PRESIDENT/GENERAL MANAGER, ALTERNATE GOVERNOR
The Kings entered into a new executive era on April 21, 2006, when the club named Dean Lombardi as the eighth General Manager in Kings history. Now a veteran of 28 NHL seasons in the front office as an executive, Lombardi’s well-earned reputation for being one of hockey’s true visionaries has been instrumental in the Kings winning their first two Stanley Cups in franchise history and enjoying unprecedented success overall.
Lombardi – formerly a member of the San Jose Sharks front office for 13 years, including seven seasons as General Manager and, prior to joining the Kings, a Pro Scout for the Philadelphia Flyers – brought to the Kings a solid track record of success, building from within, and of development on the ice and infrastructure off the ice. As the club’s President/General Manager, he is responsible for all hockey operations decisions, including all NHL player-personnel moves, directing the professional and amateur scouting staffs, negotiating all contract matters and overseeing the Ontario Reign.
Lombardi, who was nominated for the NHL General Manager of the Year Award in 2014, is now in his 10th season with the Kings, and since he joined the Kings he has established a number of “records” in his office, including tenure (years and games – 704), wins (338 in the regular season and 45 in the playoffs) and points (766). Due to the hard and patient work of Lombardi and his staff, the Kings are established and in a position where they are among the NHL’s elite teams annually. This is the direct result of Lombardi’s first actions on the job with the Kings as he immediately went to work on building his club’s reserve list, a methodical process that initially focused heavily on the need to improve the backend.
As part of that process, which was critical to building and to Lombardi’s overall vision, he revamped and improved the structure of the club’s scouting staff on the whole and the amateur scouting division in particular. Then Lombardi took the step of creating and overseeing a player development department to help the franchise take major steps forward off the ice, all in an effort to create and maintain a culture of winning.
At the draft table, the Kings used 38 overall selections from 2006-09 and 78 total since Lombardi was appointed to his position, including nine in the first round, 11 in the second round and 12 in the third round.
Lombardi has clearly valued the draft more than any other GM in Kings history and the talent the Kings have drafted is the envy of hockey clubs around the league. Kings players selected by Lombardi and staff include: Drew Doughty, Jonathan Bernier, Wayne Simmonds, Alec Martinez, Dwight King, Trevor Lewis, Brayden Schenn, Kyle Clifford, Jordan Nolan, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey. During the early days of Lombardi’s tenure, he resisted altering his plan as he also complimented the Kings roster with another good young player – and defenseman – in Jack Johnson.
While the Kings garnered top talent at the annual NHL Draft and beyond, they were honored. The Kings were graded as the club with the most successful drafts in the “Future Watch” category of the March 31, 2010 edition of The Hockey News. This marked the second straight season the Kings – the NHL club with the earliest average draft position of all 30 teams between 2006-09 (11th, 4th, 2nd and 5th) – were selected by The Hockey News as the top-ranked NHL club in that category. The Hockey’s Future website tabbed the Kings as the top organization in the NHL in terms of prospects in their spring 2011 rankings.
Meanwhile Lombardi was also identifying a core group of players in Los Angeles to build around – a group that ultimately helped bring the Stanley Cup to Los Angeles in 2012, followed by a return trip the Western Conference Final in 2013, and a second Cup in 2014. Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown are elite NHL forwards who continue to improve their all-around games and grow together at this level. They have helped carry the offensive load for the Kings the past few seasons, supporting Jonathan Quick in net, while some of the younger prospects matured and gained valuable experience.
With a young, solid core in place – a core that also features great character – Lombardi has been able to compliment that group with key veterans who sport a winning track record. Players such as Justin Williams, Jeff Carter, Milan Lucic, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Rob Scuderi, Robyn Regehr, Marian Gaborik, Willie Mitchell and Andrei Sekera have all been acquired by the Kings and Lombardi through trade or free agency.
Despite such talent, Lombardi still firmly believes that you draft and develop your homegrown players and that you compliment that group in other ways, and the Kings remain a young team which coincides with Lombardi’s philosophy and track record that your team needs to get better while getting younger. When the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012 the team had the fourth lowest average age in the NHL, and the 2014 winning team – which featured many of the same players – also ranked below the NHL average in that category.
In 2009-10, the hard work and effort started to pay off. The Kings earned 101 points, which was 22 more points than the year before and the fourth straight year they had improved their point total. Lombardi’s hiring of veteran Head Coach Terry Murray in 2008 also helped the Kings develop a defensive-first mentality as the club’s shots-against-average improved by decreasing for three straight years.
In 2011, the Kings again qualified for the playoffs and during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons the Kings totaled 199 points, the most ever by the franchise in two consecutive seasons. During those three seasons the Kings registered 294 points, a franchise record, and the Kings have enjoyed a winning record the past six seasons. Lombardi also made the move during December of 2011 to hire Darryl Sutter as Head Coach, as the veteran bench boss went 25-13-11 during the regular season and 16-4 during their historic playoff run en route to the 2012 Championship.
The Kings roster, as constructed by Lombardi, also features several core players who want to play in Los Angeles, as noted in their most recent contract signings: Brown (six years and then an eight year contract extension in 2013), Greene (five), Kopitar (seven), Stoll (four years and then three more years), Williams (four), Doughty (eight), Gaborik (seven), Regehr (two), Voynov (six) and Quick (franchise-record 10 years). In addition, Carter has seven years left on his contract.
Lombardi has accomplished all this with the backing and support of ownership to follow the development course while positioning the club well under the salary cap now and in the immediate future to help keep the organization’s homegrown talent long-term.
Lombardi is aided by a talented staff, which is led by Rob Blake (who replaced Ron Hextall in the summer of 2013), Michael Futa, Jack Ferreira and Jeff Solomon on the hockey operations side, and Mark Yannetti, Rob Laird and Christian Ruuttu on the scouting side. The Kings scouting staff has grown as a unit over the years as they have built incredible cohesiveness and continuity. Once the annual draft is completed, the work by the club’s development staff – led by Nelson Emerson, Mike O’Connell, Mike Donnelly, Glen Murray, Dusty Imoo and Daryl Evans – begins, as the Kings look to help young prospects develop and find their identity as they take part in summer development camps and the team’s rookie camp/tournament. The development team also works with prospects year-round in Ontario and with drafted players while the team stresses conditioning and off-ice training more than ever before.
During his tenure as GM in San Jose from 1996-03, Lombardi helped build the Sharks into one of the premier NHL teams as they reached the playoffs five times – highlighted by two trips to the Western Conference Semifinals – and one Pacific Division title in 2002 after his club earned a franchise-record 99 points. The Lombardi-led Sharks in 2002 also tied an NHL-record with six consecutive seasons of improved point totals (Bill Torrey/New York Islanders) while building a roster that became progressively younger in age each season.
He also made many key personnel and player moves, stocking the Sharks organization with a good mix of veteran stars and up-and-coming youngsters, that helped make the Sharks legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, and the year after Lombardi left the franchise – when the Sharks advanced to the Western Conference Finals – 18 of the players on that playoff club were originally acquired by Lombardi.
One of the fore runners in engineering three-way trades, Lombardi’s history in San Jose as it relates to trades/free agency is impressive too, and he hired Sutter to be the club’s Head Coach in 1997 and Ron Wilson in 2002. From the NHL Draft, Lombardi was one of the first GMs in the NHL to consistently and aggressively maneuver up and down the draft boards, making multiple trades to enhance and improve his club’s draft position. Lombardi also, upon leaving the Sharks, left the hockey operations division in fine shape for the immediate and long-term future as the team in 2003 had a plethora of top round draft choices in that summer’s draft (all originally acquired by Lombardi) which significantly helped set the team up to enjoy their future success.
An executive in the San Jose front office beginning in 1990, Lombardi first served as Assistant General Manager, a post he held the previous two seasons with the Minnesota North Stars, for the expansion Sharks before being elevated to Vice President, Director of Hockey Operations in 1992. Four years later, he was named Executive Vice President and General Manager and given the responsibility of turning around the young franchise.
In his first season at the helm, the 1996-97 campaign, the Sharks finished with the fourth most improved victory total in the NHL to begin Lombardi’s impressive streak of year-by-year improvement, which included the five straight postseason appearances from 1998-02 when the Sharks were just one of seven NHL clubs to each qualify for the playoffs during that five-year stretch.
Prior to taking over as the club’s GM, Lombardi helped the Sharks construct a team that posted the greatest single-season turnaround in NHL history when the 1993-94 Sharks earned 82 points and the franchise’s first berth in the playoffs after the team improved by 58 points from the prior season. Another one of Lombardi’s many highlights was the Sharks 2000 first round playoff upset of St. Louis when San Jose, as the eighth seed, won a seven-game series over the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Blues.
Off the ice, Lombardi was also successful in San Jose for creating and implementing an off-ice model development program that was designed to improve overall player performance particularly in the area of fundamentals. The principals and philosophies of the model were based loosely off an advanced program used by Major League Baseball.
Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, and raised in nearby Ludlow, Lombardi received his undergraduate degree from the University of New Haven where he finished third in his class. He was the hockey team’s captain his final two seasons and he received a full athletic scholarship and the school’s Student-Athlete of the Year Award. In 1985, Lombardi earned his Law Degree (with honors) from Tulane Law School where he specialized in Labor Law. The Los Angeles Sports Council named Lombardi as the 2014 Sports Executive of the Year.
Prior to joining Minnesota, Lombardi spent three seasons as a Player Representative, including the representation of five members of the 1988 United States Olympic Team, and at the time he joined Minnesota’s front office Lombardi was only the second former player agent to be employed in an NHL front office (Brian Burke/Vancouver Canucks was the other). He has also recently played an integral role for USA Hockey as a member of the Men’s National Team Advisory Group to help select the staff and players for various international tournaments, including the 2014 and the 2010 Winter Olympics. In August, Lombardi was named the General Manager of the U.S. squad for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey tournament in Toronto.
Dean and his wife Wandamae reside in Manhattan Beach.
As of September, 2015