As I write, the Los Angeles Kings are about three hours from taking the ice with the chance to win the Stanley Cup with a record of 16-2 and to become one of the best playoff teams in the history of the NHL.
Way back in October I picked the Kings to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup playoffs and face off against the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres failed to make the playoffs and the Kings sputtered through most of the regular season.
The Sabres made some changes at the deadline on the ice, but GM Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff kept their jobs. They Sabres looked destined to make the playoffs when they chased Capitals goalie Branden Holtby and defeated the Capitals in Washington late in the regular season. In the end, it wasn't enough and the Sabres fell just short of what would have been a historic late season march to the playoffs.
Kings general manager Dean Lombardi also made several changes during the season that helped the King qualify for the playoffs and overcome the dead-stick-syndrome that plagued them for much of the regular season.
- Just before Christmas the Kings fired head coach Terry Murray and replaced him with Darryl Sutter
- At the trade deadline the Kings traded Jack Johnson and their first round pick in 2012 or 2013 to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jeff Carter. Since that trade, the Kings are 27-7-3
- In February, the Kings called up Jordan Nolan and Dwight King from Manchester (AHL). Nolan and King have played key roles for the Kings in the post season solidifying their fourth line and providing the depth needed for Sutter to roll four lines and keep the team fresh
If the Kings can win one of the next four games, Jonathan Quick will likely be named the winner of the Conn Smythe trophy and Dustin Brown will go get the Cup from Garry Bettman. Anze Kopitar will be remembered for his breathtaking overtime goal in game one and Mike Richards and Carter will be discussed as the guys who were banished from Philadelphia before being reunited in L.A. and leading the Kings to the Cup. Murray is sure to be given a ton of credit for waking up the Kings sticks and leading a historic run through the NHL playoffs.
Dean Lombardi won't mind, but he probably won't get the credit that he deserves for making the in-season adjustments needed to lead the Kings where they have never been before. Lombardi is not a finalist for the NHL General Manager of the Year award.
One spot where Lombardi is sure to receive the proper recognition is at http://www.nhlgms.com. The website is dedicated to selling a great new book called, "Behind the Moves: NHL General Managers Tell How Winners are Built."
The book is a gorgeous hard cover book that arrived at Sports-Caster's headquarters numbered and autographed by former Rangers GM, Neil Smith. The book was put together by Jason Farris and the forward is written by Maple Leafs GM, Brian Burke.
The book is full of information about many of the 175 men who have served as general managers of an NHL team. The book is loaded with anecdotes, stats, charts, pictures, and quotes from the men behind the moves.
The book was put together with an incredible attention to detail. Pictures of Stanley Cup rings grace its pages, and the stories are not only told with words but with pictures, stats and charts. Turn to the section dedicated to Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis and find a detailed chart on how Gillis built last season's Stanley Cup finalists.
I was shocked to learn how few have actually served as NHL general managers. The Buffalo Sabres have only had six general managers in their existence that dates back to 1970. The Carolina Hurricanes have only had one general manager in their brief history. Maybe the most shocking: The Boston Bruins, an original six NHL franchise, have had only EIGHT general managers.
The book would serve as a beautiful conversation piece on any coffee table and almost seems too precious to touch. Every time I flip through the pages of the book, I wash my hands and handle it with the care of a new born baby.
There is a section of the book that is dedicated to explaining the lingo used by an NHL GM. "UP" is used to describe a player who's contract is set to expire and "a dog" is a player that is of ordinary ability.
The book explains the unwritten rules that govern the league's general managers. For example, general managers are expected to return the phone calls of other general managers immediately.
The history of the National Hockey League has been told through the eyes of players, and coaches, and officials in countless pieces of literature released in the last seventy-five years. "Behind the Moves" gives us the unique opportunity to learn about the league through the eyes of the the GM.
The book is beautiful and put together with class in a way that is synonymous with the class and dignity that NHL GM's have always conducted their business with.
If you want a copy of the book or are looking for more information, please visit http://www.nhlgms.com.