Playoffs are an “expectation”?

Dean Lombardi’s “letter” to fans this morning including an interesting quote about the Kings making the playoffs next season:

“I want to assure you that all of our end-of-season discussions with our players involved a clear message and understanding that next season carries an expectation that we will be playing playoff hockey.”

I wonder — and will ask, at the next extensive interview — how Lombardi reconciles that quote with the answers he gave on April 11 about making the playoffs…

Question: So let’s say we’re sitting here a year from now. You didn’t find that `piece’ you were looking for and the Kings have finished, let’s say, 10th in the West. What would that mean to you?

LOMBARDI: “I would look at it as, `Did we get better?’ and `Are we positioned to get better?”’

Question: So you don’t think this team absolutely has to make the playoffs next year?

LOMBARDI: “What is it, `You have to make the playoffs next year to save your job’? Well, if that’s the way you’re going to operate, how many teams have lost their way, and lost their plan?”

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  • iansez

    I like his answer, he’s saying lets not lose sight of the goal of winning the cup for the sake of a few playoffs games. Now make it happen Dean! We’re ready!

  • anthonyy

    Excellent Rich,
    You caught that as Well.
    This further supports my theory that this guy is desperate and is close to being out of a job.
    The man is a lost and clueless.
    Its just one excuse after another.

    If the team doesn’t make the playoffs, his explanation would be – Well, duh, blah, we’re improving.

    If he overpays a player or the player is no longer on the team, his explanation would be – well, duh, blah, that player is a filler. Tom Preissing signed a 4 year $11 million contract to be a filler. An injured player like Clouitier signed a $7 Million contract, without playing a single game, is a filler. Patrick O’Sullivan is a filler now. If Jack Johnson and Frolov don’t work out, they’re are gonna be Fillers too.. very soon.

    Just excuses and I’m tred of listening to it.
    How some of you guys continue to give this guy a free pass is beyond me. Its like he’s being worshiped here. He could do no wrong.
    And people always defend him like there’s no tomorrow. Why? Does he put food on your tables? Does he put clothes on your back? Does he pay your mortgage and car insurance.
    Stop defending him. He’s not worth him. Judge him by his 3 year track record. 26th, 29th, and 25th.

  • Quisp

    Not to disagree with Anthony(y), but I need to disagree with Anthony(y).

    I don’t think he’s being desperate at all. I think he’s trying to stick to the long-term plan and so he resists ANY short-term goals being dictated to him, maybe OVER resists, but that doesn’t bother me, given the way Kings’ teams have been managed in the past.

    What’s funny about his original quote about not necessarily needing to make the playoffs next year is that, he knows and we all know, if the Kings continue to improve as he and we all know they must, they likely will make the playoffs next year, just by default, i.e. because of the improvement. His goal — improvement through building for the long term — and the goal he was dismissing — making the playoffs next season — are not mutually exclusive.

    Or, put it this way: DL would obviously say taking a step backwards or treading water next season is not acceptable. The team must improve. I say: if they improve, they’re going to be in the playoffs. So this is a non-issue. Semantics.

  • GoKings09

    An important distinction between the two points that I made is that when he said he talked to the players his quote was

    ” next season carries an expectation that we will be playing playoff hockey”

    This means he has made it clear with the players that we expect to improve as Quisp said and should be a team that expects to make the playoffs rather than just trying to improve and hope we get in.

    Now for his comments about what if we don’t make the playoffs I don’t really have a problem with it. He says he’s not going to panic and mortgage the long term future just to save his job which I love. An important difference here is he was asked what if you don’t make the playoffs. I’m sure he would be upset that expectations were not met but would plan to fix that problem for sure the next year. We expect to make the playoffs this year but if we don’t he’s just saying he’s not worried about his job because he has a long term plan that is more important. Never says not making playoffs next year is fine with him or he doesnt expect to just that if they do miss then its not the end of the world

  • Irish Pat

    That is a pretty slick catch Rich. I think ian, anthony, Quisp and GoKings make good points above. If you take a step back and analyze everything that has transpired since Lombardi has taken the reins of this franchise it seems pretty clear that this club is poised to challenge for a playoff spot this season. Lombardi’s point being, from my perspective, that each and every player next season should be thinking, playing, walking, skating, eating and dreaming of being a playoff team this coming season. No excuses. Period.

    My answer to that… good. It’s about time.

  • Daniel

    I agree that Mr. Lombardi is not contradicting himself with these two quotes. The latest quote simply states that the expectations are high. His quote from last April simply states that he is not wavering from the path he has set this team on. It also implies that AEG would rather have 10 continuous years of playoff success than a cup run in 2010 only.

  • Paul from Oxnard

    I’d be more concerned if he told the players “we won’t be a playoff team next year, but play hard anyway”. Playoff expectations should be the norm, not the exception. I’ve expected the Kings to make the playoffs every year since 1993, including this year and next.

  • variable

    i agree w/the analysis…
    good catch, rich…!

    but it still amounts to hyperbole…

    d.l. has to realize that making the playoffs will be a measurable standard…a key performance indicator…as to the overall direction, health and success of the team…

    with merely just acknowledging that there is an expectation amongst the players and public, d.l. has just set the standard…regardless of whether or not he meant to…like QUISP said, it’s semantics…and unless d.l. is facing perjury charges by a ANTHONY(Y) appointed blog commission, he can move on, focusing solely on fulfilling the desire of all…

  • nykingfan

    I agree with Iansez/Quisp/GoKings/

    I think this was a clear case where his words were taken completely out of context.
    I had mentioned something about this a few weeks ago….Hypothetical, of course..
    If the Kings finish 10th with 98 points…..has the team improved? Is it time to get rid of the GM and coach and start over?
    I equate what DL is doing with the Kings to having an expansion franchise and building it the right way.
    He came in with very few pieces in place and needed to overhaul the entire organization from top to bottom. We had no scouting staff…he’s buiilt one from the ground up. We now have as good a pipeline of young talent as any team in the league. That’s where the future of the franchise will be built from.
    Rome wasn’t built in a day….after 40 years of incompetence…lets give him the chance to build us a winner…..

  • dirtmover

    to be the fly in the ointment – The west is going to be a monster next yr – there are 12 legit playoff teams to deal with – I like that the expectation is playoffs – the reality is Dal,Nash,St Louis are all going to be much better also Cbus and Phx are still teams to deal with – our home record has got to be much better for us to go top 8 – now with the maturity and level of talent that we have assembled top 8 is a def probability – I really hope he sees the value of FRO – to me he is our most complete forward- as it stands right now we have a solid goalie and much improved D corps with 2 solid lines (1&3) our 2nd line needs to be better and the consistency needs to improve – the future looks good

  • TB

    I agree with Irish and Quisp…

    Anthony…you’re doing it again. Stop it.

    His statement is basically saying the playoffs are the expectation because thats what’s expected of them. Its public relations 101. Internally, his expectation is continuing to shape the franchise for a long term stay as a playoff contender.

    If we finish next season in 9th place, out of a playoff spot, but ahead of this past season’s end result, its not a failure worthy of his dismissal. It might be time to re-evaluate strategies, but nothing more. We’re close…its not time to abandon ship.

    Like it or not, he’s a shrewd GM with a plan. And in today’s salary cap era, from a business perspective, he has excelled in managing the Kings’ assets (minus his first year ‘freak out’ with signing Cloutier, Preissing and Nagy. And respectfully, he didn’t exactly have the most attractive team to pitch to UFA’s at the time).

  • CUP4LA

    There is no inconsistency there and it really is not a big deal. The first answer dealt in absolutes. The letter dealt with expectations.

    Nothing to see here……move along.

  • PaulCat1969

    I swear I can’t wait for Anthony’s reaction when all the draft picks, signings and trades are made this off season. He will find fault with everything. I really don’t know what you expect Anthony. Did you expect this rebuild to happen in one or two seasons?

    Dean came in with very little assets and now suddenly we are pretty deep especially where we need to be – in goal and on the blue line. Only you can answer this but are you not happy with Quick, Ersberg and Bernier as our goaltenders?

    I am sure sure we can admit that Gauthier is more than like gone but don’t you like Doughty, Greene, Johnson, O’Donnell, Drewiske, Quincey on our blue line with the understanding that Hickey, Teubert and Voynov are in the wings?

    I can see where you can have a problem with out offense as we all do but when you devote as much attention to our back end as we something was going to take a hit. Still we should improvement in penalty killing, goals against, our power play was inconsistent but better, face-offs, etc. I hope you can have some faith there there will be a move made this off season to acquire an additional goal scorer and when that happens what will your reaction be?

    If you can criticize the Kings for something you can may be get on them for being a bit soft but that is being addressed, as the O’Sullivan trade showed, and I think another off season will allow players like Simmonds, Kopitar, Brown, and a number of other players to get a bit bigger and tougher around the net.

    Finally, there is Tom Murray. Yes I don’t like his line combinations at times but surely as his first year as coach with a new team you can give him some leeway. So much of what needed to be changed was attitude and if anything the Kings never seemed apathetic on the ice.

    Please be prepared to express yourself when this off-season truly begins in a bout a month from now. I will be anticipating more than a few posts where you will have to finally say something positive and when you do I expect (and will be personally holding you accountable for) an apology after each post.

  • Ersberg

    I thought his letter was fairly straight-forward. Expect the same team on the ice next fall, with the possibility of one, maybe two additions.

    Staal as my first guess, Vinny being my second. After that, he’ll probably make a pitch for Moen, and make calls to Gabs/Hossa’s agents. If they don’t sign, we go into next season with what we’ve got.

    He’s not going to shove a whole new team down our throats.

  • CUP4LA

    Hey Paulcat,

    It’s Terry Murray. Tom Murray is a broadcaster……for the Ducks.

  • mrbrett7

    Great comments, everyone. I think Kings fans (rightfully so) tend to overreact sometimes and over-analize anything management says.

    Sometimes we need to take things with a grain of salt and for what they are.

    All this is, is a marketing ploy from management in an effort to sell more tickets for next season. Nothing more.

    It’s great that he says Playoffs are a goal and everything, but beyond that, in my opinion, reading too much into this is a little foolish.

  • mrbrett7

    Staal is an interesting though Ersberg…it doesn’t give us a bonafide #1 center, BUT, it gives us two top notch #2 centers.

  • PaulCat1969

    Hey Cup….thanks for the catch…I was talking to my son Tom when I was writing his…good thing I wasn’t talking to my sister Anne.

  • aj

    i think you’re taking things out of context Rich. I don’t think there’s an inherent contradiction in his statement as much as him not wanting to make any prideful promises to the media in an interview. It seems he’s trying to get to the point that it’s the ultimate goal of the team to show improvement in overall structure rather than through points. Points is not the sole indicator of whether the team has improved and I think that’s what Lombardi is trying to drill home.

    What the letter seems to say but was hesitant to admit in the interview was that this is a turning point and this is where the expectations will now start turning towards expected results out of the players and not just overall development. Again, I don’t think this is a contradiction on many levels because for one, having the expecations of making playoffs isn’t contradicting stressing the importance of overall development. Plus, if he wasn’t ready to have playoff expectations at the end of the season but changed over the course of the summer, that also is completely legitimate.

    I definately don’t think anything fishy was said so far…

  • 28 KINGS

    “Judge him by his 3 year track record. 26th, 29th, and 25th.”

    I see, this is how we judge a team going through a rebuild. We haven’t won the Cup…Fire his A$$!

  • deadcatbounce

    We must all really be bored today! Don’t worry, everybody, September will be here before we know it! Go Kings!

  • Matt George

    CUP4LA and aj … great points and true.

    To my knowledge DL has NEVER set expectations at making the playoffs before. To me this is a clear indicator of the progress we have made.

    I actually bought season tix again for next year. That’s how much I believe in this.

    And it’s not just DL, all of the critics have the Kings as the team on the cusp for next season.

    Oh and PLEASE can we NOT get Gabs or Hossa?! Gabs with the injuries and Hossa with the attitude.. oye vey

  • Scott

    Lombardi’s decisions merit his termination, in addition to his track record. The team is skilled yet completely soft up front, has average defense with Doughty as the exception, and until Quick came out of nowhere and saved their sorry butts, the dearth of quality goaltending lingered for far too long (who’s to say Quick will be good, again?) Drafting Doughty at the top doesn’t prove anything. A moron can draft players at the top. He’s not responsible for any of the talent we might have, “might” being the operative word. Frolov, Kopitar, and Brown are Taylor’s finds. Nightly lackluster performances from the team (Murray partly to blame), bad and/or lack of quality free agent signings, finishing out of the playoffs the last three years he’s been here and looking bad doing it.

    How does any of this suggest he should retain his job? If it were up to me, he’s gone now. But if he has to stick around another year, they better be in the playoffs or he’s out. Come on, Lie-weekly!

  • uknojata

    I’m not saying that DL doesn’t have a vision for this team, but don’t kid yourselves, he can bullshit with the best of em. The man can talk fast, and has a nack for making you feel better with his sometimes raw directness.

    And I agree, lets not loose track of DL’s original game plan. Next year is the fourth year of his “FIVE YEAR PLAN,” that he announced when he first took over for Taylor. So I guess it was a FIVE YEAR PLAN to just make the playoff’s. Sounded better when he described the team as “contenders” after his half-a-decade game plan.

    How are we going to build a winner without getting these guys some playoff experience? The message should be “if we fail to make the playoffs next year, we will shake things up to import experienced winners to help this team advance.” Guess what numbnuts, WINNING IS EVERYTHING! Low expectations have fueled a cycle of failure on this team much too long.

  • SamHF

    uknojata,

    Lombardi’s initial stated gameplan was not a 5 year plan. In his first press conference as Kings GM, he stated that the 5 year plan was not practical in today’s NHL and mentioned a 3 year plan.

    Lombardi may have thought different privately but publicly he dismissed the 5 year plan as not practical.

  • JT Snow

    The sad but simple fact remains, until a goaltender steps up or until we get a goaltender than can step up… This conversation surrounding Dean will always exist.
    Unfortunately Johnathan Quick will not be that guy either…
    Unless Bernier steps up this year, this conversation continues through till next year.

  • Ersberg

    “Oh and PLEASE can we NOT get Gabs or Hossa?! Gabs with the injuries and Hossa with the attitude.. oye vey”

    So, we sign Zus and Williams with their injury history, but not sign an elite goal scorer in a guy like Gaborik? That makes absolutely no sense at all. Gaborik has a fraction of the injury history Williams does and is about on par with Zus’. Hossa wants to win, no reason to not want to take a little spark onto the team.

    Signing either of them would elevate this teams offense to the next level. We should be so lucky to have either of them.

  • TB

    Matt George…

    I beg to differ regarding Hossa. His positive attitude has been so widely acclaimed since he joined the Wings that I strongly disagree with you. He took A LOT LESS MONEY to be with a team steeped in a winning tradition and an expectation of playing hockey every june. He didn’t ask for special treatment, but rather bought into the team first mentality right away. His willingness to play 2 way hockey, and his work ethic are the primary reasons why he’s so popular among GM’s around the league.

    So I have to ask, where is your feeling of Hossa having an attitude coming from? I just don’t see it.

  • BakoCAcameraGuy

    This one’s simple.

    DL has made it clear to the players that they will be gone if they do not play playoff-level hockey. This year, DL expects playoff-level performance from the players. There will be no more woulda-shoulda-coulda without being released or traded.

    Period.

    Take, for example, Brian Boyle. Sign him or don’t sign him, if he is again around to be judged, he will not be given any slack. There will be player accountability, period.

    It’s about time. At the beginning of last year the Kings didn’t play that badly, considering the opponents. But in all those games the Kings lost in the 3rd period or overtime, they seemed to be standing around waiting for someone to do something.

    Do that next year, and you will be gone.

    About time/Good riddance to whomever this will apply.

    Like DL or not, there has been a progression to the Kings’ development. This is simply the next step.

  • JT Snow

    Who here feels that Terry Murray is the coach to get us to the next step? He has no dynamic offensive tactical approach in his coaching. Our lack of good goaltending and coaching will be our continued hinderance going forward

  • MacSwede

    Final statement!

    I think you overreacted Rich, almost like your trying to create a debate over nothing.

    The message is clear. The team MUST continue to improve, and by that we WILL make the playoffs next year. And it is more about setting some pressure on the players and see who can handle it.

    He also said, that a lot of you seem to have missed (including Rich), that he would stick to the longterm plan. The team is not suppose to make the playoffs next year at any cost! But you can expect from the team now, the talent and the development, that they will make it.

    The most interesting is that he talked about his strategy this summer, and that they are looking to fill their needs with trade/s/free agency. I have never heard him admit that before, or even admit that there were needs, and holes to be filled.

    In short, I agree with: quisp, nykingfan, TB and even dirtmover that there will be a tough conference next season.

    I disagree with anthonyy(surprised), and Rich.

    I liked the letter.. It adresses all the fans that the long waiting is over. We almost have all the pieces of the puzzle..

    over and out

    Marcus (Sweden)

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