March 5th, 2009, 04:43 PM #1
A Cautionary Tale
Of all the blogs I have written to date, bar none, my most controversial have all been about Patrick O’Sullivan. It is fair to say I was as shocked as anyone by his trade. After I thought about it further, I am not surprised. My opinion is not based upon any insider information. This trade reminded me of Cammalleri. More precisely, I immediately remembered Lombardi’s statements about Cammalleri after the Kings’ successful salary arbitration.
Lombardi explained back then that once Cammalleri made the demand he did (rumored at $6 million that he just may get now) that Lombardi’s perception of Cammalleri changed. He no longer thought of him as a member of the team; rather he thought of him as an asset.
I speculated last summer that how O’Sullivan’s contract negotiations went could easily define and permanently affect his relationship with the Kings … and perhaps his reputation over time in this league. As to the former, I think this player’s trade confirms that possibility. As to the latter, time will tell.
With O’Sullivan, when he chose to have his agent start negotiations at a number that he had not yet earned when he had exactly one year of NHL experience, he sent a message and perhaps changed how Lombardi perceived him. It is as if O’Sullivan went from being considered a core player to becoming an asset in the blink of an eye. If he really would have taken $3 million per year from the start, then that should have been his opening offer. Why? Because then, like Dustin Brown, by demanding a reasonable dollar figure for longer term, the message Lombardi would have received is, he wants to be a King.
Did Lombardi try as hard as he should, frankly when he should have done so? From what I have learned privately, I would say no. Would Lombardi have handled the negotiations, the timing, the length of time it took to make a deal had O’Sullivan’s opening offer been more credible? Again, we will never know. I speculate the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Generally speaking, when there is a deal to be had, and when both sides have a fair estimation of the strength/weakness of their hand and negotiate accordingly, deals get done. The contract extensions with Stoll, Brown, Kopitar, Greene and now Ersberg sure seem to validate that point.
The reason these thoughts ring so true for me is twofold. First, it contrasts negotiations among the other players who needed new contracts and got them. Second, Jack Johnson is an RFA and how he and his agent handle that negotiation may prove or disprove my theory. If Johnson comes to the table with no desire to give up even one of his unrestricted years, for fair money, Johnson’s time in Los Angeles has the clock running now.
Now, as to whom Lombardi chose to trade for, that surprises me little and I will further explain. Lombardi has recently explained to the Daily News’ Rich Hammond how this team’s core has it much harder than Pavel Datsyk and Henrik Zetterberg in Detroit. They had Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, and the Kris Drapers of the world to show them how to win, how to play in games that matter, frankly how to… everything.
In direct contrast, Frolov, Brown, Kopitar for starters, are being asked to be responsible for this team winning with no real road map or guide how to make that happen. There is no book on “How to Play, Excel and Win Games that Matter to Qualify for the NHL Playoffs – for Dummies”. They have to learn by doing and hope they get it right. Are they? I submit they are not – not this season anyway.
For the first time in too long, the Kings are playing games that matter. One road trip ago the Kings had everything go right. That success surprised everyone – opponents, the media and probably the players themselves. Brown was quoted as saying that this was his first experience in playing games that matter ever. All of a sudden, everyone and anyone amongst the NHL media were applauding Lombardi, suggesting that the rebuild was ahead of schedule. Bob Mackenzie spoke as if the Kings making the play-offs this year was a given. That was then; this is now.
The Kings proceeded to lose on the home stand upon their return. All was okay, right? Because this team was going back on the road and after one successful road trip, they were proclaimed to be road warriors. The problem is the last road trip was a colossal failure. So, now all concerned have to take in the fact that if the Kings are not winning at home or on the road, the problem is bigger than geography.
My hypothesis is that the players know what they are doing wrong. It is no great mystery. No search party is required to find the team’s collective game. These players and this team are inexperienced in winning games that matter. As good as Stoll, O’Donnell, Handzus and Greene can be, they are apparently not enough to teach this young team how to find their next gear and execute play at a higher intensity …. and win. Enter Jason Williams…. who has a ring.
What is Lombardi saying about him? He is a winner. He is a proven 30 goal scorer. He has not just been successful but he has been successful in the play-offs. He also has that pesky ring the Kings so badly want to earn for themselves. Is he the answer? Time will tell. Did O’Sullivan make himself an asset rather than a core member of this team by how his negotiations went? I submit yes.
Last edited by Carla Muller; March 5th, 2009 at 04:46 PM.
March 6th, 2009, 08:32 PM #2
You could tell since the beginning of the year that they were at ends. the interview fox did with terry murray at the beginning of the season said it all. "Who is patrick o'sullivan" was what murray said and he said it with a stern look on his face. I wasnt too surprised but I would have liked them to have kept him.
March 7th, 2009, 03:39 AM #3
I too, am sad to see him go. However, I don't quite feel easy about casting aspersions on his character based on contract negotiations that we don't know the full details of. At the same time, I do not intend to vidicate him and blame Lombardi for reasons previously stated. I guess you could say I'm not one to play the blame game in this situation.
Like I stated earlier, I'm pretty sad to see him go, given that we've all seen him grow into the defensive forward he has become. I feel the organization did a great job nurturing him to the player he is today - a player very different from when we first plucked him out of Minnesota.
I also feel the need to include that as far as the trade is concerned, I am not satisfied. I was already quite anguished to hear the trade was O'Sullivan for Williams so one could imagine how I felt when I realized we had given a second rounder as well. I'm one to believe O'Sullivan is worth more than that, but I guess Deano disagrees. I also don't quite understand why he elected to trade him half a year into his contract, especially since his trade value was rather low at the time. He hadn't been impressing, IMO. I figure he's already signed so the best thing Deano could do was to let him get a bit better, burn another year off his contract, then deal him in the summer a year before it expires (a la Cammalleri) and get a much higher return. I can't help but to think something happened between him and the organization (that us fans do not know about) that more or less forced this trade.
March 7th, 2009, 07:51 AM #4
As if anyone else had not noticed, but POS in the last ten games or so was getting pushed off the puck, not working hard along the boards, and was becoming less and less of a threat as you all call it. There were a few times that he would attempt to take the body on a forecheck successfully, but more often than not he either missed the player and puck, or simply skated into the boards nearby as the player kept the puck and moved it along.
I enjoyed watching POS play in LA when he showed up, however that seemed to decline in the last couple of weeks...
March 7th, 2009, 08:46 AM #5
I am a Sully fan. I am also a Dean Lombardi fan.
DL's job is to create a SC winning team for Anshutz. SC teams make more money than the rest. Lombardi's job is to make Anshutz money.
DL is creating that team piece by careful piece. He is pruning out anyone who is not prepared to give 100% to the Kings 100% of the time.
Why? Due to creating financial obstacles than create locker room problems and displaying a "me first" instead of "team first" mentality.
Either you are in for a 4-5 year contract at a reasonable rate enabling this team to come together and grow into a championship team thereby making you an NHL player than can command the big bucks or you cause problems trying to get the big bucks now.
Sully and Cammy wanted the big bucks now.
They are no longer with the Kings.
Sully knew what he was doing when he held out for more money. If his agent didn't tell him so then he should be fired by Sully. IMO, his agent laid all the facts on Sully.
Ergo, Sully did not plan on staying a King. A team wih a history of losing and being feeders of good players to great teams.
JMFJ is next. I've heard of problems already surfacing with his negotiations.
March 7th, 2009, 09:38 AM #6
I completely agree. I would be SHOCKED if he was here by his UFA eligibility. My instinct is this is a situation of WHEN he will be traded, not IF. The biggest distinction between Sully and JMFJ is that Sully wanted to stay here but at HIS price. I sense that JMFJ plain does not have an interest in staying. I hope I am wrong.
Originally Posted by Winsomemore
March 7th, 2009, 09:40 AM #7
Let me clarify that when it comes to Sully, I think his priorities were misplaced based upon his experience in the league when he held out. It was NEVER my intent to suggest anything about his character.
Originally Posted by Nemmy700
March 7th, 2009, 10:36 AM #8
Carla gave us a lot of insight during the off-season on both sides when we were waiting for POS to sign. I'm glad she posted this after the trade. I wish POS nothing but a great career. I hope that Williams can be good in return.
March 7th, 2009, 10:58 AM #9
Good read, Carla. It was a botched and doomed negotiation from the start and both sides were equally to blame. During the contract impasse, and the resulting vilification and demonizing of O'Sullivan, it was apparent that Lombardi had determined that Sully would not be a King for long. I immediately predicted in August that O'Sullivan would be gone before the end of the season. It was an easy call. The other move that I believe has become inevitable is the trade of Jack Johnson by draft day. Let's see how that one goes. Lombardi is an enigma wrapped in a contradiction as is his Philly buddy, TM.
March 7th, 2009, 11:12 AM #10
Where is this "Johnson won't be here long term" bull**** coming from?