Dear Kings Brass: Where Was the Due Diligence?

According to the Sporting News, Dean Lombardi dropped this bombshell on Dustin Penner:

“Dustin is at the crossroads of his career,” Lombardi wrote in an email to Sporting News. “He can choose to use his athletic ability to either become a dominant power forward in the National Hockey League or be a dominant number four hitter for the El Cid Lounge in a men’s softball league — the choice is his.”

Not only is that a hilarious quote, it’s even more hilarious that it came from the same management team that proverbially thumped its chest for doing the due diligence on Dany Heatley. Who could ever forget the way in which the Kings publicly denounced the reputation of a player who wasn’t a part of their organization and consequentially lowered his market value?

If you have forgotten, no worries, thanks to the Interwebs, the NHL keeps material like this archived. Cue the video (or if you don’t want to watch the video, I’ll transcribe most of what’s said below as well):

Transcription of the video:

“Look at this player’s past. I’m going to spell it out as nicely as I can. He was in Atlanta, had an unfortunate (automobile) accident there and asked to be traded. OK, given the circumstances — there was a young man killed — I can live with that.

“He goes to Ottawa. He’s on a pretty good team. They go to the finals. He signs a big contract. Bang. All of a sudden now he’s got to be traded again. ‘Not only do I have to be traded, I have a no-trade clause. I want to pick where I’m going to go.’ Well, there are some issues there.

“He had his problems with his coach in Atlanta. My understanding is that he had problems with Craig Hartsburg at the start of last year in Ottawa. And he had problems with Cory Clouston.

Three coaches he’s had a problem with. That raises huge red flags for us.”

Wow. Somewhere Kent Nilsson is probably wishing that Hextall used words to hurt him instead of that two-handed slash that broke his leg.

Now for good measure, take a look at this quote from Lombardi himself that was featured in the LA Times

“Do I want to bring in a Dany Heatley with all that baggage? It might work. But I don’t think we’re in a position where we can afford that. … Maybe a change of environment and he grows up.But my point is, do we need to take that risk right now? It scares me.

If your core is established and they’ve proven they can win, it’s different. I think you can take that swing. I don’t think we’re in that position yet. Because if we’re wrong, [Anze] Kopitar and [Dustin] Brown and [Drew] Doughty and these guys lose control. He becomes the room and then you have a huge problem. And he’s not going to be controlled by them. That leadership group is not strong enough yet to deal with a guy who can change your team. I’m not saying those kids can’t do it. It’s still in the formative stages. I don’t need to put that burden on them.They’ve still got to perform and go to another level.”

When I first heard about their comments on Heatley, I could not fathom why the Kings organization wouldn’t take the high road instead of helping to lower the market value for a former 50-goal scorer who eventually was dealt to a divisional rival. (As an aside, would the Hextall quote be consistent grounds for levying tampering charges against the Kings organization? Have your say.) And today, I’m wondering why the same due diligence was applied to Penner?

Were the benchings and public comments by former Oilers coach Craig MacTavish not loud enough?

“He’s not competitive enough or fit enough to help us, so why put him back in? He’s never been fit enough to help us,” Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish told the Sun. “We signed him to be a top-two line player and that’s kind of where it ended. The difference was we thought the contract was a starting point, and he’s viewed it as a finish line.

“It’s been one thing after another. I can’t watch it for – certainly not another two and-a-half years.” ~ via TSN

Apparently not. Karma’s a bitch.

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