NEW YORK – The NHL fined Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi $50,000 on Friday for his comments questioning the integrity of league vice president Mike Murphy.
"There is no acceptable explanation or excuse for commentary challenging the integrity of the league's hockey operations department in general or Mike Murphy, in particular," Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a release.
Lombardi was upset after a disputed goal was allowed to stand during his team's 2-0 loss to Phoenix on Thursday night.
Replays appear to show the puck being high-sticked into the net, but officials in the league's video room in Toronto decided not to overturn the on-ice call after looking at the tape. Murphy is in charge of goal reviews for the league.
After the game, Lombardi told a reporter for the Kings website that Murphy wouldn't give his team a favorable call because he once lost out on the GM job in Los Angeles.
By Friday morning, Lombardi realized he'd made a mistake and phoned Murphy to apologize. The Kings GM later received an earful from Bettman.
"I spoke to the commissioner today and he made it very clear to me that my actions last night were inappropriate and detrimental to the game," Lombardi said. "There is no question that his assessment is correct and the punishment fits the crime.
"Just as important, I apologized to Mike Murphy this morning and I sincerely appreciate his willingness to accept my apology."
The Kings also were upset earlier in the season when Ryan Smyth appeared to score a game-tying in goal in Ottawa on Nov. 22, only to have it not count. In that case, the league's video room decided not to overturn the on-ice call.
The combination of the two events seem to have set Lombardi off.
"When the guy in Toronto making the decisions on the goals, in Ottawa and the one tonight, wanted the GM's job in L.A. and was not happy about not getting it, you have to assume you are going to get those type of calls," Lombardi told the Kings website after Thursday's loss. "However, we have put ourselves in a position where these calls have a monumental effect on our season, and we're going to have to find a way out of it ourselves."
In the past, the NHL has sometimes chosen to discipline team officials quietly, but Bettman made it clear that was never an option in this case.
"Mike Murphy is a devoted caretaker of the game," the commissioner said. "His commitment to the National Hockey League, all 30 of its clubs — and to the game — is beyond challenge, question or debate."
Murphy played for the Kings during his NHL career and is a former coach of the team.