They say hockey is a business. But since Dean Lombardi took over as general manager of the +Los Angeles Kings
in April 2006, he has helped build a team culture that stresses unity, family and loyalty, among other characteristics. That strong culture was a major factor in the Kings winning the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup Championships.
Center Mike Richards played a key role in the Kings winning both of those championships. But his game has disappeared since the 2012 Cup run, and Lombardi could've bought out his contract last summer when his salary would've been completely removed from the Kings' salary cap. But out of loyalty to Richards, Lombardi chose not to.
That decision has now come back to haunt him, as Richards' salary cap hit after an impending contract buy out, although reduced, will remain on their cap for ten years.
Lombardi is now receiving fairly heavy incoming mortar fire, criticizing him for not buying out Richards last summer. But is this issue really that cut-and-dried?