Advertisement
NHL

Dean Lombardi Should Be Remembered in LA as a Guy Who Was Full of Shit

The notion that Lombardi was loyal is bullshit. He also leaves the Kings stuck with a bunch of bad contracts.

by Dave Lozo
Apr 11 2017, 9:31pm

Photo by Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Dean Lombardi was incredibly full of shit.

The recently jettisoned general manager of the Los Angeles Kings built two Stanley Cup champions in Southern California on a foundation of talent he helped acquire and develop and a reputation as a loyal boss that was built on stacks of horseshit so high that even coach and farmer Darryl Sutter could not survive the fall from it.

Lombardi preached loyalty out of one side of his mouth and was happy to throw foundational players under the bus out of the other side of his mouth when they outlived their value.

His loyalty to Mike Richards lasted only as long as he was contributing to the team. When the declining Richards was arrested at a Canadian border crossing with oxycodone, Lombardi couldn't wait to terminate a contract he opted against buying out the previous offseason out of loyalty, a.k.a. thinking he would score 25 goals again. Most people known for their loyalty wouldn't kick someone to the curb who needed help, but hey, five goals in 53 games doesn't generate much loyalty.

But if you think criminal activity is a no-go for the loyal Lombardi, think again.

When Slava Voynov was arrested and charged with felony domestic violence and suspended by the NHL, Lombardi had all the loyalty in the world for the younger, more talented player in relation to Richards. While Lombardi couldn't drop the axe on Richards fast enough, the top-pairing defenseman remained in the team's good graces until he pleaded no contest to a lesser charge and never returned to the team.

Well, it's not that he never returned to the team. Lombardi allowed Voynov to practice with the Kings during the trial, which led to the team being fined $100,000 for violating the terms of the suspension.

And then there was the loyalty to Dustin Brown, who much like Richards, saw his game decline in the years following the 2012 and 2014 championships. But since Brown was never magically caught with illegal narcotics at an international border crossing, Lombardi decided to show his loyalty by stripping Brown of the captaincy before the 2016-17 season, a title he had held since 2008 when the Kings were hot garbage.

When Dean Lombardi calls you to his office. Photo by Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

No one denies that Brown's contract is bad—news flash, Brown didn't sign himself to that contract—so if you can't get a guy charged with a crime and he has a no-trade clause, the best way to get the cancerous contract that you gave him off the books is publicly shame him by stripping the 'C' from a leader who never once had his leadership questioned and let him spend the entire season thinking about agreeing to a trade out of town.

The Lombardi horseshit loyalty narrative aside, his biggest crime wasn't loyalty—it was bad contracts that impeded the team's ability to win since 2014. Even with the teary-eyed back-stabbing of Richards that cleared all but $250,000 of his contract off the books, he still found ways to err, like Marian Gaborik's unnecessarily large deal or Brown's deal or even the contract of Jonathan Quick, who is in the middle of not being better than your goaltender for 10 years. Lombardi could have spent the next decade knifing core players if he had just replenished his talent pool that created a borderline dynasty.

So if you're an NHL player and you find Lombardi running your team in the coming years—he will, without question, land on his feet—sign his contract, smile and take his money. But if you hear him talking about loyalty and your name in the same breath, keep your head on a swivel and your numbers near your career averages or you might learn what loyalty really means to him.