The LA Kings have cleaned house — two Stanley Cups not enough to save Coach Darryl Sutter and GM Dean Lombardi from the axe. And as the playoffs get ready to start — ownership turns the keys over to two HALL OF FAMERS, two of their franchise’s all-time greats, Luc Robitaille, who is now the team’s president and Rob Blake, the new VP and GM. Huge moves — taking Lombardi out of a job he’s held since 2006 and Sutter, who has been the team’s head coach since 2011.
And it’s the right move. Because for as great as Sutter and Lombardi have been for the franchise, as important as they’ve been to Southern California hockey, and building one of the great franchises in the sport, they lost some BIG BETS that have put the team in a huge hole.
Bad contracts to former captain Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar, who looked washed up this season. Bad trades like the one that brought in goalie Ben Bishop and vet Jarome Iginla, while the team still couldn’t score goals. And betting on a roster built to play big and strong in a league that’s changed before our eyes to a speed and skill game.
Usually — the move to bring in an all-time great, let alone TWO all time-greats, is the one that DOESNT work, it’s the one to win the press conference. But with Blake and Robitaille, the Kings aren’t gambling that two Hall of Famers will get a team over the hump just because they used to be able to do it on the ice. These are two guys who have put the time in — and know the franchise and players, with Luc coming up on the business side of the Kings and spending a decade with the team. Blake has climbed the ladder as Assistant GM and before that spent three years working in the league office. These aren’t guys who put some facetime in and then hit the golf course or beach. These are guys who understand what it takes to win in today’s NHL, and have respect, and get the attention of players, coaches, and front officers’ league wide.
And now they need to shake up a team that’s gotten sloppy. A culture that was so good for so long, but has deteriorated as time as gone on. That’s gotten the wrong kind of headlines after being a group that may have burnt both ends of the candle but when it was time to lace em up did it better than anybody. I like the hires — and as quickly as another team will snap up Sutter or Lombardi — and as sure as I am that they’ll likely have success wherever else they go — it’s a move that the Kings had to make, and one that I think will be successful, even as they dig out from a big, big hole. There’s no quick fix here, but it wasn’t getting fixed doing what they were doing. Because that wasn’t working. I like these moves for the kings, because I’m big on both Lucky and Blakey. Two all-time King Greats who should can handle these respective gigs. And they’re going to have to because the Kings are once again looking up at their rivals to the south, the Anaheim Ducks.