With the playoffs in full gear for the top 16 teams in the league, the Kings have been left on the outs. I think we all knew this was going to be the reality back in December when the Kings tallied a couple of losing streaks that seemed unending. But one positive from the latter half of the season was when the Kings left California on an 8-game road trip through the eastern (read: cold) states. Some of the boys in Manchester were called up sporadically throughout this trip and made quite a showing. But good things always come to an end and the Kings continued their mediocre play through the end of the season, which, honestly, couldn't come soon enough.For this set of Year-In-Review posts, I will be specifically looking into the Kings’ management, coaching, goaltending, defense, and offense. I plan on this being an on-going project that will be in this specific order. I am fully aware that this will be a daunting, yet "fun" and informative, task that I'm hoping you all will join me on. So grab a beverage or five of your choice for this trip down memory lane.
(Getty Images)I guess I should state specifically that I am full supporter of Dean Lombardi's plan for the Kings. I said it back in December and I'll say it again "DL knows what the hell he's doing." He has more pieces to his puzzle possibly falling into place going into this off-season. The young core of this team has done a great job of coming together while growing individually as well. There is no doubt who will be running this team in the next few years. I don't think I've ever really doubted Lombardi's plan; I witnessed first-hand his success with the Sharks while living in northern California, which was painful to say the least. Knowing that he is now the mastermind behind this organization's rebuild makes me rest easy. Now, if I were a fan in Toronto, I'd be in a different pot of crap. But I'm a couple thousand miles away in sunny So Cal liking where I am, where this organization's headed, and am in full support.
There have been various times throughout the season where the firing of DL became the topic of choice. His decisions regarding everything had been questioned. One that bothered me was when I heard the various jeers of DL's decision to draft Thomas Hickey, I thought, "C'mon, he really can't be THAT terrible." Being projected to go in the double digits, DL picked him up fourth (4th) overall, which leads me to want to say, "C'mon people, there's a reason why DL wanted him." Lo and behold, less than a year later Hickey is a certified badass. Need proof? Go check out the Seattle Thunderbirds and see what their team captain has contributed this past season.
People have already started predicting what holes are going to be filled for next year's roster, which I have admittedly done myself. But I'm a self-proclaimed terrible predictor, so I'm not even going to attempt at writing anything down. I prefer to just think about what lines could feasibly work. Now I don't want to blindly hand over my confidence to DL in his decision-making process, but I think I'd be comfortable in doing so. I know I've thrown hissy fits over the course of this season (see: texts to KingsCast) over various player transactions, but at the end of the day I realized that there was a specific reason for every one of his decisions.
As a sidenote: While I'm on the topic that is separate from the players on the roster, I'd like to revisit a specific article from March 5th, 2008, in which columnist Steve Dilbeck of the Daily News brought the issue of ownership to the forefront. In "It's time for Kings' owner to pass the puck," he stated that AEG’s Phil Anschutz should sell the team for the betterment of the franchise. He did raise a couple of valid points, but at the same time, how much does ownership really factor into how well a team is performing? (For a passionately stated opinion, please visit RudyKelly over at Battle of California.) Personally, I don’t see how Anschutz or his lack of presence is affecting the Kings. From everything I’ve heard this year, Lombardi had basically been given carte blanche; he received the okay to spend up to the cap in terms of salary if need be, he went and relieved many within the organization of their duties, and, to my knowledge, hasn’t had any restrictions placed on him in terms of his duties as acting President and GM of the Los Angeles Kings. Near the end of his article Dilbeck stated:
"I asked to speak to Anschutz for this column and was told it wouldn't happen. No surprise.
I asked to speak to Leiweke and was told he was out of town. No surprise there, either. Poor Lombardi had to speak for the organization, and he has been around for less than two years."
I would actually think it very odd if Anschutz came around and spoke about the Kings. I’d wonder why in the world he was talking about a team that he doesn’t have an influence over like DL does every hour of every day, which is separate from the fact that Anschutz owns the company that owns the franchise. I would also wonder where DL was and why he was not in front of the camera answering any and all questions thrown his way. Dilbeck’s point of DL only being around for two years, in my opinion, doesn’t hold a lot of water. Don’t you think he’d be the best to answer questions about a team that HE IS BUILDING? This is his plan, his vision. I would expect no one else to come out and speak competently about what the direction the Kings are headed in. I'm not exactly sure what Dilbeck was trying to do with his piece besides annoy a lot of people.
DL obviously doesn't have to worry about whether or not he'll still be employed by the Kings next year because that's a given. I knew he wasn't going to get fired this season and I'm positive he's gonna be around for next season as well. One thing I'm really excited about being a season ticket holder next season is that I'll be able to hear straight from DL's mouth about his plans for the roster and what's constantly on the horizon.