Dean Lombardi Has Reached the Rubicon

In 49 BC, Julius Caesar and one of his legions reached the Rubicon River in northern Italy. Moving south towards Rome would mean breaking the law, threatening the capital itself and result in an inevitable Civil War, possibly ending the Roman Republic. Failing to move would have resulted in the disappointment of Caesar’s ardent supporters perhaps ending the military and political career of Rome’s most gifted general and charismatic politician. Caesar chose the bolder path, the one with the most risk famously remarking that “the die has been cast” and the history of Mediterranean civilization was changed forever.

I have been a tireless supporter of Dean Lombardi both on these pages and in alternate persona on various message boards. I have praised his successes, forgiven his mistakes and patiently waited for him to build a team that could compete for the long-term.

His basic philosophy, that of dedicating resources to locating, drafting and then developing young talent is a sound one, a strategy that has proven to be the most consistently  successful in team sports. Dean has developed two potentially elite goaltenders, a blue line that matches up in both talent and depth with any in the NHL and brought enviable skill to the Kings at the Center position. At the same time, he has created a talent pipeline that regularly is ranked in the top 20% by independent analysts.

This is not enough. The objective is to win the Stanley Cup, nothing else. The goal is not to develop a style of play nor is it to create a team culture where players have the Kings’ logo tattooed to their rear ends. Just making the playoffs is no longer acceptable. Being hard to play against is a cliché reserved for losers. Discussing charts and filling boxes and what year players were born is an analytical exercise for sabermetricians, not a task for an NHL General Manager. Hoarding and over valuing prospects rather than getting a missing piece is what rebuilding teams do. Finally, marveling at the character and grit of washed up pylons is nothing more than romanticizing a bygone era. I say again, the only objective is to win the Stanley Cup.

Everyone else has done their part. AEG has approved a payroll at the very edge of the salary cap. The players by all accounts want to be here and win here. The fans have tolerated several seasons of hockey misery in order to have the opportunity to draft the top players. All of us have been patient with Dean, perhaps too patient. The results on the ice do not match the investment of the owners, players and fans. The Kings, 1/3 through this season, are mediocre. Take away the stellar play of Jonathan Quick, and we are competing for the top pick in next year’s draft. It was not supposed to be this way. Ownership opened the wallet to add Mike Richards and Simon Gagne to a team that stretched San Jose despite the absence of Anze Kopitar. The talent here is elite, and yet the team is near last in the NHL in goals per game.

The buck in professional sports ends with the coach and the general manager who hired him. Readers know the disdain this site has had for the prehistoric coaching style of Terry Murray. The on-ice results speak for themselves. But, after game 27, this is no longer on Murray. Dean Lombardi was hired to take this organization to the promised land. He has been given a contract extension, unlimited resources and, by and large, the support of the fans. If this team does not turn around soon, this is the responsibility of only one person, and that is the steward of this ship.

At this point, we as fans with limited knowledge of what is going on behind the scenes can only sit back, speculate and offer worthless advice on what to do. With very few exceptions, none of us have a real conception how to run a hockey club. The intricacies, intangibles and idiosyncrasies of all the moving pieces are beyond us. Making it all work is the responsibility of the Team President, a title Lombardi insisted on wearing. Like Caesar before him, Dean Lombardi has reached his own Rubicon. Doing nothing could lead to more of the same, a wasted season and probably the loss of his job. Making a bold move to shake things up entails great risk. Sometimes, the best moves are the one’s you don’t make. Deciding what to do can be agonizing. The only thing certain is that time is growing short.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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56 replies

  1. Even Rich Hammond is subtly mocking the Kings with his poll on his site. You know that he wants to put on his LA Daily News hat and write that “the time has come” post.

    I am flying down from San Jose for Bernie Nicholls night on Saturday. I, like apparently many, didn’t agonize over the last minute goal last night. I was hoping it would be the final act in Terry Murray’s NHL coaching career. It would be appropriate. Their two fluke goals are all that it takes to beat our world class goaltender on a night when the Kings hit their offensive quota (that included a fluke goal).

    I was a season ticket holder back in the Gretzky days, that was a team that was exciting to watch. I find myself looking for reasons to not start watching the games for the first 40-50 minutes now so that I can fast forward through the two intermissions. I wasn’t feeling this way two months ago. The Kings play an exceedingly boring brand of hockey.

    • I also found myself bored last night. ViperHockey is accurate, the Kings have become a very boring team to watch. I am so depressed!!

  2. It is very frustrating indeed to watch games like last nights. We are struggling where we should be shining. Ultimately it is up to the leadership to be the glue that puts the team together and also guides it to new heights.

    I think we, the fans, had high expectations going into this year and they are not being realized. I agree with you if we did not have Quick we would be sad.

    Look in your history books and find too many examples of poor leadership leading to a hard downfall…..such as do I feel we will make a good show to get in the playoffs and at this point I would say no.

    Can we as the fans impeach the coach??????
    Can we start a trend????
    I have a pen and paper……?

  3. We listen to the same opinions of the Kings being contenders, ready to make that next step for a deep run into the playoffs prior to the regular season. Apparently the consensus among the analysis of the team on paper, after roster moves, signings etc during the off season is wrong.

    Every team will face some sort of adversity during a season. Injuries, bad luck, losing streaks, player or teams struggles to score goals, goaltending. Most of these will happen to all teams during a typical season.

    You can use the above adversity as being part of the issue for the team having problems. You can also use the coaching as being part of the problem as well.

    Right now, anyone who works for the Kings broadcasting team, will not say anything, that would jeopardize their jobs.

    I have listened to Daryl Evans, Nick Nixon, Jim Fox, all use the same answer, and that is Terry Murray is not on the ice, its the players who need to perform.

    People call Kings Talk, complain about Murray, Kompon anyone who coaches the team.

    I do agree, it is the players who need to perform. But I can’t agree the coaching is not also part of the problem.

    The system Terry Murray uses, is not designed to create scoring opportunitiesl The system that Terry Murray uses is more about preventing the opposition from scoring.

    Great players will find a way to score goals regardless of the system.

    Team chemistry can lead to decreased scoring. Shuffling lines by the coach can significantly contributes to this.

    How can chemistry be created when you are playing with a new linemate(s) every other game, especially when that line chemistry was working?

    Murray has a compulsion to make line changes, for the sake of making them. I can understand, if injuries force changes to be made, or if a player is struggling to score and get them their mojo back.

    Murray has said this year he is going to use Bernier in more games, to help Quick rest, so he doesn’t suffer from burnout at the end of the season, and into the playoffs if they make them.

    Unless Quick does not get injured, Bernier isn’t playing in more than 25 games according to my math.

    The team right now is being saved by the goaltending, but what happens when the goaltending has issues, much like players can have?

    If the team is not responding to the coach any longer, then maybe its time to make a change.

    I think Terry Murray is a great teacher, and a nice man. I don’t think Terry Murray is a great coach, nor a good coach.

    Lombardi hired Murray, but is too stubborn to fire Murray, simply because this would make Lombardi look like he made a bad decision.

    Lombardi has made some pretty bad decisions over the past few years. The trade for Dustin Penner has not panned out. 2 seasons ago, after the season, not re-signing Frolov, and then signing of Poni was a complete disaster 5 goals for 3 million. Yes I know Frolov got hurt, not the point.

    The team, after the loss of Kopitar and Williams was doing ok, but were unable to win one game in the last 5 to clinch 4th in the Western Conference and home ice.

    This team came together as a group, which should have beat San Jose in the first round despite being without Kopitar and Williams.

    I think Murray really contributed to the game 3 loss, after the Kings were up 4-0 early in the 2nd period. No timeout, no pulling the goalie, nothing. We all know one of the main reasons the Kings lost this series was because they couldn’t win a game at home.

    Again this team, with the additions during the offseason is not playing up to expectations. I think it’s time to replace Murray. The longer this continues, the chances of the Kings making the playoffs, will decrease.

    • Neil. I really like your post a lot. It brings in all sorts of dimensions. Thats nice to see rather than just ‘fire TM’. Then what? (for those people).
      To riff out slightly on your post, but said differently, to me there are several key issues that point to why they are having problems.

      Not to sound to ‘deep’ but I’ve been learning that in life it’s rarely one thing to address a problem. Someone who is really a bit of a hockey ‘sage’ (a la Scotty Bowman or whoever) might be able to say, address this, this and this and you’re on your way. But most people (including us) can’t.

      I think ANYONE can make a mistake and we do. Therefore the Dustin Penner trade happened. And I remember not being excited about it at the time as there was already a residue of resentment from Edmonton (press and fans). But if other decisions are sound you can maybe absorb that mistake. But too many decisions including some draft decisions haven’t been sound enough. Henceforth the personnel issue. Combine it with the clear coaching issues and you have a recipe for problems.

      Oh, and by the way I want to be clear that thats taking nothing at all away from some good trades he’s made, some good draft picks, etc. But I always repeat the same things. You’re competing against like 5 fabulous teams in the west. You just can’t afford to get too many things wrong if you expect to compete against those teams.

    • not re-signing Frolov, and then signing of Poni was a complete disaster 5 goals for 3 million. Yes I know Frolov got hurt, not the point.

      … I generally liked your post, but this is the part I want to touch on.

      Frolov should have never left this team. The Kings sorely miss what he brought to the table – most predominantly, the possession time in the offensive zone. That meant so much more to the teams in 08-09 and 09-10 than most want to realize.

      People forget that during Murray’s first season here, Frolov was arguably the team’s best forward and had the best season of his career. If he wasn’t demoted to the lower lines in 09-10, he would have been similarly productive. If he was on the team now, he would be productive. He fits with what the team does.

      One of the things that’s killing the offense, beyond the team’s low shooting efficiency, is their lack of time with possession in the offensive zone. Just someone to hold onto the puck, allow players to get in good position or cut to the net, and if nothing else put the opposing team in their heels for a little while. It’s an important fundamental – protecting the puck and buying time and space. Frolov did that, Handzus did that, Simmonds was getting good at that as well – it’s no secret that the three of them were linemates two seasons ago. The team doesn’t do it anymore, and I don’t know if anyone on is able or willing to take on that role. In almost every case, the current team relies on passing to maintain possession in the opponent’s zone, which carries obvious risks.

      • Smyth was also fantastic at board play possession.

        I agree with you JT. Losing Frolov was just wrong on so many levels. I also felt we should have kept Handzus and traded Stoll.

        I remember during Frolov’s last game as a King I tied my best to get a chan going “Re-Sign Fro!” I bellowed over and over, but no one would take up the call.

        • My feelings exactly. Frolov was almost impossible to get the puck from on the cycle. His puck protection was among the best in the NHL. His back check was also good, one of the better players to strip pucks, up there with Datsyuk.
          Sure he could be a little lazy, but for the most part, he was one of the best forwards on the Kings.
          I never understood how a player can score 30+ goals in one season, and then only score 19 because of being jerked around on the 3rd and 4th lines.
          This can only be on the coach, poor player management. Maybe Frolov was having a bad season, but playing on the 3rd or 4th line kills a players production, which is what Murray does.
          Simmonds coming along great, then after last season Murray says Simmonds went backwards. Gee why could this be?
          Where are Richardson, Lewis now? Healthy scratches for Hunter, Moreau, Fraser.
          Dean denial is not a river in Egypt.

          • Simmonds coming along great, then after last season Murray says Simmonds went backwards. Gee why could this be?
            Where are Richardson, Lewis now?

            … 100% agree. Don’t get me started on Murray mishandling his young players who are not named Kopitar, Doughty, or Johnson.

            I’d include Bernier in your list as well. It’s like … once Murray finds a guy he likes, screw what anyone else can do or giving anyone else a shot – and it pisses me off. Wasted potential is one of my pet peeves, in hockey, in sports in general, and in life.

          • Frolov, Simmonds, Ponikarovsky, all drew the toughest defensive assignments. They were each placed in the role of shut down forwards and then Murray of course went through his “I want more” offense bullshit from them, all the while knowing damn well he is placing each player in the position of defending against the opposing team’s toughest lines. He is doing the same thing right now with Lokti. Puts him on the third line, in a checking line role (despite his nonsense about three scoring lines) and claims he wants “more.” It’s a case of being deliberately obtuse, something that goes best with a stoic facial expression.

          • absolutely nailed the biggest problem with Murray’s ‘system’. I’m not saying there isn’t a system in place which can work with the perfect mix of players and health and a bit of luck, as we’ve seen even shorthanded vs. the San Jose of the world in the playoffs. but that is all the less likely with all the other hijinx that goes on under Murray’s iron coaching fist. three scoring lines? please, what a farce. most of us would just be happy with two at this point. but it’s not just the lack of offense this season, after summer acquisitions and merely being “inconsistent” in years past, it’s now regressed. but it’s not just that, the defense has also regressed a bit, after much patience and buy-in from fans with this system.

            I have been a Kings fan nonstop for a long, long time (’89ish). heck in the awful mid-90s and as recently as two years ago I was a half-season ticket holder. we’ve all put up with a lot, and I put up with them demoting, and then unceremoniously releasing one of the franchise’s cornerstones and most reliable forwards in his prime (Frolov), who had been with the team his entire career starting with draft day. I went to my first game in close to a year last Saturday, and while it was nice to be in the building again, I can’t say I was surprised at the result. nor last night against the Ducks. this team should easily be three or four places higher in the standings right now, even with the injuries. but we’re not… and there is no clear signal it may even get better, even with the return of Richards and Mitchell.

        • Smyth was also fantastic at board play possession.

          … Yes, you’re right about that. He certainly was, and I just forgot about him in my initial post.

          • People shrug off losing Smyth like is was nothing, but it really was a big loss in my view. Now if Penner can continue playing great, that loss is evened out. I just got upset last season when people were talking about Smyth like he was washed up useless trash.

          • Hey Surly…. I’m one who never ever dissed Smyth. Ever. That said, I did see the issue of team speed as a big issue, and therefore assumed that replacing him – as he wanted to leave anyway – might help team speed.
            But watching last night on the internet, the team ‘speed’ looked virtually nonexistent.

            ….. to say nothing of the team skill level. Seems to me that skill level does have a certain link w speed thru the neutral zone.
            Henceforth everyone’s comments on Fro.

            One last thing…. I remember reading an interview on w Datsyuk and he called out Fro as being one of the more talented players in the league. But hey, what does Datsyuk know, right?

          • To be fair he was really awful and painfully slow for half the season.

          • Agreed, Surly. I am still on edge regarding Smyth. We, well, at least I, miss that guy greatly. The simple fact is, TM’s heavy, grinding style wore Smyth out by mid-season and he slowed significantly. Another victim of TM….

            To be fair, that old, slow, over the hill guy, has as many points as Kopitar, thus far….

  4. hmm elite talent…??if you break that down i only see kopitar and richards as elite forwards . Then it gets better as far as goaltending and defense im not here to debate that part my concern is with the forwards. If u want to count Gagne and Williams then I have a problem with that Williams still hasnt performed like he has before he was riddled with injuries and Gagne … is still looking for his first healthy year in awhile. SToll & Loti both had point blank chances to score and failed

  5. It’s time for a mid-course correction. It takes bigger balls to stand up, admit a mistake, take corrective actions, and proceed in a new direction than it does to continue down the same path of mediocrity and lack of success. The Kings management is like an elite chef who just cooked a bad meal and decides to serve it anyway rather than changing the dish. Murray might be a good recipe for another team with different players, but we need a coach who’s recipe will compliment and take advantage of the flavors (players) we now have. We have premier players and it should be led by a premier coach who can read his team and alter the strategies/tactics for their success on the ice.

    • Speaking of recipes…. I’ve used that analogy wrt DL and TM together. I agree that TM might work very well in another situation, but I felt even last year that the mix or blend between the two is not good. Even on nhl home ice they said they watched the Kings last night and saw ‘nothing’. That there was no excitement on the bench…. can’t even remember the rest. But it wasn’t complementary.

      • Kings don’t attack unless it’s the transition most of the time. Have you seen our forecheck? Neither have I, because it’s not there. F1 goes in, F2 hangs back. Have you seen what Hitchcock has done in St. Louis? Couple of games I saw (maybe they were flukes), 3 man forecheck. Aggressive, physical, punishing opposing D and forwards to keep possession of the puck. Meanwhile, Murray’s system 5 on 5 and without the transition focuses on playing good D while entering the zone. It’s maddening and if people in positions of access to the team actually knew something about this sport, they would ask questions of Murray and the players that mattered, not the same recycled crap.

        • Yeah, well Bobby, speaking of St. L did you happen to see the Perron goal that I posted on this morning’s thread? Always helps if you have a few guys who know how to get ahold of a puck in the high percentage areas, and then what to do with it once they have it!

        • my men’s league team of 12 guys has several times more cohesiveness and total hockey sense right now than the Kings. that’s scary, considering we’ve never had a practice, have played a mere 3 games together, half the guys never met each other before, some (like me) haven’t played in almost two years and never at a very competitive level, and our captain has said a grand total of maybe 20 words of “coaching” to our team during that time.

          granted, I’m comparing apples and oranges here, but it’s things ilke these that make rooting for this team in the winter of ‘012 all the more frustrating to watch.

  6. Take away the stellar play of Jonathan Quick, and we are competing for the top pick in next year’s draft.

    … Again, overemphasizing the goalie’s contribution and minimizing the defense’s. Yawn.

    • You are arguing against your own point from your article by my estimation.

      In the article you argue that IF all the players PICK UP THEIR GAMES and return norms they are currently playing below, AND Quick averages out, then we finish 10th. You then argue that if the players pick up their games and return to norms AND Quick continues as he has been so far this season, THEN we get home ice advantage in the playoffs.

      OK, well going off that assumption, if we argue that so far the players are under-performing from their averages, AND we then assume Quick was average during that same stretch, then doesn’t it stand to reason that we are even further below your estimation of 10th that assumes the players are performing better than they are? Wouldn’t the players under-performing combined with Quick being average (“less than stellar”) result in 13-15th in the conference and the bottom of the league?

      It’s like an equation that goes like this:

      A= Player average performance
      B=Goalie average performance
      X= Team average performance

      So if, as you proposed in your article: (A) + (B) = X

      Then right now we are: (A-1) + (B+1) = X

      So then, as the last point of your article, where the players return to norm and Quick keeps up his great play, then

      (A) + (B+1) = X+1

      So then it stands to reason that if the players under-perform and Quick is average that:

      (A-1) + (B) = X-1

      Which is what Bobby Howard is saying… Players under performing and Quick being less than stellar results in below average.

      Its not a slight against the defense.

      • Its not a slight against the defense.

        … That’s an unbelievable last statement you make when you spent your entire post ignoring the defense.

        When I did my projections about career norms in scoring and in save percentage, I assumed everything else to stay the same as it is now – this includes the defense, which was giving up 30.3 shots per game (it’s now 30.2 after the Anaheim game).

        Again, and I’ve been saying this over and over, if the team can execute the system properly while returning to their career norms in offense – not an impossible or even improbable combination – they will score more AND they will allow fewer shots. Murray’s teams have done this in the past. They’re not doing it this season, for one reason or ten. We’ve gone over some of the reasons: lack of possession in the offensive zone, poor deployment of players on certain lines, poor shooting percentages, not executing fundamentals.

        If they start allowing fewer shots, Quick won’t have to maintain a .930 save percentage or thereabouts for the Kings to make the playoffs. I could have added that variable in my article, but I thought it to be complicated enough as it is; I didn’t want to add another element to it.

        • Well why is OK for you to assume the defense as a constant but not for me to as well?

          And here I thought you’d be all proud of me an shit, using equations and stuff. I’m reaching out here man!

      • I just realized I’m an asshole and just assumed Bobby wrote this post without looking at the author. Nice article Howard.

        • Thanks! I never thought you were an asshole so don’t be too hard on yourself.

          • Then you need to pay closer attention:)

          • Hey Howard…. it’s actually not a good article. It’s imo a really excellent article. It’s like ‘wow, there are people out there who are seeing and feeling the same things as I am’….. and of course I know thats the case, but just nicer to read such an article.

            It has far more depth and subtlety than “fire TM already”.
            And I too feel very strongly as you do that DL has done some fantastic things for the Kings. Just great. But he’s also made some pretty rough errors.

            I’m repeating myself here for your benefit, so hopefully no one will call me on it, but if you add up Thomas Hickey, Trevor Lewis and Dustin Penner, that totals up to four first round draft picks. Man, if you want to win a cup and compete with the Vancouvers, San Jose’s and Chicago’s of the world, I’m not convinced that a gm has the room for those sort of results w/o consequences.

          • Drew,

            Thanks for the kind words. You point out some of DL’s mistakes. They were easy to forgive as long as the team was improving and the future was looking bright. Now that we seem to have hit a plateau, these mistakes seem more glaring. Dean is likely skating on thin ice. We will be reading Tim Leiweke’s mind soon.

  7. I have one question that I cannot seem to shake. I have read all the pundits expectations of contention for this team. I have seen the predictions. My question is, is this team filled with elite players? I know Kopitar and Richards are. Is Quick truly elite? Is Williams or Brown elite? We fans tend to overvalue our teams and players. Drew Doughty? He has had ONE good year. Other than that, as far as I can see, he is not elite. Is coaching REALLY the issue? I read all the blogs and the insider, and I see everyone crunch the players numbers “what if they are 75% of career averages, we should still be 8th to 12th in the league in scoring, its the system…”. What if my Aunt had balls (she would be my Uncle)? Maybe this is just an average team. I sure hope not, but the proof is in the pudding.

    I am for a coaching change. This team is brutal to watch. At least we can prove/disprove the “It’s the system” hypothesis and see where this team is at.

    • I wouldn’t really classify pretty much any team as elite.

      They all have their flaws. Some less than others. But they play so well as a product of their system. I mean, take Pittsburgh, San Jose, Vancouver, etc. Sure, they have some elite talent on their team, but I’d be willing to bet that if you moved some of those guys to mediocre teams, maybe their numbers stay the same (maybe they don’t) but their team would not be playing at the same level. I don’t think it is a personnel issue as much of a system issue.

      Proof in point, how does Dallas lose it’s best player, another great player, and its coach, and perform the way they are now? Same with a few other teams.

      While I do think in sports that fans blame ownership or coaching for every little problem, there is some truth in it as well. It all depends on the situation.

      When we keep bringing in more talent year after year and our 5-5 scoring either doesn’t improve or gets worse, I think it is fair to say it is a system issue. Who develops the system?

  8. Everyone!!!!!! Please take the time to write DL, explaining you are appreciative of his work (as by far he is the best GM in Kings’ history). HOWEVER, the time has come to hire a coach with the abilities to teach and manage comensurate with the talent level assembled!!!!!

  9. Another thing about Murray…while I do commend his effort in trying to find the right line combinations, the undesirable consequences are a lack of stability and consistency amongst the players. At this point, I truly believe that TM has a roulette wheel in his office with all the players’ numbers on it (Quick and Bernier’s are the two green spaces) and the lines are decided by where the little white ball lands.

  10. Out of the whole hockey world, the only person who didn’t think the Kings were going to be a top contender and challenge for, hell, even a second round playoff appearance was J.T. Dutch. Every other non-flip-flopper was led to believe through acquisitions this off-season that we would breaking free of our first-round shackles and moooovin on uuuUUupp, to the wessstsiidee.

    I knew the only person who would have a say in this would be Terry Murray. I knew he could be the kryptonite. I held out hope he could change, or that we could win despite him, but it has become painfully obvious he is a one-trick pony and couldn’t change things even if he wanted.

    Terry Murray is like the single fat chick who still insists on wearing skinny clothing because back in her skinny days that is all she would wear and pick up guys, blindly unaware she is 200 pounds heavier and a thousand degrees uglier.

    Terry Murray was great at what he did. He built this team from the ground to around the 6th floor. But this building is a 10 story building, and for the life of him, he can’t figure out how to build the remaining floors. He tinkers here and there with support columns, with moving the support columns around to different sides of the building, but he really has no clue how to make the 7th floor.

    DL is the general contractor, TM is a subcontractor. It has gotten to the point for me where DL’s job may be on the line for TM’s deficiencies if DL doesn’t make a move quick. If you are a good leader, problems in the real world get fixed, not coddled.

    Give Carlyle a contract to finish out the year. Or even let Stevens, or whoever else. If Carlyle can do a good job, offer him a couple year contract. If not, see who is available at the end of the year. Light a fire under the Kings ass because they are cooling down too qucik and once you get too cold you don’t want to go anywhere. Heat is ignition, heat is power, heat propels. We need some heat. Terry Murray does not bring it.

  11. I’m quickly turning into a grumbling old man in his 30’s. “…fucking Terry Murray, grumble, grumble” everywhere I go! I can’t even do anything without thinking something like, “Stupid Dean, do something, grumble, grumble”. I fear it’s going to start being said out loud, softly to myself while standing in lines, around other people, etc,.

    That being said, great post Howard!!

  12. Bring it!…. I guess i brought it to Hammonds and he blocked me. Just for asking why doesn’t he ask tougher questions besides the bland “thoughts of the game.” questions.

    What’s the problem when the Kings pay your bills and you write about them.

    • I would say the opinion in these parts is that Hammond is pretty useless beyond his role of directly disseminating team press releases and the official organization stance on matters. That is a useful role given that the local news outlets don’t provide this service. It is not a role I would like or accept, but someone has to to do it. I am grateful that sites like this exist so that legitimate debate and criticism are given equal billing. Somehow, I suspect the people who count in the front office start their day reading this site and others devoted to fan discussion and probably never look at Hammond.

      • Exactly which is why this site and Bernstein are great, although I don’t get Dennis’s continued support for TM when the team gets worse on offense as we add more and more talent.

  13. ‘…and now for something completely different’.

    If anyone is up for some GREAT Roman fiction (though look up any event and you’ll find it actually happened), start with Collen McCullough’s ‘The First Man of Rome’. If you don’t like reading, skip it. If you can’t handle Roman names that all sound alike, skip it. But through ‘New Man’ Gaius Marius, to Lucius Cornelius Sulla, through Gaius Julius Ceasar, what a ride! I’m only on ‘Ceasar’s Women’ and am dreading that the series will soon end.

    ‘Now back to your regularly scheduled griping…’

  14. I agree with your feelings and grading of Dean Lombardi.


    Douglas Wilson

  15. Well done, Roark. Great read.

  16. I awake every morning hoping to pick up my phone and see the one email I have been waiting for………”Terry Murray of the Los Angeles Kings has been fired”. I am sick and tired of seeing the same shit every game. Same cycles, same offense, same defense, etc. The opposing teams know EXACTLY what our next move is going to be becuase of TM’s system. We need change and we need it quick!

    At the start of the season, I was excited at the additions we made to the team. However, at this point in the season, I am seeing the same game and system as previous years. It has come to the point to where I tell myself after the opposition has scored 2 goals; “Great, we can’t win this game any longer in regulation….we can only tie it”. I am tired of this 2 goal bullshit each game. The only way, I feel, this can be changed is by putting a new face behind the bench. Our guys have the capability to do much better out there and are being held back by the old fart.

  17. Roark —

    Why must you compare Lombardi’s situation to Caesar crossing the Rubicon? That was never any great shakes — except as Caesar and his asslicks described it in later years to magnify his reputation. He was too smart to take on Pompey UNLESS he already figured he could whup his ass — not an injudicious calculation on his part, since Caesar had spent the preceding decade hardening a loyal army, while both Pompey and his troops had become so pussified they didn’t dare face Caesar on Italian ground.

    No: Lombardi’s situation is riskier and more complicated than that. He has assembled what is on paper an ideal team. But in the flesh it’s not ideal. We can point fingers and cry out for blood. But what good would it do?

    How would Caesar have fared if Labienus were down with a lower body injury and Antony out with a concussion? He might still be pissing around on the wrong side of the river. These last two games might have been VERY different with Mitchell and Richards in the line-up.

    The war has just begun. It’s still December and there’s much hockey left to play. By March Lombardi and TM might well have captured Vercingetorix and smeared their unwiped asses on Brutus and Pompey.

    You can’t say that Richards and Gagne were mistakes. And you can’t sit on forward talent like our top six. They WILL start to score. I’m convinced this team is not as mediocre or offensively challenged as they appear. It’s amazing I should feel this way, since I was among the most vociferous and worrisome critics of the deals that cost us SIZE.

    I analogize to Shaw’s Devil: “At bottom the universe is a constitutional one, and with such a majority as [we] have, [we] cannot be kept permanently out of office.”

  18. All leaders face a point in their ascension where they have to risk everything to win the prize or back down and perhaps be condemned to anonymity in the history books. Yes, the odds certainly favored Caesar, yet taking on the Roman Republic was a risky move that was treasonous and could have cost him his life. The fact that he won and that as a result Rome became the world’s greatest empire and the forefather of our own civilization does not negate the fact he had a choice, and that he was willing to gamble everything.

    Lombardi is in a similar position. he has gotten the Kings to respectability. But, he needs to win a Cup to be remembered as a great GM like his idol Lou in NJ. Getting the team to the next level involves great risk – firing the coach or trading a chunk of the future to get Parise or whatever else is percolating. The move could backfire and DL will forever be consigned to one of the many GMs who history will forget. Or. he could achieve hockey mortality. That is why I used the analogy.

    My compliments on your knowledge of Roman history. it is clearly superior to mine.

  19. I dont understand how the talent is elite based on getting San Jose to six games despite missing Kopitar.

    They talent is elite, but the team is faltering now anyway, which means it’s the coach? I understand that logic. But wasnt it also under the same coach that the Kings almost beat San Jose without Kopitar, which is your example of why we know their talent is elite?

    I dont think we know that. The team was bottom five in goal scoring last season. Thats a full 82 game season, a respectable sample size, not a six game series against a team known for playoff jitters that also had a terrible PK last year.

    And then this season, through 1/3 of the season, 30th in goal scoring.

    The true sample sizes, over 110 regular season games in the last two seasons, tells us the following, without any doubt:

    Unless Terry Murray is solely responsible for an elite offensive roster perform like a terrible one, the Kings are not an elite offensive roster.

    I’ve said here before, I think Terry Murray should be fired, just because its not working. But do I believe Terry Murray is the reason this team is 30th in offense instead of say, 8th? No way. Maybe they’re 30th instead of 20th because of Murray, but I think its rare for a coach to singlehandedly make a team 22 ranks worse than their talent is.

    In other words, if the Kings were really the 8th most talented offensive team in the league, that talent would find a way to at least score the 12th most goals, or the 15th most, whoever their coach was.

    The fact this team has gone 110+ games in the bottom 5 for goal scoring, a big part of that has to be the players.


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