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More Familiar Faces in Kings-Sharks Rivalry

A look back on how Dean Lombardi, Darryl Sutter and Rob Blake made their respective marks on the rival franchises

by Jesse Cohen @KingsMenPodcast / LAKings.com

The LA Kings face-off against the San Jose Sharks for the fifth and final time of the regular season tonight and the series is split at 2-2.

The last time the two teams faced each other we took a look back at some popular Kings players that served as All-Stars for the Sharks over the years.

However, on-ice talent isn't the only place you can find overlap between the two clubs. So, let's take a look at the front office.

Rob Blake

Rob Blake accomplished many things over the course of his playing career. He was an Olympic Gold Medalist, a seven-time All-Star, a Stanley Cup winner, a Norris Trophy winner, captain of multiple teams and, ultimately, a Hockey Hall of Famer.

Today, he sits as Dean Lombardi's right hand man as Assistant General Manager of the Kings, while also having his number retired in the rafters at STAPLES Center and being immortalized in the Kings 50th Anniversary Monument.

Blake spent the final two seasons of his playing career with the San Jose Sharks, serving as captain during his final year. After retiring he was hired as Hockey Operations Manager for the NHL.

There appears to be very little that Rob Blake can't do. He even played a doctor on TV.

VINTAGE Sharks: Rob Blake, Lousy Doctor

Darryl Sutter

"Hired by Lombardi to lead a directionless team on the ice, Sutter left his farm in Alberta and took immediate control to change a losing culture into a winning one."

That quote could easily be about the 2011-12 LA Kings, but it's from a 2014 article about the San Jose Sharks.

Darryl Sutter became coach of the Sharks in the summer of 1997 and led the team to the postseason five years in a row. In his final full season with the Sharks, he coached the team to a 44-27-8-3 record and the team won the first of its six division titles.

Despite being only the second coach in NHL history whose team improved in the standings for five consecutive years, he was fired in the midst of a disappointing 2002-03 season. He was hired later that same season by the Calgary Flames.

 

Dean Lombardi

Dean Lombardi arrived in California at roughly the same time as the Sharks.

Lombardi had served as Assistant GM to Jack Ferreira of the Minnesota North Stars from 1988-1990 and followed him to San Jose when the Sharks joined the NHL for the 1991-92 season. After Ferreira's dismissal in 1992, Lombardi shared power with Chuck Grillo, the club's Director of Player Personnel, for four seasons before being named General Manager in March of 1996.

Lombardi filled the team with veterans from all over the league. He added a plethora of big name players, including Owen Nolan, Mike Vernon and Teemu Selanne.

At the same time, he acquired younger players that would come to be synonymous with the Sharks during their careers. As long as Patrick Marleau still plays in San Jose, Lombardi's influence will be felt on the Sharks.

During his tenure, Lombardi transformed the Sharks from bumbling expansion team to division champs and perennial Stanley Cup contenders (Note: San Jose has still never won the Stanley Cup).

Penguins vs Sharks Game 6 Final Seconds. Handshakes.

The Sharks chose to fire Sutter and Lombardi after one down season despite a steady and significant improvement during their brief time in San Jose.

One can only wonder what might have happened if the pair were allowed to continue building the franchise … but it would probably look something like this:

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