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Dean Lombardi addresses photos taken of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards

February 24, 2012|By Lisa Dillman
  • The Kings' Mike Richards plays against the Phoenix Coyotes Feb. 21.
The Kings' Mike Richards plays against the Phoenix Coyotes Feb. 21.

It only seemed as though everyone in Philadelphia owned a camera phone and managed to snap a picture of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards out on the town.

The pictures were all over the place when the two were running mates in their Flyers days and later when Richards headed to Los Angeles and Carter to Columbus in June. They resurfaced again when the duo was reunited by Thursday’s trade with the Kings sending defenseman Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick to Columbus in exchange for Carter.

A few hours later, Richards tweeted his approval: “Reunited and it feels so good…Excited to be back playing with Carts. “

Instant off-ice analysis: At best, the latest scene of a warm buddy movie with hockey as a backdrop. At worst, Alpha Tau Omega by the sea.

Not surprisingly, character issues were raised during Thursday night’s conference call with Kings’ President and General Manager Dean Lombardi. And Lombardi, in his highly entertaining manner, candidly addressed the issue, delivering what he called a long speech on “human nature.”

“I think a lot of this stuff really got blown out of proportion,” Lombardi said. “As I told one guy, if somebody had taken pictures of me in college … I’d like to know if they had cameras around when you guys went out on Friday and Saturday night? How many of those pictures would have shown some things that probably were… this is something you do as a 21-year-old.”

(Cut to scenes of journalists shifting uncomfortably in their chairs, thankful Twitter didn’t exist 20 years ago.)

“How many of us are in position to throw stones?” Lombardi said. “We were just never were celebrity enough where people wanted to take pictures of us. I do think that given our culture with TMZ and things, this stuff can get a little exaggerated.

“But that said, I do think athletes and professionals all go through a phase like we did in college. You’ve got to grow up and learn from it. They’re no different than anybody else at a young age.

“Just because they’re great athletes doesn’t mean, all of a sudden, they’re not human beings. I think we have to recognize that  particularly in today’s day and age  when we give them so much so early. That there’s a growth process here that doesn’t start as soon as you give a kid $50 million. It actually hurts that process.

“You’re just hoping these are good people that were brought up the right way and  just like all of us, when we were at that stage of our lives, we weren’t exactly all choirboys. So I think some of it is exaggerated.”

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