Friday, 21 January 2011

Frustration = Lighter Wallet

I'm not sure why some NHL players and general managers think they can rock the boat when it comes to their comments towards the NHL's brain trust. There are just certain things you can't do in life, and calling out the NHL brass is one of those things if you're working under the NHL's umbrella. The man to the left, Los Angeles Kings' general manager Dean Lombardi, decided to unleash his frustration over a controversial allowed goal by calling out the man in charge of the NHL's War Room, Mike Murphy. And that's how you get yourself a lighter wallet, readers, because the NHL doesn't tolerate one of its people embarrassing the men who run the game.

Martin Hanzal of the Phoenix Coyotes batted the puck out of mid-air with his stick, and it found its way into the back of the Kings' net. While the stick appeared to be high at the point of contact, the NHL War Room determined that the video was not 100% conclusive that Hanzal's stick was high, and the goal was allowed to stand. Phoenix went on to win the game by a 2-0 score.

Los Angeles' lack of scoring, the fact that the Kings are playing some of the worst hockey seen this season, and the inability to break out of this funk has all of the players and management wondering where the train went off the rails. The pressure is highest in the GM's chair as Dean Lombardi must find out why his team is underachieving so badly, so he went on a tirade after the loss to the Coyotes. The problem, however, is that he focused on the Hanzal goal as an example of the Kings' recent streak of poor play. And he directed his frustration at someone who has nothing to do with the Kings' poor play.

"When the guy in Toronto making the decisions on the goals, in Ottawa and the one tonight, wanted the GM's job in LA and was not happy about not getting it, you have to assume you are going to get those type of calls," Lombardi was quoted as saying on the Kings' website.

Oops. That's gonna be trouble.

The NHL responded to Lombardi's comments today by levying a $50,000 fine on Lombardi. From the comments made by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, it sounds like he was not impressed with Lmbardi's choice of words or the target of those words.

"There is no acceptable explanation or excuse for commentary challenging the integrity of the League's Hockey Operations Department in general or Mike Murphy, in particular," Bettman said in a statement. "People can disagree with a call by an official on the ice or an official in the Situation Room in Toronto, but even in instances of the utmost frustration there is no justification for speaking as inappropriately and irresponsibly as Mr. Lombardi did."

Dean Lombardi seemed apologetic today, and I think he sincerely regretted the comments he made in the heat of the moment.

"I spoke to the Commissioner today and he made it very clear to me that my actions last night were inappropriate and detrimental to the game," said Lombardi today. "There is no question that his assessment is correct and the punishment fits the crime. Just as important, I apologized to Mike Murphy this morning and I sincerely appreciate his willingness to accept my apology.

"Like the team must learn from its mistakes, the GM has to learn from his mistakes as well."

That last statement is perhaps what should be put on the bulletin board for the team to see. The Kings have played some very poor hockey over the last few weeks, and mistakes have cost them dearly. As frustration mounts over this month of poor play, the Kings need to take a look in the mirror and check their hands.

The first thing they need to look for are callouses on their hands. The next thing they need to look for in the mirror is if there's a grindstone under their noses. If these things aren't found, chances are that the team just isn't working hard enough to break out of this slump.

If you're watching the games, though, this should be painfully obvious. And Dean Lombardi needs to demand more from his team, or start making changes to improve the work ethic on his team.

Apologies for missing the playoffs after such a promising season last year won't be tolerated by fans as nicely as his apology to Mike Murphy was.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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