What Now? Part 4

There seems to be a lot of confusion in Kingsville recently. Basically, no one knows what the hell is going on and no one has any idea what Dean Lombardi is thinking. Lombardi recently did an epic 7-part interview with the Press-Enterprise that can clear things up somewhat, but he's kind of all over the place and I know you people hate reading so I'll try to explain things a little bit.

It seems to me, from interviews and other shit I've culled over the past year, that Lombardi's original plan was this: scrap together a core centered around Cammalleri, Frolov and Visnovsky and go with that until Johnson and Kopitar are older. Preissing and Handzus would work in that core and then transition to a lesser role as other Kings' prospects came up. This obviously didn't work. Cammalleri got hurt and Visnovsky sucked and the Kings finished 2nd to last. Lombardi realized that the Kings wouldn't make the playoffs as currently constructed and decided to trade Cammalleri (who would probably leave the team next year) and Visnovsky (who would be too old when the younger players are in their prime) for players that will be with the team when the younger core is ready.

People are upset because they thought the Kings would make the playoffs this upcoming year; the bungling of free agency and the failure to sign Stuart or Orpik has made it clear that it's not going to happen. The Kings aren't good, but they aren't rebuilding anymore either. Their reserve list is full of promising young prospects and they have no tradeable assets (unless someone really wants Derek Armstrong). There isn't anything the Kings can do except wait, and I think that kills some people.

Next season, the Kings will learn a lot about who they are and who deserves to stay with the team. We'll discover if the 1st wave of prospects (Boyle, Moulson, Purcell and Piskula) have panned out and then determine which prospects will be available to acquire a good defenseman. Then the Kings will be ready to make the playoffs and start ascending the ladder. This year will be hard, but believe me, it'll be worth it. Worst case scenario, the Kings land either John Tavares or Victor Hedman. Not bad.

Lombardi has fucked up a couple of times in his tenure, but his overall vision has been excellent. He came to a team that had a potential superstar and he built a team that will have a great supporting cast when that superstar is in his prime. He's acquired 2/3rds of our core for the future (Bernier and Johnson), he traded for Patrick O'Sullivan, he signed Ted Purcell, and he's drafted excellently in the admittedly short time period we can evaluate. All the other stuff doesn't really matter because the core that will lead the Kings to the playoffs is intact. I mean, look at Dan Cloutier: if he had come to the team and played like Roberto Luongo, it wouldn't have mattered. They wouldn't have won the Cup. What Lombardi is doing is biding time until the young guys on the team have matured, and his way is the best way to win a Cup. There's still pitfalls to be traversed, like signings said young guys and hoping none of them develop a cocaine addiction and all that, but the idea is sound. The Kings will be very good in a couple of years and it'll be fun and I'll make fun of the Ducks and the Sharks all the time, I swear. Until then, though, we wait. Hey, we're Kings fans; waiting is what we do.

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