LATEST: Lombardi has been fined $50,000.
UPDATE: Lombardi called Murphy this morning to apologise.
EARLIER: In the second period of last night’s Los Angeles Kings/ Phoenix Coyotes game, Phoenix centre Martin Hanzal batted a puck out of mid-air with his stick to give the Coyotes a 1-0 lead.
It was difficult for the on-ice officials to tell if Hanzal had hit the puck above the crossbar (which would have resulted in a disallowed goal) so the play went to video review. After a lengthy look at the league headquarters in Toronto, the goal counted, and Phoenix eventually skated off with a 2-0 win.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi was not happy, to say the least, that the call went against his floundering team, which has now lost three straight and is 2-10-0 in its last 12 games. The Kings dropped to 12th place in the Western Conference after most thought they were poised to be a major contender this season.
Lombardi took his frustrations out in a postgame interview, where he indicated that Mike Murphy, the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations, was responsible for the call against the Kings because he was bitter about losing out on the Kings general manager position to Lombardi:
“When the guy in Toronto making the decisions on the goals, in Ottawa and the one tonight, wanted the G.M.’s job in L.A. and was not happy about not getting it, you have to assume you are going to get those type of calls,” Lombardi said. “However, we have put ourselves in a position where these calls have a monumental effect on our season, and we’re going to have to find a way out of it ourselves.”
It might be true that Murphy wanted Lombardi’s job, but this claim is based on no evidence and is an outrageous accusation by a general manager searching for answers.
Kings Coach Terry Murray was equally angry about the call.
“I don’t know why we have video replay in the National Hockey League,” Murray said. “That’s all I can say. If the replay is there for review of goals and non-goals… I don’t know. You’ve got a guy who gets credit for the goal. He’s 6-foot-6, and the stick is up above his head. Matt Greene is 6-3, and he’s batting the puck down his his hand beside his ear, and the net is four feet high. It doesn’t add up. It makes no sense. No sense. How does it get called on the ice a goal, first of all, and then how does the replay hold it up? I don’t know. I don’t have an answer.”
Maybe the goal should have been disallowed, but every team faces rotten luck from time to time and Lombardi and Murray’s frustration with their team’s play deserves most of the blame for their outbursts.
It seems almost certain that Lombardi and the Kings will be handed hefty fines after the NHL investigates the matter today.