Rob, Rob, Rob...
This isn’t the way this was all supposed to go down. You were supposed to be the chosen one. I famously delved inside your GM mind wondering what you had up your sleeve. I was hopeful of your genius. I thought maybe you were working on some secret magic from a secret hockey laboratory throughout last season. I convinced myself this was true.
I was particularly moved by one of the first things you told ESPN right after you were hired to right the Kings’ ship in 2017:
“You never see people fail because of being over-prepared, but you see people fail from being not well prepared. I think that’s something I’ve always taken with me, even when I played. It all started with the way I was raised.”
I was very sympathetic about the salary cap issue you inherited along with an aging squad of guys soon-to-be-washed up. I was told by every local beat writer that your hard work and understanding of the Kings culture would surely create opportunity to get up back up to speed quickly.
You’d think that someone over-prepared would know that trading Darcy Kuemper for Tobias Rieder was a bad move. Nice to see that Kuemper proceeded to finish last season and start this one on a Vezina-level pace.
I also noticed you didn’t learn from that mistake and pursued the human pylon Dion Phaneuf in exchange for a future LTIR resident Marian Gaborik that forced the Kings into another buyout that lasts until 2023.
Then, you misjudge the current status of the roster in the 2018 offseason and use $6.25 million of the precious salary cap on Ilya Kovalchuk for three seasons. Word on the street says you didn’t get buy-in from the coaching staff on how to use him. You just did it. And, when Willie Desjardins hit town he immediately told him he would never play on the top two lines. Maybe that’s something you could have covered in your job interview, right Rob?
Now we see Kovalchuk breaking out of offensive hockey jail and he’s winning games for Montreal nightly. Shoot, the Canadiens might even flip him at the trade deadline for a third round pick instead of eating his contract until the end of next season like you had to. I thought it was Dean Lombardi who didn’t know how to manage the cap long term. You learned a lot at the knee of the greatest general manager in Kings history. Not a good look, Rob.
Speaking of Willie Desjardins. Is it true that you hired him over a telephone call? You didn’t even bother to interview him in person? So much for over-preparation. Last season was the most brutal farce of an NHL season of any Kings team ever. That’s one hundred per cent on you.
Okay, okay, I hear the pro-Rob contingent chanting about last year’s draft. I acknowledge that you did a good job in that spot picking all of the players your scouts told you that you should. Actually, I’m not sure you should be applauded for that. Most of us understand that prospects are fool’s gold until the picks pan out. Do you?
Even when all of us heard that Tyler Toffoli and Alec Martinez would be actively shopped, we accepted it because we need to re-stock the system. We need to get younger. We need to get faster. We need more scoring. But last week you went too far.
That trade! What were you thinking, Rob?
Trading Kyle Clifford? Don’t you know how much he’s needed in the locker room? He’s been the heart and soul of this team for almost a decade. The team doesn’t really have a heart and soul guy now. Anze Kopitar is the most under-rated player in the NHL but his record as captain is about as bad as it can get; Jeff Carter is on his last legs; and Drew Doughty is always late (not the mark of a great leader). Don’t you remember when Willie Mitchell went down and eventually left the organization? Let me tell you, the Kings have never been the same without that leadership.
Trading Clifford was perhaps the biggest mistake out of all of the things you’ve done so far. Forget about the conditional third rounder you got for him. The draft pick will never mean as much to this organization as Clifford did. At a $1.6 million cap hit, he was an affordable leader that the Kings actually need. Oh, I am am sure Toronto appreciated you taking on $800,000 of Clifford’s salary so they could desperately stay under the cap. Brilliant work there. Letting a desperate team off the hook so you could jettison the one type of guy—a “Forever King”— for a draft pick. Now the Kings have a huge void that will take forever to fill. Thanks a bunch, Rob.
Not to be missed, Jack Campbell for a third rounder and some kid who doesn’t have a point in 19 straight games for a Maple Leaf team leading the league in forward scoring (175 goals and 400 points)? I mean at least you can spin the fact that Trevor Moore is from Thousand Oaks to the fan base. Anytime you can get a 5’10” undrafted, career minor leaguer for one of the best backup goalies who’s primed to be a number one, you have to do it! Amirite Rob?
Mad Scientist? Master of Disaster is more like it. Apparently the only magic you created in your laboratory was a mysterious potion that you used to hoodwink the media and the fans for a couple of years. Many of us bought into your “plan” and still spend thousands and thousands of dollars on season tickets, fan events, merchandise, and road trip. Maybe you should be called the Alchemist. I don’t know, but I do know this...
You’re nothing but a mirage of a good GM. A fountain of miscommunication. Bad decision after bad decision. Congratulations on your evolution to Super Villain. How in the world did you let this happen? And how did you make my prophecy about the AHL super team you will dress at the Stadium Series next week come true so fast?
My head hurts now.