Dustin Penner sets the record straight on his future

Dustin Penner LA Kings 2013 MayorsManor

Penner with coach Darryl Sutter - photo: David Sheehan

Dustin Penner is one of those players that can be described as a lot of different things to a lot of different people. He’s universally loved by his teammates and has likely frustrated every coach he’s played for. Many fans love him, others want to love him, but resist because of his point totals. Physically, he has all the tools most people look for in a modern NHL player.

And nobody puts more pressure on Penner than Penner himself.

One simple goal may have earned him his most recent contract with the Kings. After a largely disappointing 2011-12 season – one he entered in the best shape of his career and with high expectations – Playoff Penner was born in the spring of last year. His overtime goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final will go down as one of the biggest goals in team history. Not only because it sent the kings to the Stanley Cup Final, but it may have convinced everybody that another year of Penner in LA was probably a good thing.

Now, two weeks away from unrestricted free agency, the 30-year old left wing is at perhaps the biggest crossroad of a career already filled with more twists and turns than the best amusement ride roller coaster.

One thing is clear though – you don’t want to poke the bear.

In the midst of heavy soul searching and weighing his next move, Penner took to twitter to share his outrage at an online article filled with lies about his personal life.

“It’s not that I was upset at Rant Sports,” he explained, referring to the online site where the article was published. “Everyone thinks that he [the author] speculated that the Kings don’t want me back, or whatever he said that was hockey related. What bugs me is that – just have some integrity. When you claim that someone sold two houses and then sold his ex-wife’s house as well…which wasn’t even a house that I actually bought, I rather rented it. It just bugged me! He can say whatever he wants, but don’t just say, ‘well, he sold two houses.’ Actually, no, I don’t own two houses. And you should have a little more accountability for yourself, let alone whatever it is you’re doing as a profession.”

Oh, Penner wasn’t done. Far from it.

“To just claim something like that and then say – ‘Usually he’s a reliable source’ [after being publicly called out for the error]…Well, how about you just go check the city registry or whatever, and see ‘Oh, does he actually own two houses? Did he sell two houses? Maybe it’s not true.’ Figure it out! You can’t just make stuff like that up. I wasn’t necessarily picking on him, although that’s what it looked like. It was just, hey everybody, no one likes being talked about, especially when it’s with stuff that isn’t true. You can speculate about my off-ice stuff, and I know there’s a lot of TMZ-type journalism out there that they can just say whatever they want. I meant to make it funny and say,’Hey listen, I didn’t sell two houses, okay?’ Don’t make stuff up or don’t say that my agent talked to someone else. I just wanted to snuff that out because… because it annoyed me.”

Over the last few years, more and more ‘media’ seem to operate in this manner. Because of the growth in internet sites and social media outlets – and especially with large numbers of people repeating things they’ve read without crediting the original source – it’s become a new battle that athletes are having to deal with more and more everyday.

“I think it’s been an adjustment for everybody,” said Penner. “Obviously, twitter is probably how a lot of people get their news now because it comes so quickly. But, before you start taking things as facts, you should check a couple other news sources as a smart person. For me, I just go on twitter and see – ‘OK, TSN said this, from a Bob McKenzie source.’ He has integrity and he’s going to make sure he’s almost 100% right if he’s going to tweet something….(More) media should think – ‘I better make sure before I send this out there because there will be a lot of (unintelligible) headed back in my direction if I’m wrong about it.’ People like Rant Sports, they have to learn that. If you’re going to have 12,000 followers and feed the mouths, so to speak, of that many people, you should be a little more accurate than you are. I don’t hate the guy, I was trying to help him. I was doing my good deed for the day.”

It should be noted that the Rant Sports article has been heavily modified in the last 24 hours. So, mission accomplished.

With that settled, let’s move on to the real news. What’s in his immediate future and where might he be playing next season? If you’ve followed along on MayorsManor lately, you know all about the Kings’ cap problems and the fact there isn’t much money available – despite GM Dean Lombardi’s hope of bringing everybody back.

“Obviously, I’m curious about my future as well,” Penner remarked. “I’ve been on a few teams and done the ‘readjustment phase’ where you come to a new team and try to find your way. I love playing for the Kings and would love to play for them again. That being said, you have to do your due-diligence on both sides – where Dean, he has to balance numbers and a salary cap, and I have to see where I fit in. Every guy wants to play and hopefully we can work something out.”

After scoring just two goals in 33 regular season games, most in-the-know doubted Penner would be part of the team’s plans moving forward. Yet, like a classic villain in a scary movie, just when you think he’s gone forever, Playoff Penner reappeared.

With three goals this post-season, including another series-ending game winner vs. St. Louis in the first round, Lombardi was interested enough to reach out to Penner’s agent recently for a ‘feeling out’ phone call.

Given the cap situation, would Penner agree to another one-year deal? This year might be different. Last summer, part of the reason he agreed to it was because the opportunity to defend the Stanley Cup (something he didn’t get to do after winning his first Cup in Anaheim) intrigued him.

“Well that was just part of me coming back. The main reason was because I love my teammates, playing with those guys. We have a great group of individuals and that goes from my teammates up to the coaching staff and up to general management, just the organization as a whole. It was a great experience for me to come back, but obviously we felt that we could have won again and we were really close.”

Next came the words you’ll want to pay close attention to.

“As you get older, you put way more value on winning. That’s not to say that I didn’t value winning before. But you don’t know when you first get into the league how hard it is to win and how things need to line up. LA has worked really hard to get to where they are now as a team, the whole organization with the players and core they have…it’s  a lot of players who want to play for LA.”

With that said, is he willing to come back on a short-term deal and/or for the discount that will probably be required?

“That’s something I’m not closed to,” Penner said. “But, that’s something I have to think about. I took less to come back last year, so it just depends how much, right? Let’s say you’re making 10 million dollars and to come back you’d have to come back for 1 million. That’s something you have to weigh in as well. Big discount…everything is relative. I’m just saying, for people to understand, it’s not a simple thing – ‘Oh, you didn’t take a pay cut’. Well, think of your job and your situation. If you we’re getting paid $50,000 as a writer for the LA Times and they said ‘Well, we’d love to keep you, but we can only pay you $10,000′ – but, the Orange Country Register offered to pay you $40,000, where would you go? You’d have to think about it.”

Translation – he made $3.25M last season, a full million dollars less than he earned each of the previous five years. He understands he’ll likely make less than that next season. How much less? Well, that remains to be seen. Lombardi has made it pretty clear he has a finite amount of money to spend on Penner, regardless of what the market says he’s worth. Meanwhile, from Penner’s side, he’s going to have to consider ‘market value’ into the equation.

“That’s the thing, that’s what I have to do – no one else can do it,” said the two-time Stanley Cup champion. “I have to take all the information I can get from my agents, people I trust within my inner circles and the information I get from the Kings. I have to weigh that and see what’s going to be the best decision for me. These decisions impact the rest of your life. Whatever you decide as a player, when you have options, that puts you on a different path in your life and you don’t know where that will be. I remember having the same kind of thought process when I got the offer sheet [from Edmonton in 2007], because I didn’t sign the offer sheet right away. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, look how much money. I’m just going to sign it and figure it out later’. I thought, well what am I going to do? On one hand, I’m going to move up to Edmonton, I’m going to be on a team that wasn’t as good as the previous team I was on, I’m there for that many years, etc. I talked to people who had played there and I saw the experience that they had. So, you have to weigh all those things and see, ‘How do I put up a monetary sum on that experience?’ You say time is money, energy, nothing but guts (?)… so there is a lot of different things you have to weigh in.”

We’ll have more with Penner up later this afternoon, Part II of the Penner interview is now up here – where he’ll talk about his injuries this year, surgery, the Jonathan Bernier trade, his best/worst memories of being a King (so far?), non-hockey summer plans and much more.

If you need more Penner in your life until then, some of the other conversations we’ve had with him over the past few years have been linked below for your convenience.

RELATED CONTENT:

The curious case of Dustin Penner, here we go again

Welcome to the Dustin Penner comedy hour

Dustin Penner pushing Lombardi towards PennerMania

Dustin Penner talks traveling with the LA Kings

Scuderi and Penner, just a couple of homebodies

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Comments

  1. Media guy says:

    More Playoff Pankacke Penner is a good thing. Nice to see SOME on line reporters can do research and fact check. Great stuff Mayor.

  2. Alex Macat says:

    I get the sense that he will not be back next year but this gives me more understanding to his thought process. It is easy to play NHL on your Xbox, watch them on TV, and forget that these are real people. Penner is entering the twilight stage of his carrer he is going to go where he can make some money. Its too risky here in LA for him, if he plays poorly, he is sitting the whole year and making somewhere around 900k-1.7k.. if we could even handle that.. doesn’t look like a good situation to be in for either side. If another team takes him, gives him a 3 year deal for an AV 3.00 per, hey it’s possible, he will absolutely take that money. Based off of his past decisions, leaving Anaheim the year after they won for more money, it looks like thats what will happen again. Love you Pens. Good Job Mayor,
    Alex

  3. TSJ says:

    Penner might not have been the goal-scoring master people wanted him to be this year, but he’s a great utilitarian player and fills the left-wing spot more than capably. He’s been a solid part of the team most of the time and busts his tail whenever he’s on the ice. He’s a fan favorite as well, and great media fodder because he’s such a likeable goof on top of his skills. (I can’t tell you how many pancakes our family ate this season in honor of his playing.) Scenarios like this are why the current salary cap sucks. Half of me hopes that Penner will work out some way to stay with the Kings; the other half hopes that he goes with the best deal for himself and his family. One way or another, he will remain a strong figure in the NHL for some time to come. Best wishes to him.

  4. Dan says:

    I hope he stays…love his sense of humor and when he plays hard. The problem is the Kings probably can’t afford to give him more than 1-1.5 million. If they sign Scuderi for 3-3.25, there will be even less. Hate to say it, but I think he’s gone. And he didn’t work his tail off every time he was on the ice…that was the problem. If he did, and he is capable, he would be a monster out there, like he has been in the playoffs. Would love to see him stay at a discount, kick some tail, and return for a multi-year contract after next season when the Kings have some space monetarily.

  5. Paul says:

    It’s too bad that athletes (justifiably) feel they have to be so guarded with what they say. I like Penner, but I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan, but everything in this article makes me have so much respect for the guy. Unfortunately, the reality of modern sports is that it sometimes happens that a team and a player who would like to enter into a contract simply cannot do so because the team has only so much to spend and some other team can offer so much more than it is impossible for the player to decline. I’d love to see Penner back in a Kings uniform next season. However, if that doesn’t happen because some other team is willing to pay him so much more than the Kings can, then so be it and I’ll wish him all the best and say thank you for what you did while you were here.

  6. KINGS4LIFE says:

    I fail to understand why this is a big time deal. Media, all media, all sites, put out news that eventually turns out to be faulty from “sources”. From Fox, ESPN, USA Today, CBS, NBC, Bleacher Report, SBNation, and Now Rant Sports, it happens. It’s part of the day in age we live in and it’s not going to change. I haven’t seen anyone going after those major media outlets before so why start now?

    As a professional athlete, why does one care what the general public thinks? I followed the “battle” between Rant Sports and Penner on Twitter and I thought both sides came out looking like an asshat.

    I’m a reader of all the sites above because I like to read my sports content from all sorts of angles, and all sites above have broken stories (true) using “sources”. I hadn’t heard of Rant Sports until they broke the Peyton Manning gear being moved out of Indy locker rooms before everyone else and that turned out to be true so one mistake (that looks like it’s been fixed) shouldn’t deserve all the negativity around but I’m not a journalist so I guess I don’t really know all the “unwritten rules”.

    I also fail to understand why Penner didn’t acknowledge the apology Rant Sports twitter sent at him? I’ve never as a fan seen a media site apologize if they put out faulty news. Why wasn’t that spoke about in this article? Is it because you’re competing for viewers or whatever? Ironic that it was left out, and that’s not exactly showing “journalistic integrity in my eyes.” When someone screws up, takes responsibilitiy, and ultimately apologizes while fixing the mistake, that’s integrity. We all screw up, myself included.

    Looks like there’s a serious axe to grind over something pretty trivial. Professional athletes have to unfairly deal with alot but that’s the life they chose because people “idolize” these people.

    I had lost a lot of respect for Rant Sports until they apologized and fixed their major error in judgement. But I’ve lost the same amount of respect for you, John, usually an outstanding journalist, and Dustin Penner as well.

    Twitter: the demise of us all.

    With all that being said. GO KINGS GO. Looking forward to seeing the Cup come back to LA.

    • John Hoven says:

      The above article mentions that they updated their work after being called out by Penner.

      I’m satisfied with the way we covered the story and represented what happened.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Fin Alyn says:

      First of all, major media apologize all the time, they are called retractions. I’ve seen them do it at the end of live Sportscenters. Second, it was barely an apology. It was more along the lines of “Oh sorry it bothered you, deal with it”. Third, he was upset not over speculation, but over getting things wrong that were ENTIRELY verifiable, NO sources needed. In cases like that, athletes get upset all the time, and reputable news sources usually don’t make mistakes on something so simple.

    • TK says:

      “It’s part of the day in age we live in and it’s not going to change.” So we should all just sit back and accept that integrity and accountability are dying in the media? What a stupid comment.

  7. ap says:

    I think Pens is a great character guy for the team and once he gets going, moving his feet, he’s powerful. I have a really good feeling about him for next year…wherever he ends up. Hoping he stays with the Kings though!

  8. flutie16 says:

    Truly a great guy, and unfortunately we all know he probably will go. Cash strapped as the Kings are Dustin has to think of his future. I will miss him a lot. On the bright side maybe we can get at trade deadline for the playoffs- HAHA

    • flutie16 says:

      And if we lose Penner and Scuderi with Westgarth already gone, I guess Matt Greene will have to be the funny man for Kings now.

  9. Jen says:

    First off, great article John. I hold your journalism with high regard. I, like many Kings fans enjoy Penner both on and off the ice. As a season ticket holder near the “Playoff Penner” fan zone of section 322, I can tell you he has many loyal fans who have stuck with him through the regular season and beyond. I’d love to see him stay if Dean can work the numbers, but even if he doesn’t, he’s not going to lose many fans. I wish him the best.

    …and I agree, Fraser, Greener and the bosom buddies of Doughty and Lewie are pretty hilarious. I might even give honorable mention to Quick. Lol.

    • Troy_Ice says:

      In some ways it is easier to see how Penner stays than Scuderi, but his staying *seems* dependent on Scuderi leaving and the offensive players on the FA market whoa re clear upgrades being a little too expensive for us. Even if he takes a big cut, to say under $2m it seems impossible if Scuderi is getting $3.5m or more. In Scuderi’s case we don’t yet seem to have enough money to resign him unless he takes less than what it looks like he can get through free agency. I’m guessing his number starts with a 4 rather than a 3 and that makes things very difficult for us.

      The other option would seem to be a trade that opens more space, but this seems difficult right now too since the people we want to trade are themselves not all that well paid (either bottom 6 type forwards, or Martinez or Ellerby). So, it is hard to figure out how we come up with another $1m to get Scuds. The other possibility is that Scuds is really just waiting to see what the FA market looks like to make sure he is not passing up a crazy payday (this seems very unlikely but its possible, I suppose).

      The other issue is that with natural improvement due to its age, the defense should be better next year. Doughty, Voynov, Muzzin are all at ages at which they should all all improve and perhaps significantly (as should Ellerby and Martinez –though they seem likely to be trade bait). While only Regehr might be expected to decline. If Mitchell is really back and healthy, then the defense is MUCH better. Think about this, if Regehr is not among your 4 best defensemen, then your D is going to be quite good, even without Scuderi. The real problem is that Mitchell is a question mark.

      The room for improvement seems to lie on offense, and thats where the savings on Scuderi’s leaving should probably go. We need a bit more skill with speed or size. Unfortunately, these are exactly the types of players that other teams covet too. It seems like there aren’t really all that many attractive FA options this year, and the ones who might be of interest seem to be getting re-signed. Bickell now looks like a lock to resign with Chicago, and probably at or above $4m a year –so we couldn’t likely afford him even if he were a FA. Thornton is going to get a big and long deal despite needing shoulder surgery. And its not clear who else is out there that will make an impact and provide a clear upgrade.

      From this perspective resigning Penner makes a lot of sense in that he maintains our size, (and thus helps us match up against STL), has a little skill, and creates space in front of the net, and we don’t really have anyone to replace him (unless you think Nolan is ready to take a big step up–sorry King, I just dont see it).

      So, if Scuderi goes, then money is freed up to do *something*. If Penner is willing to take a cut to about $2m we can keep him and have a bit of money left over to try to get a low end free agent hopefully with some upside and some decent size and speed. But in this price range, its hard to see us getting someone who doesn’t have some warts. Iginla seems to be aging quickly, may not be less than $3m (especially if Letang does not resign with PIT) and is clearly in decline (though I do like his game and he fits well with our style), Stalberg should be reasonably priced, has some effort questions about him but would have great motivation against the Hawks and is fast and large (but will he play defense first?), Jagr is skilled but old, and we don’t know if he can hold up over a season, and so on…..

      Of course its not entirely clear that Penner would even take such a deal since he can almost certainly get more as a FA. the question is how much more and for what term. maybe we offer him 2 years at a reasonable number and that insures him against some of the risk of injury as he ages).

      I think Holloway fits in here too. With Scuds gone we could easily afford to sign him for $1m which you would think would get him back. His numbers seem to translate very well, but as others have pointed out, you never really know what guys can do until they actually play in the League. (And perhaps signing him allows us to deal a forward).

      I also wonder what not resigning Scuds does with respect to Richardson. Its worth keeping in mind that his positional flexibility was really valuable for us in the playoffs when we lost Stoll and then Richards. So even though he was a healthy scratch most of the year, he saw a lot of ice in the playoffs.

      Lots of questions, I have few answers, but I guess they are coming soon…..

      What are you hearing about the Kings looking for offense John?

  10. Hat trick says:

    Got mixed thoughts about Penner. I would love to see Penner play playoff Penner style all season long. Why that doesn’t happen I have no idea. 3 goals all regular season is a joke. We don’t need to pay someone $3+ million a season to produce 3 goals. We can pay someone a fraction of that to produce the same amount.

    However, his value is in his playoff ability. For some reason the guy seems like he wants to play come playoff time. But that’s just too risky. what if the squad doesn’t make it in? $3+ million squandered.

    Penner’s time is up here in LA. He’s proven a worthy playoff player but his regular season production is WAY too inconsistent. Riding pine during the regular season is not what a $3+ million a year player should be doing.

  11. TK says:

    Penner called out Twitter and bad journalism, now I want him back more! Still if we can get Clowe for a similar hit, I know who I’d rather have. But with Bickell’s $16M/4; the market for Penner is probably around $3M.

  12. Isaak Koenka says:

    Hey, I really wanted to say this is great work, and regardless of how you think of me, I respect your work and have admired both you and Penner for a long time. My editors threw me under the bus, but my source is ususally great, but hey, I think we’d all like to see this kind of information and transparency for the fans. They even killed my story about him going to Vegas for EDC… which was completely based on his twitter acct being off for those 3 days. I never claimed he went in the story, but now they’re holding me back from giving any insight, and basically want me to start cutting my stories down for SEO crap, which I think is just sad.
    Dustin Penner has been a beast at times, and I don’t think we would have done anything without him. I know he did love his time in Edmonton, and I’m sure he didn’t mind the OC either. I have never heard of a player wanting to leave LA, unless their family in Canada was sick or something to that effect.
    I wish I had the access to the players like you seem to. I’m no insider, but I have people giving me the information I work with, It’s not a perfect science, you know, and I would never intentionally harm my own reputation by publishing something I didn’t believe to be true.

    I just don’t see how Lombardi would justify having 3 players walk away, or going into the season expecting that much more from Martinez, Ellerby, Muzzin, and Regher (Mitchell Hopefully) with Voynov and Doughty as your top D-men because Scuderi walks. Hickey is gone right? Kolomatis… ?

    • TK says:

      I have never read Rant Sports before, and because of the Penner fallout I was curious. I must say, I now realize why I never read Rant Sports; it is Bleacher Report without CNN. Of the 40 or so varying “articles” I read almost all were just opinions in 400 words or less, with no stats or facts. I see you quoting Twitter is a common practice, which is not “information and transparency for the fans,” nor is it journalism. I hope the last 10 article you wrote are not indicative of your normal writing because they fall right into the wheelhouse I described. In fact your post here was as long and well researched as each of your last ten Rant Sports “articles.” But I guess that is what Rant Sports is, hence the name, a site where people spew opinions with loose facts and no credentials. I understand the internet and social media gives us more transparency; but god knows I’d trade that for credibility and quality, instead we have to settle for editorialising quantity.

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