Firing Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter will be judged as one of the darkest days in Kings history. For 45 years, L.A. hockey fans were entranced in a state of mediocrity, feeling grateful for the occasional playoff appearance. Along came these two men to bring us, twice, to hockey’s pinnacle and instill unbound pride in our Kings. Forgetting history and blaming them for one failed season is the pinnacle of silliness. It is really the fault of the GM or coach when stars like Kopitar, Gaborik, and Toffoli can’t find the back of the net?
Unfortunately, Dean Lombardi has left the Kings just where he found them.
Just as Bill Plaschke has been the de facto GM of the Dodgers for so long, it is reassuring to know Helene Elliott is now running the Kings. Her months of grousing and grumbling about the only two men ever to bring a Stanley Cup to Los Angeles have paid off — Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter have been booted out.
The ever-gracious Helene said, “It’s time for business, not sentiment.” Surely we could have at least thanked Messrs. Lombardi and Sutter for bringing us a culture of excellence. With neophyte Rob Blake, we can expect a quick return to the glory days of George Maguire and Nick Beverley.
After the shock has started to wear off, I’d like to thank Darryl Sutter and Dean Lombardi for twice bringing tears to my eyes during the most exciting run in Kings history. The pride in those two Cup years has not diminished and they are to be thanked just as much as the players themselves.
After having won two Stanley Cups, the firing of Dean Lombardi and Darryl Sutter epitomizes the old adage, “but what have you done for me lately?”
It is indeed a sad day as the Kings turn the page and look to a new coach and general manager. The Darryl Sutter hire at midterm of the 2011 season turned out to be unlikely genius as he took a bunch of ragtag mediocre players and instilled the intestinal fortitude that changed them into Stanley Cup champs twice in three years. Ironically, their choke-out defensive system wound up being their own undoing as other teams used it on them to shut them down, all the while getting faster as the Kings remained status quo.
I think the astonishing takeaway here has to be not that they didn’t have another Stanley Cup run in them after 2014, but that they won it at all. I, for one, am grateful to Darryl Sutter and Dean Lombardi and for what they did for the lifelong hockey nuts of Los Angeles, who, because of them, know what it’s like to win.
I became a hockey fan in the 1970s while listening to Bob Miller calling the Kings games from the Fabulous Forum . I can still picture Bob making the “Save by Vachon!” call as clear as day. Sunday’s broadcast against the Ducks marks the end of another voice of stability in our lives that will truly be missed. With Bob’s retirement, the Mount Rushmore of Southern California broadcasters is complete — Chick Hearn, Vince Scully and now Bob Miller.
Putting down the Angels
Columnist Dylan Hernandez decided to trash the Angels organization and fan base for being unenthusiastic and uncreative on opening night (while still praising their defense, offense, and bullpen). It’s a column, that’s fine. That The Times thought it was worthy to give credence to a piece that reads like Dodgers fan fiction is disappointing. Maybe you should allow an Angels fan a column to write about how Dodger Stadium traffic is a nightmare, their best pitchers fail to perform in the playoffs, and the concession prices are out of control.
The Angels are in first place and Dylan Hernandez writes that it’s all “kind of ... meh”. The Angels are always the stepsister to the Dodgers when it comes to The Times sports section. and the lack of enthusiasm is just par for the course. After Sunday’s come-from-behind win with seven runs in the ninth, maybe we should just let the team speak for themselves. Because it is more than Trout and Pujols (and that’s plenty); it’s a team effort that goes beyond the stats and maybe just keeps going.
Lynda A. Hernandez
The piece on Fred Claire written by Bill Plaschke was poignant and touched the circumstances that became a seminal moment in Los Angeles Dodgers history.
Largely because of estate transfer issues and other considerations, the O’Malley family decided to sell the franchise. Fred Claire was a carryover. The new ownership, the Fox Group, decided boldly to package and trade future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza without first consulting with or notifying Claire.
After this took place, several fans, myself included, decided to seek other teams to root for. I have never looked back. However, it is worth emphasizing that the Dodgers have not won a World Series since. Mr. Claire, ever the gentlemen, deserved more at the time, and certainly deserves to be richly recognized at this time.
While it was heartbreaking to break ties with a baseball club to root for including the likes of my boyhood heroes Koufax and Drysdale, I often wonder why the iconic Vin Scully never publicly questioned the move with his “bully-pulpit” status at the time.
Plaschke’s excellent article on Fred Claire is slightly off the mark in saying that “He walked away with no harsh words, no public regrets.” Claire’s autobiography, “My 30 Years in Dodger Blue” starts with a chilling blow-by-blow takedown of the day he and Bill Russell were fired, including a detailed description of Tom Lasorda’s role in stabbing them in the back. Claire uses no harsh words, but his surgical recapitulation of the dual firings could serve as a first chapter in a Mario Puzo epic.
If the Cubs really wanted to twist the knife against the Dodgers, they should have only used left-handed personnel to both raise the banner and hand out the rings.
Way to go, Sergio
Sergio Garcia shook free of the demons haunting his under-achieving career (to this point) and etched his name among the all-time greats with an incredible golf duel to the finish on the back nine and win a playoff against Justin Rose.
For this I say, “Magnifico, Sergio y Terrifico, Fantastico!” You made your Spanish hero and golf legend Seve Ballesteros proud on what would have been his 60th birthday.
And while you’re at it, Sergio, be sure to send a get-well card to No. 1 player in the world and Masters favorite Dustin Johnson.
Playa del Rey
Just wondering, does the BBC have an army of American commentators working the British Open every year?
“You gotta treat the game with respect,” says Julius Randle, who gives 100% each game.
“Motley crew of castoffs,” says a letter writer who claims to be a fan but demands the Lakers take a dive.
You can’t be a fan if you don’t support the players. You can’t be a fan if you want the players to cheat. You can’t be a fan if you disrespect the game. You can go play fantasy stuff instead.
Luke Walton said the lottery is a game of chance and losing doesn’t guarantee anything. Correct, but winning almost guarantees continued losing or mediocre seasons for years with no lottery pick this year and losing their first-round pick in 2018 to Orlando. What top free agent would want to sign with the Lakers under that scenario?
Does the lottery really make a difference if the Lakers begin to gel? The lottery isn’t the only path to championship form. There are also trades and free agency and if the Lakers become more competitive, they become a more desirable destination for players on other teams. Besides, the Lakers have often found success in lower draft picks.
Recent wins show, the Lakers don’t like losing and that’s encouraging.
Remember the good old days when a Lakers three-peat meant championships, not lottery draft picks?
Now that the L.A. Times no longer carries entries or results for Santa Anita horse racing, I’ve decided to follow what you do cover. Please explain how so many teams in the Pacific Coast League are not from there? Also is the Cal League a cut above or below the Pacific Coast League? Is Round Rock a real place? If this doesn’t satisfy. then I’m going to start following college women’s water polo — sounds interesting.
The best thing about the start of baseball season means football season can’t be far behind.
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