|Dean Lombardi, Ron Hextall, Jeff Solomon and Terry Murray all agreed to terms on two-year contract extensions.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings and Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi have agreed to terms on a new two-year contract extension, Kings Governor Tim Leiweke announced Thursday. In addition, Leiweke and the Kings Thursday announced two-year contract extensions for Kings Vice President/Assistant General Manager Ron Hextall, Kings Vice President/Hockey Operations and Legal Affairs Jeff Solomon, and Kings Head Coach Terry Murray.
Lombardi, Hextall, Solomon and Murray all had one year remaining on their contracts. All four are under contract through the 2012-13 NHL season.
“Dean and his staff want to be here, they want to help finish what we have all started and we feel we are on the verge of something very special, so it was imperative that we keep our nucleus together,” said Leiweke. “The timing was right to do this, and now our focus shifts to the NHL Draft this weekend here at STAPLES Center and LA Live, into free agency next week and to the rest of summer as we look to add a piece or two – the right piece or two -- to this great young core we have together here with the Kings.”
Lombardi, Hextall and Solomon are all set to begin their fifth season with the Kings and each have played critical roles in the building of the Kings, highlighted by the club’s recent trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the organization’s first since 2002. The Kings are now in a position where they expect to contend for the playoffs annually while continuing to establish themselves among the NHL’s elite teams.
Since joining the Kings organization, Lombardi and his entire hockey operations staff have built the Kings by first focusing on the club’s reserve list, a methodical process that initially focused heavily on the need to improve the backend. The leadership group then revamped and improved the structure of the club’s scouting staff on the whole and the amateur scouting division in particular. Then Lombardi and staff took the step of creating and overseeing a player development department to help the franchise take monumental steps forward off the ice all in an effort to create and instill a culture of winning.
At the draft table, the Kings have used 38 overall selections since Lombardi, Hextall and Solomon were appointed to their positions, including six in the first round, five in the second round and seven in the third round. Kings players selected by Lombardi and staff include: Drew Doughty
, Wayne Simmonds, Oscar Moller, Jonathan Bernier
, Brayden Schenn, Colten Teubert, Jeff Zatkoff
, Thomas Hickey
and Kyle Clifford
. Throughout the last four years, Lombardi and staff have also resisted altering the plan, and they’ve complimented the Kings’ roster with other young players such as Jack Johnson.
While the Kings were garnering top talent at the annual NHL Entry Draft and beyond, Lombardi and staff were also identifying a core group of players in Los Angeles to build around. Forwards Dustin Brown
and Anze Kopitar
are elite NHL forwards and both are under long-term contracts. They have been complimented by several Lombardi-engineered acquisitions, including trades for Ryan Smyth, Jarret Stoll
, Matt Greene
, Justin Williams
(a Stanley Cup winner), Brad Richardson
and Sean O’Donnell (a Stanley Cup winner), and in free agency with players such as Rob Scuderi
(a Stanley Cup winner in 2009) and Michal Handzus.
The Kings, to this day, remain a relatively young team. Two seasons ago, the Kings began the season as the third youngest in the NHL, with an average age of 22.4. Last year’s roster featured an average age of 22.8, which coincides with the team’s philosophy and track record that your team needs to get better while getting younger. Lombardi and staff, meanwhile, have accomplished all this with the backing and support of ownership to follow the development course while positioning the club well under the salary cap now and in the immediate future to help keep the organization’s homegrown talent long-term.
Murray joined the Kings as the 22nd head coach of the franchise in July of 2008 and has brought to the Kings a defensive-first mentality. That philosophy has been successful as the Kings’ goals against average has dropped from 3.21 in 2007-08 to 2.57 in 2009-10, and the team’s shots allowed per game average has gone from 32 in 2007-08 to 27.6 in 2009-10.
The Kings improved their point total in the standings for a fourth consecutive year by reaching 101 points in 2009-10 – the third highest point total in team history and a 22-point improvement in the standings from the 2008-09 season. The 2009-10 season culminated with the trip to the Playoffs.
Other highlights this past season with Murray behind the bench included a franchise record-tying 46 wins, a franchise record 24 road wins and a franchise record nine-game winning streak. The Kings also ranked 7th in the NHL with a 20.8 percent success rate on the power play and their power play was even better on the road, converting at a rate of 21.8 percent which ranked 5th in the NHL. The Kings also greatly improved on their ability to score 5-on-5 goals, totaling 145 goals in 2009-10 compared to 114 the previous season.
The Kings also this past season enjoyed 27 regular season sellouts (the Kings led the NHL in increased attendance) and three standing-room only sellouts at STAPLES Center during the postseason.
During the 2008-09 season, Murray’s first with the Kings, he and his coaching staff laid the groundwork for the Kings’ breakout 2009-10 season as the Kings improved in several categories from 2007-08 (wins, points, goals against, power play percentage and penalty kill percentage). The Kings allowed 32 fewer goals than the 2007-08 team and 49 fewer goals than the 2006-07 squad. Los Angeles’ penalty killing percentage went from 78 percent and 30th in the NHL in 2007-08 to 82.9 percent in 2008-09, seventh best in the NHL. The Kings also had the third-best road penalty killing unit in the NHL in 2008-09, clicking at 84.5 percent.