The NHL is a copycat league. Once a few teams enjoyed success mining the AHL for head coaching talent, the herd followed to an almost comical degree. So even though it’s ludicrously unfair to ask this question, I cannot help but blurt it out anyway: do the Los Angeles Kings need a St. Louis Blues-style wake-up call?
Los Angeles Times beat writer Helene Elliott spoke of the possibility of a “jolt” coming on the heels of the Kings’ 4-2 loss to the surging San Jose Sharks. The thing is, GM Dean Lombardi doesn’t have a whole lot of obvious players to trade, unless he would opt to deal from his significant treasure chest of defensive prospects.
With that in mind, I cannot help but wonder if head coach Terry Murray will be the unfair scapegoat much like Davis Payne was in St. Louis. Let’s look at some of the factors that could justify the move – some of which might seem oddly similar to the Blues’ issues.
- A mediocre record: The Blues fired Payne at 6-7-0 while the Kings are 6-5-3. Los Angeles is on a five-game losing streak in which they’ve generated just two points. That’s a scary trend in a brutal Western Conference and a cutthroat Pacific Division.
- Limp offense: Murray’s Kings are scoring just 2.14 goals per game, the third worst total in the league. Some grimace that former Kings prospects such as Brian Boyle and Teddy Purcell’s offensive games have taken off once they left Los Angeles, too.
- A big batch of home games: The Blues will roll out the red carpet for Hitchcock with five games in St. Louis while the Kings’ next four games will come at home.
- Heightened expectations: While the Blues carry playoff aspirations, many (including certain PHT staffers) believed the Kings have the potential to go to the Stanley Cup finals.
Murray is a good coach who helped the Kings go from an unshaped mass to a playoff contender, but some might believe that they need a new voice to get that extra boost to the elite level.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, but there are enough similarities that the situation isn’t outside the realm of possibility. What would you do if you were in Lombardi’s situation?