Lombardi’s Eleven

Lombardi's Eleven

If the beginning of the free agency period was like a waterfall of signings and changes of scenery, it now resembles the drip of a leaky faucet.

Thus we must change our field of view and narrow focus to the next upcoming date: the fast-approaching Frozen Fury XIII.

With that in mind, I figure it’s time we get a little less serious and look at the Kings’ needs in an applicable fashion: VEGAS.

In this segment, I’m going to compare the Kings with theOcean’s Eleven’ franchise (the good one, not the one from the 60’s)… so if Vegas heist movies aren’t your taste, better take a closer look at your life, or just stop back next week.

Below is the make-up of the ‘Ocean’s’ lineup:

Danny Ocean (George Clooney) – Leader
Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) – Co-Leader, Alternate Captain, if you will.
Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) – Every now and then takes the reigns, but never commands the spotlight.
Frank Catton (Bernie Mac) – Unorthodox but efficient.
Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner) – As grandma would say, “An old soul.”  But an old soul who still gets it done.
Virgil Malloy (Casey Affleck) – The young gun with not much to lose.
Turk Malloy (Scott Caan) – The young gun’s stupid brother.
Livingston Dell (Eddie Jameson) – The weird tech guy who makes everyone nervous, especially in a pressure situation.
Yen (Shaboa Kim) – Impresses now and again, but only appears in 1/20th of the action.
Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle) – This guy gets it.  As simple as that.
Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) – A rich old guy.  Valuable to the team during the prep work, but on the sidelines during the real action.

Let’s plug these names and traits into our brand new Crowned Royal  Athlete ~ Movie character  Computation Machine and…we get…

Danny Ocean (George Clooney) – ANZE KOPITAR
Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) – DREW DOUGHTY
Linus Caldwell (Matt Damon) – DUSTIN BROWN
Frank Catton (Bernie Mac) – JONATHAN QUICK
Saul Bloom (Carl Reiner) –RYAN SMYTH
Virgil Malloy (Casey Affleck) –JONATHAN BERNIER
Turk Malloy (Scott Caan) –JACK JOHNSON
Livingston Dell (Eddie Jameson)-ALEXANDER FROLOV
Yen (Shaboa Kim) – JUSTIN WILLIAMS
Basher Tarr (Don Cheadle) – WAYNE SIMMONDS (no, not because he’s black).
Reuben Tishkoff (Elliot Gould) – JARRET STOLL

This list can be debated for days, so if you want to come up with your own, be my guest…just please don’t include anything from the abortion that is ‘Oceans Twelve’.

Here’s the breakdown:

KOPITAR (Clooney) and DOUGHTY (Pitt) are together for the long haul. They make the team what it is. A loss of either of them severely jeopardizes the team and its success.

BROWN (Damon) and QUICK (Mac [RIP]) are the secondary stars. It is a priority to keep them around because they round out the crew.

What about the rest of the guys?

Let’s remember, we are looking at the ultimate heist (or hoist?): the Stanley Cup. It’s going to take some sacrifice to pull off, but the reward will be something that live in movie er hockey lore forever.

SMYTH –  Smyth plays the part of Saul perfectly.  He’s a crafty veteran with a lot to contribute.  Give him a good guy to work with and he is a perfect fit.  However, if needed, could probably be packaged for another top notch veteran.  Yes, that means you, Tomas Kaberle.

BERNIER – Maybe not holding an integral role now, but signs point to him doing so in the future. In this manner, Bernier and Virgil are very similar. In the beginning, both showed promise but were too immature to really answer the call. In later appearances, both stepped up to a position where they could tackle bigger obstacles (NHL starts vs. working in a Mexican dice factory) but are still unproven. Give both a little time to grow and they could become leaders on the crew.  AND if given the right environment and faith, either could step in to replace a traded or missing (again, RIP Bernie) player, that’s right, I’m hinting that should the Kings trade Quick in the coming season, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  Post your hate mail below.

JOHNSON – Ditch him.  Both he and Turk showed that they were sandy blonde and overrated.  At a dismal -15, JMFJ was a team low in plus/minus.  His dad runs the show in negotiations with the team, and it is pretty clear that if the team doesn’t put up the right money, Johnson will leave in a heartbeat.  A decent player to have on the team right now, but may not be a good guy to depend on for the long run.

FROLOV – Is it really even worth debating?  Neither he or Dell are captivating and though they appear to fulfill a huge role on paper, their position is a dime a dozen (overpaid left wing vs. IT guy).

SIMMONDS – Like Basher, he’s a cornerstone.  If a guy like Brown (Pitt) was to drop from the roster, this guy has what it takes to step in as your captain.  Maybe not now.  Maybe not next season.  But in a couple of years, he is going to be the spark. Get ready. Hold onto him, whatever it takes.

STOLL – An interesting case.  Not horrible in the regular season, but when it came down to the end (in Reuben’s case, Oceans Thirteen) he was invisible. 1 goal. That’s it. No assists. -4. He might as well have been in a coma like Reuben. At $3.6MM a season, he isn’t doing the job he was brought in to do.  Trust me, Lombardi didn’t sign him to put it into the net 16 times.  Still, he does show the offensive brain and talent to do what is needed, so I say keep him.  But, when it comes time to negotiate again for 2012, a big pay cut is going to be needed to justify him staying with the team.

WILLIAMS – Might as well say goodbye to this guy.  11 goals in 61 games for the Kings? Ouch. Not really the offensive threat the team hoped for.  Injuries haven’t helped him or the little “grease man” in ‘Oceans’ (if you remember, Yen almost got blown up at the end of Oceans Eleven because of an injured hand. Serious consequences.) Keep in mind that in 10 seasons, Justin has played 50+ games only 4 times. Not exactly what I would call an iron-man, yet this is not completely unexpected. Williams only has another year on the contract, so unless some team is foaming at the mouth to trade for him, hang onto him for the season (only plan on him playing 35 games due to certain injury) and then spend his $3.5MM on a capable, younger, and more reliable winger.

It’s going to be interesting what happens between now and October. Will there be a big trade? Will the Kings sign Frolov (and mark the end of CrownedRoyal.com when our editor swan dives into a wood chipper) or another aging free agent? Whatever happens, I’ll be in Vegas watching the opening ceremony for this season’s attempted heist of Lord Stanley’s Cup.

“Gentlemen, welcome to Las Vegas. Everybody’s eaten? Good. Everybody’s sober…? Close enough.”

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