Los Angles Kings’ longtime executive Jeff Solomon departed from the organization on Monday to take a job with the Kings’ Southern California rival, the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim’s general manager Bob Murray signed the 63-year-old Solomon to be his right-hand man as the Ducks’ new assistant general manager. Additionally, he will take on the role of vice-president of hockey operations with Anaheim.
Solomon is no stranger to being a vice-president of hockey operations. He most recently served as the Kings’ vice-president of hockey operations in 2020-21, meaning this is not a new role for him, as he will be reprising this position with a new team. Additionally, he was the Kings’ executive vice-president of legal affairs. The Kings official statement on the matter said:
“Jeff has been a key member of our organization for several years. At Jeff’s request, we agreed to mutually terminate his employment agreement to allow him to pursue other career opportunities… We appreciate all that Jeff has done for our hockey operations group and we thank him for his contributions.”Yahoo Sports
What we can gather from this is that Solomon requested for his contract to be terminated, to which the Kings obliged. Afterward, he officially signed on with the Ducks front office to pursue a new career opportunity (serving as a team’s assistant general manager), presumably because he perceives serving as a team’s assistant general manager and as the vice-president of hockey operations to be a more interesting endeavor than continuing to be the Kings’ vice-president of hockey operations and legal affairs.
What Solomon Did for the Kings
Solomon joined the Kings in 2006-07 and worked with the team for 15 years. He was in charge of Los Angeles’ contract negotiations with players and the team’s planning for the salary cap (i.e., making sure they’d stay below the cap ceiling). Furthermore, his area of expertise was with the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and he helped the Kings navigate tricky rules that the CBA imposed upon teams (Per ‘Ducks hire former Kings executive Jeff Solomon as vice president of hockey operations’, The Los Angeles Times, 5/24/21). Due to his involvement in contract negotiations, his knowledge of the CBA, and his planning for the salary cap, he was a pivotal part of the Kings’ front office during the team’s two Stanley Cup championship victories in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
Solomon graduated from the University of San Diego’s School of Law as a member of the class of 1983. He became a lawyer and has utilized many of these skills in his 35-year career around the league (he was a player agent prior to becoming an executive). In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, he discussed how these skills had helped him as the Kings’ vice-president of hockey operations and legal affairs.
“We think we can count on ourselves to the find the opportunities and find creative ways to try and use [the CBA rules] as best we can… As a lawyer, I was used to dissecting rules. It’s almost been a passion, to figure out how you apply and exploit them in the best way”.(Per ‘CBA and salary cap expert Jeff Solomon keeps the Kings’ bottom line in the black’, The Los Angeles Times, 1/23/20).
Losing Solomon Adversely Effects the Kings & Positively Impacts Anaheim
Losing Solomon adversely affects the Kings for several reasons. Firstly, he was a guru at managing the salary cap for the team. Whether it be ensuring that LA would utilize as much cap space as possible during the years, they won the Stanley Cup or making sure that they have lots of wiggle room during the rebuild the team is presently undergoing, his expertise dramatically helped the Kings in this regard.
Additionally, he negotiated many contracts for the Kings and played an important role in negotiations with Drew Doughty. Finally, losing Solomon negatively impacts the Kings because he was a veteran of the Kings’ front office. He helped the team win two Stanley Cups, meaning that as a wily veteran, he knew many useful tricks that a brand new executive wouldn’t know.
Related: Drew Doughty: Hall of Fame Worthy
For all of the aforementioned reasons, he will have a tremendous impact on the Ducks. Two weeks ago, David McNab announced his retirement as Anaheim’s Senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations. He spent 28 consecutive seasons with the Ducks and had a 43-year career as an executive. He helped the Ducks make two Stanley Cup Finals (2003 and 2007), and the collegiate free agents he scouted and signed, such as Chris Kunitz, Andy McDonald and Dustin Penner, helped the team hoist the Stanley Cup in 2007. Although losing McNab is bittersweet for Anaheim, they found a great successor for him in Solomon. He has tons of experience, knows what it takes to build a winning team, and is a master at exploiting the salary cap.
Solomon had a tremendous impact on the Kings during his 15 years with the franchise. He helped negotiate contracts, manage the salary cap, and used his experience as a lawyer to ensure deals were fair to both parties (the player and the team) while making sure that it would fit within the organization’s plan, whether that was nearly using all of the available cap space (e.g., when they won their Stanley Cups) or keeping the team significantly under the cap ceiling (e.g., presently).
Overall, Solomon should be a great addition for the Kings’ “Freeway Face-off” rival Anaheim, and finding a way to replace him will be tough for LA.
I am a lifelong hockey fan who will be covering the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks here at The Hockey Writers. Before joining The Hockey Writers I spent two years blogging about hockey.
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