According to the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Kings have signed General Manager Dean Lombardi and Head Coach Darryl Sutter to contract extensions.
Lombardi, who was the architect behind the Kings’ Stanley Cup win last spring, has made a handshake agreement with the club on a four-year extension through the 2016-17 season and the deal should be finalized within the coming days.
Not only has Lombardi’s work helped the Kings attain hockey’s ultimate prize but he has been able to keep the championship roster intact, which is something not every Cup-winning GM can say.
Upon being hired in April 2006, Dean Lombardi began running a Kings team who, despite having some talent, was in need of a facelift. At the time, the organization didn’t have much of a farm system and their draft history up to that point was more or less dismal. Yet when Lombardi arrived, he changed that, parting ways with many of the players in exchange for an abundance of draft picks and capitalized on many of those selections. One of those picks was defenseman Alec Martinez who, upon being drafted 95th overall in 2007, had very little promise. However, Lombardi sent Martinez to Manchester after finishing up his collegiate at Miami-Ohio and the Monarchs patiently developed him into an NHL-calibre defenseman – and we all saw just how valuable the blue-liner became during the latter part of the 2011-12 season and the playoffs.
As for Darryl Sutter, his new contract is believed to be as long as Lombardi’s and the two working together in hopes of continuing the Kings’ success is something every fan should be excited about.
After a frustratingly slow start to the 2011-12 season, the Kings fired their defensive-minded coach Terry Murray despite his regular-season success the previous two years and ultimately hired Sutter who took over in December 2011, just a week after Murray was relieved of his duties.
Unlike Murray, Darryl Sutter gave his players the freedom to do what they were most comfortable doing instead of relying solely on their defensive games. In terms of personality, Sutter was more demanding than Murray was but it was a change the club got used to fairly quickly. While their goal production didn’t improve much, the Kings did play much better overall and once the playoffs started, well, you know how that turned out.
So, while it was tough to part ways with a fan favourite like Kevin Westgarth yesterday, Kings’ fans get some good news today with the extensions of both Lombardi and Sutter.
The Los Angeles Kings seem just about ready to begin their Stanley Cup defense this coming Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks and like fans everywhere, I’m counting down the days.
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