Kings GM Lombardi on building winning culture: “They got Wayne Gretzky and that was successful, but it had no staying power”

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Say this about Dean Lombardi — he’s one helluva quote.

The LA Kings GM (same guy that brought you “recalibrate the coulombs“) conducted a lengthy interview with LAKings.com about the culture of winning and how he’s trying to build the Kings’ identity. Lombardi’s known as a rather loquacious, candid individual…that’ll talk your ear off if given the opportunity.

It appears as though the interviewer, Doug Ward, gave him that opportunity. Here are a few of Lombardi’s finer quotes.

On the modern athlete: “Tom Landry said, ‘you have to convince an athlete to do what he doesn’t want to do so he can become what he really wants to become.’ He was right. We keep throwing all these temptations out there at our athletes: money, flattery, the media, all this stuff. But, like Landry said, deep down, the athlete wants to be a winner. It’s just getting harder and harder to get to his soul.”

On establishing team culture: “The Patriots did it. The Yankees did it. If [Anze] Kopitar and [Drew] Doughty and [Jonathan] Quick and [Jonathan] Bernier and all these guys become the equivalent of [Derek] Jeter and [Mariano] Rivera and [Jorge] Posada and [Andy] Pettitte, you can now venture out and bring in a guy with a little less character because he is going to fit in.”

On L.A.’s history of winning culture (or, lack thereof): “I had done some research before I came here and I remember looking at the Kings’ history. It was 10 years before a first-round pick — Jay Wells — played for them. You have got to try to mess up your drafts to go 10 years before your first first-round pick plays for you. They either traded the picks to Montreal, or made bad picks. Then they had a little period where they drafted well, but they traded Larry Murphy. They got Wayne Gretzky and that was successful, but it had no staying power.”

On Kings fans: ““The people are much more knowledgeable about hockey. I think the fans are as passionate as I’ve ever seen, including the major hockey cities. If there is any core group of fans that deserve a winner –- in any sport -– our fans are right up there with the [Chicago] Cubs.”

In closing — I know Brian Burke is the runaway No. 1 pick for “Most Entertaining GM,” but feel Lombardi is a legitimate 1a.

Crosby: Penguins ‘probably deserved better’ vs. Senators in Game 6

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If you didn’t know that the Stanley Cup Playoffs can be awfully cruel, then the last week or so of action should make it pretty clear.

The Nashville Predators lost top center Ryan Johansen to a scary ailment few would have seen coming. The Anaheim Ducks fell in both games to the Johansen-less Predators, even after dominating significant chunks of Game 6. At least one Ducks player wondered if the better team won.

Much like in life, “fair” and “deserve” only matter so much. Sports have a scoreboard to serve as the ultimate deciding factor.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have similar thoughts after falling 2-1 to the Ottawa Senators tonight, extending the Eastern Conference Final to a decisive Game 7. You can nitpick questionable penalties and missed chances, but really, how negative can you be after Craig Anderson puts forth a blazing 45-save performance (with no overtime)?

Mike Sullivan and others echoed such thoughts.

” … Obviously, we’re disappointed in the result, but I don’t think we can get discouraged by that,” Sullivan said. “I think we’ve got to take the positives from it, and we’ve got to build on it, and we’ve got to become a more determined team for Game 7.

That’s not the sort of take that’s going to make the Senators angry in Game 7. The tone of the Senators’ discussions was likely very different after they lost Game 5 by a 7-0 score, yet maybe there was similar self belief.

Anderson puzzles Penguins as Senators force Game 7

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Who could blame fans for chanting “Andy” tonight?

The Ottawa Senators said they would choose to fight in Game 6, and Craig Anderson truly battled in this one, refusing to allow this unlikely run to an end on Tuesday. They wouldn’t roll over, even after a 7-0 humiliation in Game 5.

The underrated goalie continued his memorable (and emotional) 2016-17 season with a brilliant performance, making 45 saves to help Ottawa manage a gutsy 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

With that, hockey fans get a true treat: the Eastern Conference will go to a Game 7 on Thursday.

The Senators opted for a “bend but don’t break” strategy for much of the contest, possibly to Guy Boucher’s preference. Even so, the Penguins managed to grind their way to a 1-0 win thanks to another hard-work goal from Evgeni Malkin.

Mistakes would come back to haunt the Penguins, however, as Bobby Ryan broke Ottawa’s lengthy power-play drought to tie things up on a 5-on-3.

With their season in question thanks to a 1-1 tie in the third period, Mike Hoffman sent a booming shot by Matt Murray, and that ended up being all the Senators needed to tie the series 3-3.

Anderson was the standout, but Erik Karlsson was a hero in the way his detractors might not expect.

You can watch Game 7 on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday. The game is also available to stream via the NBC Sports App.

Report: Avalanche get permission to speak with Leafs assistant GM Dubas

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Could one of the most hapless possession teams of this more analytics-leaning era nab arguably the most promising analytics-leaning executive in the NHL?

It’s a reasonable question, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Colorado Avalanche asked for and received permission to speak to Toronto Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas.

Current GM Joe Sakic recently got a vote of confidence and also cleaned out some of the coaching staff around Jared Bednar, so this is certainly a time of change for the Avalanche.

It will be interesting to see what kind of role Dubas would receive if he did join the fold in Colorado. Would he still be considered an assistant GM, only with more sway with what would likely be a smaller group of decision-makers? Could we see Sakic move up and give Dubas the full GM title (or eventually transition that role to the young upstart)? Might there be some other factor that would qualify as a more “outside the box” idea?

One thing seems clear: the Avalanche might want to be decisive, as demand could be significant for Dubas if he’s even somewhat on the market.

This could be interesting, especially if you’re a nerd for team-building storylines.

Video: Senators score twice to take 2-1 lead in Game 6

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The Ottawa Senators have defied odds during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and they’ve done so with what’s often been an ice-cold power play.

They finally struck gold on the man advantage on Tuesday, and at a key moment. The Pittsburgh Penguins were dominating much of the game and pressing for an even bigger edge after Evgeni Malkin made it 1-0.

Maybe the Penguins got overzealous, or maybe officials … finally started making some calls. Either way, the Senators ended up with a 5-on-3 advantage for almost a minute-and-a-half. With that opportunity, Bobby Ryan scored a huge goal for Ottawa on a shot that was both oddly and perfectly placed.

Moments later, Kyle Turris narrowly missed a golden opportunity, so the contest remained tied 1-1.

Despite a late push by the Penguins to finish the second, Game 6 will enter the third period with a 1-1 score.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE COVERAGE FOR GAME 6

Update: Mike Hoffman‘s booming shot gave the Senators a 2-1 lead in the third. We’ll see if Pittsburgh can tie it up.