Los Angeles Kings

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What Got Us Here?

There is a difference between what I think will happen and what I think should happen.  In my past few posts I have remarked on trades or firings.  Let me be clear, those are the things that I have a feeling will happen.  They aren’t necessarily things I think should happen.  To be clear even further, I am not am member of Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Network, nor do I even like making predictions about what will happen at all.

The unfortunate truth about being a hockey fan is that we are accustomed to certain responses from GMs.  I think Toronto fans have been expecting Ron Wilson to get fired from the moment he became Head Coach.  Is it fair?  No.  A few years ago the Carolina Hurricanes were off to a bad start and Cup winning coach Peter Laviolette was fired.  I still don’t like that decision, but it’s important to note that decision wasn’t solely made based on wins, losses, and overtime losses.  What exactly influenced that decision we likely will never know because we’re fed the same stuff as always, “This team needed to move in a new direction,” or, “We decided it would be mutually beneficial to move on…”

Yet, we’re so trained to expect this action that we sadly don’t even question it.  It’s easy to say, “Hey, they were losing.  It was time for him to go,” and move on.  We don’t need all the details, but as fans we must to realize it was more than just numbers.

So, what about these Kings?  Not doing so hot right now, and like I said before, since the Western Conference is so tightly packed, every point counts.  Is it time to panic?  No, put the gun down.

How many times do you look at the standings at the halfway point and see the exact 8 teams at the top that will make the playoffs?  Rarely.  Teams go up, teams go down.  The Kings aren’t in a terrible position, just not one that fans thought they would be in based on last season’s success.  However, sometimes you have to take a step back in order to take two forward.

The other night, Rob Scuderi pointed out that the Pens were in the same sort of position at the halfway point the year they won the Cup.  Of course, that was also the year they fired Michel Therrien.  Okay, so let me be clear; I am not suggesting the Kings are poised to win the Cup this year, nor am I suggesting the firing of Terry Murray.

We all know that Kings GM Dean Lombardi is a long-term planner.  He’s so long-term that he admonished himself for playing Jonathan Bernier for 3 games, a year ahead of schedule.  He’s been patient and the patience has paid off supremely.  He’s built a great young core, filled it out with some key veterans, and developed players into solid performers.

So, while I expect some sort of reaction from Lombardi, as he is a NHL GM and thereby susceptible to the same reactionary moves as any, it’s less likely in his case.  ”Lombardi” and “rash decision” aren’t likely to share the same headline anytime soon unless he stumbles into a patch of poison ivy.

The trade deadline is in roughly 5 weeks.  A lot can change in that time, so before you turn in your application for L.A. Kings head coach or start burning your Wayne Simmonds Jersey, take a breath.

And know that the team is in better hands than yours or mine.

Go Kings!

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Eric Cooney was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina, and lives in Los Angeles, CA. He shares his thoughts on the NHL as one man who is a northerner, southerner, east coaster, and west coaster. Follow him on Twitter @EricCooney

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In response to “What Got Us Here?”

  1. Raj Jan 18 20113:31 am


    Lombardi is over rated IMO. This teams core is Kopitar, Quick and Doughty. The first two were drafted by Dave Taylor and Doughty at 2nd overall was a gimme IMO (a young puck moving dman who grew up loving the Kings?)

    Even captain Dustin Brown was a former Taylor pick.
    Lombardi gets too much credit for the sucess of the current sharks when in fact this team was on a down run until the Thornton deal was pulled off by Wilson. And Lombardi is on the record as saying he thinks Boston won that deal? Really? On what planet? Thornton is everything to Sj and none of the players Boston got are in Boston anymore.

    Lombardi may be patient with young players but he is WAY to patient when it comes to trades. It was rumored he was close to trading for Fleischmann before he was dealt to COL. Since the deal he has averaged close to a point per game for the Avs while LA went with plan B..or is it C,D or E in Sturm?

    Even with prospects like Voynov, who leads all AHL dmen in scoring, I’m afraid he will not give him his just promotion to LA and may even lose him for nothing as he may opt for the KHL and get paid 10-20 times what he makes in the AHL.

    This is still a very young team and is set up to contend for the next 10 yrs. However it can’t take a step backwards like Colombus and miss the playoffs after finally making them.

    I can’t see LA trading vets like Smyth, Handzus,Greene or Scuderi but maybe a guy like Stoll or Simmonds? Maybe Stoll for Mike Fisher? Simmonds for Dubinsky? Some times these types of deals are needed to jump start teams and even players.

    Bottom line is Lombardi needs to do something big because I for one have grown tired of watching him miss out on UFA like Chara, Hossa, Havlat, Gaborik and Kovalchuk. And this summer he will probably be out bid or out smarted for guys like Richards and Semin.

    1. Eric Cooney Jan 18 201111:36 am


      While I’ll agree that Lombardi doesn’t deserve credit for players he did not draft, it’s the team building that I think he deserves credit for. Despite the current streak this team is in, it’s a great mixture of players that makes a competitive team as a whole.

      As for trading, I give Lombardi credit for not being bullied into taking a player for too much money. You mention that Fleischmann is thriving in Colorado, but even though Sturm isn’t ideal, he still has 8 points in 14 games, which is great considering the Kings got him for literally nothing. In regards to other missed UFA signings, I have no qualms with Lombardi for passing up on an aging Chara that this defense doesn’t need, an overpaid Hossa, a terribly disappointing Havlat, an oft injured and enigmatic Gaborik, or the incredibly overpaid Kovalchuk. While each of the guys you have mention is a great player in their own right, the only one I would like to see on the team right now is Hossa, but sometimes you just lose out on UFAs.

      I agree it would stink to see the Kings take a step back and miss the playoffs, that is a part of team building as well. The Kings were a surprise last season and this year many teams were gunning for them because they know the Kings aren’t bottom feeders anymore. You’re right, I wouldn’t expect to see any of those vets you mention leave, but Stoll and Simmonds maybe. Believe me, if Lombardi can chunk Stoll off he will. But I doubt New York would entertain Simmonds for Dubinsky, Dubie’s value went way up this year.

      When it’s all said and done, the Kings are still ahead of schedule from where they’ve come from. If you want to see team that have mismanaged rosters, there are plenty of them in worse disrepair than LA.

  2. Raj Jan 18 201112:12 pm


    Team building? This team lacks speed and skill upfront and has ALOT of the same type dump and chase players. Also Lombardi really didn’t help team build the young nucleus by botching up the Cammalleri trade. Ever since he was shipped out this team has lacked a true goal scoring sniper.

    An aging Chara this team doesn’t need? IMO he would have been a Pronger like influence on our younger guys. EVERY team could use Chara.

    Over paid Hossa at $5.275M cap hit? Smyth at $6.25M and Handzus at 4M are overpaid. Yes they bring leadership qualities but so do other cheap vets.
    Disappointing Havlat? His 39 pts this yr would have him second to only Kopitar and even his off yr last yr of 54 pts would have had him 4th on a playoff LA team.

    Lombardi would have been wise to sign Modin as he fit in very well with the 3rd line and is a vet with experience. All at the low price of $800 000.

    As for the Dubinsky idea don’t be to quick to dismiss it. Sather played hard ball with him last time in contract negotiations and has Dubinsky, Anisimov, Boyle and Callahan to sign this summer. Simmonds has very little leverage and could probably be signed to a deal with a lower cap hit than what Dubinsky makes now.

    Only saving grace is thank God Drury and Gomez didn’t accept Lombardi’s offers when they were UFA.

    1. Eric Cooney Jan 18 201112:56 pm


      Yes, the team lacks a true 1st line LW and a 2nd line center. That’s a given. But to say they lack speed and skill up front is a bit of an overstatement if we’re counting Kopitar, Brown and Williams. They lack some speed and skill up front. I agree.

      Yes, an aging Chara. While he is still a monster, his effectiveness has been decreasing. I don’t disagree that he would be a good mentor for the young defensemen, but take his salary into account and how the team would be hard pressed to resign some of those young D men and he doesn’t look so great.
      Yes, Hossa’s cap hit is low, we all know that. THat’s because the CASH dollars for Hossa is ridiculously high, and while that doesn’t reflect in the cap situation, it does make it more difficult for the team to sign players.

      And yes, disappointing Havlat. He has bounced back a little this year but is still on course for LESS than 20 goals, and had just 18 last year (as well as a minus-19!!) Is less than 20 goals acceptable for someone making $5mm a season?

      I agree, Lombardi should have nabbbed Modin.

      I’m not dismissing the possibility of Dubinsky getting moved, i just think it would take more than Simmonds. While signing Callahan I think would take precedent, I’m not so sure about Anisimov or Boyle, who is having a great season, but I’m not sold on whether he can keep up that pace. Believe me, Dubinsky on the second line would be great, but it doesn’t come cheap or easy.

      I’m just as unhappy with both the losing stretch we’re in as well as the inability to get a scoring winger. But I havent given up on Lombardi yet.

  3. Raj Jan 18 201110:35 pm


    Well maybe Simmonds and Voynov for Dubinsky. Dubinsky could serve as the 2nd line center until Schenn or Loktionov are ready and then could be a solid shutdown type. IMO NYR will try to get an elite Center in the off season (Spezza or Richards) and will have to shed salary.

    Chara’s cap hit needs to be taken with the fact Mitchell would probably not have been signed had we signed Chara a couple yrs back.

    Yes Hossa makes alot but top end talent usually does. We don’t know if LA has a built in team cap and if ownership has given Lombardi a number that he can’t go over. Either way Hossa’s cap hit is the number that needs to be focused on.

    Lombardi needs to make a move now. Having just lost to St.Louis and facing a PHX team in back to back games ( a team LA struggles against) LA will soon be back to .500 and it usually takes a record of 10-12 games OVER .500 to make the playoffs.

    Only good news is that if LA is out then we should be able to get a decent return on players like Williams, Stoll and even Handzus if he waives his no trade clause. Something tells me that we will be discussing the top end players available to LA in this years draft in another month.

    1. Eric Cooney Jan 19 201111:18 am


      IF it’s true that the Rangers will attempt to shed salary, I suppose it’s something for Lombardi to explore.

      The reason I focus on Hossa’s entire contract is because it’s part of what has put Chicago in it’s current situation. ALong with other bad contracts, like Campbell’s, the Hawks had to shed nearly half of their Cup winning team because they went over the salary cap. You can see Kovalchuk is giving NJ similar problems as they are now in salary shed mode as well. Lamoriello himself hinted at Kovy’s presser that his hand was forced by NJ ownership to sign Kovy; Lamoriello is too shrewd a GM to make such a cap destructive signing. I don’t want the Kings to be unable to re-sign Doughty, Johnson, etc, and be saddled with a monster contract for years to come if, God forbid, the player turn out to be as injury riddled as DiPietro. Then NO ONE would take that contract off our hands and the only resort would be to suck it up or bury the guy in the minors (see Redden, Wade).

      Believe me, I don’t disagree. Lombardi does need to do something now. And trust me, we’ll see a move of some sort within the next few weeks.

      As for where the Kings will be come next month, I don’t know. But they aren’t far from where they were this time last season, so it could go either way. This was the same time the Kings rattled off 9 straight last year, but I doubt they pull a repeat this year.

      1. Eric Cooney Jan 19 201111:33 am


        I meant to go one further and suggest that the Kings don’t need a guy like Kovalchuk per se, but someone more like Loui Eriksson. Granted, Eriksson has more points than Kovy this season and is a star player in his won right, but he doesn’t come with the “Star” tag. When you’re getting one of this superstars that the league promotes, suddenly you’re paying tons of extra money for that Star intangible.

        That’s something the Kings don’t really need. They proved at the end of last season and with the increased attendance this season that they have all the star power they need, they just need to freaking win.

        Regardless, thanks for the comments and feel free to share your point of view anytime here.

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