As the Kings have become a league-wide story throughout this postseason, media members have sought to identify the moment at which things “clicked’’ for the Kings. It’s an understandable query, but most come away with the understanding that there was not a single turning-point moment but perhaps a series of them, or perhaps just a slow, steady build, and some good fortune along the way. Asked about some key points of the season, Lombardi pointed to two in particular, one that might be fairly obvious and the other that was more personal and perhaps more revealing…
LOMBARDI: “I think the real test of character was, we were in Detroit and we were up 3-2 with five minutes left and we blow a 3-2 lead and don’t get a point. I was actually in Quebec, scouting the Quebec league. To me, that was a real test of their character. It’s a young group, and then they went into Chicago and won, and then we came home for a seven-game homestand and won against good teams. We almost ran the table. Those were playoff games. … We came home and we played hard. There was a lot of pressure on, and I said, `That was a big test.’ Those seven games at home were playoff games. That showed me a lot. Darryl, after we lost that game in Detroit, his demeanor was like, `No problem.’ We went to Chicago and won in a shootout.’’
LOMBARDI: “Darryl, there was one period there, after 20 games (he coached), where Darryl went in and he looked at why we weren’t scoring. It was amazing. He blamed himself. He said, `I should have seen this sooner.’ He showed me what he was going to do, on the board, and the changes he was going to make, systematically. A guy with his experience, he’s beating himself up. He’s saying, `This is my fault. It should have never got this far. We need to make this adjustment.’ I just found it amazing that he was blaming himself. That’s part of it. So much of it still comes down to the players.’’
As a follow-up, here’s a great read from the San Jose Mercury News — the city in which Lombardi and Sutter formerly worked — about their kinship. Click here to give it a read.