The Los Angeles Kings fired Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter after missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. That move doesn’t come as a huge surprise; at least, the removal of Sutter doesn’t.
The team, while again tops in the NHL in possession, struggled to score as Sutter refused to integrate players who could score into the lineup. As a result, he got the boot despite leading the team to two Stanley Cups.
Lombardi’s removal, on the other hand, comes as a bit of a surprise. While the contracts given to players like Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick have certainly hamstrung the team it’s hard to say other general managers wouldn’t have done the same. Still, it looks like AEG wants a fresh start.
So they turned around and hired franchise legends Luc Robitaille and Rob Blake to take over. Blake is the Kings’ new general manager while Robitaille is the President of the Kings. It seems reasonable to move in a new direction in the front office and behind the bench, but to bring aboard a pair of guys with limited experience is weirdly reminiscent of what the Colorado Avalanche just did.
How’s that working out?
The Kings are very aware of that, clearly, because they point out the following in their press release. Here are what they consider to be Robitaille’s credentials:
Robitaille, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, has served as Kings President, Business Operations the last 10 years. The highest scoring left wing in NHL history, under Robitaille's leadership the Kings have had a tremendous overall impact on the Kings Business Operations department - revenue has doubled -- including the areas of Sponsorship Sales and Renewal, Fan and Customer Relations, Game Entertainment, Media Relations and Broadcasting. Since 2007-08, the Kings have increased or maintained their number of sellouts at STAPLES Center each full season, and the team concluded the 2016-17 season with a sellout streak of 213 consecutive regular season games and 246 consecutive contests overall (both team records). Under Robitaille the Kings were named the Sports Team of the Year at the Sports Business Journal's Sports Business Awards event in 2015.
He sold a lot of tickets. That’s fine, so let’s assume he won’t have much impact on hockey-related moves. Or hope, if you’re a Kings fan. (Or hope he will if you’re a Sharks fan!)
How about Blake?
Blake, who is also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, becomes the ninth general manager in team history. He was named to his most recent role of Vice President/Assistant General Manager in 2013 and has held the position for last four seasons. Prior to that Blake, a former Kings captain, worked in the National Hockey League's Player Safety department for three years.
That’s more, to be sure. Four years as an assistant general manager under Lombardi before taking over. Okay. Well. Good luck with that!