GM wants Kings aware

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Lisa Dill­man lisa.dill­man@la­

Weeks af­ter Jar­ret Stoll was ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of pos­ses­sion of co­caine and Ec­stasy, he met with his boss, Kings Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Manager Dean Lom­bardi.

Lom­bardi was the man who traded for Stoll in 2008 and watched as the cen­ter be­came a team leader and helped spark the or­ga­ni­za­tion to its first Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­onship in 2012 and an­other in 2014.

“Prob­a­bly one of the most gut-wrench­ing meet­ings I’ve had in my en­tire ca­reer, and I’ve had meet­ings with lots of play­ers,” Lom­bardi said of their talk last month.

Th­ese were Lom­bardi’s first public com­ments on the mat­ter since Stoll was ar­rested in mid-April in Las Ve­gas, shortly af­ter the Kings’ sea­son ended. The de­fend­ing Stan­ley Cup cham­pi­ons did not qual­ify for the play­offs and Stoll is due to be­comea free agent.

Lom­bardi con­ducted a con­fer­ence call with re­porters Tues­day and dis­cussed the Stoll ar­rest and the Slava Voynov in­ci­dent, is­su­ing sev­eral meac­ul­pas. Voynov’s trial on a felony do­mes­tic vi­o­lence charge is sched­uled to start in July.

Re­gard­ing the two cases, Lom­bardi spoke about the steps the or­ga­ni­za­tion is tak­ing to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness.

“We can’t af­ford to be at square one,” Lom­bardi said. “It was all about what we could do. What we did wrong. Why no­body was think­ing like Bil­lWalsh.”

Lom­bardi re­peat­edly ref­er­enced the late San Fran­cisco 49ers coach, Walsh, and lauded his ap­proach to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence ed­u­ca­tion, hav­ing writ­ten about the need to ed­u­cate his play­ers about that is­sue. Walsh was “35 years ahead of his time,” Lom­bardi said.

The Kings ex­ec­u­tive of­ten draws from or­ga­ni­za­tions in other sports leagues for in­spi­ra­tion and also re­cently saw Chris Her­ren’s “30 for 30” ESPN doc­u­men­tary, “Un­guarded,” which de­tails Her­ren’s battle with drug and al­co­hol ad­dic­tion.

Team of­fi­cials are plan­ning to have Her­ren, the for­mer bas­ket­ball star, meet with play­ers to share his story of re­cov­ery. Front of­fice ex­ec­u­tives also havemet with mem­bers of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence groups and ex­pect to have them talk to play­ers.

“The first thing you look at: Were there any signs that we should have been aware of, both th­ese in­ci­dents?” Lom­bardi said. “I think we were very good in terms of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with our play­ers, go out of our way to try and know them per­son­ally as hu­man be­ings. It’s one of the rea­son­swe’ve had that fam­ily ef­fect around there.

“But clearly we could do more. ... The Voynov thing, I walked down to Jeff Solomon’s of­fice­and­said, ‘This is my fault.’ We ne­glected to ed­u­cate our play­ers. We missed a big step here in try­ing tomake sure they un­der­stand right and wrong and that this has to be re­in­forced, not only as a hu­man be­ing, as some­body who is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­mu­nity.”

The mov­ing tar­get of a salary cap num­ber for next sea­son has pre­sented a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge for Lom­bardi and cap guru Solomon, the se­nior vice pres­i­dent of hockey op­er­a­tions/ legal af­fairs.

Lom­bardi called it a “sci­en­ce­pro­ject” and­said­he­has sev­eral work­ing tem­plates in­volv­ing var­i­ous salary cap num­bers. Be­cause of the un­cer­tainty, there has been no de­ci­sion re­gard­ing the fu­ture of cen­ter Mike Richards or for­ward Justin Wil­liams, a pending un­re­stricted free agent.

The fo­cus is try­ing to re­sign goalie Martin Jones, for­ward Tyler Tof­foli and de­fense­man An­drej Sek­era, an­other pending un­re­stricted free agent.

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