Lombardi on the Kings’ Players Locking Sutter Out

More from Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who met with the media in Los Angeles earlier today…

On the New York Post report that claimed the players had locked Darryl Sutter out of the dressing room recently:

Unfortunately, it’s factually inaccurate… The timing is wrong, it happened in Tampa – not last week – then we won eight in a row… [Reporter: So, they really barricaded the door shut with trashcans?] I don’t know if it went that far… this was just brought to my attention yesterday. So, I guess you can say we had a little scuffle in Tampa… [Reporter: Is that troubling?] No, here’s why. Well, I could look at it and say that’s when we won eight in a row so let’s do this more often. I think, again in terms of what happened, maybe you don’t have to go to that extreme. Theoretically, I have no problem with it, because here’s the thing where this team has to get to – if you look at what essentially a coaches number one rule is, is to give this team structure and detail. The emotion in terms of getting that emotion to where it needs if we’re going to be a top team, it has to come from within the room. With at times the coach obviously needs to have some ability and essentially a lot of that too in today’s day and age you have to give players individual one-on-one. So we’re even a part of it sometimes, raising the emotion in that room. Obviously one of the problems this year was just that. For whatever reason, we weren’t where we needed to be. Now that said, I don’t know if I like the way it happened, but if you look at great teams, a perfect example is Derek Jeter.

When Joe Torre was ready to blow [up] or something, Jeter would walk in and say, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, I got this one. Stay out, and don’t be losing it.’ You’ve seen this with top players all the time. The players essentially you want in charge of your room, and like I said, maybe the way to do it was, ‘We don’t need to hear from you now, we’ve got it,’ and go out and get it done. Maybe you don’t have to go to that extreme. But the point is what happens there; that’s what needs to happen. The players need to take over the room emotionally, and if you want to go in there and say, ‘Coach, stay out, I’ve got this one. We know how to win,’ I have no problem with that. It’s just that maybe again, you don’t want to have to put a garbage can there. But if we’re going to be a top team, your best players have to take over the emotion in your room, and at times that might require them to say, ‘Coach, I’ve got this one.’ And there’s enough players in that room now who’ve won. The problem you would’ve had before was credibility. If Jeter tells Joe Torre, ‘I’ve got this one, stay out,’ I better listen, he has frickin’ four championships. Well, there’s guys in there now with two championships. They’re qualified to do that now. They might not have said that four years ago… But they’re ready for that. They know where they’ve got to be. So the irony is that’s essentially a lot of times what you want to happen – your players take over your room. ‘Stay out, coach, I don’t want to hear from you. I don’t want to hear from you, Dean. We’ve got it. Stay out.’ Because they know way more than we do. It’s just as you’re building that up, it’s usually you get more involved when they don’t know how to win, but they’ve been there. That’s the way I look at it. In terms of how it happened – the trash cans or whatever – I’m not sure you have to send a message that way. You read about all those great players time and again, the top ones would say, ‘We’ve got this one,’ and go out and get it done. That’s the key. Now, the irony is this is, like I said, we went out and had one of our best streaks.

On whether he has ever been locked out of a dressing room by players:

No. I firmly believe, in this day and age, about the importance of constant dialogue with your players. And it isn’t always pretty. There are times when they don’t like what I have to say, either. I don’t think there’s anybody down there who doubts that, in the end, we’re all just trying to make you the best you can be. Sometimes they need some pushing. Don’t give them any ideas, in terms of locking me out!

On if he’s talked to Darryl Sutter about the trash can incident:

I don’t even know how he reacted. He’d probably say ‘See, I showed you. You really wanted to know.’ Here’s the other thing to this, and I don’t mean to criticize, but you don’t know how hard that was. And I think that really got everybody to the breaking point. I think you had a lot of things coming together ready to explode. I don’t how the players feel, I know how I feel. To be going through that when you know you’re struggling, it’s too bad. Because those people [with EPIX] are just trying to work a camera lens, but you have no idea how difficult that is. Its one thing if you’re on a roll, it’s still hard. But we were clearly not where you need to be, you know it, and then everywhere you go you got that camera. It just builds up in your neck because you know how you feel. You’re worried about this, you’re not doing this, and then were losing. We just lost in Florida and here’s that freakin camera in your face. That was the one thing, everybody says, do it it’s good for this good for that, and most guys, it has worked out. But if you look at the team, I don’t think anybody was going through what we were going through in terms of being the Stanley Cup champions and just clearly nobody being happy, everyone’s grumpy, and now here’s this camera in your face. They were really good guys, and that’s not an excuse. I think it just compounded and we just had a lot more edge to ourselves. So I hope you’re happy with the content.

On whom his favorite is to win the cup this season:

I guess it’s because we played them so freakin hard, St. Louis. Those series we played against them were rough, them and San Jose were the worst two. When we beat them those years, those series were a lot closer. They’ve kind of gotten better, they’ve got Tarasenko and got some skill. Who the hell knows? Did anyone pick Calgary, Vancouver and Winnipeg to be in the playoffs? Winnipeg is physical, that’s a real playoff team. They’re a team that’s built for the playoffs.

On if any of the Kings players will go overseas to the IIHF World Championship:

I was more looking at do I want Martinez and Lewis to end up playing. So if you don’t want them playing then I’d send them. Whatever helps the US and hurts Canada in all for it

On if he’s involved with the USA team at all:

Sort of. I can’t say right now, I’m not supposed to. That is a good question though, ask Blakey. It is great for those kids too, to get exposure wearing their colors. But then you’re back to the other question: are they better off getting their rest as the framing to the next level? Probably ask Blakey because then he’s unbiased too.

On how the draft strategy changes this season and the possibility of drafting McDavid:

We can’t move up that high. (There’s a two percent chance) so your telling me there’s a chance? You really think that picks not going to phoenix? That’s Patrick Ewing all the way buddy. Save that franchise

On if he’ll be at the draft lottery:

No we don’t have to go to that. We did enough TV shows and crap last year. That freaking thing we had to do at that awards thing, make me stand up there while that jackass is singing that song, and the lights flashing, that is it. I was done. And if I had any idea it was going to be like that, your damn straight you would have never saw it. And then they wonder why the hell I wasn’t there when they were Murph winning the award, I couldn’t fucking take it. I had to get the hell out of there.

On if any players need major medical attention this season:

Certainly nothing like last year. It is hard, not only do they need time to train, but you forget how much they need just to recoup. Every one of them was banged up last year.

We have lots more from yesterday’s session with Lombardi posted here.


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  1. Crown Royal says

    Lombardi is both smart and articulate. He puts a convincing spin on the Sutter trash can-lockout.
    He may be right in assuming that it’s simply a positive example of veteran leadership taking charge but it seems like it may go a bit deeper.

    When Scotty Bowman was coaching the Red Wings I asked him if it’s true that players start tuning out the coach even if they have a history of success together. His reply was, “Yes, it’s true they get tired of hearing the same message from the same coach over and over.” During his Red Wings tenure, Bowman didn’t attend practices regularly, it was Barry Smith who was in charge. Maybe Scotty had other things to do or possibly was limiting his contact with the team to help retain the kind of distance from his players which he was known to advocate.

    Sutter has proven to be a good coach but just about everyone gets tired of being yelled at or verbally abused, assuming that is the case with DS and Kings. Even more than Sutter, DL has been the force behind the Kings success. He did a masterful job of bringing in the talent and Sutter has effectively used that talent to produce multiple championships. Locking the coach out of the room is one thing but using trash cans, as well, is kind of an exclamation point by the players for Sutter to shut up!

    Winning does cure a lot of problems in team sports but it will be interesting to see how Sutter’s relationship with the team plays out next season, especially if the Kings struggle a bit out of the gate.

    • I didn’t know that about Scotty, but obviously he was an extremely effective coach because he made the Wings a dynasty! Maybe DS needs to take lessons from Scotty’s book? Sutter could bring the same type of dynasty to the Kings, but his management style may be totally different. As I stated in my comments below, you just can’t read Sutter very well. He’s always so stoic! Even when the Kings were winning, you can never tell if he was happy or not. (By the way, I loved Coach Hartley’s ecstatic reaction when they beat the Kings last Thursday! I was happy for him because he deserved to get there…finally! But my point is, to see him so happy made me happy for him.).

      Speaking of dynasty, is there really such a thing anymore? The NHL has gotten so tough with guys being so much bigger and faster, and with the farm systems, AHL also being more competitive, I really don’t think there is going to be a real dynasty. Having said that, I sure believe that Dean Lombardi is the genius that can bring our Kings a dynasty!

      • Crown Royal says

        Dynasty may very well be a thing of the past. If the Kings win the draft lottery and obtain the first pick, it might be possible. DL seems to think Phoenix will win it to help save the franchise. Hoping he’s wrong and everything is on the “Up and Up” regarding the lottery. If the Kings don’t win the lottery I’m hoping for Buffalo.

  2. I really respect Dean! He tells it like it is, and I loved his explanation about Coach being locked out & the trash can incident, comparing this to baseball. These Kings were beat up after the 2014 season, and they had a very short summer, so I can imagine how it was difficult mentally to be up for the new season after such a grueling very long 2013-14 season! I mean, they came back like a freight train post-Olympics & rolled fairly respectably throughout the latter half of the season! I am so grateful for what they did last season, and so proud of them.

    As for the trash can incident & Coach being locked out of the locker room, I can imagine how the players felt, but you have to wonder if Coach Sutter gets on them after these kinds of losses like Florida in February. Sutter is very hard to read (personality wise), so he could be a total tyrant behind the scenes (who knows?). But I have to say that after that Panther loss in February, they sure steam-rolled through several elite teams winning EIGHT in a row!! So that must have helped to motivate themselves!

    All in all, I’m disappointed that the Kings did not make the playoffs because if they’re going to be a “dynasty” team, at least they should make it into the playoffs especially after winning the Cup (to try to defend the Cup). But like Dean said, if they were beat up still all season long (from last season), then they should get a reprieve for a season.

    As for Coach Sutter, if he did get on the boys for the losses, he should have eased up simply based on the fact that these same boys won 2 cups in 3 years, which is something not a lot of teams can say. Maybe if he wasn’t so hard on them, they would have found their inner-selves to win. Maybe Sutter was the block to their “mental” state this year, and players were rebelling or just too tired to care. Either way, I’m totally with the team and can’t wait for next year.

    If Coach Sutter leaves, I would love to see John Stevens take over! He seems to be a supportive, well-spoken, effective manager.

    Thanks for the great article!


  1. […] Lombardi’s saying he was okay with what happened, and that he wants guys to take control of the […]

  2. […] the players locking coach Darryl Sutter out of the room in Tampa […]

  3. […] Lombardi on the Kings’ Players Locking Sutter Out […]