wouldn’t be acting like cock-master Drew Doughty, yeah I said it bitch, bring it.
            Make sure Penner has his “pretty boy teeth” out!
            It means playing hard every second, of every shift, of every game, of every practice, all season long.
            Not for yourself, but for your teammates, the fans, the organization that believed in you and your family.
            Once again, yeah, I’m talking to you:
            Brown, Penner, Doughty and the other lazy assholes on the LA Kings.
            You know who you are, so do your teammates
            and the people that fill the seats faithfully.
            Season after shitty season, we watch you on tv and drink the (AEG) fucking $10.00 beers, so you can get money you don’t earn!
            I have passion Kings!
            Do you try to have professionalism?

  6. One thing of significance to me wrt all DL’s Yankee’s comparisons.
    I remember them well. But let’s look at the reality. The Yankees did in fact develop a lot of their core themselves – the teams that won with Torrey.

    Who were the keys? Derek Jeter (first ballot HoF), Mariano Rivera (first ballot HoF), Jorge Posada, drafted Robinson Cano (candidate for MVP last two years), Andy Pettitte who they drafted in the 22nd round (remind anyone of the RedWings?) who was their most dependable successful pitcher in the playoffs every year.

    Then they added the free agents to that list of core guys.

    Who other than Drew Doughty (no brainer I suppose) has Lombardi added in six years? Who has he drafted that is anywhere near that level of excellence that we see on the Yankees list? Kopitar and Quick I suppose, but as we all know, someone else made those selections.

    That’s why I find it rather bothersome to hear those quotes. If you’re gonna talk the talk then nice if you can walk the walk as well.

    • Hours later just read my post again. So to bring a more balanced perspective, yes DL did draft Schenn and Simmonds which he flipped for Mike Richards and he deserves credit for that.

  7. Management doesn’t know what to do. They’re trying to buy time before their imminent termination.

  8. Drew Doughty continues to take cross checking penalties because he’s to much of a PUSSY to hit people off of the puck, I’ll take Jack Johnson anyday.
    Johnson just needs to be physical everytime, I truly believe Jack is just a nice guy and Drew is just a douche!
    Trade him and his ridiculous contract now and get the ransom we deserve, Nash would be a good start or Weber/Suter and some picks.
    This is the worst deal Lombardi has done even over Penner, Gagne, Hunter and not signing Quick long-term already!!!

  9. Mike Richards Fucking Rules!

    Look what he can do when you put some players in with him who bring it!!


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