Kings GM Dean Lombardi apologizes for his outburst, still upset over call

We’ve all had moments like Dean Lombardi had last night. You get in the middle of a heated contest, you’re struggling to get things right and then you’re asked about what’s bothering you and you blow off some steam verbally. For the rest of us it means either ticking off friends, making an ass of ourselves at a party, or getting thrown out of the bar.

For Lombardi, it means having to wake up the next day and see all over the Internet and in the newspapers about how you accused the NHL’s Vice-President of Hockey Operations, Mike Murphy, of making a bad call on a reviewed goal because Murphy was upset about not getting the GM job in Los Angeles years ago. It didn’t matter that Lombardi had a legitimate complaint over the call on Martin Hanzal’s second period goal that allowed it to count despite being batted in with a high stick, it’s the fact that Lombardi blew up and called out an NHL executive over it all.

Today, Lombardi apologized to Murphy over what he said and he feels pretty bad about the entire thing but hopes it took some heat off his struggling team as Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy shares.

“I called Mike Murphy and apologized first thing this morning,” Lombardi said. “He was very professional and a bigger man than me.”

Asked if he was trying to reflect attention away from his team which has been slumping after a terrific start, Lombardi admitted, “Yeah, there was some of that.”

Still, Lombardi was upset at the call and how the on-ice officials handled it.

“They are supposed to get together and discuss it so that one has the opportunity to over-rule the original call,” Lombardi said. “I mean it was so obvious it was knocked in with a high stick. Our defenceman Mike Greene is 6-foot-3 and the guy’s stick was right in his face.

Don’t be distracted too much by what Lombardi said last night, he had a very real and legitimate gripe and when things are going bad for your team, even the smallest slight against your team seems like a titanic issue. Lombardi’s rant also distracted away from what the Kings real issue now: scoring goals. The Kings still had 30 minutes of hockey to even things up and even with Lee Stempniak’s goal later in the period, it’s not as if the Kings were out of the game. The Kings had more than 30 shots on goal in the game and held Phoenix to just 15 shots of their own. On a night when the goalie is just on like how Ilya Bryzgalov was on all it took was one goal to make the difference.

Frustration coming down from the team front office usually doesn’t get such a public spectacle and for a guy like Lombardi, who keeps things close to the vest, it’s stunning to see. We hope everyone enjoyed it for what it is because it’s probably the last time we see this happen in L.A.

Sabres re-sign Robin Lehner to one-year, $4 million deal

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The Buffalo Sabres avoided salary arbitration with goalie Robin Lehner, as they inked him to a one-year, $4 million contract on Tuesday morning.

Lehner and the Sabres were scheduled to have their hearing on July 27, but that obviously won’t be necessary anymore.

The 26-year-old played a career-high 59 games in 2016-17. He finished the year with a 23-26-8 record, a 2.68 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage.

There’s no doubt that he’s a talented netminder, but he’s had his share of struggles when it comes to staying healthy and being consistent. Of course, the team in front of him hasn’t been very good either.

Both of Buffalo’s goalies (Lehner and Chad Johnson) will have something to prove this season because they’re both on one-year contracts. When their deals expire next summer, Lehner will be a restricted free agent again, while Johnson will be free to test the market on July 1st.

The Sabres now have just over $10.9 million in cap space with RFAs Zemgus Girgensons, Nathan Beaulieu and Evan Rodrigues still needing new contracts.

A huge extension for Jack Eichel is also on the horizon, but his new salary won’t count on the cap until 2018-19.

PHT Morning Skate: What will Ryan Johansen’s next contract look like?

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–Hall-of-fame goalie Tony Esposito joined the guys on NHL Tonight to talk about his illustrious career. He talked about being named to the NHL’s Top 100 list, how he was one of the first goalies to use the butterfly style and more. (NHL.com)

–It looks as though NHL players definitely won’t be playing in the next Olympics, which means certain players on AHL contracts could crack their country’s rosters. The Hockey News looks at eight minor leaguers that could find themselves at the next Olympic. Tom Kostopoulos could be an interesting player for Team Canada while Chris Bourque could be an option for the U.S. (The Hockey News)

–Nashville Predators GM David Poile has had a relatively good offseason, but he still needs to figure out a way to get Ryan Johansen under contract. The Score takes a deeper look at what his next contract could potentially look like. Johansen will never be the highest paid skater on his team (P.K. Subban makes $9 million), but second isn’t out of the question (that rank is currently held by Filip Forsberg at $6 million). (The Score)

–BarDown put together an interesting list of seven once popular equipment advancements that aren’t so popular anymore. Anyone remember Curtis Curve goalie sticks or aluminum shafts? (BarDown)

–We all know what a shark is, but why did the original ownership group in San Jose settle on that name for their hockey team? Here’s one of the reasons: “The Red Triangle is (obviously) a triangle-shaped region that spans roughly from north of San Francisco to Big Sur. It hosts seven species of sharks including Great White, Leopard, Mako, Seven-Gill, Blue, Soupfin, and Spiny Dog. Notably, it is home to one highest concentrations of Great White Sharks in the world. With so many sharks in the water, it made sense to put them on ice.” (NHL.com/Sharks)

–Everyone knows Sidney Crosby as an ultra-focused hockey star, but the little things separate him from the rest. Here’s a really cool story about him helping a Canadiens fan:

Canucks avoid arbitration with Boucher, Horvat remains RFA

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The Vancouver Canucks still have some work to do this summer, but at least none of their players will take part in salary arbitration hearings.

After coming to an agreement with Michael Chaput, the Canucks reached a one-year, $687,500 deal with forward Reid Boucher on Monday.

Boucher, 23, has 112 regular-season games under his belt. He spent most of his career (82 of 112 games) with the New Jersey Devils before bouncing to the Nashville Predators (3 games) and then the Canucks (27 games) last season. He averaged a little more than 12 minutes per night with the Canucks, much like with the Devils in 2016-17.

While the arbitration hearings are covered, the Canucks face two lingering RFA situations: Brendan Gaunce, and most importantly, Bo Horvat.

Coyotes sign Langhamer, so only Duclair needs a deal

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The Arizona Coyotes handed a one-year, two-way contract to goalie Marek Langhamer on Monday.

Langhamer would be paid $660K at the NHL level and $67,500 in the AHL, according to AZ Sports’ Craig Morgan.

Langhamer turned 23 on Saturday. He got about the smallest cup of coffee you could ask for with the Coyotes last season: he appeared in one game for 16 minutes, allowing a goal on eight shots.

It was quite the year for the Czech-born goalie, who played seven games in the ECHL and 25 in the AHL along with that brief NHL appearance. He also played in the AHL and ECHL during the 2015-16 season, so he’s been bouncing around.

As a seventh-rounder (184th overall in 2012), Langhamer likely doesn’t take opportunities for granted.

The netminding situation is interestingly fluid in Arizona. Both Antti Raanta and Louis Domingue stand ahead of Langhamer – at minimum – but those two only have one year remaining on their current deals. If nothing else, there’s likely a “prove it” vibe at multiple levels now that Mike Smith is in Calgary.

With Langhamer settled, the Coyotes only have one RFA left to sign, but it’s a tricky one with forward Anthony Duclair. When it came to Duclair, GM John Chayka kept it pretty vague with the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan.

“We’re still trying to determine the best value for the player and the team moving forward,” Chayka said.