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Friday, January 21, 2011
Kings GM Dean Lombardi apologizes

By Pierre LeBrun
ESPN.com

Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi was fined $50,000 by the NHL Friday for comments he made after Thursday night's game regarding league executive Mike Murphy.

"There is no acceptable explanation or excuse for commentary challenging the integrity of the League's Hockey Operations Department in general or Mike Murphy, in particular," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

Lombardi was angry about a Phoenix Coyotes goal that was allowed to stand after video review at the league's Toronto office, where Murphy works as senior vice president of hockey operations. The Kings lost the game 2-0.

"When the guy in Toronto making the decisions on the goals, in Ottawa and the one tonight, wanted the GM'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 was quoted on the Kings' website after the game. "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."

Lombardi phoned Murphy on Friday and apologized to him.

"Obviously it was the first call I made today," Lombardi told ESPN.com. "I give him a lot of credit. His willingness to accept the apology certainly was gracious. He's a bigger man than a lot of us. That wasn't easy for him to do. I have a lot of respect for him for accepting my apology. That was stupid of me last night. Heat of the moment? Yes. But that doesn't rationalize making that statement."

The reference to Ottawa addressed the Kings' Nov. 22 game against the host Senators, in which on-ice officials waved off Ryan Smyth's goal with three seconds remaining in the third period. The goal, had it counted, would have tied the game. But video review officials in Toronto upheld the on-ice call.

"People can disagree with a call by an official on the ice or an official in the Situation Room in Toronto, but even in instances of the utmost frustration there is no justification for speaking as inappropriately and irresponsibly as Mr. Lombardi did," Bettman said regarding Thursday night's incident. "'Mike Murphy is a devoted caretaker of the game. His commitment to the National Hockey League, all 30 of its Clubs -- and to the game -- is beyond challenge, question or debate."

Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun was used in this report.