When Dean Lombardi was General Manager in San Jose, the Sharks improved their point total six straight seasons (1996-2002). And they were getting younger over most of that stretch as well.
It’s been a somewhat similar script here in Los Angeles too. The Kings have gone from 68 points over the course of his first year at the helm (2006), to qualifying for the playoffs four straight seasons – something the franchise hadn’t done since a seven-year run that ended in 1993. Of course, they also won the Stanley Cup last season.
Yet, despite all their recent success, Lombardi’s Kings have yet to secure a top-four seed in the playoffs, earning home-ice in the opening round.
Back in February though, coach Darryl Sutter remarked that Division titles are nothing more than ‘dirty laundry’ hanging in the arena – noting it’s really more about playoff success. Further, he’s often reminded those listening that winning in the post-season starts by just being one of the eight teams to qualify.
So, earlier this week, Lombardi was asked if it’s important for the Kings to become a perennial Division winner or even a top four seed?
“Yes,” he emphatically stated at first.
Then, he explained things a little further.
“That’s fair to say that that’s another…,” Lombardi began, before pausing briefly. “On one hand, I understand what Darryl is saying, and I do believe that if you’re going to be… Regardless, as I was talking earlier about the Dallas, Colorado, Detroit trio that was clearly the class of the league [making reference to a period from roughly 1995 through 2005] and they would take away the first three spots every year, you just didn’t know the order. Certainly that was a different era and we are in more of the parity area. I still think that even in the parity era, those teams that are going to be there every year are generally positioned in that area. Now, it might not be… that is another challenge for this group, no doubt about it. So yeah, I think that’s something too that they can use for another goal that they haven’t accomplished yet. With that said, then they come back and say, ‘Well, they were three points out of the third-seed the year we won the Cup.’ We were an eighth-seed, but we were three points out of the third seed. So then, if you look at it that way, then Darryl’s right. But let’s go for it and say yeah.”
More end-of-season comments from Lombardi and several Kings players can be found at the links below.
Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please include a link to www.MayorsManor.com