Remember back during the last NHL season when the clock in Los Angeles “malfunctioned” which allowed the Kings a few extra split seconds to score against the Blue Jackets, which they did? The debate was “clock malfunction” or “human error?”
Unless you were Dean Lombardi, in which case, you gave the following explanation:
“Those clocks are sophisticated instruments that calculate time by measuring electrical charges called coulombs — given the rapidity and volume of electrons that move through the measuring device the calibrator must adjust at certain points which was the delay you see – the delay is just recalibrating for the clock moving too quickly during the 10 – 10ths of a second before the delay — this insures that the actual playing time during a period is exactly 20 minutes That is not an opinion — that is science — amazing devise quite frankly.”
And that’s not a made-up quote. I just adore the “frankly” at the end. Anyway, the NHL found that the result was human error, not science.
All that brings us to the world’s deepest buried lede, which is “sometimes Dean Lombardi overthinks things, and I think he’s doing the same thing with the Kings’ attempted Cup repeat. “
Pierre Lebrun had an excellent piece on an interview he did with Lombardi today, called “Kings GM Lombardi working hard on Cup hangover,” which kinda makes it sound like Lombardi has been binge drinking for a few months.
On the contrary, however – he’s been doing heavy research on other dynasty teams and how they went about preparing themselves for the next season.
“I talked to a number of teams, whether it was the 49ers, Yankees, Patriots, teams that were dynasties, and wanted to know what they did after the first year they won,” Lombardi told ESPN.com this week. “I found so many different schools of thought.”
“This is a whole new frontier for me,” said Lombardi. “You want to be part of those teams that transcend their sport for excellence. And that requires multiples [of titles]. People still talk about the 49ers teams and that was 30 years ago, because that was 3-to-4 Super Bowls. And people still talk about the Patriots, the Red Wings…”
If you know Dean Lombardi, you know he didn’t go at this halfway. Oh, no, there were spreadsheets and all kinds of data he assembled on all these teams before he interviewed them.
“It was an education for me,” Lombardi said.
The clincher of them all, he said, was former 49ers star Ronnie Lott. They spoke two weeks ago by phone.
“I had 25 pages of notes after that call,” Lombardi said. “He talked for two hours. He hit the button right on. You can tell this guy is a winner. He’s really astute. I was blown away by him. I’m so grateful to him.”
The gist of the story is that Dean Lombardi has been doing a cart-load of research trying to figure out how the Kings can repeat, with an eye on his team’s mental status.
I may be (am) a simple-minded guy, so correct me if I’m wrong here: is the GM’s job not to create the best possible roster, and basically nothing more? Even if there is more to it, which there likely is, doesn’t “sports psychologist” fall somewhere outside of their list of duties?
The column expresses Lombardi’s need to create the right mindset, and how “Cup hangovers” are a self-fulfilling prophecy and so on, which is all well and good, it’s just to me…why is that his focus? It seems like busy work for a brilliant mind in need of something to do. Of course, there’s no harm in being more knowledgeable, but from my experience in talking with old school champions, it’s all about “heart and drive and courage and effort.”
Well, that’s not a GM’s job to cultivate. You hire a coach to lead. Your hire a GM to fix a hard roster, using whatever metrics they value most.
If I may steal a line from my Dad which he stole from Al Arbour:
Q: “What’s a tip you’d give to another person who wants to be a great coach?”
A: “Get off the bus with the best players.”
Which is to say, the Kings didn’t win the Stanley Cup because their GM got them in the right frame of mind, they won because he got them a tremendous roster that was healthy and hitting their peak at the right time. He already knows what works: just let your coach hop off that Coachman with the best players.
Work smarter, not harder is a cliché this guy (two thumbs off the spacebar, aimed at me) believes in.
Though I suppose if there’s no work to do, you might as well take on some random project like this. Professor “Coloumbs” Lombardi. Always up to somethin’.