Author: Jason Brough

2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Media Day

Under Pressure: Dean Lombardi


After hoisting their second Stanley Cup in three years, the Los Angeles Kings had their annus horribilis in 2014-15.

First came the arrest of Slava Voynov, who would eventually go to jail for domestic violence and whose future with the team remains unclear. A few months later, Jarret Stoll was arrested in Las Vegas for drug possession. And not long after that, Mike Richards’ contract was terminated, with word that he was part of a police investigation involving oxycodone.

On top of all that, the Kings missed the playoffs by four points.

Upon reflection, GM Dean Lombardi conceded that “clearly we could do more” when it came to educating players about the consequences of their actions.

“The Voynov thing, I walked down to Jeff Solomon’s office and said, ‘This is my fault,'” Lombardi said, per the L.A. Times. “We neglected to educate our players. We missed a big step here in trying to make sure they understand right and wrong and that this has to be reinforced, not only as a human being, as somebody who is representative of the community.”

That message was echoed recently by Kings executive Michael Futa, in an interview with Yahoo Sports.

“I think it’s just re-educating and reminding them how important it is that when you leave the rink that same professionalism you bring to the ice has to stay in tact, no matter what you make or who you are or some of the special treatments you might get,” Futa said. “It’s a privilege to be an NHL player, not a right. And you can’t abuse that privilege.”

But that’s just the off-ice stuff. For Lombardi, the pressure is two-fold. Not only do his players have to stay out of trouble, they have to get back into the playoffs.

“Well, this time there’s no excuse,” Lombardi told “It’s a marvelous opportunity for our top players to take over that room, and they start by doing that, becoming the best they can be, and I think they will. There’s no doubt in my mind what guys like Kopitar and (Jonathan) Quick and (Drew) Doughty stand for, and hopefully this is an awakening. It’s no fun watching the playoffs. In the long run, we could benefit from this.”

Related: Lombardi admits players locked Sutter out, disputes specifics

Briere retires — ‘it’s time to hang them up’

Danny Briere

After 973 regular-season games, plus 124 more in the playoffs, Daniel Briere has retired.

“After taking a few weeks to think about it, it’s time to hang them up and spend a little more time at home with the family,” Briere said in a release, via the Flyers. “I’ve been very, very fortunate to have had a chance to play with some great organizations, but at this point the family becomes a priority. The Flyers are where I played the bulk of my career. I’ve had a great time in Philadelphia and have been very, very fortunate to have the chance to play here. I would like to thank Mr. Snider, Paul Holmgren and Peter Luukko along with the coaches, staff, the fans and all my teammates. It’s been a great ride in an area that I still call home.”

Briere, 37, never won a Stanley Cup, but he did become famous for his postseason production. He finished with 116 playoff points, a total bolstered by a couple of deep runs with the Buffalo Sabres and one trip to the Cup final with the Flyers in 2010, during which he had 30 points in 23 games.

Briere also announced his retirement in the French-language newspaper Le Droit, citing a wish to become more involved in the lives of his three teenage boys.

Related: Still unsigned, Briere contemplating retirement

Brodeur ‘really surprised’ to see Lamoriello leave Devils for Leafs


Talk about a changing of the guard in New Jersey. First, there was no more Martin Brodeur. Now, there’s no more Lou Lamoriello.

Brodeur, who recently became an assistant GM in St. Louis, told that he was “really surprised” when Lamoriello left the Devils to join the Maple Leafs as their new general manager.

“I had some conversations with [Lou] and I knew what was going on a bit, but it was still surprising to see all the changes going on there,” Brodeur said.

“It was the Maple Leafs pin on his suit that I found weird.”

Related: Lamoriello thanks Devils fans with full-page newspaper ad

Bruins’ biggest question: Is the blue line good enough?

Boston Bruins v Carolina Hurricanes

It was no coincidence that the Bruins missed the playoffs after trading Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders in October.

Boychuk’s departure left a big hole in Boston’s top four, one that became even more pronounced when Zdeno Chara was injured a short time later.

Now consider that young Dougie Hamilton is gone from the B’s, too. Last season, Hamilton led all Boston d-men with 42 points in 72 games, while logging an average of 21:20 per game.

Minus Boychuk and Hamilton, the Bruins have been left with Chara, who’s 38, Dennis Seidenberg, who’s 34, plus Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Matt Irwin, Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow, and Colin Miller.

Of those nine defensemen, only two — Chara and Seidenberg, neither young anymore — have ever averaged more than 20 minutes per game in a full NHL season.

Hence, the ongoing speculation that GM Don Sweeney will sign a veteran free agent, someone like Cody Franson, Christian Ehrhoff, or Marek Zidlicky. (The B’s were believed to be in talks with Mike Green, before he signed with Detroit.)

But regardless if that happens or not, expect the Bruins to make some tweaks to their system.

“At times, we probably got a little bit too stationary on our breakouts,” Sweeney said, per the Boston Globe. “We need to be in motion a little bit.”

Of course, for any system to be successful, it needs the right horses. And as it stands today, the Bruins’ stable of defensemen is more questionable than it’s been in quite some time.

Related: Vote on whether the Bruins’ Stanley Cup window has closed

Under Pressure: Claude Julien

Claude Julien

Unlike Peter Chiarelli, head coach Claude Julien got to keep his job after the Boston Bruins missed the playoffs in 2014-15.

But retaining Julien was no slam-dunk decision for new GM Don Sweeney. First, the two men had to make sure they were on the same page, philosophically speaking.

Turns out, both were.

“Don and I have had talks and have a very, very similar outlook on what’s needed and what we want to do,” Julien said, per the Boston Herald. “There was never an issue there at all. That’s why it’s worked out. We seemed to be seeing the same things. Personality-wise, we’ve known each other for a long time. It wasn’t as tough a process as far as evaluating as people might think, but it was more about the time that was needed for him to feel comfortable with everything.”

All that being said, it’s hard to imagine Julien keeping his job if the Bruins fall flat again. Ownership still has high expectations for this team; that much was made crystal clear last season.

The challenge for Julien is that Boston is a team in transition. While core players like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, and Brad Marchand remain, their success will depend greatly on the success of their youngsters.

“I came up coaching junior hockey, and I know how those young players are,” Julien said in June, per NESN. “I’ve had a lot of patience with those guys. Sometimes, you have to take a hard stance, but it doesn’t mean you’re not patient with them, and that you’re not trying to make those guys better.”

Though his reputation may say otherwise, Julien has had success with youth in the lineup. When the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011, Marchard and Adam McQuaid were rookies, and Milan Lucic was younger than both of them.

The difference then, however, was that the youngsters were significantly outnumbered by players with experience.

As Julien was quick to point out, “there’s a lot of veteran players on that Chicago team, and that’s why they’ve been there three years in a row.”

Related: Julien ‘pretty impressed’ with Sweeney’s moves