May 24, 2012, 8:10 PM EDT
Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi raised some eyebrows when he went out to Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Dustin Penner in three separate trades over the last two seasons. None of those players came cheap and all of them had their baggage, but all three have played significant roles in the Kings’ run to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Lombardi wasn’t afraid of their baggage. After the Richards’ trade he remarked that, “You can’t have 23 choirboys on your team.”
We’d say that it’s evidence that he’s not afraid to take risks, but Lombardi didn’t see reuniting Jeff Carter and Mike Richards after Philadelphia dealt them as part of their big shakeup as “much of a risk.”
“I knew those two kids personally,” Lombardi said. “I followed them through their draft year, through World Junior tournaments, got to know them when I was in Philly and obviously I was able to do my digging without having to read blogs to know what the truth was.”
Lombardi wasn’t deterred by the notion that Richards got “a little off track in Philly” because “that heart and soul isn’t going anywhere.”
Penner is a bit of a different case. He wasn’t as big of a gamble because he wasn’t locked into a lifetime contract like Carter and Richards. At the same time, he was easily the biggest disappointment during the regular season. Penner had just seven goals and 18 points in 65 games for the price of $4,250,000.
That’s not exactly a lot of bang for your buck, but he has come up big in the playoffs.
“I kid him now; he went from BP — like the oil spill — to BP — as in Big Play Penner,” Lombardi said.
Of course, the Kings aren’t winning solely on the backs of those three players and they’re not even Los Angeles’ biggest contributors. Still, things might have gone very differently if Lombardi hadn’t gotten those three.
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