Lombardi Has ‘Gut-wrenching’ Meeting with Jarret Stoll

Jarret Stoll LA Kings MayorsManorMore from this afternoon’s conference call with LA Kings GM Dean Lombardi…

On his reaction to the off ice incidents this season and if it inspired him to plan for future similar issues:

“Yeah, I think both incidents generated a bunch of distraction during the year. During the first meetings and the debriefings at the end of the year it was the number one object before we even got to the hockey. First thing you look at is were there any signs that we should have been aware of, for both of these incidents. If you look at yourself, managers, coaches, I think we are very good in terms of communicating with our players. We go out of our way to try and know them personally as human beings. I think it is one of the reasons we’ve always had that kind of family affect around here. But clearly, we can do more. Whether it is the coaches, the management or even the personnel people, what is it that those people could open up to us where we could have been aware of this potentially happening. The second thing, this is what I said when the Voynov thing happened, I walked down to Jeff Solomon’s office and said ‘this is my fault.’ We neglected to educate our players. We spend time teaching them systems, nutrition and everything else, but we missed a big step here in terms of assuring that they understand right and wrong. It has to be reinforced. Not only as a human being, but also as somebody that’s representing your community, so it heightens the need for this.

“What really irritated me, in terms of my own failure, was if you read Bill Walsh’s book [Finding the Winning Edge], I think you guys know how I feel about that 49ers organization. When I was coming up in San Jose, it was filled with winners and Walsh’s book was so far ahead of its time. There was a section in Walsh’s book in 1985 or 1986 talking about the need to educate your players about domestic violence. As the general manager of this team, this guy was thirty-five years ahead of his time. I’m sitting there; we had done nothing as an organization to maybe head this up. I guess that is just another reason why the 49ers organization of that time will go down as one of the greatest ever. To see that in Walsh’s bible, you kind of refer to it. It is one of those books that you kind of never get done reading it, you always refer back to it. That is what separates Walsh, he was already educating his players and we did nothing. That starts here. If Bill Walsh is thinking along those lines then why aren’t we. I don’t mean to say that anybody in this organization in Bill Walsh by any stretch. The point is that they were all active in recognizing this as a potential problem and educating their players. That is the next step.

“You’d like to hopefully be there if a player needs to come to you. Mike Altieri, Jeff Solomon and myself all met with a number of domestic violence groups. Mike is in the process of finalizing an arrangement where they’re going to come in and educate all of us, quite frankly. I’m interested in some of this myself; we all need to learn about it. As far as the other thing, Chris Harren is coming in to deal with the drug issue. I saw his story on [ESPN’s] 30 for 30 and Mike [Altieri] and I talked and said let’s get this guy in here. It is a powerful story; let’s get that on the block. There are a few other things we’re going to do. This is now no different than nutrition. There are no ifs, ands or buts; this is part of being a pro now.  I just regret I didn’t have the foresight of Bill Walsh. You can be assured that we learn from our mistake on this. That is kind of the way we plan on dealing with it going forward. Like I said, there is a lot of discussion, how did this happen, why did this happen, why weren’t we aware of it and how are we going to stop it in the future. That is what we’ve come up with at this time.”

On his meeting with Jarret Stoll after the Las Vegas arrest:

“It’s safe to say, in all honesty, it was probably the most difficult meeting I’ve had in my career. It was probably one of the most gut-wrenching meetings I’ve ever had in my entire career – and I’ve had meetings with lots of players.”

On the team doing an internal investigation:

“I don’t think we were doing an internal investigation for the purposes of indicting people. It was an internal investigation of us, not the player. We weren’t investigating whether he had this, or this happened on the night of the incident. No, no, no. This was all about us. Under the assumption that this did happen – well, there is always a factual issue – we can’t afford to be at square one, where there is even a presumption of guilt. Our internal investigation had nothing to do with whether to do with the player did this or the player did that. It was all about what we could do, what we did wrong. Why nobody was thinking like Bill Walsh. It was that type of discussion.”

For a detailed look at the off-season roster moves being contemplated by the LA Kings, be sure to check out our recent MayorsManor feature story covering more than a dozen players. Plus, the remainder of Lombardi’s comments are linked below.

MORE MUST-READ LOMBARDI CONTENT:

Lombardi on the Future of Mike Richards

Lombardi’s on Contracts for Justin Williams and Andrej Sekera

Conference Call: Kings GM Dean Lombardi Talks up Jordan Weal

Lombardi on Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar – ‘The training wheels are off’

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Comments

  1. Could another problem be the lack of comment and outward support for a teammate Slava when he was going through his ordeal? Could there be an impact on a team when one of their own is going through tough times and the team is completely silent on the matter? That can’t boost team morale on any level. Just one time, the hero would have broken with politically correctness and said, “We wish Slava and his wife well through this. We believe in him.” Zip. And even Lombardi throws his player under the bus in his comments, basically claiming the man is GUILTY when nothing has been proven or admitted to. Such behavior tears into the fabric of a team, impacting deeply, though revealing very little on the surface.

    • John Hoven says:

      Voynov’s teammates have been in regular contact with him. There are no known issues there.

  2. john, does stoll have a trial date? because by the looks of these quotes that was basically a goodbye to the kings. and if there is a trial how much would that affect his free agency?

  3. Timothy Patcherd says:

    So Dean is not even going to hold the players responsible for screwing up? Someone gets busted for coke or domestic abuse, and Dean is asking what he and his staff did wrong not to know about it, instead of asking what’s wrong with the players? It’s not that self-reflection is bad, but Dean has created this environment where all his players are family, and he thinks they’re this amazing leadership group that can do no wrong to the point where he won’t even trade his declining players to make room for young players, but then even when they do wrong, he just blames himself instead.

    “No no, you guys don’t have to work harder. No no, I’m still not going to trade any of you. We should have seen this coming, it’s not your fault. We’ll still never trade any of you.”

    At this point I don’t really care why, I just want whatever to happen that needs to happen for Dean to realize he needs to get rid of Green, Stoll, and some of the bottom 6 in order to make room for young players who are more than ready like Weal, Colin Miller, potentially Mearsch and O’Neill and others.

    Lastly, Dean, these are your employees. Not your family. When an employee gets popped for cocaine, HE should be “gutted” talking to his boss, HE should be mortified, not the BOSS gut-wrenched because his employee got busted. If this happened for a Bank of America branch manager, it would be easy. His boss would say “you’re fired” and that would be it. Simple. Clean. The bank could then hire someone new for the job with no drama and go on functioning at the elite level a bank needs to function at without losing other people’s or its own money.

    So why does this have to be so much harder? Stoll played horribly last year, was severely overpaid, and you already have a younger, cheaper, more naturally talented player with higher upside rearing to get a shot at the exact same position in the NHL, in Jordan Weal (or if Weal is moved to wing, you still have Shore and plenty of 3rd line centers available as UFA and through trade for much less $ than Stoll). So what’s so hard about it? “Thanks for helping us win Cups now Stoll, but your unprofessionalism played a role in costing us the chance to win a third last year, plus your play has declined two years straight and we have cheaper, better replacements for you all ready to go.”

    Easy. But in Dean’s mind, because Stoll has a good personality and his teammates like him, I mean who wouldn’t like the guy with the best coke connection, that means he’s a great leader. Somehow you can be unprofessional, not even take care of your own conditioning, have a drug habit, show poor work ethic with your own conditioning, and play terrible hockey, but because you’re good at yelling at teammates from the bench or whatever, that makes you a good leader? That’s a complete crock. Some guys like the sound of their own voice and will always dominate locker room speech opportunities and the like because they can and they know they can’t impact the game that much on the ice, so they have to do it there to get their contracts, but that doesn’t mean they’re a good leader. You don’t see Jonathan Toews getting busted for drugs and he’s not a big talker either. The more I hear Dean talk, the more I think he’s just friends with all these players, and becomes so emotionally invested in them, that he no longer sees their faults at all, and therefore all of them are “great leaders” to him just by virtue of being part of his team and bearing their souls to him. “Yes I beat up my teammates at parties but that’s only because my father whipped me as a child!” “Oh yeah you’re absolutely a good leader, you’re just human, you have faults but like you said, now I know, it’s just because of what happened to you as a child. It’s not who you really are at heart! Besides assaulting teammates because of your psychological pain, you’re a great leader!”

    That strikes me as what’s happened here. Stoll probably told Dean he’s been depressed, had relationship problems, and got into coke. “Oh well that’s not the real Jarret then!” He seems to fall for this every time even though it doesn’t matter to hockey. Sure, morally, that would be good to know. Maybe it’s not the real Jarret. He’s still a good person. And so on. That’s great on a personal level. But Dean has to be calculating information on a level above that in order to do his job as GM. What matters there is if Stoll is ever going to be a good hockey player in the future or not, as well as be worth preventing Weal and other Manchester prospects from ever having a career with the Kings. And the answer to that after seems pretty obvious.

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