John Stevens Getty

Stevens might not be long-term solution in L.A.


Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider isn’t convinced John Stevens is the answer in L.A.

Reacting to news that the Kings parted ways with Terry Murray, Hammond writes that — from what he understands — the organization doesn’t see Stevens as a long-term solution.

Guess who might be, though?

Keep an eye on the whereabouts of Darryl Sutter in the next few days. Dean Lombardi is very close with Sutter and, as GM in San Jose, hired Sutter in 1997.

Sutter left the coaching ranks after the 2005-06 season, as he went from coach/GM to GM, and he left that role last December.

I’ll never forget the exchange I had with Lombardi, at the press conference to announce his hiring as Kings’ GM in 2006. It went like this…

Question: “In terms of qualities, what will you be looking for in a coach?”

Lombardi: “Darryl.”

Sutter’s been out of hockey since 2010 and hasn’t been behind an NHL bench since 2005-06. While the Sutter-to-L.A. theory looks great on paper, one has to wonder if the dysfunctional, acrimonious way he left the Calgary organization burned him out.

If that’s the case, Lombardi will have to look elsewhere for a coach….so here are some “types” to keep an eye on. (Note: I’m straying away from current assistant coaches because of contractual red tape, even though the likes of Mike Haviland, Lane Lambert, Tony Granato and Kevin McCarthy are highly thought of.)

The Recently Departed

Paul Maurice, Randy Carlyle, Davis Payne, Marc Crawford, Cory Clouston, Rick Tocchet.

A few intriguing names here. From the “story writes itself” angle, Carlyle is a money hire given the L.A.-Anaheim rivalry. He also talked about how hard moving would be on his family, especially his 15-year-old daughter.

Should note that Clouston is coaching the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) while Crawford/Tocchet have jobs — they’re currently doing TV work. Tocchet’s kind of interesting because he used to play for the Kings. There’s no way L.A. is going to hire Crawford again, but I wanted to mention him so I could play this clip:

Names That Get Mentioned Every Time A Job Comes Up

Craig MacTavish, Michel Therrien, Gerard Gallant.

Guys That Used to Coach The Kings

Robbie Ftorek, Andy Murray, Crawford.

Don’t laugh! Ftorek has reinvented himself with the OHL’s Erie Otters (and the Capitals just hired a junior coach in Dale Hunter). Plus, the NHL could always use a good bench tossing:

OK, now you can laugh.

AHL Guys

Dallas Eakins (Toronto), Kurt Kleindorst (Binghamton/Ottawa), David Quinn (Lake Erie/Colorado).

In light of what Glen Gulutzan’s done in Dallas and Mike Yeo in Minnesota, hiring from the AHL is tempting. Eakins has been a hot coaching commodity for a while, but the Leafs likely want him as an insurance policy should things go south with Ron Wilson. Kleindorst took Bingo to the Calder Cup final last year and Quinn has groomed many Avalanche youngsters in Lake Erie, so they could be options as well.

DiMaio named Blues’ director of player personnel

via St. Louis Blues
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The St. Louis Blues named Rob DiMaio their director of player personnel on Tuesday.

He’s been with the organization for some time. He joined as a pro scout in 2008 and was the pro scouting director starting in August 2012.

He was also a scout for the Dallas Stars before landing with the Blues (one would assume his biggest connection is GM Doug Armstrong, then).

In case his nose didn’t give it away, he also enjoyed a lengthy hockey career over 19 seasons.

No doubt about it, this is a pivotal season for the Blues after multiple campaigns in which strong regular seasons dissolved into playoff disappointments. Perhaps DiMaio can make a difference in a heightened role?

Hitchcock going to more aggressive attack for Blues

Ken Hitchcock

ST. LOUIS (AP) After three straight first-round playoff exits, the St. Louis Blues have learned to temper expectations.

They have been consistently among the NHL’s best in the regular season and realize it is past time to build something for the long haul. The sting still lingers from the latest failure, against the Minnesota Wild last spring.

“We’re all disappointed, everybody can agree on that,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s never easy to kind of think about your failures, but we grow every time it happens.”

Management isn’t ready to tear it all down yet.

“We play, in my opinion, one of the toughest if not the toughest division in the NHL, and we’ve finished first or second in the last four years,” forward Alexander Steen said. “So we have an extremely powerful team.”

Maybe a change in strategy will be enough: Coach Ken Hitchcock is back with a mandate for a more aggressive, even reckless, style of play from a roster that hasn’t changed appreciably.

“We’re coming hard from the back and we’re coming hard to see how close we can get to the attack,” Hitchcock said. “I think it’s where the game’s at; I think it’s where the game’s going to go.”

The 63-year-old Hitchcock is pushing forward, too, unwilling to dwell on the flameouts. Coach and players agree that would be “wasted energy.”

“My opinion is when you sit and think about the past, you do yourself no good,” Hitchcock said. “If you learn from the past, that’s when you do yourself a whole bunch of good.”

There were only two major roster casualties. Forward Troy Brouwer came from Washington in a trade for fan favorite T.J. Oshie. Defenseman Barret Jackman, the franchise career leader in games, wasn’t re-signed.

“If you were expecting 23 new faces to be on the roster this year, I don’t think that was realistic,” captain David Backes said. “We’re going to miss those guys in the room and on the ice, but there has been some changeover and I think it’s pretty significant.”

Things to watch for with the Blues:

GOALIE SHUFFLE: Just like last year, there’s no true No. 1 with Brian Elliott and Jake Allen sharing duties. The 25-year-old Allen missed a chance to seize the job last spring when he failed to raise his level in the playoffs.

TOP THREAT: Vladimir Tarasenko had a breakout season with 37 goals and was rewarded with an eight-year, $60 million contract. The 23-year-old winger is by far the Blues’ most dangerous scoring option and said he won’t let the money affect his play. “I never worry about it,” Tarasenko said. “If you play good, you play good.”

NEW FACES: Brouwer and center Kyle Brodziak add a physical element that was perhaps lacking a bit last season. Brouwer has three 20-plus goal seasons and Brodziak, acquired from Minnesota, fills a checking role. Veteran forward Scottie Upshall got a one-year, two-way deal after being coming to camp as a tryout. Rookie forward Robby Fabbri, a first-round pick last year, will get an early look. Another promising youngster, forward Ty Rattie, begins the year at Chicago of the AHL.

RECOVERY WARD: Forward Jori Lehteri bounced back quickly from ankle surgery and opens the season without restrictions. Another forward, Patrik Berglund, could miss half of the season following shoulder surgery.

TRACK RECORD: The Blues won the Central Division last season and Hitchcock, fourth on the career list with 708 regular-season wins, has consistently had the team near the top of the standings. “He is our coach, tough cookies if you don’t like it,” Backes said. “From my experience, he puts together one heck of a game plan.”