L.A. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez undergoes finger surgery

 

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez had finger surgery Friday.

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez had finger surgery Friday.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another for the Kings. Just when it seemed their defense crops might be back to something close to full strength again, they lost another valuable member when Alec Martinez underwent finger surgery Friday morning.

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi informed the club’s website of Martinez’s surgery, but did not provide further details. It wasn’t immediately certain how long the Stanley Cup playoffs hero would be sidelined, or precisely what was done during the procedure.

Martinez, who scored the series-winning goals in Game 7 of the Western Conference final against the Chicago Blackhawks and Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers, was injured while blocking a shot in the second period of Thursday’s loss to the Dallas Stars.

His absence means the Kings are down to only six healthy and eligible defenseman again, with Robyn Regehr poised to return to the lineup for today’s game against the Ducks after sitting out three contests because of a lower-body injury.

Slava Voynov continues to serve an indefinite suspension imposed by the NHL after his arrest last month on domestic violence charges after an incident at his Redondo Beach home. The Kings placed him on non-roster status earlier in the week in order to sign free agent Jamie McBain.

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L.A. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi talks about Slava Voynov (part 2)

Here’s more of a 20-minute interview Tuesday with Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who talks here about what he’s learned about defenseman Slava Voynov’s arrest and suspension on domestic violence charges:

“I’ve got a conference call today (with the NHL). That’s where it all gets gray here. There’s so many things. Slava certainly has his rights, then you have the police investigation, then you have the league investigation, then you’ve got the issues about, OK, how long does this go? So, we’re in limbo until this process plays out. In the meantime, it has ramifications. Do we recall a player. What are the implications for the (salary) cap. What’s the shortest (he could be suspended)? If he’s found not-guilty does that mean he’s still suspended? There’s so many issues right here. I’ve got a call today, but even then I don’t expect a lot of answers.

“For the NHL, this is probably new turf. I think it’s new turf for a lot of leagues. Again, because the old system was to wait until the criminal system does it’s thing. That ain’t the case. Now what do you do with all that gray that’s out there, particularly now again in a cap era when it’s no that easy to recall players and deal with things. We’ll have to start working their way through it.

“Nothing at all (in terms of discipline issues with Voynov in the past). Never even been late for practice. This is a kid, you could have made more money in juniors, in the minors, and his father was really struggling. Kept his promise. … Anything involving character issues off the rink, even when we drafted him, he kept his word and came over right away when he could have made more money in Russia. That’s all on the positive side. Then, you know, so …”

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L.A. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi speaks about Slava Voyonov (part 1)

Here’s some of what Kings general manager Dean Lombardi told beat reporters during a 20-plus minute question-and-answer session Tuesday in the wake of defenseman Slava Voynov’s arrest and suspension for domestic violence:

“We’ve got to let this process go through. They (the NHL) don’t need to explain. I think it’s pretty self-evident. The biggest issue you’ve got, other than there’s always that line between innocent and proven guilty, that’s where the rub is. Are you surprised they did what they did, especially in this climate? Well, no. In the other cases in the old days, the leagues would always say, wait a minute there’s a criminal process that has to take place before they can react.

“So, you saw that, even in the NBA. They had nine cases in the last three years. You saw that in baseball with Albert Belle, (Jose) Canseco. So, that’s the way it was always handled, that it’s a criminal thing, let it play out. Even the players played, because we were going under the premise of innocent until proven guilty.

“That now is obviously changed. From the old days. I get it. To say I’m surprised they acted that way, no. Do I think it’s inappropriate, no. … That’s clearly the way leagues are headed right now. The charge itself is enough to take action, when in the past, it wasn’t.”

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Kings questions and answers (part 2, expanded version)

Did the Kings do enough in the offseason to stay on top?

General manager Dean Lombardi showed his faith in his roster by keeping it intact. Lombardi didn’t wish to mess with success. He did not sign any outside free agents, but did retain the services of veteran winger Marian Gaborik. Lombardi rewarded Gaborik, the Kings’ leading goal-scorer in the playoffs with 14, with a new seven-season contract worth more than $34 million. Lombardi also allowed veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell to depart as a free agent. Mitchell signed a new contract with the Florida Panthers in the summer. Lombardi did not make any trades.

Meanwhile, opposing teams in the Western Conference bulked up in the summer.

The Ducks, smarting from a second-round playoff loss to the Kings, added size and grit by trading for center Ryan Kesler and signing defenseman Clayton Stoner. They also took a chance on former 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley, hoping he could jump-start his career in Orange County.

The Chicago Blackhawks signed former New York Rangers veteran Brad Richards for the same reason the Ducks signed Kesler. The Blackhawks, who lost to the Kings in the conference finals, coveted a stronger, more experienced second-line center to compete with their rivals.

The Dallas Stars, eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs by the Ducks, acquired former Ottawa Senators standout Jason Spezza in order to get deeper and more experienced at the center position. Spezza was No. 2 behind Kesler on the Ducks’ offseason wish list.

The St. Louis Blues added Paul Stastny from the Colorado Avalanche, a rising superstar in the NHL who plays, wait for it, center. The Blues were still smarting from their first-round exit at the hands of the Blackhawks last spring when they made the move.

 

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Kings promote assistant John Stevens and re-sign Davis Payne and Bill Ranford

The Kings on Wednesday took a step toward planning for the day Darryl Sutter is no longer their coach. Sutter and general manager Dean Lombardi announced assistant John Stevens was promoted to the new job of associate head coach, an indication he’s in line as Sutter’s replacement. What’s more, assistant coach Davis Payne and goaltending coach Bill Ranford were given new contracts.

“Our coaching staff has been an integral part of the success of our team the last three years,” Lombardi said in a statement. “We are extremely pleased that they will remain part of our team and continue together as we strive for excellence.”

 

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Darryl Sutter talks about the differences between the Kings’ Stanley Cup victories

Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter had to say about the difference between this Stanley Cup championship and the one in 2012:

“We did it a different way in ”11-’12. That’s something that I don’t think could ever happen again if you go back to that because of winning as a road team all the time. This year was totally different. A lot of new players in our lineup. We knew we had to, at some point … during the Olympics, I always thought about this, ‘How are we going to beat Chicago? How are we going to beat Chicago?’ Dean got Gaborik. We were able to put some kids in, go from there, so … ”

Sutter referred to Kings general manager Dean Lombardi’s move to acquire Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets at the NHL trade deadline March 5.

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Marian Gaborik proves himself worthy addition to Kings’ lineup after trade

Marian Gaborik slipped effortlessly into the Kings’ lineup after a March 5 trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He clicked almost instantly with center Anze Kopitar and began producing at nearly a point-per-game pace.

Gaborik scored 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 19 regular-season games and he had 21 points, including a playoff-leading 13 goals, in 24 contests before the Kings faced the New York Rangers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.

Now the question is how quickly will the Kings move to re-sign the 32-year-old Slovakian?The price could be steep since Gaborik’s last contract, a five-year deal he signed with the Rangers before the 2009-10 season, paid him an average of $7.5 million per season.

Gaborik certainly has proved to be worth every penny of a pro-rated deal that required Columbus to pick up 50 percent of his salary for the final one-quarter of 2013-14 after Kings general manager Dean Lombardi acquired him for Matt Frattin and two draft picks at the deadline.

“You want to be a complete army,” Lombardi said.

The Kings needed scoring.

Desperately.

They went into the playoffs as the lowest-scoring team of the 16 postseason qualifiers, averaging a meager total of 2.42. Thanks in part to Gaborik, they upped their average to a playoff-leading 3.50 going into Game 4 of the Final at Madison Square Garden.

Best of all, as far as the Kings are concerned, Gaborik and Kopitar have formed the dynamic scoring combination that was glaringly absent in what was a popgun offense before the trade. They have played together since Gaborik joined the team for a March 6 game against Winnipeg.

“Darryl stuck with us every since he got with us,” Kopitar said, referring to Kings coach Darryl Sutter. “It is a process, but it seemed like we clicked fairly good and fairly fast. Now it’s time to really bring it, obviously. He’s a big-time player.

“I’m sure it’s hard to come to a different team with different systems and different styles of play. You have to fit in really quick, and I just think everybody helping him out, you try to be in his ear, but at the same time you kind of want to lay off and have him do his thing. I think he’s done a really good job.”

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Dean Lombardi of the Kings is named as finalist for NHL general manager of the Year

Dean Lombardi of the Kings, Bob Murray of the Ducks and Marc Bergevin of the Montreal Canadiens were named as finalists for the General Manager of the Year Award. It’s the first time for Lombardi; Murray and Bergevin are finalists for the second consecutive season.

Lombardi guided the Kings to their fifth consecutive playoff appearance and pulled off a trade for veteran winger Marian Gaborik that jump-started the Kings’ lackluster offense following a March 5 deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Voting was conducted among the 30 NHL general managers plus a group of league executives, print and broadcast media after the second round of the playoffs. The winner will be announced during the NHL Awards Show on June 24 in Las Vegas.

“It’s good because it’s an award that’s voted by the managers … Lot of them aren’t,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said when asked about Lombardi.

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Kings decline to renew contract of Manchester Monarchs coach Mark Morris

The Kings on Wednesday told Mark Morris, coach of their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., that his contract would not be renewed. The Monarchs lost to Norfolk in the first round of the AHL playoffs earlier this month.

Here’s a quote from Kings general manager Dean Lombardi:

“We appreciate the job Mark has done for us in Manchester. The team’s success on the ice during his tenure and his contributions in helping us prepare our young players to be successful at the NHL level have been key contributors to the success of our organization as a whole. These ideals will continue to be a priority for us going forward and we wish Mark the utmost success as there is no doubt he is ready for the next step in his career.”

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