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Kings GM Lombardi on building winning culture: “They got Wayne Gretzky and that was successful, but it had no staying power”

Mar 19, 2012, 5:11 PM EDT

Dean Lombardi Getty Images

Say this about Dean Lombardi — he’s one helluva quote.

The LA Kings GM (same guy that brought you “recalibrate the coulombs“) conducted a lengthy interview with about the culture of winning and how he’s trying to build the Kings’ identity. Lombardi’s known as a rather loquacious, candid individual…that’ll talk your ear off if given the opportunity.

It appears as though the interviewer, Doug Ward, gave him that opportunity. Here are a few of Lombardi’s finer quotes.

On the modern athlete: “Tom Landry said, ‘you have to convince an athlete to do what he doesn’t want to do so he can become what he really wants to become.’ He was right. We keep throwing all these temptations out there at our athletes: money, flattery, the media, all this stuff. But, like Landry said, deep down, the athlete wants to be a winner. It’s just getting harder and harder to get to his soul.”

On establishing team culture: “The Patriots did it. The Yankees did it. If [Anze] Kopitar and [Drew] Doughty and [Jonathan] Quick and [Jonathan] Bernier and all these guys become the equivalent of [Derek] Jeter and [Mariano] Rivera and [Jorge] Posada and [Andy] Pettitte, you can now venture out and bring in a guy with a little less character because he is going to fit in.”

On L.A.’s history of winning culture (or, lack thereof): “I had done some research before I came here and I remember looking at the Kings’ history. It was 10 years before a first-round pick — Jay Wells — played for them. You have got to try to mess up your drafts to go 10 years before your first first-round pick plays for you. They either traded the picks to Montreal, or made bad picks. Then they had a little period where they drafted well, but they traded Larry Murphy. They got Wayne Gretzky and that was successful, but it had no staying power.”

On Kings fans: ““The people are much more knowledgeable about hockey. I think the fans are as passionate as I’ve ever seen, including the major hockey cities. If there is any core group of fans that deserve a winner –- in any sport -– our fans are right up there with the [Chicago] Cubs.”

In closing — I know Brian Burke is the runaway No. 1 pick for “Most Entertaining GM,” but feel Lombardi is a legitimate 1a.

  1. bcisleman - Mar 19, 2012 at 7:53 PM

    Entertaining? Maybe. But this guy let Matt Moulson walk out the door for nothing in 2009, insisting that he’d been given every chance (29 GP over 3 seasons) to prove himself & had shown him nothing.

    Since then, he would have been 2nd, 1st, & 1st on the LAK in goals & this year would be 2nd in points by a scant 3. Since then, Milbu–I mean Lombardi has traded away quality players Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Quincey, and Jack Johnson, blue chip prospects Brayden Schenn and Colton Teubert and 2 1st and 2 2nd round picks for players who have not matched Moulson’s stats. In fact, some have not even come close to matching those stats.

    Hockey media folks and fans can rag on Garth Snow all they want. I thank God he is Islander GM and NOT Dean Lombardi!!!

    • blomfeld - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:30 PM

      WELL EXCUSE ME ! …

      No doubt people like this “bcisleman” and such mean well … but equating Lombardi with those mental cases Snow and Wang in Long Island, is essentially like equating Elvis to some drunken karaoke singer at the local bar ! This guy “knows the deal” big time, as it should “always” be about good times and ultimate victory in the end. For example, Lombardi’s statement that Gretzky “had no staying power” is bang on. Anyone old enough will remember that good ol’ Wayno, though still very potent, was well “past his prime” that fateful day back in the summer of ’88 when he joined the Kings. Yes, he gave the entire gig in LA a “kick in the pants” for some 5 “plus” years and for that we’ll be eternally grateful. But there’s no denying of the fact that Gretzky had “peaked” as a player, already two years earlier. The bottom line friends, is that Lombardi needs to be granted an audience for his excellent views. After all, is he not the GM of the “hottest” team right now in the NHL ?

  2. highlander24 - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:13 PM


    • blomfeld - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:04 PM

      right on man ! …

  3. uscthom78 - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:40 PM

    Any other team that had the great one would have won the sc…..

  4. uscthom78 - Mar 19, 2012 at 8:41 PM

    Any other team that had the great one in his prime would have won the sc…..

    • blomfeld - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:03 PM

      That’s right man … one almost forgets now about St Louis and NY winning those Stanley Cups with Gretzky in their respective lineups … :)

      • uscthom78 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:49 PM

        I wasn’t aware he was still in his prime when he played with those teams.

  5. jkaflagg - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    Dean is right about The Gretzky era; the team was built around surrounding Wayne with ex- Oilers and winning the Cup ASAP……and it came within McSorley’s illegal stick of succeeding. And despite the short-sighted plan, every Kings fan would have accepted 5-10 sucky years to have that one Cup.

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