Dean Lombardi has never been shy about his desire to turn the Los Angeles Kings into the Bill Walsh-era San Francisco 49ers. And until a few months ago, the Kings’ general manager looked as though he had the team on that path.
But after two high-profile arrests bookended a failed attempt to make the playoffs, Lombardi decided to take a page out of Walsh’s book — literally.
In his book "Finding the Winning Edge," Walsh advocates for team education on domestic violence. With the arrests of defenseman Slava Voyov (domestic violence) and center Jaret Stoll (drug possession), Lombardi intends to take that one step further and educate his players on more than just domestic violence, but on all conduct that could be deemed detrimental.
"We neglected to educate our players," Lombardi said on a conference call with the media Tuesday afternoon. "We educate them on our system and nutrition and everything else, but this will be a big step here in terms of ensuring that they understand the difference between right and wrong. This has to be reinforced, and not only as a human being, but as someone who is a representative of their community."
After Voynov’s October arrest, Lombardi said the education the players receive at the league level isn’t enough. He said he felt that it fails to take into account cultural and even language barriers. So he’s taking it into his own hands and creating a plan with Jeff Solomon, the Kings’ VP of Hockey Operations, and Mike Altieri, the VP of Communications.
"We have visited a number of domestic violence groups and Mike is in the process of bringing them in," Lombardi said. "They’re going to educate all of us, frankly. I’m interested in this myself, we all need to know about it."
Chris Herron, the former NBA player featured in ESPN’s 30 for 30 "Unguarded," will also come in to speak on his experiences battling drug abuse.
However, Stoll might not be on the team by that point.
Stoll met with Lombardi following his arrest in Las Vegas shortly after the regular season concluded. Lombari didn’t speak on the impending free agent’s contract negotiations, and he shot down the notion that the team is conducting their own internal investigation of the events that took place that day.
"It was probably the most gut-wrenching meetings with a player that I’ve had in my entire career," Lombardi said. "And I’ve had lots of meetings with players."
It’s now on Lombardi to help fix what plagued his team this season.