Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 06/12/12 at 11:15 AM ET
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The real hero, even if he’ll never take credit, is indeed Lombardi, who took over the Kings in 2006 and completely rebuilt the team. This was his vision coming to fruition.
“It’s hard to describe, it’s one of those things I don’t think you’ll describe until about a week later,” Lombardi said. “These players, I’ve said this all along, they really are a great bunch of guys. I just love the way they dealt with adversity this year, I’m so proud of them. They stuck together when everybody had them down. They just keep persevering. They’re just a bunch of role models as far as I’m concerned. I’m proud of them.”
Two months ago, Lombardi might have very well lost his job had his Kings not made the playoffs. They made it in by a hair, sliding in as eighth seeds. All along, however, was the belief he held that the pieces he had put together could contend for a championship.
Oh, but there have been doubters.
When he traded for Mike Richards last summer and gave up the likes of Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, eyebrows were raised. When he hired his old Sharks buddy, Darryl Sutter, to take over behind the bench in December, he was mocked in some corners. And when he pulled the trigger on a blockbuster for Jeff Carter in February, few people thought that was the missing piece.
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