Kings' Lombardi: I'm not considering a coaching change
Lombardi, however, said he’s disappointed the team’s struggles during a 1-7 slump in November didn’t provide enough lessons for players to avoid a second significant slump. After a 12-3 start, the Kings are 12-18-1 and are outside the top eight in the West.
“No. We’re all in this together right now in terms of they’ve shown what they can do,” Lombardi said when asked if he has thought about making a change behind the bench.
“I’m a little ... , in terms of our players going through it again after maybe not having learned our lesson the first time is certainly frustrating because you want to grow mentally from the fact that how can you be 12-3 and then go 0-7. The standard evaluation from most people is they say, ‘We got a little full of ourselves and forgot that to have success we have to work.’ Nobody’s really talented enough in this conference the way it is to just show up and think you’re going to get the points.
“Obviously we come out of it and I think we played two games where I thought we were outstanding, in Colorado and San Jose and then to follow that up with those performances in Phoenix and [against] Philly, we should have learned our lesson. And now we’ve got ourselves into a, call it what you want, an ambush. It’s all mental because they showed they can do it and they’re going to have to figure it out and grow from it because in the end it has to come from the players.”
“You can cut that both ways. Your coach is looking for ways to get people going,” Lombardi said during an interview in his El Segundo office. “There’s the other school of thought that says you’ve got to do this to get their attention. And so there’s another school of thought, ‘They’ve got to stay the same.’
“In the end it’s a feel that your coach has to have and the guy’s got 20 years’ experience down there and that’s why you hire the coach, to make those decisions. And that’s one of the ways you can get your team’s attention. There’s no right or wrong answer.”
Shaking things up via the trade market—at least to get the skillful, top-six forward the Kings need—is not a likely option at the moment, Lombardi said.
“I went through 20-game mark and the calls I’ve had it’s just not there. The only thing that’s there is the tinkering-type things,” he said.
“Like you talk about the coach, change lines-don’t change the lines, there’s also the school of thought, ‘Mix it up. Change it up.’ Quite frankly for the most part what’s out there is these role players, not to degrade the role, but what are you saying here?
“We’re very much a team. We rely on our depth probably more than most teams but in the end it’s your best players that have to step up. One thing about the group down there is I think they all care and I don’t question their character. So I guess from what I’m seeing ... there’s nothing there you can even talk about in terms of what you’re saying. The only thing you can even talk about is stuff on the perimeter, so to speak. As a practical matter I don’t see that at this point.”
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-- Helene Elliott
Photo: Kings Coach Terry Murray watches his players come off the ice during a game against Edmonton on Dec. 23. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press