Needing to turn their season around in a hurry, the Los Angeles Kings fired head coach John Stevens on Sunday.
Not even a convincing 4-1 victory on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets could help Stevens and assistant head coach Don Nachbaur keep their jobs.
Stevens is being replaced by former Vancouver Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins on an interim basis. Desjardins was let go by the Canucks two seasons ago after failing to make the playoffs two years running. He most recently coached Canada’s national men’s team at last year’s Olympics in South Korea.
The Kings also hired former NHLer Marco Sturm, who most recently coached the German National Team to a silver medal at those same Olympics, knocking out Desjardins’ team in the semifinals.
“This is a critical time in our season and our results to date have fallen well below our expectations. With that in mind, this was a difficult decision but one we feel was necessary,” said general manager Rob Blake. “We have a great deal of respect and appreciation for John’s time with our organization. He was a key part of our past success, and we have tremendous gratitude for his many contributions.”
This is hardly surprising, as Stevens seat had only grown warmer as the season has progressed.
Despite Saturday’s win, the Kings are dead last in the NHL with nine points (tied with Florida but have played two more games). A six-game losing streak was only halted this past week and Stevens just couldn’t extract enough out of an aging Kings teams.
Old and slow doesn’t win the race in hockey.
Whether Desjardins can do any better with the same roster is still up for debate.
The addition of Ilya Kovalchuk has done little to help the Kings score more goals, where they sit plumb last in that category, too, with 28 in 13 games — an average of just 2.15 goals per game. Anze Kopitar is a shell of himself compared to last season. Jonathan Quick can’t stay healthy.
A tough task then for Desjardins.