Monday, August 13, 2012
Cup Chronicles: A King among Bruins' fans
By Sarah Goldstein
Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi got his day with the Stanley Cup, and he spent it in enemy territory: Ludlow, Mass.
While bringing the Cup home meant facing plenty of Bruins fans, Lombardi celebrated with his childhood friends and made sure to give back to the community.
"Dean-O," as he is known to his friends in Ludlow, took the Cup to two children's hospitals and to an event at the Polish-American Citizens Club.
"There was one kid. She was in intensive care and she got up and touched [the Cup] and smiled," Lombardi told NHL.com. "I got so wired I wanted to hit somebody. Sport is about competitiveness. You see kids like that, they send us a message about being competitive. That was really neat."
Lombardi also took time to share the Cup with the friends he started playing the hockey with and to honor two men who helped teach him the game.
"He never forgot his roots," said Steve Orlik, Lombardi's longtime friend and former minor hockey teammate, according to NHL.com. "There's an electricity here right now, because it's about the people."
Even Lombardi's wife, Wandamae, was surprised by the support showed to her husband.
"I had no idea how much he's loved here," she said, according to NHL.com. "It's amazing. He's had a great year."
But like any general manager, Lombardi had the big picture in mind, remembering the difficult road the Kings took to the Cup and looking ahead to the future.
"[Last season] was really hard in a lot of ways. Starting out with Drew, it was frustrating not having a top player in your camp. Then going to Europe, you're not sure how it affects your team with the travel," Lombardi told NHL.com. "Making that [coaching] change was very difficult, but fortunately I had a man like Darryl who I knew was willing to do it. What he did speaks for itself.
"We're very fortunate to bring everybody back. We were the fifth or sixth youngest team in the league. These guys have to continue to get better. I just talked to Jeff Carter last week, he sounds better than he ever has in terms of conditioning. Dustin Penner is way ahead of schedule.
"They're a great bunch of guys. The bottom line is it's about the players. The way they stuck together, I'm so proud of them."