Dean Lombardi on Brown's suspension and Willie Mitchell's future

Bruce Bennett

The Kings' GM had a great interview today on Fan590. Here are some key quotes.

Dean Lombardi went on Fan590 radio's Hockey Central at Noon show to talk about Dustin Brown, the state of the team, and the defense corps as the Kings head into the playoffs.

The entire interview is well worth a listen, as Lombardi weighs in on where he thinks the Kings are right now and progress of young players like Doughty and Voynov. I thought two key parts on hot button topics were worth transcribing for those who can't yet listen.

Brown's suspension

Lombardi gave a characteristically thorough, detailed answer on what he thought happened with the Brown elbow on Pominville. He thinks the situation explains Brown's actions -- that hitting back is something he was taught to do.

"I don’t know what a player’s supposed to do there, because if you look at that play, he’s got to play the puck.

You teach a player in that situation to do two things. You either proact to the guy running you, or you absorb the hit, come off the boards, and explode. If he stands there and just tries to take the hit, the physics tell you this is when a guy gets killed going into the boards.

So he has two responsibilities – absorb that hit and keep his eye on the puck. Because you don’t want to let that puck go up to the point, and that’s how guys get benched. His bottom hand has to stay on his stick. Forsberg made a living making this play."

Although the host misses his point entirely, I think Lombardi does a good job of explaining why Brown initiated contact. This is part of the argument on intent. No one denies that Brown put his elbow out, but as Brown said, he didn’t expect Pominville's head to be so low.

Despite some enthusiastic mind-reading by beat columnists this week, he’s not looking back to target the head either. Pominville is in that position because he's making a stop instead of going for the hit.

Willie Mitchell's injury career-threatening?

Kings fans are always on the alert for more news on Willie Mitchell, since we've gotten only snippets of info on his medical status since the surgery. Lombardi explains the problems this knee injury could not only cause to Mitchell's career, but his life down the road:

"This was basically just a meniscus, which are a dime a dozen now in sports. […] Part of it is the way he’s a little bit knock-kneed, and the stress that puts on the knee combined with wear and tear, and then the meniscus, and it don’t look good.

He tried – twice, it reached a mark where he could push it, and every time he pushed it there were serious problems."

When asked if the injury was career threatening, Lombardi replied:

"It’s possible. It’s always a tough decision for athletes. You know you got Kobe Bryant who was playing bone on bone, but…this could be serious repercussions in his normal life down the road. So that’s the hard thing for a player. Could he push, maybe, and play through the swelling for a year or two? Yeah. But that said, he might have to go the rest of his life walking with a limp. And that’s a very difficult call for an athlete."

This sheds some more light on the choices Mitchell is facing -- it's not simply a matter of pushing through pain.

What did you think of the interview? Does Lombardi's explanation make sense? I'm not sure what to expect on Mitchell, but I'm hoping for the best, and I'm glad the Kings are letting him make his own decision.

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