Lombardi admits players locked Sutter out, disputes specifics

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This was a trying season for the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings and it’s possible the players relationship with coach Darryl Sutter got rather strained in the process. A recent report from the New York Post cited sources stating that the players locked Sutter out of the locker room after a defeat within the last two weeks. They reportedly went as far as to block the door with garbage cans.

“It’s factually inaccurate,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi said, per the Orange County Register.

Partially at least. Lombardi isn’t saying it didn’t happen, just that it didn’t happen within the last two weeks. It actually occurred during the Kings’ time in Tampa Bay, which is a noteworthy distinction because Los Angeles began an eight-game winning streak with its victory over the Lightning on Feb. 7.

“In terms of what actually happened, maybe (players) don’t have to go to that extreme, but theoretically I don’t have a problem with it,” Lombardi added. “Here’s the thing, with where this team has to get to. If you look at what a coach’s number-one role is, it’s to give his team structure and detail. The emotion, in terms of getting that emotion to where it needs to be, if we’re going to be a top team it has to come from within the room.

“… What happened there, that’s what needs to happen. The players need to take over the room emotionally, and if they want to go in there and say, `Coach, stay out, I’ve got this one. We know how to win,’ I’ve got no problem with that.”

Just in the future, Lombardi hopes the players don’t resort to using garbage cans to get their point across.

Given that Sutter has led Los Angeles to two Stanley Cup championships, it would be surprising to see him go after one bad season. As previously noted, when Sutter was asked if he would be back in September, he said, “Absolutely. What do you mean, ‘see me?’ Am I invisible?”