Kings GM Dean Lombardi on the emotions of losing in 2013 playoffs

As you can already tell by the volume of articles up on the site in the past few hours, there was a conference call earlier today with several Kings players and GM Dean Lombardi – covering a myriad of topics. Like we usually do in these situations, we’re going to break the Lombardi quotes down into somewhat digestible nuggets.

Here’s what he had to say when asked to take us through his emotions of the last 24 hours:

“Well, I think last night, I don’t know how you describe your emotions when it first happens. I walked into the room after it was over, pretty much like the players, dead silence and you’re kind of staring at nothing. Almost no emotion, you’re almost frozen, so I don’t know what that means, but there’s so much going through your head there’s nothing going through your head, you’re just numb. I think today, getting to sleep about 5:30, talking with Darryl till 4:30, you know and coming in, and meeting some and seeing some players already, I think there’s a combination of disappointment and anger. I think you get a little of both, and I think that’s probably a lot of how your emotions progress.

“I think the disappointment is obviously the losing but I think there’s a bit of, this is something I’ve always said when we were building this thing like, I told you this two years ago that when we got beat in the playoffs, I think it was against San Jose Game 6, it was the first year guys went home ticked off versus, make the playoffs, get knocked out, well good season. At that time I said we were progressing because it was clearly the first time there were guys that were upset the season was over. Now they’re at the Conference Final level ticked off, of basically missed opportunity, and that’s again, that’s progress to think they go to the Conference Finals and they’re angry that they’re done. That’s a tribute to them for having raised the bar so high. But that’s what they’ve always wanted and that’s what you strive for and on the other hand that’s what makes it incredibly difficult for those first couple days.”

He was then asked if it hurts more after winning it all last year? And if so, what does that say about the Kings organization, being only one of two teams from last year’s playoff group to get out of the first round of the post-season this year?

“There’s your mixed emotions thing. First off, I think in terms of having won it last year, I think you heard that adage from top guys, and I’ve heard this from a lot of top athletes who have won multiple championships. They say once you’ve won early in your career that’s all you want to do, and the reason is you realize it’s how great the feeling is, now you truly know that all that work is worthwhile. Until you get there, you really don’t know, when you’re putting in all that effort, banged up, playing all those games, like I said when you watch a hockey player go through the playoffs. Last year my respect for players grew ten fold having witnessed it every day how hard it is, but having experienced the feeling that you get after, now you know what it feels like, and it’s been taken away from you. So it’s, you don’t know what you loss till it’s gone, you know whatever that saying is. You don’t really know what you’ve lost until you’ve experienced it. You can surmise it, but I surmised it and I had no idea the feeling I was going to have when those guys won, and you can’t explain it, it’s better than anything you can imagine.

“So yeah, and again, I go back to what those guys say. Once you’ve had that feeling and it’s taken away from you, yeah it hurts. That’s combination of disappointment and ticked off. The second part, well I think again now you’re going to the other side, wait a minute, is this hard as it was. I think I was looking at it the other day, and I don’t and I didn’t go into great detail but it was really striking me how difficult the challenge was this year right from the get go from a short training camp, our getting behind the 8-ball, to going down two nothing in St. Louis to playing all those games in March when every game was critical. I was looking at this, man, give this guys a lot of credit for getting here, and I was looking, since you had the big three, and I think we all know before the lockout, Colorado, Detroit, and Dallas were the class of the league. I think there’s only been one team that’s won the Stanley Cup and gone to the conference final this far the next year. So again, that shows you how hard it is. Let alone get in, you got teams that want it, didn’t even get in and they’re out in the first round and I think Detroit was the only team to win it and go as far as the Conference Finals, and they went to the Finals.

“Since you go through the big three, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit. Colorado did it a number of times with Sakic, Forsberg and again that was a different era where clearly those three teams were the class of hockey. So you have to step back and say, “Hey wait a minute here. You got to give these guys… you can’t condone losing. You never want to do that, but I have to condone their sense of honor. That they didn’t quit, that they fought through and given the history of it, they deserve to be commended for what they did accomplish and they deserve to be commended for the fact of right now, they’re not satisfied. Again you never want to get back in that mode like we were four years ago where ‘Out in the first round, good season’ that’s clearly not the case, and that’s not what I’m doing by saying that but given the history of it and witnessing it first hand, how this season was from training camp on and the challenges they faced.

“It’s like I said, I have to condone their sense of honor. I think too the beauty of this, the challenges they faced this year, then you go to the other side the benefit. There were a lot of different challenges they met here. Certainly the regular season was one of them, but the playoffs too in particular. Last year until we got to Game 6 against New Jersey, I don’t think we faced that real, that back, that fear of losing can seep in. I said a whole thing about believing in yourself versus fearing you’re going to lose versus believing you’re going to win and you have to be put in those situations. I think Johnny Stevens said it last year in the summer. It might have been the best thing to happen to them, that they learned that we won Game 6 and had to go to a Game 6 because you started feeling a little sense of different pressure. We didn’t have it against Vancouver, we didn’t have it against St. Louis, that last year. This year, right out of the box down two nothing. Different challenge, this year Game 7 against San Jose, a very good team, different challenge, and this year, we just got down two nothing and I think we learned something about getting behind the 8-ball too soon, but there were clearly different challenges they overcome, and again, they deserve to be commended for that. Particularly, there’s one thing about this group they’ve shown all along- they’ve learned every step of the way. They’ve learned from their failures. I said that before, the cup, getting where they were was to learn from their failures, wining the cup was learning to deal with success. I think there were so many different challenges they faced this year, and they met a lot of them, they just didn’t meet the one that ultimately matters to them.

“Nobody can say in any way shape or form, quit. I don’t know how many emails I got from hockey people, other General Managers last night and that was their tone. They said “Dean the one thing about it, you can say those boys do not quit. That’s the type of culture we’ve set out to build and we’ll continue to try and do. That’ll teach you to ask a question and think you’ll get a sound bite!”

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Additional notes and quotes from Lombardi and several Kings players can be found at the links below.


Sunday media call – comments from Jonathan Quick

Sunday media call – Anze Kopitar says he’s not injured, doesn’t need surgery

Sunday media call – comments from Mike Richards

Sunday media call – Lombardi’s latest update on Willie Mitchell

Sunday media call – Lombardi on who goes first – Voynov or Scuderi

Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news or interviews from this site please include a link to

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  1. I’ve been a fan of the LA KIngs since 2001, and I love that they are disappointed by this loss…not because I feel that they should have done better, but because they know they are WINNERS! You guys are the best, at least in my books…I think DL gets to the heart of it when he says they didn’t feel a lot of adversity last run. I think you learn more about yourself during times of difficulty, and hopefully they will grow stronger because of their experiences this season.

  2. Great quotes from a class act all the way around. Love how DL tipped his cap and said you have to commend these guys for the honor they showcased, especially in that final round. Pretty sure if series is tied 2-2, we don’t see Rick until Game 6. When I saw your post that confirmed he was in the lineup, I knew win or lose, you had to be proud of this team. Such heart, no surrender. Thanks for a great season, Mayor! From the daily lockout coverage to the crazy Dewie posts to the playoff pressers, your tireless efforts are truly appreciated, my friend. Looking forward to coverage of offseason roster moves, but until that time, enjoy some well deserved time off!


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