All is not well in Los Angeles , as Kings G.M. Dean Lombardi made some frank and rather unflattering comments about defenceman Jack Johnson and his alma mater, the University of Michigan, in an interview with

Here’s a quick sample of the comments made by Lombardi:

  • “This guy has never had any coaching [at the University of Michigan].”
  • “Michigan is the worst.”
  • “Michigan’s players—[head coach] Red [Berenson] doesn’t coach. It’s ‘do what you want.’”
  • “[Johnson] was awful as a hockey player. As an athlete, you’re going, wow! Look at the way he skates, shoots, he can pass. But he had no idea where he was going.”
  • “There was all that hype and stuff because he’s just like a thoroughbred. It’s like looking at a horse and saying wow! But then he gets on the track and he has no clue how to run the race. He might even run in the wrong direction. That was Jack. [He was] really raw.”
  • “Here again, you’ve got a kid who’s got to change his game and he can change a game, going end-to-end, getting you out of your own end. It was like, ‘you’re not good enough at that not to do these other things that you’ve never done.’ Now try and convince him of that after [he has] been told how great [he is throughout his] life, [he has] played in the US Development Program, [he was] at Michigan, everything [was] great, great, great. Now [he is] in the pros and it’s ‘what do you mean? I’m Jack Johnson.’”

Johnson didn’t react kindly to Lombardi’s take on the situation, and he wasn’t shy about it when asked by the Los Angeles Times:

“For my general manager to rip me as a person and criticize me as a person and as a player and call me an awful hockey player is irresponsible and unprofessional.”

It’s hard to argue that Lombardi was wrong about Johnson. The third overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft has struggled since making the jump to the NHL, and his selection to the U.S. Olympic Team was a real surprise to me. He’s been the Kings worst defenceman in terms of plus/minus since joining the team, and he hasn’t been asked to handle the really difficult assignments along the way, either.

Lombardi’s comments on Berenson are more controversial, since his criticism of Johnson is strictly past-tense, while his criticism of Berenson is not. He’s going to take some flack for making those statements – particularly given that Berenson is a Jack Adams winner and currently ranks sixth in NCAA history in terms of wins.

Comments (12)

  1. The best part?

    Canada gets to skate around him at the Olympics.

  2. WOW!! I can’t believe he said all that! Did he think it wasn’t going to come back to Johnson?

  3. I’ve always understood that in written interviews, the words in brackets are things that weren’t actually said by the individual, but are added afterward by the writer to make it more clear. If that’s the case, what Lombardi actually said during that last part was:

    “…Now try and convince him of that after been told how great life, played in the US Development Program, at Michigan, everything great, great, great. Now in the pros and it’s ‘what do you mean? I’m Jack Johnson.’”

    And if I’m correct…who the hell talks like that? Had Lombardi been drinking when they conducted the interview?

  4. I’m curious what this means for Johnson’s future with the Kings. You’d think he’d have to be trade bait at this point with only 1 year left on his deal after this season and it’s highly unlikely he’ll resign with the Kings.

    Lombardi should watch his mouth in public, you shouldn’t rip your players like that in public, it makes it tougher to bring in free agents if players feel they’ll be disrespected like this. He felt it was necessary to vent but he should have said it behind closed doors to Johnson and the Kings coaches. Not the media

  5. For those of you wondering, the picture above is Dean Lombardi responding to the question, “How wide is the rift between you and Jack Johnson?”

  6. I disagree with saying stuff like this about your players in public but what did Lombardi say about Johnson that was wrong. The guyè offensive game hasnèt translated to the NHL and he is clueless defensively. He has always had a false sense of entitlement ever since he was drafted. He refused to play for Carolina, forced a trade, and now after 3 years has shown no progesson in his game at all and is probably looking for big money as an RFA. Johnson seems to me from all that Ive seen and heard from him is that he is a kid who thinks that he can coast on his talent and have the world given to him.

  7. The worst part is that he is coming to Edmonton when Souray goes to LA.

  8. meh hes still worth a look he can be quite good one day yes hes brain washed but let someone like ron wilson brent sutter jaques lamaire john tortorella or even pat quinn whip him in shape an hell be a pretty good hockey player

  9. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by jonathanwillis: Jack Johnson is not happy with #lakings GM Dean Lombardi:

  10. @misfit: Well, obviously, sometimes those are insertions, and sometimes they’re adjustments of phrasing for clarification. I’m betting this was the latter.

  11. huh i actually thought of that as a possibility given the relationship between the Kings and the Oilers as frequent trade partners. But you know what that’s not the worst deal in the world. Basically the Oilers are starting from the ground up. If that deal is an actual possibility you have to look to the positives of that deal. We’d be shedding a 5.4m/year salary that we’d be committed to for the next three seasons for a 1.6m deal we’d be on the hook for one season. In that time the Oilers could see if they could realize that potential or if he is never better than a bottom two defenceman they might be able to sign him cheap after that.

  12. At this point the Oilers be better off going after Brian Lee at least he’s established himself as a guy deserving of a roster spot. I don’t think Johnson has at this point like he think he has. He’s a big risk but if you can smarten him up you’d reap the rewards later. But right now it be hard to imagine what team is going to be willing to put the time and effort into developing him when there’s no guarentee he’ll ever be good.

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