Wow... Did Red sleep with Lombardi's wife or something? Holy crap!
Mike Lantry, 1972
This is the most direct attack I think I've ever seen on a college coach by a professional in any sport, and it's directed at Red Berenson of all people. Here's Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi talking about Jack Johnson's somewhat erratic development:
During a recent interview, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi explained that Johnson is learning his craft…belatedly.
“This guy has never had any coaching [at the University of Michigan],” Lombardi said. “Jack just did what he wanted.”
“Michigan is the worst.” Lombardi added. “For hockey people, if you’ve got a choice between a kid—all things being equal—one’s going to Michigan and one’s going to Boston University, you all want your player [going to Boston University]. Michigan’s players—[head coach] Red [Berenson] doesn’t coach. It’s ‘do what you want.’ He gets the best players in the country.”
During his two seasons at the University of Michigan, Johnson played as a rover, rather than as a defenseman, even though that was his official position.
This is somewhat ridiculous since Berenson was an NHL coach of the year and any five year slice of his career on or off the ice has more accomplishment in it than Lombardi's entire life. In this specific case, Jack Johnson improved vastly in his two years at Michigan. In his first year I actually yelled "you're supposed to be the third pick in the draft" at him during one extremely frustrating game; in his second year he was a god. He scored more, slashed his penalty minutes nearly in half, and lead the team in plus-minus. Jack Johnson came to Michigan an incredibly undisciplined hockey genius and left considerably less undisciplined but still Jack Johnson.
(Also, what the hell is a "rover"? Lombardi obviously added an assertion that Johnson didn't play defense when he was out there playing, you know, defense. In doing so he makes himself seem like a crank making stuff up because it serves his argument—he's the David Berri of the NHL. )
Lombardi and Berenson have a long, contentious history. Red is probably still pissed off about the way Mike Cammalleri, then a Kings prospect, left the program. Cammalleri promised he'd return and Lombardi enticed him to break that promise. Later, the Kings drafted Michigan signee Trevor Lewis in the first round, signed him immediately, and shoved him off to the OHL. Lewis is still in the AHL. Recently departed sophomore Robbie Czarnik is also a Kings prospect.
Neither Lombardi and I have actually been coached by Berenson; Brendan Morrison has. I asked him for his take on that quote:
I think this is very harsh and irresponsible on Lombardi's part. I don't understand what he is basing this on. Red has been instrumental in the careers of several players, mine included. I am sure Lombardi is aware of Red's accomplishments as a coach not only at the college level but the NHL level as well.
I believe his opinion of the program would be in the minority. Most people in the hockey world have a lot of respect for the Michigan program.
There's probably some kernel of truth in Red's approach to coaching—Michigan takes a lot of penalties year-in and year-out—but Lombardi goes too far. The huge number of Michigan players is not an accident, and they're not all pre-ordained superstars like Jack Johnson. Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik, Jed Ortmeyer, John Madden, etc.
Wow... Did Red sleep with Lombardi's wife or something? Holy crap!
more ammo for OHL/WHL/QMJHL scouts to use when trying to convice parents that college hockey is not the right direction to go for their sons...
If they are so bad, why does he keep drafting them and why does he try to sign them so quickly? What connection does Lombardi have to BC?
Lombardi is from Massachusetts, so perhaps that's why he referenced BU.
Also, Lombardi didn't draft JMFJ (or Cammalleri for that matter, who was the Kings' leading scorer in 06-07), he traded for him. But he was responsible for signing him after his sophomore season was over.
Either way, I think Lombardi is off-base here. First, he signed JMFJ and immediately anointed him the #1 defenseman on the team rather than let him work his way into the lineup slowly. He was hurt for the first half of his second full season (not counting the 5 games he played right after signing his contract). Very few defenseman are stellar players right off the bat. Even Victor Hedman, who everyone and their mother was calling the best defensive prospect in years, is struggling somewhat in his first season despite playing essentially professional hockey in Sweden for two years prior to coming to the NHL.
Coolest thing about MGoBlog -- the personal content provided by Brendan Morrison. Win.
sorry, double post
I would disagree that John Madden was a preordained superstar, though. He came to UofM without much fanfare, played in the shadows of bigger names while he was here and worked his tail off to find success in the NHL. If anything, I would say that he is the antithesis of the preordained superstars Brian was citing.
I think you saw a comma instead of the period that Brian typed. It changes the context quite a bit. Kevin Porter, Chad Kolarik, Jed Ortmeyer, John Madden, etc. are all listed as examples of people who weren't preordained superstars.
Got it now, thanks.
Looks like Lombardi is pimping for his hometown school. Perhaps it isn't correct, as Wikipedia says, that he's one of the "NHL's most strategic general managers"?
I'd put him in the top 30.
a college coach, however unseemly it is.
a few years ago when the Islanders plucked first rd draft choice Kyle Okposo from Minnesota during the middle of season, Garth Snow, said that they needed to sign him right then because Kyle was getting bad coaching from Lucia.
What exactly has Dean Lombardi accomplished in collegiate or professional hockey that gives him any credibility?
He did marry Bob Pulford's daughter.
Lombardi was after Steve Tambellini's kid ever since freshman year (despite his moderate backsliding after that) to leave Ann Arbor, and finally coaxed Jeff to the NHL after his junior season. L.A. gave him a cup of coffee, then immediately traded him to the Islanders, where it would be a few years in the minors before Tambo emerged as a regular NHL-er.
The draft pick used to snatch up Tambellini was actually a Red Wings' pick, traded to L.A. in the deal for Mathieu Schneider. I don't know if the Wings would have picked him (Corey Perry was still on the board, and so was Patrick Eaves). But if they had, knowing the Wings' tendency to try to preserve the signing timers of their assets, it's almost assured Tambellini would have been back for 2005-06.
Could you imagine that team with Tambellini as captain?
I'm pretty darn sure Dave Taylor drafted Tambellini (don't get Kings fans started on taking him over C Perry) then traded him to the Isles w/Grebeshkov for Dancin' Anson...another failure.
Who pissed in Dean Lombardi's Frosted Flakes?
Ever since the Sharks canned his ass, the roster in San Jose has grown and prospered. This guy is a fucking idiot and thinks he's the Billy Beane of the NHL. As a Shark's season ticker holder, I'm glad we spanked the shit out of the Kings in the last 2 games. As we all know, Jack is gonna be Jack....talent out the ying yang, but undisciplined as hell...not sure this will ever change.
Another season or two of Sharks dominance, Phoenix rising, Dallas or Anaheim getting back on their A game and Lombardi is again where he belongs...scouting in the AHL for European pro teams...
12th overall. Dean's got a really good eye for talent.
I grew up with Sharks season tix and when I was a kid my brother and I would sign our emails to each other "Die Dean, Die."
His only hockey credibility is that he married the daughter of the GM (Bob Pullford) who would have been the worst in the league if Dean hadn't been the GM of the Sharks.
That's like saying that Martha Coakley just made a couple of minor errors in her campaign.
Not only did Red bang Lombardi's wife, she went and got a block M tattoo on her groin afterward.
...but I wouldn't mind if some more NHL-bound young men look at the BU part of his statement and come our way.
"This is somewhat ridiculous since Berenson was an NHL coach of the year and any five year slice of his career on or off the ice has more accomplishment in it than Lombardi's entire life."
Thanks, Brian. I really like this quote.
there has been some chatter on the boards, even before this quote of how it would have been better for Jack to go the juniors route.
I think the problems have been the injury last year, the over-the-top hype Jack was getting, and the fact that he is teammates with Drew Doughty, who is only in his second year, was one pick lower/higher (2nd vs. 3rd - yes, I know different years) and is already the best player on the team.
I'm still reserving judgement on Lombardi until we either win or he gets fired. These comments seem typical in that they are self-serving and he always seems to be protecting himself when talking about his "plan" for the Kings.
And really, who the hell signs Dan Cloutier to a 3-year deal AFTER major knee surgery???
So powerful was the force that is JMFJ, he managed to bend the laws of space-time to bring back a position that has been absent from hockey for nigh on three score and fifteen.
wrong post posting.
is that there is a small sliver of fact in there, so they can't be rejected out of hand as 100% BS. I saw Jack lead the rush up the ice more in his two years here than all of the other defenseman combined in the 25 years I've been watching Michigan hockey.
He was certainly the exception, though, in terms of the amount of freelancing that Red has allowed.
The more I read about Lombardi, the more he comes off as a complete and total self-serving douche. I'm so glad I have no connection to the guy, either as a fan of his team or in terms of a rivalry with the Kings.
Go read Jon Sobel's comments on this Kings thread. Put it more succinctly than Brian.
Red is a “stay all 4 years just in case things don’t work out as planned” guy while Lombardi is a “Let’s throw a bunch of money and promises at a kid and then leave him to rot in Major Juniors” kind of guy (see Trevor Lewis).
and even less about the NHL. As robpollard posted, Dean Lombardi's wiki page claims he is one of the NHL's "most strategic general managers." So, I did a little googling to see what the opinions on top NHL GM's is.
From March, 2007:
Dean Lombardi ranks #21
From March, 2008:
Dean Lombardi ranks #27
These are really the only 2 complete lists I could find and Lombardi doesn't fare well. He may be "strategic," but that doesn't mean a whole heckuvalot if the strategy is no good.
"Red is probably still pissed off about the way Mike Cammalleri, then a Kings prospect, left the program. Cammalleri promised he'd return and Lombardi enticed him to break that promise."
Get your facts straight.
Lombardi wasn't with the Kings, that was when Dave Taylor was GM. And Cammalleri was the one threatening to bolt and go to the CHL to become an unrestricted free agent.
Rover is an outdated but legitimate ice hockey position... How long have you been a fan?
See link here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rover_(ice_hockey)