We have yet to see a coaching change this season but that could change in relatively quick order.
John Stevens has already been on the hot seat with the Los Angeles Kings. With each loss that’s piled up over their six-game losing streak, the faint whispers have turned into all-out shouts by those in the Kings’ fanbase.
Stevens’ Kings have gotten off to a disastrous start to the season. Their 2-7-1 record indicates that. Their eight goals in their past six games provide further proof.
The aura surrounding the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk lasted until about the time when the first puck was dropped on the season. He was supposed to add some pep in Los Angeles’ step and boost their power play. Instead, the Kings sit plumb last in the NHL with the man-advantage, operating well-under 10 percent and there is, well, no pep.
Kovalchuk’s addition has only seemed to add another aging face to the team’s dinosaur exhibit.
The Kings have looked old and slow and Stevens’ job as head coach appears to be heading the way of our extinct prehistoric friends in quick fashion.
“Well, it’s the nature of the beast, to be honest with you,” Stevens told The Athletic on Saturday. “We’re in this business to get the most out of your team, to win hockey games. And we haven’t performed very well. So it’s not something I’m going to get up and worry about. When you get into this business, you know that you’re going to be held accountable for the success of the team. I totally get that.”
Stevens has been with the club for years, as an assistant coach and as the team’s bench boss. He has two Stanley Cup rings, both in that assistant’s role, but he just hasn’t extracted what needs to be this harvested for the Kings to be successful this year.
A loss Sunday could spell the end for Stevens. The Kings play host to the New York Rangers, who have struggled themselves — albeit by design after the team blew itself up last season and began a rebuild.
The Kings have struggled at home, where they have suffered some mighty losses this season.
After getting ransacked 5-1 a week ago by the Buffalo Sabres, the Kings held a closed-door meeting to try and right the ship.
It didn’t seem to work.
“I pour all my effort into trying to help these players play their best and the team perform their best, but that comes with the territory,” Stevens said. “If that happens, and it happens a lot … I knew that getting into this business. We’re going to continue to try to improve this hockey team and try to get this team on the right track. That’s always the threat in this business.”
Added to the list of misery is that starter Jonathan Quick is out once again with a lower-body injury.
The team has simply underperformed. Anze Kopitar was a 90-point player last season. He’s got three goals in 10 games this year. Quick held a .921 save percentage during the last campaign but is wallowing with a .845 this time around.
L.A.’s players simply aren’t getting it done and Stevens appears out of ideas for how to jump-start his club.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck