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05-18-2013, 05:27 PM
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I think in the most visible roles of a GM, Taylor was an above average GM. This included drafting, having the cajones to pull off big trades, etc. But there is a lot of stuff that Lombardi brought to the Kings organization which, when he described them, made Taylor's staff look like they were still in the stone age. The two biggest ones were player development and using bridge players to build a culture/identity for the team.

What Lombardi didn't have in San Jose was an owner that was willing to give him a large enough leash and budget to implement his grand plan to build a perennial winner. A large part of that was because the version of the plan he is using in LA is an evolution of the plan he had in San Jose. It may never have worked anyways. So the way his career played out there was pretty much how it was going to be.

So yeah, the Sharks COULD have been where the Kings are, but only if the owner was stupid enough to give a GM that has failed not only a mulligan, but more leeway than before, and on top of that, after that GM spent some time doing professional scouting reflecting on how/why he failed the first time. That was never going to happen.

But I don't care. I've lived in the SFBA for almost twenty years now, a decade of which I had to endure the Sharks pretty much having their way with the Kings. I had a yearly bet with a buddy on who would have a better head-to-head record and who would get further in the playoffs every year during that stretch. I'm not even mad that we stopped doing it last year, because I have a pretty good idea of what the alternative universe would look like.

If Taylor stayed another two years, there would have been no Terry Murray. There would have been no Scott Thornton. Avery and Frolov might have stuck around for a couple more seasons. No Greene. No Stoll. We might have signed Gomez, or Richards, or given Kovalchuk the huge contract Lombardi didn't give him. Brown probably wouldn't be captain. Scuderi never comes to LA. Kopitar would probably have ended up being an awesome fantasy player, maybe breaks a point-per-game, but never becomes that complete championship linchpin player. Quick may never have even gotten a shot, and might have been released before breaking out of the ECHL. Bernier wouldn't have even been drafted, and even if he had been, he would have been rushed up and would now be in the same boat as Steve Mason. Manchester would have another revolving door of Lehouxs, Kankos, Pushkarevs, and other could-have-beens that were great raw material at draft time but were not properly developed. More limbo that guys that were here 10 years ago probably can but don't want to remember. Yeeks.

Don't feel bad, Sharks fans. Lombardi was never going to work out for you. But I'm sure glad he was available when the Kings fired Taylor.

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