The afterglow of their two Stanley Cups has faded. The laurels on which they rested – like the notion that if the Kings make just the playoffs they can beat anybody, which is fine except you have to make the playoffs – have grown brittle.
As Josh Cooper noted, all of this probably means the end of Darryl Sutter has head coach after six seasons and two championships. When players like Anze Kopitar are dropping hint about being ready for next season “regardless who’s behind the bench,” that’s a harbinger of things to come.
But should the changes stop with the coach?
GM Dean Lombardi has had a rough few years. His team’s offense has atrophied to the point where it’s nowhere near playoff caliber. You had the Milan Lucic thing. The Devin Setoguchi thing. The Ben Bishop thing. The aforementioned “missing the playoffs in two of the last three years” thing.
John Hovan of Mayor’s Manor thinks Sutter has to go, but he also had some informed speculation about Lombardi’s future and that of GM-in-waiting Rob Blake:
Lombardi has been the team President (of Hockey Operations) and General Manager since being hired in April 2006. Going forward, he may be able to save his job by giving up part of it. Promoting Blake to General Manager and Mike Futa to Assistant GM just might be the wiggle room Lombardi needs. It would also allow everybody involved to save a little face. The architect of the team’s greatest success would be given one more chance to fix his missteps. Behind the bench, things aren’t quite as simple, though. Sutter was given a new contract last summer — against the urging of several in the organization — and retiring to go farming, essentially walking away from millions of dollars, doesn’t appear to be very likely. Instead, he will need to be the face of change – coming in the form of a, ‘We wish Darryl well in his future endeavors, but we feel it is time to move in a different direction.’
Looking at this roster, there are going to be six players over 30 on next year’s team, including the top two offensive players and the starting goalie.
Which is to say that while there’s still a window to win, with some significant tweaking, there also needs to be some solid groundwork for a transition to the next thing. And to begin that, one assumes Lombardi being transitioned upstairs might be necessary.
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