Following a season, which saw two players arrested in a seven-month span, the L.A. Kings have decided to address the team’s off-ice issues.
“I think both incidents generated a lot of discussion during the year. Clearly at the meetings and the debriefing at the end of the year, it was the number-one topic, before we even got to the hockey,” said Kings GM Dean Lombardi on Tuesday via a conference call. “The first thing you look at is, were there any signs that we should have been aware of, in both of these incidents? You look at yourself, as managers and coaches. I think we were very good in terms of communicating with our players and go out of our way to try to know them personally, as human beings.
“I think it’s one of the reasons we’ve always had that kind of family effect around there. But clearly we could do more.”
In October defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested for domestic assault.
Then in April, Jarret Stoll was arrested for drug possession in Las Vegas.
“We neglected to educate our players,” said Lombardi. “We spend time teaching them systems, nutrition and everything else, but we missed a big step here, in terms of ensuring that they understand right and wrong.
“That has to be reinforced, not only as a human being but as somebody who is a representative of your community.”
Lombardi announced that former NBA player Chris Herren would talk to the players about drug abuse.
The club is also in the process of setting up a domestic violence group that will talk to the team.
Lombardi confirmed that he had met with Stoll following his arrest.
“It’s safe to say, in all honesty, it was probably the most difficult meeting I’ve had in my career,” said Lombardi. “Probably one of the most gut-wrenching meetings I’ve ever had in my entire career, and I’ve had meetings with lots of players.”
The 32-year-old, who was a part of both Stanley Cup wins, is a pending unrestricted free agent.
Voynov’s trial is scheduled to begin on July 6.