Dean Lombardi: "patience with" vs. "patience of"

The L.A. Kings Patience Ship Has Sailed " Surly & Scribe's L.A. Kings Hockey Blog

[...] Has Tim Leiweke told Dean Lombardi if the mandate of making the playoffs and getting past the first round is not met, the changes will start at the top? I don’t know. I do know this. For me [Bobby Scribe -- Q] the "patience" ship has sailed. "And I see the foundation put in place by Dave Taylor…" Dean Lombardi stated in April of 2006. That "foundation" is the L.A. Kings best forward, Anze Kopitar, its captain Dustin Brown and their most valuable player, Jonathan Quick. It also included Matt Moulson who Lombardi lost for nothing, Michael Cammalleri who he traded (but never replaced) as well as Brian Boyle.

Moulson was a Lombardi UFA signing, right before training camp in 2006. The remaining Taylor-era players are Kopitar, Brown, Quick and Scott Parse.

But I too have been thinking a lot lately about patience.

"I want to know what happened this season. How can a team fall off the map like this? It’s easy to pin it on the coaches, but the players have to face responsibility, too. They brought in a different coach and that didn’t work…" [That's Lombardi in 2006]

Ironic isn’t it that we are asking those same questions today? What happened this season? How can a team expected to compete for the Cup struggle this much? He replaced the coach but the offense still cannot produce.

It's an interesting comparison, 2011-12 to 2005-06, and not just because it's the last time a Kings coach was fired mid-season, or that the coach was named Murray, or that in both cases this Murray-named coach led the Kings to the playoffs (exactly twice, come to think of it) after long droughts, etc., etc..

The thing is, the '06 team didn't struggle the first five months of the season -- they were hot most of the year, and then, in the home stretch, total collapse. That team, on March 7 six years ago, was 35-23-5, sixth place, two points behind 4th place Calgary. Then, a hideous 5-12-0 run, after which they found themselves in 10th place, 8 points out of a playoff spot with two games to go (they won those, but so what?).

[...] What if the L.A. Kings do not make the playoffs this season? Dean Lombardi should be fired. What if the L.A. Kings make the playoffs and are again eliminated in the first round? Dean Lombardi should be fired. Harsh? I don’t think so. If the L.A. Kings were in the league’s top 5 and true contenders, where would a significant amount of the credit be bestowed? Dean Lombardi. He would be praised for his trades and signings, for his patience, building from the back-end out and for having the guts to acquire Mike Richards. If you know that to be the case, why should it be any different when his moves have failed to produce the intended result.

My question, in that case, will not be "should Lombardi be fired" but "who is the best available GM for the Kings"? I agree that Lombardi would and should get credit for the team's successes, and I also agree that he would and should get blame for the team's failures. I also think it's natural for people to want to cast the blame. But as far as that goes, the only "people" who matter are those two guys at AEG.

When the CEO of a major corporation spends significant money and uses the company’s resources without the intended result for many years, what happens to that CEO?

He gets an eight-figure bonus.

[...] The L.A. Kings are in a playoff spot. [...] I believe at last count, the Kings’ percentage odds of making the playoffs were just over 50%. I think Dean Lombardi should consider that to be his odds of being around after the end of this season and the playoffs. [...] For this Kings fan, the "patience", "building" and "the future is bright" mantras have little meaning. After nearly 6 years, I expect results.

To be fair, the last two seasons' playoff appearances qualify as results. But of course I get what Bobby is saying here. With the Richards trade, Kings made the leap from expecting to make the playoffs to expecting to win a round or two. Some people even promoted the Kings all the way to "cup contender." I voiced my nervousness at that absurd idea in my season preview. I pointed out that this particular core of Kings players has never done well with increased expectations. I get no pleasure from having been right about that.

The Kings have dropped two in a row and three of their last four. They can't score to save their lives. Is the sky falling? The Kings are on pace for 92 points. Before the last four games, they were on pace to make the playoffs. It's still reasonable to think that the Kings will finish about where they finished last year. Of course, it has always been the case that they have to not suck in order to do that. They still, this year as last year and the year before, have to continue to win 4 out of every 6 games, give or take. Everyone does. That's what's required.

The issue of patience isn't restricted to fans or ownership. In fact, at this time of year, the person whose patience is being tested more than anyone's, is Dean Lombardi. A handful of games before the trade deadline. The team can't score. Expectations are at an all-time high. Lombardi knows what he does now will very likely determine the fate of the team, and of course, his own fate, the fate of his Grand Scheme.

I keep thinking about this: just as AEG has to decide how patient it is willing to be with Lombardi, so Lombardi has to decide how patient he's willing to be with his players. In both cases, we can't really know what the parties are thinking. And I really don't know how much faith Lombardi has or will continue to have in Kopitar and Brown (to pick two names) or Johnson and Doughty (to pick two others) when the chips are down. And the chips are about to be "down". All of them. Not just for the season, but for the whole Lombardi era.

And what happens if the Kings snap out of their mini-funk over the next 5-7 games? The deadline may well arrive before it's clear whether the Kings can meet, without help (i.e. a trade) the world's lofty expectations of them. And then what does Lombardi do? Does he hold? He is conservative by nature...we think. On the other hand, as Darren Dreger pointed out elsewhere yesterday, Lombardi is unpredictable.

Now, I happen to think a big deal is forthcoming. But then, I also thought Penner would score 30-40 goals.