As reported by Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times late last night, the Kings organization has agreed to terms with general manager Dean Lombardi on a four-year contract extension, which will run through the 2016-2017 season. Lombardi's contract was set to expire after this year, but the extension was expected after last season's success.
According to Tim Leiweke, a long-term deal with Darryl Sutter will also be announced before Saturday's season opener, and an extension for Luc Robitaille (president of business operations) is pending. This show of confidence is a reward for a group which not only built a winner, but was able to keep it completely intact this summer and set it up for long-term stability.
Dean Lombardi was hired in April 2006. From the beginning he was given the freedom to manage the Kings how he pleased, which led to a full overhaul and rebuilding of the roster. Lombardi's plan ensured a number of lean years for the franchise, but eventually the Kings needed to contend for a Stanley Cup in order for Lombardi to stick around. After consecutive first-round exits and a rough start to the 2011-2012 season, Dean Lombardi had reached the point where the immediate fortunes of the team would decide his fate.
As for Sutter, he was Lombardi's first choice to replace the fired Terry Murray, and as such his future largely was tied to Lombardi's. We've said it over and over, but the GM's decision to hire Darryl Sutter and the trade for Jeff Carter were what truly allowed the roster Lombardi had assembled to thrive. It remains to be seen whether the Kings can continue to be a dominant force in the NHL, but the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs verified that Lombardi's management and Sutter's approach had produced results.
It's pretty incredible to consider that only recently, Lombardi was fighting to keep his job when he hired Darryl Sutter from the depths of Alberta. Contrast Lombardi with someone like Brian Burke; Burke recently was fired as Maple Leafs GM after a little over four years in charge. Burke had some time to shape Toronto's roster in his image and some forgiveness for early struggles, but the Leafs missed the playoffs four times without really showing considerable progress. If the Kings had finished in 9th place instead of 8th place, it's extremely likely that Lombardi would be out of a job as well. Instead, the team made their third consecutive playoff appearance, and the "potential" of the Kings roster finally became a reality.
Anyway, official details regarding the two extensions have not yet been confirmed, as the deals have not yet been finalized. What has been confirmed? The Kings' organization has solidly placed their trust in Lombardi, Sutter, and Robitaille. After a storybook run through the playoffs and a successful quest to keep every piece of the roster intact, the Kings are going to be represented by familiar faces — both on and off the ice — for quite some time.