In the least surprising (but still kind of grim) coaching news of the day, the Willie Desjardins era is over for the Los Angeles Kings.
Desjardins, 62, went 27-34-8 as interim head coach of the Kings, taking over after Los Angeles fired John Stevens. It was a dismal time for all involved, particularly Ilya Kovalchuk, who clashed with the ‘stached head coach in a fairly public way.
The Kings’ release tops other teams wording of “relieving” coaches of duties by “thanking” Desjardins for his time as interim head coach. How nice.
“Today we thanked Willie Desjardins for his effort and dedication while serving as our interim head coach,” GM Rob Blake said via the team release. “We wish Willie and his family nothing but the best going forward. The process for hiring our next head coach is underway and we look forward to conducting a thorough search for the right person to lead our team.”
If you ever want an example of how quickly things can change in the NHL, consider this:
- In 2014, Desjardins rejected an offer to coach the Pittsburgh Penguins, instead choosing the Vancouver Canucks.
- Since then, the Penguins won two Stanley Cups. Desjardins coached two different teams over four seasons, never making the postseason.
Or, in picture form, from:
Life comes at you fast; hockey comes at you even faster.
In a way, it almost feels like the Kings’ stock as a viable contender has plummeted along with Desjardins’ as a coach. With the Panthers and Sabres also among those looking for a new coach, the Kings face a challenge in identifying their next head coach. Granted, the Kings face arguably a different set of questions, as they must weigh their aging, expensive roster (Anze Kopitar is 31 and Drew Doughty is 29, and they’ll cost $21 million combined starting next season) with the possibility that they might need to do at least a minor rebuild.
It’s not looking like a straightforward, easy situation, but either way, it was abundantly clear that Desjardins wasn’t the solution, either.
Other firings on Sunday
Sabres part ways with Phil Housley.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.