The Los Angeles Kings announced sweeping changes to their front office Monday, firing longtime general manager Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter in the process.
The changes come after the Kings missed the playoffs for the second time in three years. They haven’t won a playoff round since winning the Stanley Cup in June 2014.
Lombardi was let go after 11 years at the helm. He built a team that won the Kings their two Stanley Cups in franchise history in 2012 and 2014, both with Sutter behind the bench.
“This was an extremely difficult decision and was made with an enormous amount of consideration for what we have accomplished in our past. But the present and future of our organization is the highest priority,” Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of the Kings’ parent company, AEG, said in a statement.
Sutter is the winningest coach in Kings history at 225-147-53, while Lombardi is the winningest and longest-serving GM in franchise history. He coached in Chicago, San Jose and Calgary before landing in Los Angeles. The former Blackhawks forward from one of hockey’s most legendary families runs a farm in Viking, Alberta, during the offseason, but he seemed to adjust well to the Kings’ beachside lifestyle.
“Words cannot express our gratitude and appreciation for what Dean and Darryl have accomplished for the Kings franchise. They built this team and helped lead us to two Stanley Cup Championships and will forever be remembered as all-time greats in Kings history,” Beckerman said. “But with that level of accomplishment comes high expectations and we have not met those expectations for the last three seasons. With the core players we have in place, we should be contending each year for the Stanley Cup. Our failure to meet these goals has led us to this change.”
Lombardi patiently rebuilt the franchise after taking over in April 2006, but then undermined it by handing out lucrative long-term contracts to fading veterans. The former lawyer also made several disappointing acquisitions at the expense of his player development system in a win-now attempt to keep open his core’s championship window.
The Kings made the Stanley Cup Final just once in their first 44 years of existence before Sutter and Lombardi created a team that won 10 playoff rounds and two titles in three incredible seasons.
The Kings (39-35-8) posted their worst record since 2009 despite top-end talent including Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Drew Doughty, All-Star forward Jeff Carter and captain Anze Kopitar. Los Angeles finished 10th in the 14-team Western Conference, fading down the stretch with a team that struggled to keep up with faster, younger opponents.
Robitaille was president of business operations for the past 10 years but now takes over the entire organization, including the hockey side. Blake, like Robitaille inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame after an All-Star playing career, has been Kings assistant GM since 2013, working alongside Lombardi.
Both are Hall of Fame players with their retired numbers hanging in the Staples Center rafters, and both are former Kings captains, playing 14 seasons apiece with the franchise.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.