The 2011-12 season hasn’t been very friendly to new and/or interim head coaches not named Ken Hitchcock. With that thought in mind, John Stevens fared reasonably well in his time running the Los Angeles Kings. Stevens generated a 2-2 record thanks to a 3-2 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Bob McKenzie singled out Kings captain Dustin Brown as a possible trade target before tonight’s game, but the hard-hitting forward carried the Kings to that victory. Brown scored a power-play goal during regulation and the shootout game-winner while another struggling L.A. winger (Justin Williams) notched the other tally.
This team hasn’t made a dramatic turnaround since Terry Murry was fired, but Darryl Sutter has at least a few bright sides to look on once he finally becomes the team’s head coach. Check out highlights from the game below.
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Adrian Dater of The Denver Post shares a story which Peter Forsberg says Sweden tanked a game in the 2006 Olympics to get an easier road to gold. Wouldn’t you rather play Switzerland than Russia or Canada? Of course you would. (All Things Avs, Expressen)
Jason Spezza says teammate Jared Cowen should be in the talk for the Calder Trophy. Sadly, his name isn’t Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. (Ottawa Sun)
Joel Quenneville won his 600th game as a coach last night. Congrats to the coach and his awesome ‘stache. (CSNChicago.com)
Drew Doughty says Terry Murray’s firing was the change they needed. Enjoy having fun with Darryl Sutter though, Drew. (L.A. Kings Insider)
Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson continues to say that Scott Arniel is not the problem in Columbus. Is he trying to fall on his own sword or what? (Puck Rakers)
The Senators are believing that Kyle Turris is a great fit for them. They’d better hope so. (Ottawa Sun)
Daniel Briere will be centering his 12th different line for Philly this season. And you wonder why he’s been a bit off this year. (CSNPhilly.com)
It’s not always rainbows and unicorns for the Predators when they win. Things get a bit emo in the honky tonk. (Tennessean)
Tim Connolly is back on the top line for Toronto now. I wonder how Ville Leino is working in Buff… Oh, right. (TSN)
Ken Hitchcock gives up to the fans for the Blues’ big win. Look out for St. Louis, kids. (Post-Dispatch)
Finally, Niklas Hjalmarsson might be Swedish, but his goal had a lot of English on it. (NHL)
The long wait to see when Darryl Sutter would accept the Kings head coaching job is over.
Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider reports that Sutter has signed on and accepted GM Dean Lombardi’s offer to be the new Kings coach. Hammond says that Sutter will be introduced as the new coach on Tuesday or Wednesday and join the team when they get back to Los Angeles.
Interim coach John Stevens will likely coach the Kings’ next two games, one tonight against Detroit and Monday against Toronto. Sutter’s first game behind the bench would likely be Thursday at home against Anaheim.
Sutter joins a Kings team teeming with talent in Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, and Jack Johnson. The Kings are in need of a jolt to spark their all-around play, especially on offense. Sutter’s brand of coaching means the Kings will play with more of a snarl but they have to hope that more goals come as a result of that.
If that doesn’t work out, Lombardi might yell at the players again for trying to get another friend of his fired.
LA Kings general manager Dean Lombardi conducted an interesting Q&A with Darryl Evans of Kings Vision this afternoon. It gets compelling around the 1:10 mark, when Evans asks Lombardi if he saw signs that things were going the wrong way:
That quote again, in case you missed it:
I think a lot of this fallout right now is mental. When you heighten the expectations on a team it’s a whole different mindset, and when you don’t look like you can reach that bar you start wallowing in bewilderment.
You can sense it’s put-up-or-shut-up time as Lombardi’s exhausted nearly all his managerial options. He made a trade deadline deal (Dustin Penner), a blockbuster deal (Mike Richards), swung big in free agency (Simon Gagne), sent a message to the veterans (by waiving Ethan Moreau) and will reportedly replace a player-friendly coach with an authoritarian (Darryl Sutter).
If the Kings fail to turn things around, big questions will have to be asked about the core group of players — because shaking up L.A.’s core is really the only move Lombardi has left.
Los Angeles Kings captain (and PHT 3rd Dud of the Week) Dustin Brown spoke with Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider about recently-dismissed head coach Terry Murray.
While Brown has experience with coaches getting turfed — he’s played under five different bench bosses in L.A. — he did say it was difficult to see Murray go.
“It’s not an easy thing to go through,” Brown said. “It’s really hard to kind of put into words how you feel, as a group of guys in here, when something like this happens. I think the best thing we can do, as players, is come together and work through it. It’s part of being a professional athlete, going through days like this.”
If the Kings are going to work through their issues, Brown will have to lead the charge. He’s been a major disappointment this year with just five goals through 29 games (on pace for 14) — a far cry from his 2007-08 season, when he finished 19th in league scoring with 33 goals.
When asked if drastic changes were needed, Brown offered some pointed remarks.
“Regardless of how we play the game, I think it’s more about our attitude, honestly,” he said. “We have to have a better, more hungry attitude. We weren’t a hungry team. We’ve got to get back to getting on the puck and having that attitude, that swagger.”
Brown’s comments are interesting given rumors that Darryl Sutter will be L.A.’s next head coach. Sutter’s most memorable coaching performance was taking a workmanlike Calgary Flames squad within a game of the 2004 Stanley Cup. That squad was defined by its hard-hat mentality (leaning heavily on grinders like Shean Donovan, Martin Gelinas, Stephane Yelle, Chris Simon and Chris Clark) and you’d have to think Sutter would try to instill the same mentality in the Kings.