The successful general manager and coach of the San Jose Sharks are finally in the Stanley Cup Finals, vying for a championship.
They just needed to get fired from San Jose and hired in Los Angeles to make it happen.
Ten years ago, coach Darryl Sutter and GM Dean Lombardi were one game away from the championship series, the San Jose Mercury News remembered. But the Sharks lost Game 7 of the conference finals, 1-0, after star scorer Teemu Selanne missed what appeared to be a surefire goal.
Lombardi later fired Sutter before he, too, was dismissed, the newspaper reported. But now, after sneaking into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed, the Los Angeles Kings -- with Sutter as coach and Lombardi as GM, just as it was on that San Jose team -- are in the finals, sweeping away the top 3 seeds in the playoffs in a record 14 games.
Lombardi was out of hockey until 2006, while Sutter found success in Calgary, leading the Flames to the finals in 2004. But after Lombardi, installed as the Kings GM, needed to make a change in the middle of this season, he was able to woo Sutter out of semiretirement in Canada, back to California.
Sutter, 53, is a former NHL player, and Lombardi, 54, is a soft-spoken former lawyer, the newspaper reported. They have a close bond that survived the firing of Sutter by Lombardi, and now Sharks fans have to wonder: did they miss out on a winning combination?