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

9 Comments

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.

Zetterberg on pace to play 1,000th game in Joe Louis Arena farewell

Leave a comment

Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.

Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.

The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.

Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

Getty
Leave a comment

John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

Getty
Leave a comment

Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

Getty
Leave a comment

Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.